Even if hardcore makers insist on making everything from scratch, especially when it comes to something as simple as a clock, sometimes it’s easier to start off with a kit. Makery collected a few stellar samples to suit a wide range of more or less mathematical minds…
Mini-geek: Binary Clock
For true geeks, there are only 10 types of people in the world: those who understand binary and those who don’t. So what could be more minimalist than a tiny LED binary clock that fits between two fingers?
Nevertheless, let’s indulge in the luxury of using RGB colored LEDs to distinguish the hours (red), minutes (green) and seconds (blue). Then all we need to do is add up the values of lit LEDs in each column (1-2-4-8) to deduce the exact time, with real-time “ticking” in blue.
Apple Mountain’s kit ($17 without enclosure) includes all the required electronics (with optional bamboo case). Simply solder the LEDs and the components to the circuit (or double the price to receive the assembled board), screw together the case and power via USB.
Apple Mountain kit, $17
Discreet: Fibonacci Clock
If you don’t need precision down to the minute, or if you would rather disguise your clock as a decorative piece of abstract art, this numberless timepiece inspired by the Fibonacci sequence displays the time in multiples of 5 minutes… for those who know how to distinguish squares and colors and multiply by 5. As a reminder, the Fibonacci sequence begins with the numbers 1, 1, 2, 3, 5. When represented geometrically by square surfaces, they describe a spiral shape, which can be found both in nature and in the golden ratio.
Here, you can read the time by adding up the values of the squares according to their color: hours in red, minutes (multiplied by 5) in green (or yellow, if you’re partial to Mondrian), and values shared by both hours and minutes in blue. White squares are not counted, and it’s up to you to guess AM or PM. So the same time can be displayed in various configurations, along with various palettes.
Created in open source by the Quebecker Philippe Chrétien, whose Kickstarter campaign raised 3627% of its goal thanks to 1242 backers in just one month, the Fibonacci Clock is now available in partial and complete ($85) kits.
Fibonacci Clock kit, $85
Twisted: Time Twister
If you count yourself among those who prefer complicated to simple, but still have a weakness for numerals when it comes to displaying time, this robotic clock made from Lego Mindstorms just may be your cup of tea. Its maker, Hans Andersson, has since designed other Lego clocks, but his first Time Twister is the only one that is completely dissected on his website, and therefore open to anyone with the patience and determination to acquire all the parts and put it together at home. The code is also open source, should you wish to modify it.
Digitally empirical: Plot Clock
Not quite a kit, but designed to be made in a fablab (if only for access to a 3D printer or laser cutter), this automaton savant is the perfect clock for tinkerers of robots. In addition to the usual nuts and bolts, Plot Clock‘s main parts are an Arduino board, three servomotors and a dry wipe pen. The concept is to make the pen write the digital time on a white surface that is wiped clean every minute. (Once the body is built, we can’t wait to fine-tune the penmanship…) And precisely because it’s not a kit, the methods and results of the fabrication process vary according to the maker. Feel free to choose your own.
Retro-chic: VFD tube clock
Since we already told you how much we liked Akafugu‘s tube clock kits, we’d also like to point out their most accessible timepiece, the VFD Modular Clock IV-18 SMT Edition. For $130, the circuit board comes pre-soldered, with optional GPS to synchronize the time. Simply assemble the enclosure to hide the electronics and admire the skillful resurrection of a 20th century vacuum fluorescent display tube. Not only does it show the time and date, it can also flash random four-letter words (database included in the kit), and all kinds of potential puns or pranks, as the firmware is entirely open source.
VFD Modular Clock kit, $130
Still in prototype, but very promising, this elegant digital clock, classic at first glance, fascinates the longer you observe the fluid, trembling transitions between the digits. Indeed, the numbers are displayed by a black liquid that reacts to magnets, and by extension to the electronic components moving behind its face.
It’s impossible to know if Rhei will be available one day as a kit (we don’t even know what liquid is involved), but given the teaser video’s emphasis on the meticulous process of fabrication and experimentation, we can only hope that Damjan Stanković, its New York-based Serbian creator, will take the maker’s path of open source.