What happens when you take four really huge LED displays, some electronics knowledge, and lots of wasted time... and put them all together? You get an oversized LED clock!
What does it do?Watch this short and pretty crappy video here:
The clock has the following functions and features:
- It's really big, making it easy to see from any part of my apartment.
- Most of the time, it shows the current time
- While a video file is playing on the media computer, it shows time remaining in the video
- When music is played, paused, or stopped, the display scrolls that information
- At 10pm, the display dims so it doesn't light up the whole room.
Building It, and The StoryEvery time I visited one of my favourite electronics stores, SupremeTronic, my eye would catch these huge LED modules they had on sale under the glass counter. Each time, I would see them, and then see the price tag (about $29 per display) and I would say to myself "Nah, I don't need that.". Then one day, in March of 2006, I found out that SupremeTronic was closing. Everything was on sale. So I picked up a bunch of great deals, and again my eye fell to those lovely LED displays. I couldn't resist. I bought four of them on the spot, and got them for $100, tax included.
I took them home and played with them a bit -- they were very unusual. 24 volts of power was required to drive them (most smaller LED segment displays require 3v). They mostly sat on my desk untouched for several months. Finally, I mentioned to my friend Infamy that I wanted his electronics experience to turn it into a computer-controlled clock.
Over the next few months, Infamy and I mounted the four displays onto a wooden backing that we cut and painted, wired the units up by hand, came up with a circuit plan and design revolving around a
Nanocore microcontroller, and more. We ran into tons of problems, too. Check out this early YouTube video, in which we have the displays mostly functioning but with some major visual problems:
After many many more hours tweaking, we finally fixed all the bugs. The electronics were mounted behind the clock, and I bought some smoked plexiglass to make the clock look even better. It took one year to finish the clock, from the day I bought the LED's to the day it was hanging on my wall. But it was a lot of fun, and both Infamy and I learned a lot about driving high-power electronics.
Here is what my workbench looked like during this project: