UTixClock

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Introduction: UTixClock

First time I saw this clock in a video from one of my favourite YouTube channels named SmarterEveryDay. I instantly liked the idea and wished to buy one. Then I searched in Google and found this website which sells the Tix Clock. I was about to place an order, but then I thought - won't it be fun in making one rather than buying it! So I started my research and ended up finding this article on Instructable. Then I realized that the author of the post is the same guy who sells the clock commercially.

So I decided to build this project on my own. I chose to use an Arduino for the project. Being a software developer by profession and having fair knowledge of electronics, it was not that difficult for me. Writing the code and assembling the circuits were the easy parts. The most difficult part for me was building an enclosure. Without any prior knowledge of 3D modeling and printing, it took me almost 2 months to learn Fusion 360 and build the model. It's always fun to learn and do new things! :)

Some key features of uTixClock:

  • Never forgets the time - even if you power it off
  • Automatic dimming of LEDs based on ambiance light - will not disturb your sleep
  • Completely random patterns
  • Shows time in 24-hour format
  • Runs on USB - can be powered directly from computers, mobile chargers, power banks

Features planned for the next version:

  • Show date
  • Adjust date and time
  • Adjust the pattern time
  • Toggle between 12/24-hour format
  • A better way to display midnight (0000 hrs) - currently it just shows a blank screen, haha!

Step 1: Things You Need

To build this Instructable, you would need the following items. Nowadays, getting these things are quite easy. You can visit your local DIY electronics shops or buy online.

Electronics Parts:

  • Arduino Nano microcontroller - 1
  • RTC module DS1302 - 1
  • 5mm LEDs (Yellow - 3, Red - 9, Blue - 6, Green - 9)
  • Both sided dotted vero board - 1
  • Stripped vero board - 1
  • 74HC595 Shift Register with 16 pin IC base - 2
  • Resistors (10K Ohms - 1, 33 Ohms - 3)
  • LDR - 1
  • USB cable - 1
  • On-off power switch - 1
  • Header pins
  • Jumper wires
  • Connection wires

Other Parts:

  • 3D printed enclosure
  • Neodymium magnets 3mm diameter
  • Instant quick-fix glue
  • Transparent paper
  • Black transparent acrylic plexiglass

Step 2: Prototyping

I used a breadboard and a bunch of jumper wires to do my prototyping. First I created a small 4x3 LED matrix as a proof-of-concept to make sure that things are working as expected. I used a single 74HC595 Shift Register IC during my prototyping. The details of the final circuit boards can be found below.

Step 3: The Software

I generally don't use Arduino IDE for development. My favorite is Visual Studio Code with PlatformIO IDE extension. But it does not matter - the official IDE can also be used to upload the source to Arduino. The project source can be downloaded from my Git repository.

Step 4: Building the Circuit Boards

The building the circuit is pretty straight forward. The circuit diagram can be downloaded from my website and assemble the components in no time.

Step 5: Modelling the Enclosure

This was the most difficult step for me. I didn't have any prior knowledge of 3D modeling and printing. So I had to spent almost a month learning the basics of designing the 3D model in Fusion 360 software and one more month to design it. This software is free for personal use.

I also don't have a 3D printer at home. So I had to order it online and got it printed within a day. It cost me 56 SGD for printing with Standard PLA+ material. The surface is not very smooth, but I am quite happy with the final outcome. SLA is the best fit for the smooth finish, but it was almost 4 times the price of PLA.

The stl and f3d files can be downloaded from my website.

Step 6: Getting Things Assembled

For fitting the lid with the box and attaching the circuit boards, I decided to use magnets instead of screws. I fixed the magnets with the help of quick-fix glue. So assembling the parts was quite easy. I placed a transparent paper as a diffuser and fixed the black acrylic sheet on top of it. I was quite happy to see the final output. Unfortunately, while attaching the magnet, a small drop of the super glue fell on the outer surface of the enclosure, which I could not remove. But never mind! :)

Step 7: Using It

There are four separate LED matrices in the display. Each matrix has different colors and represents the 4 digits of the current time - first two representing the Hour, and the last two representing the Minutes. You need to count the LEDs to get the current time. For example:

0 Y - 0 R - 0 B - 0 G => 0000 hrs

0 Y - 1 R - 1 B - 2 G => 0112 hrs

1 Y - 1 R - 3 B - 9 G => 1139 hrs

1 Y - 6 R - 2 B - 4 G => 1624 hrs

2 Y - 3 R - 4 B - 7 G => 2347 hrs

You may find it a bit difficult at the beginning. But with practice, you will be able to get the current time instantly.

Step 8: Thank You

A big Thank You if you have reached so far and planning to build or already built my project. Do let me know your valuable feedback and suggestions. I can be reached at ujjaldey@gmail.com.

My website: https://ujjaldey.in/

A warm thanks to Guido Seevens for his informative Instructable on his version of Tix Clock.

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    4 Comments

    0
    Penolopy Bulnick
    Penolopy Bulnick

    1 year ago

    Nice job making this clock, I think it turned out great :)

    0
    ujjaldey
    ujjaldey

    Reply 1 year ago

    Thanks!! 😃

    0
    kcraske
    kcraske

    1 year ago

    I love clocks and have built Nixie, VFD and led matrix ones. I like this project as it is so well documented and a bit different.
    Interestingly, and some comfort to me, you found the hard part was the enclosure for your project. That's always my problem.

    0
    ujjaldey
    ujjaldey

    Reply 1 year ago

    Hehe! Thanks kcraske. Glad to know that I am not the only one!! :D