Mark Gritter (markgritter) wrote,
Mark Gritter

Geekly Joy

One of my presents this Christmas was this very beautiful Tix clock, which displays the time in pseudo-unary:

I am very happy with it.

(It complements our Tibetan bead calendar which presents the date abacus-style.)

Unfortunately it came with thin transparent plastic over the front. I assumed this was a protective layer meant to be removed. But after I had gotten it partway removed it became clear that the adhesive wasn't coming off cleanly. So my new clock already looks a little cruddy and has an appointment with a bottle of rubbing alcohol.

This means I did have an excuse to take it apart, and the construction really is quite cool and of high quality. The guts of the clock is the familiar PIC 16F628A, an 8-bit 18-pin microcontroller. The 16 I/O pins handle two input switches and drive 27 LEDs at three brightness levels without additional logic--- there is a resistor and transistor per LED, and some power-related components. The controller is socketed so that a hacker could replace it with their own microcontroller to produce alternate displays. (You might be able to program it in-place as well.) The LEDs are surface-mount devices occupying one side of the circuit board while all the other components and the switches sit on the reverse side. Kudos to Cube Root Labs for this elegant and attractive design.
Tags: electronics, geek, microcontroller
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