[Maarten Pennings] shares a word clock project – but not the regular kind. For a start, this clock is a shining demonstration of hobbyist-available 3D printing technologies, with embedded light guides for the letters printed in transparent filament, thanks to a dual-extruder printer. For a word clock, it’s surprisingly small – in fact, it uses an 8×8 addressable LED matrix, with words shown in different colors. If you’re looking to build a novel word clock, you’re all set here – [Maarten] tells all about this project’s story and provides a treasure trove of insights into designing all of its aspects!
The 8×8 limitation was initially set because he wanted to use a low-cost MAX7219 8×8 LED matrix module as a base for the clock. Thankfully, in Dutch, time can be expressed using shorter words — still, it had to be limited to 5-minute intervals. Extra effort had to be spent designing the layout — [Maarten] mentions his friend writing a solver that found a way to fit some words onto the layout diagonally. At some point, he switched from LEDs to Neopixels, and dug deep into addressable LED technology. For instance, he demonstrates Neopixel power measurements and current consumption calculations. This shows that the calculations indeed match the clock’s real consumption when measured by an external meter.
In the best of hacker traditions, all the source files are on Github — if you fancy yourself a Dutch word clock, you can build [Maarten]’s design easily! He provides extensive instructions on building this clock in the README, including a flashing and configuration tutorial, complete wiring diagrams, and a soldering guide. A manufacturing-grade amount of build information that won’t leave you guessing. He’s also added a fair number of animations, put plenty of effort into clock precision verification, and even investigated some Neopixel protocol minutiae. All in all, our hacker went all in on the capabilities while embracing the constraints. This reminds us of the similarly well-documented haptic word clock we covered just a year ago – check that one out, too!