Tiny Word Clock

About: I enjoy making things - both hardware and software. I run a small company that makes the Open Source Espruino JavaScript interpreter (http://www.espruino.com) as well as the R4 and Morphyre Music Visualisers...

Word clocks spell out the current time (usually to the nearest 5 minutes) in actual words. They look great but are usually they're pretty big and require quite a lot of cutting and wiring to make.

This instructable shows you how to make a tiny, desk-sized word clock that looks good, only takes a few minutes and costs very little.

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Step 1: Parts and Assembly

You'll need

  • An 8x8 LED Matrix
  • A MDBT42Q Breakout board
  • A JST connector and Battery (or other way of powering your board)
  • A label printed with the 8x8 pattern of letters (pdf file attached)


It's best to position the MDBT42Q board over the very top pins on one side, and then push inwards. After a few attempts on each side you should have bent the pins enough that both sides will fit onto the MDBT42Q, and you can then solder them on.

The orientation of the display and pins used don't matter (as long as they're all GPIO pins). Just feed them into the LED Matrix pin finder tool and it'll give you the row/columns you need.

Step 2: Software

Now your clock is all together, it's time to add the software.

  • Start the Espruino IDE from https://www.espruino.com/ide/ (in the Chrome web browser)
  • Click settings up the top right, go to 'Communications' and ensure that 'Set current time' is checked.
  • Copy the Clock software from http://www.espruino.com/Tiny+Word+Clock#software and paste it into the right-hand side of the IDE
  • If you had used a different display, make sure the ROWS and COLUMNS variables are set to the values you got after running the LED Matrix Pin Finder code.
  • Click 'Upload' - and you should now have a clock!

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    2 Discussions


    Question 8 months ago

    Hi ! Nice clock! I'd like to use the same board but with a different display..I have 5 mini 7 segment displays is it still possible to make it?

    1 answer

    Reply 7 months ago

    If your 7 segments are wired directly (with no controller) then yes - you can use the same scanning method. If you have any questions about how to handle the code/wiring just post up on the forum - it'll be easier to post code in there.