Solar Neopixel Clock

This project is an iteration of

A big thanks to Wellington Fab Lab for helping get this project finished.

Step 1: Materials & Tools


1x Arduino Nano
1x RTC
1x Breadboard
1x 6mm 1200mmx600mm Poplar ply (or other available wood)
1x 6mm 1200mmx600mm Poplar ply (or other available wood)
Glue (Expoxy and superglue)
1x 120 Neopixel strip
1x 60 Neopixel strip
1x 12 Neopixel strip
1x 1 Neopixel strip
2m x 1.8m Fabric (the more stretch the easier it'll be to form)
masking tape
5v battery pack
Staples (for the staple gun)


Soldering Iron
Craft knife/scissors
Computer (coding)
Access to a laser cutter
5v power supply
Staple gun

Step 2: Electronics

Building the circuit

Use the wiring diagram provided and with a breadboard built the circuit.

1 Neopixel strip = the central "sun" = PIN 9 (on Arduino nano)

12 Neopixel strip = the clocks hours = PIN 10 (on Arduino nano)

60 Neopixel strip = the clocks minuets = PIN 11 (on Arduino nano)

120 Neopixel strip = the clocks seconds (half seconds) = PIN 12 (on Arduino nano)

Uploading the code

Download the file containing the code and open with Arduino software (free to download). The software will tell you that the code file needs to be in a folder with the same name, click accept and it will do it for you.

Once open verify the code.

Plug in your circuit (nano, RTC, Neopixels) to your computer and upload the code.

check to see if all the strips light up and are moving at the correct intervals for what they are supposed to be displaying on the clock face. If anything is wrong compare your circuit to the wiring diagram.

once everything is working solder the circuit together except the neopixel strips, Label where they connect and leave them disconnected for now.

Step 3: Laser Cut

Laser cut out the attached files, I used Poplar ply as it was readily available and can be glued together easily. If you have 10mm you could save your self some time in the later steps rather then doubling up the same part in 6mm and 4mm as I have done.

Step 4: Glue the Frame Together

Glue the laser cut frame together, I recommend quick set two-part epoxy. to do this easily I started with the outer ring (largest laser cut circle divided into four parts) and while that was drying glued the central cross braces together with the middle circular piece that interlocks with them. Common household items like flour, cordials and large glass bottles work very well for holding parts in place while they dry. Glue these two parts together to complete the frame, the cross brace will slot into the cutouts of the frame ring (see photo 5).

Step 5: Building the Rings

first divide the laser cut parts up by diameter three are for the clock face and one central cicle for the "sun", some rings are divided up into 2 or 4 parts. Using superglue attach the thin outer wall to each of the four rings stacking them to 10mm tall. Once dry, peel the adhesive backing off the neopixel strips and stick them facing inwards toward themselves on the 10mm high wall (see photo 6). Stick these on with the arrows on the neopixel pointing clockwise. Now glue the circular neopixel dividers so that they box in where the light will shine into individual sections (see photo 7) keep all wires feeding inwards. For the sun centre stick the singular neopixel facing straight up and have the wire trail out the side (see photo 8).

Step 6: Fabric

For my fabric I chose a black cotton with a lot of stretch (20% elastic) having a good amount of stretch is important for getting a clean finish.

Start by covering the sun centre and stapling the fabric taught to the back.

Next cut a piece big enough to cover the 12 neopixel ring with a generous amount of overlap cutting a small hole in the centre. Feed the wires from the sun centre through this hole. Pull the fabric through the centre of the 12 neopixel ring, keeping the sun centre below, and stretch over stapling taught to the back. this creates a cone shape with the sun in the centre and the wires hanging out the bottom.

repeat the same fabric process for the 60 neopixel ring but before stapling it glue the sun strip to the centre of the frame which will allow you to pull the fabric taught over the 60 neopixel strip.

drape the remaining fabric over the entire frame and cut a circle out roughly 50mm from the outside of the frame (depending on how much stretch your fabric has adjust to fit) cut a hole in the circle and stretch it over the 60 neopixel strip. Cut the hole so it is only just big enough to be stretched over so it will not slip off when finally tensioned. Glue the 120 neopixel strip into the grooves cut in the frame. As with all other rings ensure the start to the strip is at the top with the arrows pointing clockwise. Stretch the fabric over stapling to the back of the frame.

Step 7: Final Step

Solder the neopixel strips to the circuit and attach to the inside of the clock.

Hang on the wall or ceiling.

Modify the design!

Share the design!

Enjoy the process!



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