Sesame Street - Pinball Number Count Clock




Introduction: Sesame Street - Pinball Number Count Clock

About: Engineer

This instructable will outline the construction of a customised clock. Whilst this is specifically the construction of the clock featured on Sesame Street; the Pinball Number Counting animation, the general procedures are the same and the instructions are as generic as possible. The clock is inexpensive and an easy way to create something out of the ordinary.

The author is located in Australia, as with all my intructables all my locations are Australian and currency is Australian dollars.

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Step 1: Design Choice

Having grown up in the era; Sesame Street was a big part of my life. It was all forgotten until Family Guy did a reference to the Pinball Number Counting animated segment in the episode The Father, the Son, and the Holy Fonz.

YouTube video of the segment (not uploaded by myself)

After watching it numerous times, the idea to make a real clock from the image popped into my head.

Step 2: Clock Design.

The clock design can be literally be anything.

However, there are a number of factors you should consider with the design:
Firstly, there is a restricting to what a printer can print. The maximum size for most printers is A3. Secondly, the lengths of clock hands affect the diameter of the clock. If a specific hand length is desired, most likely they will be harder to source and more expensive. The length of the long hand should be long enough that it is overlapping the numbers. The clock hands that was sourced was approximately 12cm (5"), and was only used do to being the most inexpensive clock.

Depends o what is chosen as the main material to make the clock from. In this example wood ( MDF ) was chosen. Other materials that may be used are cardboard, sheet metal or Perspex. If the outer shape is quite complex it may be difficult cutting the shape out on a specific type of material. This example's design had only straight line segments which made things easier, however, filing was still required. A square/rectangle clock would be the easiest to manufacture, but then they would look the most plain. A circular clock will look nicer, but it would be difficult to make exactly circular.

Note about clock hands
Clock hands are always layered in this order hour (short) hand at the back, minute (long) hand at the top, and if it does exist; the second hand is the most outer. This order was the opposite of what was desired and if you did pick up on the slight difference in clock hands' shape it was due to this.

The design implies what program should be used. If your clock features photos, then Adobe Photoshop is fine. Being based on an animation vectors;which scale very nicely, were required hence, Adobe Illustrator was used.

Both the Adobe Illustrator file (Vintage Sesame Street - Pinball and Adobe Acrobat file (Vintage Sesame Street - Pinball Counting.pdf) is attached. The PDF was printed on an A3 with a colour laser printer.

Step 3: Equipment

The equipment used to make this clock was all scrap material lying around. General adhesives and paints were used as well.

Mechanical clock movement
The mechanical clock movement is the part of the clock that keeps the time. Whilst these can be purchases from speciality stores, it is easier and cheaper to remove this from an old cheap clock. The clock was purchased from the local discount department store for $7.

Removal of the clock movement from the face is very straight forward. The hands are simple pulled away from the face. The clock movement is usually held in by plastic clips at the back.

Other materials
  • Wood - any scrap can be used, as long as one side is nice and flat.
  • Sheet metal - this can be substituted for thin wood, Perspex, or anything else flat and strong. * This example used galvanised steel.
  • Filler - Car body filler was used, but this can be substituted for glues.
  • Adhesives - two where used in this example but only one is really needed. Spray contact adhesive was used to stick the print out to the wood, and epoxy was used to attach the clock mechanism and hands.
  • Paints - Black, (primer) white and clear. Black was used for the edges, with the clear used as a finishing coat.
  • Picture hanging kit - this consists of wire with some screws to.

The tools used were all standard items found around a workshop, listed are what was used to make this clock. However, they are not all needed.
  • Scissors - cutting out the clock.
  • Tin snips - if you chose to use sheet metal, else scissors are fine.
  • Jigsaw - cuts the initial clock pattern.
  • Files/sand paper - tiding up your work.
  • Markers - definitely needed to mark before you cut.
  • Drill bits and electric drill - a number of holes you will need to drill.
  • Screwdrivers - needed to attach the picture hanging wire.

Items specifically bought
The following items were specifically bought for this project (all items purchased from Bunnings):
  • Wire picture $2.47
  • 3M picture hanger $4.86
  • Selleys Kwikgrip 50ml $6.40
  • Adhesive spay bond 350g $13.34
  • All in one primer 1L oil based $21

Step 4: Construction - Cutting the Basic Shape.

Start by affixing a copy of the printed clock face on to the wood, masking tape was used. Begin jig-sawing the shape, making sure to stay outside the lines. Cutting on the outside of the lines allows for precise filing however, this doesn't work the other way.

With the basic shape cut, affix another copy of the printed clock face that has been cut out. This will give good practice on using the spray adhesive. The edges can then be filed.

Step 5: Construction - Hollowing the Interior.

After cutting the basic shape, it was realised that the clock mechanism wasn't designed to be mounted behind such thick wood (approximately half an inch thick), but rather designed for more thin material. The only way to mount the mechanism was if a thinner section existing in the centre.

There are a number of methods that can be used to achieve this, and it is advisable to use the method that is the easiest. If access is available to routers; use them, as this is by far the easiest method. However, I did not; so the next steps will outline an alternative method to achieve the same effect.

The idea is to make the interior section out of sheet metal, thin wood or plastic. The problem is the method to achieve this. The method used was to glue a circular piece of sheet metal into the bevel formed by slightly routing edges of the wood (the routing was all done with a hand router). Car body filler was used to fill any imperfections and make it all nice and smooth as though it were the one single piece. The reason for choosing a circle was that this was a feature of the clock face and could be easily hidden behind the printed clock face graphic if any imperfections arise.

Step 6: Construction - Painting and Applying the Printed Graphic.

Once the shape is prepared and finished the presentation can be worked on.

The edges need to be painted to match the clock design. If the wood is a fairly dark colour but the design is bright then the wood needs to painted white or a lighter colour.
A wood primer was used first (this is the white coat seen in the pictures) then followed by a black coat on the edges as this matched the outlines of the design.

To stick the printed paper to the wood, first cut it out. Practice placing the paper onto the wood trying to get the alignment as accurate as possible. Once ready, spray contact adhesive onto the back of both surfaces, wait till it becomes tacky and then apply the surfaces together. Use a rag to press the paper making sure there are no bubbles or creases.

Once dry, a final clear coat can be applied if desired.

Step 7: Construction: Hands and Wall Hanger.

Clock hands
The clock hands are quite straight forward. After being printed out the hands were glued to very thin aluminium with the contact spray adhesive. Cardboard or plastic could easily be substituted; it does however need to be light weight. The aluminium was thin enough to be cut out with scissors once the glue dried.

Prepare the original plastic clock hands by sanding the outer sides flat. Now it is simply a matter of gluing the hands to the aluminium with epoxy. Make sure they are in the centre. The little hand (being below the long hand) will need to be drilled; the existing hole can be used as a guideline.

Wire wall hanger
To hang the clock, a simple wire hanger was created with picture hanging wire and screws. The make the screws flush, the holes may be counter sunk. A 3M 2kg hook was used on the wall.

Step 8: Final Completed Pictures.

Final pictures of the clock hanging on my wall.

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    26 Discussions

    Ginger Magnus

    This is great! I constantly sing this song at work giving my co workers more reasons to question my sanity! Now I can have a prop to go with it!


    9 years ago on Introduction

    I have been inspired to learn how to use a jigsaw so I can have my own Sesame St clock. I kind of want a continuous sweep with a second hand, if I fashioned a template for a second hand in similar fashion do you think it'd ruin the look?


    Reply 12 years ago on Introduction

    making each segment turn red would have made the project a lot more complex. so it was skipped.


    12 years ago on Introduction

    Excellent work :D

    I hope you don't mind, I added a Samurize version of the clock for desktop use ;)

    samurize config


    Reply 12 years ago on Introduction

    thanks. I don't mind at all, that's why the files were provided.

    Kenneth Gardner

    Yeah, this is really cool!!! Great job! About where the minute/hour hand go, well it all depends on the clock maker. If you look at The Clock Tower, Big Ben, the minute hand is on top and the hour hand is on the bottom. Not to say one way is wrong or right but it is all good! All you need now is to find a way to rig the thing up with LED's and audio so every hour on the hour it does the song and light up like the theme song. Once again thank you for this great idea!


    Reply 12 years ago on Introduction

    Flash clock is great, Paul! Only thing I'd change is that the number color changes on the half hour instead of on the hour. For example, if it's 3:31, the highlighted hour is 4, not 3.

    This is really cool! Thanks for putting up the PDF of the face. I think it has a definite Art Deco or Art Moderne look about it. And I'm a lazy guy w/o a router or jigsaw, so what I'm gonna do is glue the face to either some foam-core or heavyweight Shocard, then make the rest of it from some 1" blue Styro, hollowed out to fit the works, and then finish the exposed edges. BTW, sometimes good used clocks can be found at the junk shop for a coupla bucks.


    12 years ago on Introduction

    I'm pretty sure Ryanfaerman is correct you say what seems to be the opposite?? Please do explain what you mean by the following Clock hands are always layered in this order minute (short) hand at the back, hour (long) hand at the top, and if it does exist; the second hand is the most outer


    Reply 12 years ago on Introduction

    You are all correct about the hands; had it the wrong way around, I will fix this.

    ich bin ein pyro
    ich bin ein pyro

    Reply 12 years ago on Introduction

    in my universe the minuete hand is long and the hour hand is short the second hand is on top the hour hand is in the middle the minuete hand is on the bottom thats how my schools clock is