The 2.4″ I2C OLED display I had sitting idle is too big for the “Promini OLED Clock shield”, yet a perfect candidate for a regular Arduino shield. This is how it looks soldered on a prototype shield with two buttons on top, attached to wsduino running the OLED Clock sketch
Here is another interesting “intelligent” LED matrix display, whose name actually makes some sense (unlike HDSP-2354, among many others): SCD5583A. I reckon it means: “Serial Character Display with 5x5x8 dot matrix”. 3 is the code is for green (0 for red, 1 for yellow).
Nixie tubes: these electronic devices, which can display numerals or other information using glow discharge, made their first appearance in 1955, and they remain popular today because of their cool, vintage aesthetic. Though lots of companies manufactured these items back in the day, the name ‘Nixie’ is said to derive from a Burroughs corporation’s device named NIX I, an abbreviation of ‘Numeric Indicator eXperimental No. 1’.
We liked this recent project shared on reddit, where user farrp2011 used Raspberry Pi to make his Nixie tube display smart enough to tell the time.
A still from Farrp2011’s video shows he’s linked the bulb displays up to tell the time
Farrp2011’s set-up comprises six Nixie tubes controlled by Raspberry Pi 3, along with eight SN74HC shift registers to turn the 60 transistors on and off that ground the pin for the digits to be displayed on the Nixie tubes. Sounds complicated? Well, that’s why farrp2011 is our favourite kind of DIY builder — they’ve put all the code for the project on GitHub.
Tales of financial woe from users trying to source their own Nixie tubes litter the comments section on the reddit post, but farrp2011 says they were able to purchase the ones used in this project for about about $15 each on eBay. Here’s a closer look at the bulbs, courtesy of a previous post by farrp2011 sharing an earlier stage of project…
Farrp2011 got started with one, then two Nixie bulbs before building up to six for the final project
Digging through the comments, we learned that for the video, farrp2011 turned their house lights off to give the Nixie tubes a stronger glow. So the tubes are not as bright in real life as they appear. We also found out that the drop resistor is 22k, with 170V as the supply. Another comments section nugget we liked was the name of the voltage booster boards used for each bulb: “Pile o’Poo“.
Upcoming improvements farrp201 has planned include displaying the date, temperature, and Bitcoin exchange rate, but more suggestions are welcome. They’re also going to add some more capacitors to help with a noise problem and remove the need for the tubes to be turned off before changing the display.
And for extra nerd-points, we found this mesmerising video from Dalibor Farný showing the process of making Nixie tubes:
Generally at whatimade.today we post original projects we dream up ourselves. Today’s post is a little different. We’re going to describe how we constructed Mirko Pavleski’s single-digit clock. We made it because it’s a fun project, wonderfully impressive to look at, and a great design. Not only is the idea original, Mirko’s stl files for 3D printing are excellent, and his coding for the Arduino is very, very, sophisticated.
I built a countdown timer a couple of months ago using a two digit mechanical 7 segment display which was driven by 14 servos and an Arduino Mega. It came out quite well and a number of people suggested doubling up on the display to build a clock. The only problem was that the Arduino was already running short on PWM IO and I needed to double up on the outputs. Fortunately, someone pointed me in the direction of these PCA9685 16 channel PWM drivers, so I used them and a DS1302 real time clock module to build a mechanical 7 segment display clock which uses 28 servos and is now driven using an Arduino Uno.
What’s worse than a clock that doesn’t work? One that makes an “unbearably loud screeching noise” every minute of every day is a strong contender.
That was the aural nightmare facing YouTuber Burke McCabe. But rather than just fix the problem, he decided, in true Raspberry Pi community fashion, to go one step further. Because why not?
Burke showing YouTube viewers his invention
On the back of the clock, alongside the built-in mechanism controlling the clock’s arms, Burke added a Raspberry Pi to control a motor, which he hooked up to a webcam. The webcam was programmed using open computer vision library OpenCV to detect whenever a human face comes into view. Why would a clock need to know when someone looks at it? We’ll come to that.
First up, more on how that webcam works. OpenCV detects when a pair of eyes is in view of the webcam for three consecutive frames. You have to be really looking at it, not just passing it – that is, you have to be trying to tell the time. When this happens, the Raspberry Pi rotates the attached motor 180 degrees and back again.
I dunno why I sounded depressed in this video Original Video – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R3HUuf6LGQE&t=41s The Code – https://github.com/SmothDragon/Fa…
In his walkthrough video, you get a good look at Burke’s entire setup, including extra batteries to make sure your Raspberry Pi gets enough juice, advice on how to get to grips with the code, and even the slots your different coloured wires need to go in. And so very, very much duct tape. Who’s going to start a GoFundMe to get Burke the glue gun sticks he so desperately needs? And hit subscribe for his YouTube channel while you’re at it!