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This is a really easy project for anyone to tackle. All it takes is about an hour of your time and some patience. You can pick up your own DIY clock kit from the Maker Shed. The kit is available with red or blue LED’s. Lets jump right in.

What you get:

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Everything you need is included in the kit. You even get some extra LED’s in case you make a mistake or break one during the build. I needed an extra!

Tools you need:

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All you need is a bit of tape and some needle nose pliers. The instructions also say to have a small screwdriver for inserting the LED’s, but I found using the needle nose pliers a lot easier to use.

Step 1: Attach the jumper wires

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Tape down the (5) un-insulated wires to the panel. That’s it!

Step 2: Add the (5) insulated wires

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The next step is to add the (5) insulated wires. They are color coded to match the printing on the panel that is supplied with the kit. Simple.

Step 3: Add some LED’s

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Start out by adding the LED’s in groups (junctions), according to the color sections of the board. Make sure you get the polarity right, I messed one up, and it was a pain in the neck to locate. The (+) lead on the LED is longer and should be inserted next to the triangles printed on the board.

Step 4: More, and more, and more LED’s

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Keep adding the LED’s in the color groupings. There are 24 total junctions! Twist together each junction according to the directions. Don’t forget to include the matching color from the power supply. You can add the power supply wires anywhere, just as long as it is in the same color section. It can get a bit monotonous, but the end results are worth it.

Step 5: Program

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There is an easy way to verify all the connections. It is as simple as holding down the button on the power cord and clicking it 24 times to make sure each pair of lights comes on. I had one set that was not working, I eventually found that 1 LED was inserted wrong. We all make mistakes. Now all I have to do is make a cool case for it. Any suggestions?

The LED clock kit is available from the Maker SHED.

Marc de Vinck

I’m currently working full time as the Dexter F. Baker Professor of Practice in Creativity in the Masters of Engineering in Technical Entrepreneurship Program at Lehigh University. I’m also an avid product designer, kit maker, author, father, tinkerer, and member of the MAKE Technical Advisory board.


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Comments

  1. Patti Schiendelman says:

    Oh, cool! I’m partway through this kit with my son – it’s a great kit! Nice to see the steps all laid out like this. You’re tidier than we are . . .

    1. Marc de Vinck says:

      Thanks!

      I should mention that any parents attempting this with their kids should build it in several parts….maybe over a few days. I can see a kid getting tired of all the connections fairly quickly. This is a GREAT project for kids, just don’t push them to make it in one sitting.

  2. Mary Specht says:

    I think it’s pretty cool without a case.

    1. Marc de Vinck says:

      @Mary

      You are right, it is cool, but I do like the look of the LED’s with some paper in front of them. It diffuses the light, which is really bright. I was thinking of just using some standoffs to hold the paper/vellum screen, This would leave it open from the sides and back.

      Update: I have had the clock for a few weeks now and I love it even more!

  3. Kevin says:

    I wanted one of these kits really badly, but after seeing them live at the Maker Faire I was disappointed by the visible flickering. I know that the display must be multiplexed to use so few wires, but it would be amazing if the refresh rate could be made faster.

    Then I’d need one for every room in my house.

    1. Marc de Vinck says:

      @Kevin

      I didn’t notice the flicker at all. Maybe the sample at Maker Faire was a bit abused (which can make it flicker) You can see in the picture the high/low LED’s but in “real life” it really is not an issue. It was hard to photograph due to the high intensity LED’s….they are REALLY bright.

  4. Kevin says:

    @Marc

    I’m sure the led’s look fine. I’m just really picky because my eyes are really sensitive to flicker. (florescents and CFL’s hurt my eyes)

    I love this kit, but I wish it was a little more open. It would be awesome if we could hack it with a PIC programmer to use an external oscillator so it refreshed faster.

    Thanks!

    1. Marc de Vinck says:

      I went and plugged mine in…it’s fine.

      Wow! Florescent and CFL’s hurt your eyes, that has to be annoying!

      I wonder if you would notice the flicker when the LED’s are behind some parchment or paper? I think it looks a lot better, plus it tones it down a bit.

  5. Kevin says:

    Oh cool. Well, I guess I’ll have to get one and try it out!

    Thanks Marc

    1. Marc de Vinck says:

      If you are in the NYC area, come to a meet-up and check one out again (I’ll bring mine)

      Otherwise, you could always buy one, put it together, and if it bothers you….give it as a gift. Everyone who has seen mine wants it.

  6. mpechner says:

    Make sure the colored wired are in the center of the bundle of LED wires. Otherwise they do come loose.

    I wound up soldering mine. But the blue LED makes a cool office clock.

    Wish List for Kit:
    - Having the option for a battery case would also be cool.
    - Having the colon blink each second would be nice.
    - A kit with LEDS that change color. When the minute changes, have the led colors change for that minute.

    1. Mastertech96 says:

      Why dont you just make a 555 timer circuit?
      here are the schematics:
      http://www.electronic-circuits-diagrams.com/lightsimages/1.gif

  7. Henry says:

    hi Marc,
    Thanks for sharing this project !
    In the link you’ve posted to buy the kit, it is written that this clock needs 60Hz power (USA,CA), and as I’m living in belgium, I was wondering if it would work here?
    We’ve got 220V/50Hz power here, with this kind of power outlet:

    http://www.hagerpourvous.fr/images/produits_pages/produits_hager/appareillage_mural/kallysta/Kallysta_serie/Kallysta_300x300/prise2P+T.jpg

    will it be ok according to you? I don’t think so unfortunately… what a pity…

  8. Henry says:

    Marc,
    Could you please give me the exact electric characteristics written on the adapter if you have it under the eyes (V, A, Hz, etc…) in order for me to see if it will work in belgium or if I can buy one which is similar and work under our 50Hz network.
    Thank you very much for your useful help :)

  9. Henry says:

    Marc,
    Could you please give me the exact electric characteristics written on the adapter if you have it under the eyes (V, A, Hz, etc…) in order for me to see if it will work in belgium or if I can buy one which is similar and work under our 50Hz network.
    Thank you very much for your useful help :)

  10. C. Hummer says:

    i would be interested in 50Hz compatibilty too. is there a way to make this work in europe?

    greetings from austria!
    c.

  11. ZeroSum says:

    My assumption is that it’s using the 60Hz input as its timing clock. If you put it on a 50Hz line it would run slow. If there’s a large enough market, however, they could probably make a 50Hz version easily.

  12. fruitkid101 says:

    I’m thinking, Take a spare block of wood or mdf (looks cooler) and use the original cardboard plate thing as a template and drill holes in the wood or mdf. It would make it have a very “workshop” feeling.