Displaying the time these days is trivial — you could do it with any Arduino board and a simple four-digit seven-segment display. But as humans, we crave novelty and it isn’t uncommon to see a clock that is more art than a practical timekeeping device. That is true of AKUROBATTO, which is an insane kinetic clock robot that flips itself into position.
AKUROBATTO consists of a skateboard deck-shaped platform and a motorized robot. The robot acts like the hands of an analog clock, with two arms joined by a pivot joint. One can tell the time by judging the relative angular positions of the two arms. That sounds straightforward, but it gets more interesting when you realize that the pivot point between the two arms is not hard-mounted. So to change the angle between the arms, the robot must lock itself into place on the platform and then flip around.
It achieves that movement using two geared stepper motors and two clever servo-driven locking mechanisms. The latter let the robot latch onto the platform in one of two locations. Two Arduino Mini boards control the movement and monitor the angle through an AS5600 rotary encoder sensor. The Arduinos communicate with each other using a pair of nRF24L01 radio transceivers.
But the mechanical design is what truly sets AKUROBATTO apart. Its structure is 3D-printed, but it utilizes an ingenious system of locking rings and GT2 timing belts to transfer torque for movement. It is difficult to even comprehend without seeing the movement for yourself, which is exactly as kinetic art should be.
After being inspired by a beautiful, if rather expensive timepiece, Ira Hart decided to make a 3D-printed clock with 24 analog faces that combine to form a single digital display. The overall device is controlled by a single Arduino Nano, which keeps track of the time using a RTC module. This unit coordinates 24 other Nanos on custom carrier boards, which in turn drive their own little clock face via a pair of steppers and a gear system.
When working together, these 24 clocks can tell the time in very large characters, and even show a variety of kinetic art as it changes from one minute to the next. It looks awesome in the video below, and build info is available in Hart’s project write-up.
After observing a bicycle chain lying on the street in a random pattern, Ekaggrat Singh Kalsi was inspired to make a morphing clock that bends chains to tell time. The clock, known as “GETULA,” consists of four independent modules that work together to reveal the hour and minutes.
Each GETULA module uses two stepper motors to advance a couple of custom 3D-printed chains out of the device’s structure. As they are pushed forward, a pair of servos manipulate the links left and right, incrementally creating numbers when fully formed.
Control is accomplished via an Arduino, along with some A4988 stepper drivers. As of now, only one number is animated, but the other three digits can still be positioned to simulate how the full four-digit device will look.
You can see a nice demo of GETULA the first video below as well as a clip of it changing from the year 2020 to 2021 in the second.
Kaleb Clark, like many of us, works with others from all around the globe. While he could view any number of websites or commercial options to see what time it is for these other people, he decided to make a world clock to get this info at a glance.
What he came up with uses a 3.5″ SPI TFT screen to show eight time zones in the device’s main section, plus a pair of 7-segment displays for two more “slots.” The unit runs on an Arduino Nano 33 IoT, which checks the time over WiFi via the Network Time Protocol, or NTP.
In theory, Clark will never have to set this clock, but user interface is provided by an encoder to select the times on display, and whether they are shown in a 12 or 24-hour format.
As seen here, each digit moves up and down to show the appropriate hour and minutes under the power of a stepper. A rack system is integrated into the number-slider itself, with a printed driving gear affixed to the small motor. A WS2812B LED shines through the proper number on display, with red representing time and green indicating that it’s instead in temperature mode.
The device is controlled by an Arduino Nano, with time obtained via a GPS module. More info — including Arduino code, print files, and necessary parts — is available on GitHub.
Clocks normally tell you the time in your particular location, but what about that person that you know across the country or even on the other side the world? What time is it there? While it’s easy enough to do a web search or do a calculation, in order to find this out at an instant, Jeremy Cook made his own mechanical dual time zone clock.
The device is powered by an Arduino Nano, which drives a stepper motor to advance each minute. Using physical gear reduction, dual hour gears move at 1/12th the rate of the minute indicator gear, which can be offset to the secondary time zone of your choosing.
A real-time clock module is implemented to trigger each stepper advance, and a single button fast forwards the assembly when needed. Code, while still in a somewhat experimental state, is available on GitHub.