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Guy Marsden
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David Bruckenstein
"Dots" Clock

4" diameter X 16" tall
January 2022

Dots - clock
Dots back view Dots top view
This clock has a default mode where a white LED fades up and down very slowly at the bottom of the white translucent section.  If you wave your hand anywhere near the top or sides it "wakes up" and starts displaying time by lighting up LEDs in sequence from the bottom.  First it shows the number of hours, and then the number of minutes in five minute increments.  So for instance, to show a time of 3:20 it would  first light three LEDs, pause and then light for LEDs.  At the bottom of this page is a video that shows how it works and how it was made.

This is the ninth collaborative clock project that Dave and I have completed.   The original concept was for a circular clock with 12 LED rings that would show the number of minutes at each our position.  We later explored using straight lines of LEDs for each clock hand position, but finally simplified the whole design down to its essential, simple form.
Dots concept with LED rings Dots concept 2
Dots concept 3
Dave does these excellent CAD renderings for every idea that he or I develop.  But what is always interesting to both of us is that his final CAD rendering looks a great deal like what I end up fabricating.  This clock is no exception, and his rendering (at right) is so accurate that it could have been done after the fact rather than before.  Or may be, it's that I'm very good at following his renderings! Dots final concept
Turning base on my lathe Jason turning the base on his bog lathe
The base is fabricated from a heavy aluminum cylinder that was 4 inches in diameter and around 5 inches high.  I was able to machine both ends, but my mini metal lathe was too small to finish up the outside surface, so I took it over to Jason who lives nearby - he and has a large machine lathe that he used to clean up the outside surface.  It took over 8 hours to machine this cylinder to make the recesses at the top and bottom, and holes for the buttons and power jack on the back.  I am teaching myself metal machining in this project was extremely enjoyable for me.
Dots base on my lathe
Here is a view of the final completed base fully machined.  The recess in the bottom holds the acrylic panel that holds the electronics, and the holes are for the hour and minute set buttons and the DC power jack.  I coated the aluminum with shellac to preserve the finish.
Dots electronics Dots electronics - back view
The electronics for this clock were relatively simple and I was able to hand wire it using a vintage technique known as wire wrapping.  Back in the 1980s I used to use this technique to build prototypes all the time!  The code development was similarly easy because I was able to use boilerplate code that I had written for the real-time clock functions in previous clocks.  Also, the DotStar LEDs in this project are very easy to program, each one is a smart LED that I send brightness info to.
I made a very detailed video that shows the clock in action and how I made it.
Dots in my home
As with each of these projects, I get to live with the final product for a few days before I ship it off to Dave in North Carolina.

Visit Dave's web site:
DAB's Clocks

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