Hey guys! I Hope you already enjoyed my previous instructable "Arduino MIDI Controller DIY" and you are ready for a new one, as usual I made this tutorial to guide you step by step while making this kind of super amazing low cost electronic projects which is the "Arduino LIXIE clock".
During the making of this project, we tried to make sure that this instructable will be the best guide for you in order to help you if you want to make your own digital clock, so we hope that this instructable contain the needed documents.
This project is so handy to make specially after getting the customized PCB that we’ve ordered from JLCPCB to improve the appearance of our clock and also there is enough documents and codes in this guide to allow you create your Arduino clock easily. We've made this project in just 4 days only, just three days to get all the needed parts and finish the hardware making and the assemble, then we have prepared the code to suit our project and the android app development takes one day.
Before starting let’s see first
What you will learn from this instructable:
- Making the right hardware selection for your project depending on its functionalities.
- Understand the LIXIE display technology.
- Prepare the circuit diagram to connect all the choosen components.
- Assemble all the project parts (mechanical and electronic assembly)..
- start your own digital clock.
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Step 1: How It Works the LIXIE Display
As always I make this short description where I collect some data from the internet about the project that we are about to create.
So starting with the basics, we need to define first the Lixie display method and how it works, the principle is as simple as this; once you cut a Plexiglas part and make some laser engraved logos or shapes you can light up these shapes by placing an LED near any side of the parts sides and in our case we will engrave the numbers from 0 to 9 in 10 parts and we will do the same thing four time for four digits, you can add also the two dots to distinguish the hours and the minutes after that we will make a design that could hold all these Plexiglas parts together and place two LEDs in the bottom side of each Plexiglas part so we have a total of 82 LEDs.
About the wiring of all these LEDs with the Arduino, we will solder the Anodes of same rows together to get 10 rows and the Cathodes of the same Columns together to get a matrix of 10 rows 4 columns about the dots it is easy to control them. After that it will be so easy to turn On Off the desired digit using the Arduino code, and if you want to get the basics of how to control LEDs of the same matrix you can refer to our instructble where I explained how to control a Cube of LEDs using the matrix method.
Step 2: CAD and Hardware Parts
Starting with the laser engraving and cutting parts, I made the above design using solidworks software and you can get the DXF files from the download link, this design is 100% recommended to help you making your device since it is the only holder of the plexiglass order, after preparing the design I have got my parts very well manufactured and ready for the action. and as you can see in the last photo we prepared the numbers engaraved four times for each digit.
Step 3: Circuit Diagram
Moving to the electronics, I have created thiscircuit diagram that includes all the necessary parts required for this project.
I will use also a RTC module components to restore the time and date configuration once the device is turned off so you can use a RTC module or you can simply get the DS3231integrated circuit for RTC and in both case you will establish a I²C communication with the MCU for data transmission. I will use a buzzer for the alarms because we will add this feature in our clock so we can set some alrams and in order to interface with the clock I will use a Bluetooth module adjust the time and date using an android application.
Since the Arduino Uno hasn’t the necessary number of pins to connect all these components together then I will use a GPIO extension integrated circuit which is MCP23017.
without forgetting the LEDs that we will use in this project, it requires 80 Blue LEDs for the digits display and two white LEDs for the dots display.
Step 4: PCB Making
JLCPCB (Shenzhen JIALICHUANG Electronic Technology Development Co., Ltd.), is the largest PCB prototype enterprise in China and a high-tech manufacturer specializing in quick PCB prototype and small-batch PCB production. With over 10 years of experience in PCB manufacturing, JLCPCB has more than 200,000 customers at home and abroad, with over 8,000 online orders of PCB prototyping and small quantity PCB production per day. The annual production capacity is 200,000 sq.m. for various of 1-layer, 2-layer or multi-layer PCBs. JLC is a professional PCB manufacturer featured of large scale, well equipment, strict management and superior quality.
After making the circuit diagram I transformed it into a customized PCB design and all what I need now is to produce my PCB, for sure I moved to JLCPCB the best PCB supplier in order to get the best PCB manufacturing service, after some simple clicks I have uploaded the appropriate GERBER files of my design and I set some parameters like the PCB thickness color and quantity, and this time we will try the golden spot option; then at least you need to pay just 2 Dollars to get the PCB after four days only, what I have noticed about JLCPCB this time is the "out of charge PCB color" it means you will pay only 2 USD for any PCB color you choose.
Related download files
As you can see in the pictures above the PCB is very well manufactured and I’ve got the same PCB design that we’ve made for our main board and all the labels,logos and the beautiful golden spots are there to guide me during the soldering steps. You can also download the Gerber file for this circuit from the download link below in the case you want to place an order for the same circuit design.
Step 5: Ingredients
Before start soldering the electronic parts let’s review the components list for our project so we will need:
★☆★ The necessary components ★☆★
The PCB that we have ordered from JLCPCB
And the laser cute parts
Step 6: Electronic Assembly
Now everything is ready so let’s start soldering our electronic components to the PCB and to do so we need a soldering iron and a solder core wire and a SMD rework station for SMD components (not needed if you use RTC module).
Never touch the element of the soldering iron....400°C!
Hold wires to be heated with tweezers or clamps.
Always return the soldering iron to its stand when not in use.
Never put it down on the workbench.
Turn unit off and unplug when not in use.
About the RTC components you can solder them or you can buy an RTC module and use it through the appropriate connector on the board.
As you can see, using this PCB is so easy due to its very high quality making and without forgetting the labels that will guide you guys while soldering each component because you will find on the top silk layer a label of each component indicating its placement on the board and this way you will be 100% sure that you will not make any soldering mistakes.
I’ve soldered each component to its placement and you can use both sides of the PCB to solder your electronic components.
Step 7: Plexiglass Assembly
Now we have the PCB ready and all the components soldered very well, we move to second part of the hardware assembly which is the LED connection, as you can see in the photo above we created a hole for each LED in our design so just use some glue to place the LEDs and then solder all the Anodes of the same rows together and the cathodes of the same columns together, once you finish the task you will have 14 wires for the matrix so just screw them as it indicates the PCB.
We continue the assembly by placing the Plexiglas parts each one to its placement and we screw the connection points.
Step 8: Software Part
All what we need now is the software, I have made this Arduino code for you guys and you can have it for free from the link down below, also I have created an android app to use it while setting up the time, date and the alarms of the clock. The code is very well commented so you can understand it and adjust it for your own needs, we need the Arduino Uno board to upload the code into our ATmega328 MCU then we take the MCU and we place it in its socket on the PCB.
We need an external 5v power adaptor to turn ON the device and here we are, the clock works very well and we can use this android app to adjust the time and to set some alarms.
this project is so easy to make and an amazing one specially with these shiny blue lights that could be your best DIY clock but still some other improvements to perform in order to make it much more butter, that’s why I will be waiting for your suggestions to improve this LIXIE clock, do not forget to thumb this project if you like it and to subscribe to my YouTube channel for more awesome videos and do not miss to watch our previous projects.