Talking Darth Vader Binary Clock




Introduction: Talking Darth Vader Binary Clock

In this instructable I am going to show you, how to paint a black and white image of Darth Vader and bring it to life by adding a binary clock and making it talk.
If you are not a big Star Wars fan, don’t worry you can use the electronics and code to make any painting say the time. Even with your own voice.

This was my first ever Arduino project, so I’m certain, that anybody can do it. I started with a normal binary clock, but thought it was pretty boring, so I added a DS1307 and made a standalone version. Then after finishing the painting and getting everything to work I decided, that it would be infinitely better, if I could make the clock speak in Vader’s voice. So this is what I ended up with:

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Step 1:

  • Arduino Mega 2560
  • Wave Shield for Arduino (e.g. from adafruit industries)
  • DS1307 Real Time Clock breakout board (e.g. from adafruit industries)
  • 16 red LEDs (only 13 are needed for the clock, the other three are just there for the symmetry)
  • 16 LED holders
  • 13 220 ohm resistors
  • 3 2.2 kohm resistors
  • 8x4 holes grid-style PC board
  • 3 push buttons
  • Wire
  • Duck tape
  • Paint: black and white
  • 60x30x3 cm canvas
  • Heat shrinking tube
  • Hot glue gun
  • Round diamond file
  • Small, sharp scissors
  • Paintbrushes
  • Optional: circle template, razor blade

Step 2: Paint

If you are not a good painter, check out this awesome tutorial on how to transfer a photo to a canvas. But believe me, you don’t need to be a skilled painter to get this right.

You will need inkscape to open the attached file (download the Vader image here). Start by printing out the vector graphic (if you would like to vectorice your own image check out this tutorial). You can of course use a poster printing program, but I prefer to use inkscape. Scale the image to the right size and print it to individual pages by moving it around. Use tape to stick them back together. Once you are done, use a pencil to colour the back of the image, turn it around, lay it on the canvas and trace the line with a ball pen.

I like to use a small flat paint brush. As a hint, should you mess up don’t try to cover the black paint with white paint, use a razor blade and carefully scrape the paint away.

Step 3:

I was afraid that the canvas might fray, if I would have just cut the holes out. So I decided, to stick duck tape to the back of it, which turned out to be a good idea, even though it made cutting the holes a whole lot more difficult.
As you can see in the pictures I used a circle template to mark the holes, but you don’t really need one. Drilling the holes, didn’t work out to well, that’s why I used small sharp scissors.

Once you are done, add the buttons, LEDs and LED holders.

Step 4:

We will start by getting the wave shield to run.

I used the Wave Shield by Ladyada. Follow these instructions, to set it up. It works perfectly with an Arduino Uno, but should you be using the Mega, you will have to do the following changes (this post helped me a lot):

Start by clipping the pins connected to digital pins 11, 12 and 13 on the shield, as shown in the picture and solder three wires to the holes. Instead of connecting CSS to pin 10 connect it to the digital pin 53 on the Mega.

Then place the shield on the Arduino and connect:
11 on the shield to digital pin 51 on the Mega.
12 on the shield to digital pin 50 on the Mega.
13 on the shield to digital pin 52 on the Mega.

Those will talk to the SD card later.

If you would like to use your own *.wav files, you will have to convert them. Lady Ada has a very good tutorial here. I used Audacity to convert the files. As a hint, "QuickMix" is called "Mix and Render" in Audacity 1.3.3 and above and can be found in the "tracks" menu.

I used Audacity to record my voice and altered it by changing the pitch and echo. Even though I’ve got a rather deep voice for a girl, it sounded ridiculous. So I convinced a friend to record his voice and once again after changing the pitch and echo we were happy with the result. You can download the files here.

Step 5:

To connect the LEDs start by soldering the cathodes (those are the shorter legs) together. I’ve added the 220 ohm resistors directly to the anodes. The third picture shows you which LED to connect to which digital pin (click on it, to see a bigger version).  Now use heat shrinking tube to prevent short circuits.

You don’t need to use an Arduino Mega, an Arduino Uno will work as well. If you would like to use an Uno check out “shift registers”.

Step 6: Make the Secret Button

In this step I am going to show you, how to make a secret button hidden behind one of the LEDs. Start by twisting the legs of one of the LEDs and clipping them, as shown in the first picture.  Then use hot glue to cover them, as shown in the second picture. Place it back into the LED holder and place the button upside down on top of it. Once again use hot glue to glue the button to the LED holder (make sure not to glue it to the LED or it won’t work).
Let the hot glue set and try the button.

Step 7: Code for the Binary Clock

Start by connecting the push buttons, as shown in the first picture. As you can see in the code, digital pin 18 from the Mega should be connected to the button, that you would like to use to say the time. Pin 19 to the secret push button and pin 17 to the button you would like to use to turn the LEDs on and off.

Next we will connect the DS1307 (to get it to work you will have to install the RTClib) Connect the SCL pin (21) from the Mega to the SCL pin on the breakout board and SDA (pin 20) to SDA. Then connect it to power.

I used hot glue to fixate everything on the back of the canvas.

Now it's time to upload the code. Plug your Arduino in and upload the following code:

The code for the binary clock is based Daniel Andrade’s version and the code for the talking part on Oluwatobi Babatundes’s Multi-lingual speaking clock. So thanks to them and of course Lady Ada.

Step 8: Read the Clock

In order to read the clock, you will have to add the values for each column. Each line has a value, the one on the bottom is "1", the one above it "2", the one above that "4" and the one on top "8".
So the time in the example picture it is 18:39.

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    8 Discussions


    7 years ago on Introduction

    Congratulations on being a finalist in the DIY Audio Contest!! Good luck to you! (I will admit this is my favorite out of the lot!!!)


    Reply 7 years ago on Introduction

    Thanks for letting me know and for letting me know in the "Hack it! contest as well.


    7 years ago on Step 8

    Not just a great thing......but a great instructable too!!!


    7 years ago on Introduction

    Looks really cool!

    You missed a 'l' in your link in Step 2 for the canvas tutorial:

    .htm should be .html



    Reply 7 years ago on Introduction

    Thanks a lot for telling me, I corrected it


    7 years ago on Introduction

    Very Cool putting it into Vader's control consule.