Il Fullxfull.50008288
Super Electrofluorescent Profanity Machine via Giz.

The Super Electrofluorescent Profanity Machine, or Four Letter Word (for short), is a bit of electronics cobbled together out of vintage Cold War-era Soviet vacuum fluorescent tubes and custom driver circuitry. It was designed and built by me.

The device does two things: the first (mundane but utilitarian) thing that it does is tell you the time. It’s an accurate clock whose numbers glow brightly enough to dimly illuminate a dark room, serving as an effective night-light. It probably won’t wake you up, unless you can’t sleep in the presence of dim green lights.

The second (less mundane and utilitarian) thing that it does is generate random four letter words, which it displays for you at a rate of one per second. Every English word consisting of exactly four letters is possible, and the device is programmed to predispose the generation of words that you can pronounce, as opposed to incomprehensible trash. As the name of the device implies, even the more profane of English words is possible (though not necessarily probable). The effect is strangely hypnotic – the short length of time that this device spent on my desk at work was deliriously unproductive.

The main board has three buttons, one for switching the device between word-mode and time-mode, and two for setting the time. Included is a header to break the buttons out…