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    Making Time

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    Congratulations to fmilburn  for  Cat Commander iot Clock and Kibble Dispenser!  You are the winner of a $200 Shopping Cart and earn the Grand Prize Trophy Badge!


    Congratulations to sokol07 for Laser Shutter Testerjancumps for A Crystal Clock with 1 Transistor - the Pierce Oscillator,  and dwinhold for (Modified) Work Clock!  You are the First Place winners of the $100 Shopping Cart and earn First Place Trophies!


    "This competition inspired a nice collection of unique projects - some were practical and some were fun, showcasing member creativity and multidisciplinary talents for electrical theory, mechanical design, programming and making." - Community Member Judge

    “Time isn't the main thing. It's the only thing." - Miles Davis


    The Making Time competition challenged you to build projects that use or alter time such as egg timers, photographic timers, clocks, calendars, delay lines, stop action photography, and more.  It forced you to think of time.   While none of the projects involved time travel, parallel universes, or wormholes, it did include some pretty amazing projects!   The grand prize winner, Cat Commander iot Clock and Kibble Dispenser, was a clock that synchs itself with the Network Time Protocol (NTP), feeds cats, and can be controlled wirelessly.It features an "Archimedes Screw", a machine based on ancient Egyptian technology, because it looks cool.  The first place prizes include a photography project with Laser Shutter Tester , a sweet little one-transistor crystal oscillator, and of course a (Modified) Work Clock  which allows you to work only 5.3 hours a day and have 18.7 hours of personal time.


    Time is fascinating, and runners up included, amongst others, a yin yang Spectrum Clock , a SunPathClock , a BulbDial , a NeRDPACk - No RTC DigitPad Alarm Clock ,  and another dubbie adventure with The Current Time : Hours and Deciminutes.   Check out all the Making Time projects and all the interpretations of this fascinating theme!


    Thank you to the following community judges for making this possible:  genebren ,   14rhbDABraspberrypitechguyFred27 ,   and dougw!


    Without further Ado here are your winners.......


    {tabbedtable} Tab LabelTab Content

    The Winners

    The Grand Prize


    Cat Commander iot Clock and Kibble Dispenser  by fmilburn:


    fmilburn  and the kids and were doing an internet search for animal feeders and looked at a number of methods for metering the feed.  They decided on the "Archimedes Screw" because, afterall, a machine based on ancient Egyptian technology and looking this cool had to be the right answer.  One of the designs they saw used a PVC tee as the body and they adopted that.  fmilburn  sketched everything out freehand and for no good reason made the storage cylindrical.  It kind of looked like a rocket ship so a nose cone was drawn on top and the Cat Commander Kibble Dispenser was born.  The detailed design and fabrication was done by him, but his grandson helped with assembly.


    Cat Commander iot Clock and Kibble Dispenser

    "Every category on my checklist I marked against this project must amassed points. It was well designed and thought out with some great 3D printed components...and of course it worked well. Frank deserves a win here and if for no other reason then he'll need to recoup his depleted filament stock!" - Community Member Judge



    "A super clean project with great results. I really like the remote interface for setting the feeding schedule." - Community Member Judge

    "I like the little touches like the coutdown to blastoff." -  Community Member Judge

    First Place Winners:



    Laser Shutter Tester  by sokol07:


    In the last few years film photography is regaining its position as more and more people are getting interested in it. Unfortunately, there are almost no film cameras produced so far. Therefore, most of the people passionate about taking photos on a photographic film are using very old machines – from 1920s to 1980s. What’s interesting – most of the old, mechanical cameras are sturdy and can be easily repaired which can’t be said about more modern cameras, full of precise and delicate electronic, which can’t be repaired without spare parts.


    After many years of usage there are several parts in a camera which can require replacement. One of them are the curtains of the shutter – often made of rubbered silk, controlled by a mechanical clock-like mechanism, which controls exposure times. Sometimes the shutter needs to be disassembled also during replacement of the grease and lubrication of the mechanism.


    There are multiple solutions for measuring the exposure time. One of them in acoustic measurement – the device records shutter sound and it can be analyzed to determine the opening and closing moments, indicated by “clack” sounds. However, this solution isn’t very accurate for short exposure times (high shutter speeds) and can be used only for overall measurements of the exposure time – it is impossible to check the slight width in the top/bottom and start/end of the movement. Therefore, sokol07  decided to use optical method – setting up a light beam, which is stopped by the shutter (just like during taking a photo!) and the time of exposure is measured as a time when the light beam is hitting a photoelement across the shutter curtain. Many people go with IR LED light sources in similar applications. However, the IR light is invisible so it is harder to check, where the beam is in the shutter’s working space. This made me decide to go with a red laser light source. The laser beam has to hit some kind of a detector. At first sokol07 was planning to use a photoresistor as he had a few spare in his “fancy electronic stuff box”. However, after some research he realized that the photoresistor has got too long reaction (rise and fall) times, which would make him unable to measure short exposure times. Therefore, he decided to use a phototransistor chosen to suit the red laser light spectrum. The whole device is driven by a MCU and has got a screen for visualizing the measurements. No buttons are needed as the device needs no calibration – all the user has got to do is turn the power on and place the tester shutter in the way of the laser beam.


    The first version of the device was driven by an Arduino Nano clone. However, slight hand shaking during soldering made it necessary to replace it (don’t drink and solder!). The only other MCU he had at that moment was an Arduino Uno. However, this device can be run by any MCU capable of operating one I2C line (for the screen) and one analog input – even Attiny85 should be enough! sokol07  decided to use an Adafruit SSD1306 OLED screen and a Chinese laser module (Keyes KY-008). Both of these modules can operate on voltage from 3.3V to 5V, which are supplied by the Arduino board.


    Laser Shutter Tester


    "Very nicely documented. I learned a lot about cameras and shutters before I even got to the electronics." -  Community Member Judge


    "A clean and simple approach yielding great results.  Nice addition to show fractional shutter time along with decimal time. " - Community Member Judge

    "Just watching the video sold this project to me, although that then was confirmed as I marked it without bias against the other projects. What I liked was the shutter noise and whilst that wasn't part of the project it gave the sense of what was happening immediately. The display was very clear and I would imagine any photographer would enjoy replicating this neat little project. I also liked the rugged approach to the design using wood and tape to prove the point." - Community Member Judge

    A Crystal Clock with 1 Transistor - the Pierce Oscillator  by jancumps:


    jancumps presents a sweet little one-transistor crystal oscillator for the Project14 | Making Time season.  In Project14 spirit, it's only 5 ultra-cheap components. Just off the border between analogue and digital.  With the 5 components we'll make a Pierce crystal oscillator. One of the most commonly used oscillators in microcontroller circuits. The circuit is often used in digital designs, because that's where we need clocks. But in essence it's an analogue circuit. Like every oscillation circuit, we have to have a gain > 1 at the requested frequency, when the phase is 0 or 360°. So that the circuit keeps energising itself.  I'm going to take a lot of jumps here over the difficult stuff: the JFET is an inverter, and gives us 180° of phase shift. the rest has to be approximated by the rest of the circuit. You can take this for granted, or read the document from Ramon Cerda that I provided in the sources below. The better you approximate the 0° /  360° goal, the efficienter your oscillator. But it's very forgiving:

    • we are already over 180° . Before 180°, gain works against us. Once this cliff is taken, gain supports the oscillation.
    • the JFET has plenty of gain
    • the crystal is a narrow band device


    So even when things are terribly off, the circuit will still want to oscillate at the crystal's frequency.

    jancumps had guaranteed success with crystals between 12 and 19 MHz. Even if the power supply ramped up slowly and there was no hard trigger event to kick off the play.

    With a 4 and 4.4 MHz crystal, he had to disturb the circuit (introduce some bounce by wiggling the crystal in the socket) to get the circuit oscillating.


    A Crystal Clock with 1 Transistor - the Pierce Oscillator




    "A nice project covering the basics of how we define time electronically." - Community Member Judge


    (Modified) Work Clock  by dwinhold:


    How often are you at work and feel:


    • The time is just dragging on?
    • Will this day ever end?
    • I wish our lunch break is longer?


    With the Modified Work Clock you now work only 5.3 hours a day and have 18.7 hours of personal time. This clock still keeps your day at 24 hours but changes the actual time you worked and your personal time.


    (Modified) Work Clock

    "A nice simple fun project. It made me smile and it sort of managed to alter time." - Community Member


    The Runners Up

    Runners Up:


    The following members received first place votes.


    Spectrum Clock by maxpowerr:


    maxpowerr  had the idea of representing time as a spectrum of colors. There are already similar ideas on the Internet, but they are a little difficult to accurately determine the time. maxpowerr wanted to make a simpler and more understandable clock. To represent the time, he decided to use two hue wheels, one for the hour and one for the minutes and seconds. In the center, he decided to place the yin and yang symbol, the upper part of which will display hours and the lower part of the minute, two dots, will display seconds.


    For the project, he decided to use a WS2812b addressable LED strip (I took 1 meter 144 LEDs), an Arduino Nano and a thin 22AWG wire. He also designed the case and 3D printed it.


    Spectrum Clock

    "I found this a really nicely made and presented project - the 3D printed shapes were truly lovely. I must admit I wouldn't be able to tell the time from it but the idea must still be rewarded in my opinion." - Community Member Judge



    NeRDPACk - No RTC DigitPad Alarm Clock  by nmccloud:

    nmccloud  foregoes using a Real Time Clock module. Some of the Arduino's in his collection have actual crystal oscillators on them, rather than rather temperature sensitive and fundamentally inaccurate ceramic oscillators. So if the RTC module uses a crystal and he's got an Arduino with a crystal on it, why can't he write the code to run a reasonably accurate clock? The single biggest issue is the an RTC uses a crystal tuned to 32,768Hz which is rather easy for a computer to divide down to 1Hz aka a one second tick. Whereas he's had an Arduino running at 16MHz which doesn't divide so easily and, as a surprise to some, means the millis() function is actually off by just a little bit. It's reliable & consistent, but the difference needs to be corrected. He already had some pointers from various pages on the internet about tracking the accumulating error and how, once there has been some calibration, the difference can be accounted for.


    This is a fairly typical Arduino Pro Mini with the large oval can that is a proper crystal oscillator. So after re-finding the pages buried deep on the inter webs using his sketchy recall of the keywords, he spent a surprisingly short amount of time coding the algorithm and a stupidly large amount of time running various calibration runs - sometimes thwarted by Windows 10 deciding to do an automatic restart after an automatic update - that lost several overnight runs. The varying results average out about 2 or 3 seconds per month, which isn't as good as a decent RTC module with some sort of temperature compensation and millions of $$$ of research, design and testing, but it's good enough for the purposes of waking him up. Having got the Arduino making like an RTC, the next bit was to get the two main external components working.


    NeRDPACk - No RTC DigitPad Alarm Clock





    SunPathClock by bernhardmayer:


    Nowadays GNSS receivers are so cheap that you don't only use them for their actual task, positioning, but also for more trivial tasks like giving the time. This was done in the Self-adjusting clock with e-display  project. The only downside of this is that the receiver somehow needs to receive signals from the satellites. So in basements or other covered places this won't work. But with more sensitive receivers this gets less a concern. Additionally when there is already a GNSS receiver in the system, you could also use it's positioning feature. One goal would be to show the times for sunrise and sunset. Another goal is to draw the position of the sun at the location of the clock. These dates highly depend on the position. So this is a perfect fit. And this is what bernhardmayer is going to show in his project.


    His project is based on an Arduino MKR WiFi 1010. As GNSS receiver he uses the Adafruit Ultimate GPS Breakout.  This is based on the MTK3339 chipset. As a display he used his ArduHMI shield which he already introduced in  NFC-Badge - Update your badge with your smartphone - Design data of the HMI shield  - Design data of the HMI shield . The latest version of the shield also has an Arduino MKR connector so it can be directly plugged on top of the Arduino MKR WiFi. The data of the HMI shield is available on github. The project is powered by an USB power bank.




    "I liked this original idea for a clock display. Ive seen moon phases before, but not the sun." - Community Member Judge


    "Great design and a clever sun position concept makes for a truly unique timepiece.  Well done!" - Community Member Judge


    BulbDial - A Tale of a Sundial without the Sun  by wolfgangfriedrich:


    When the Making Time  competition started, wolfgangfriedrich's long-term memory forced his thoughts back into 2011 (sounds like a virtual time machine) when he was prototyping a sundial based on a regular clock movement and some LEDs, called a bulb dial.


    It all started from a blog post with just a beautiful concept drawing at Ironic Sans (amazing the the blog is still up 13 years later). The idea is simple and elegant. 3 light sources circle a pin and cast shadows in different length for hours, minutes and seconds.


    The idea of a bulb dial got picked up by several parties and got implemented with boatloads of static LEDs. First were the geniuses at Mad Evil Scientists.  Other implementations can be seen from Solarbotics and Taufeeq.


    The idea was cooking in his mind for some time until he had enough pieces of the puzzle solved to build a prototype in the spirit of the original concept. He needed a mobile means of power transfer between the different light levels. The solution was multiple disks of decreasing radius for hours/minutes, stacked on top of each other with a shadow casting pin in the center and LEDs of different heights at the edge of each disk. Energy transfer was done through concentric rings of conductive material on the lower level and spring loaded wiper contacts coming down from the upper level. Wires, LEDs and current limiting resistors were the easy part. LEDs had to be narrow beam types, additionally enclosed in heat shrink/tape to reduce stay light all over the place. In the true spirit of prototyping he used wobbly disks of cardboard, copper and aluminum tape and copper EMC finger gaskets. The clock movement was a continuous type with all arms running smooth in circles and not hopping from one second to the next. Contact was not perfect, so the LEDs went dim/off randomly, so he tried to improve contact resistance with solder and more conductive tape. In the end, he could prove the concept, but never got to a good enough prototype that he would put on the wall as a working timekeeping piece.


    BulbDial - A Tale of a Sundial without the Sun


    "This idea was not held back by a lack of production equipment as the builder just used cardboard, tape and paper to make the project and so is inspirational to the community. What he managed was to prove a very interesting concept for a different type of sundial." - Community Member Judge


    The Current Time : Hours and Deciminutes by dubbie :


    After a long think about what he might do for the Making Time Project14 challenge and thinking he might not be able to come up with anything suitable dubbie  had the idea of creating a current flow that would represent the time, hence the name current time. He thought it would be fun to create a circuit that would create a current between 0 and 11 microamps to represent the hours 0.00 to 11.00 o'clock - he had trouble thinking about whether 12.00 o'clock should be 12.00 or 00.00 and in the end decided on using 00.00. So all he needed was to create 12 different current steps, 0.0 microamps to 11.00 microamps. His initial idea was to use a stabilised voltage source such as a Zener combined with high precision resistors, controlled using analogue switches. Sadly, at this point his thinking went awry and for some reason he decided that he could use analogue multiplexers for the analogue switches with just one value of resistor.


    As he had some analogue multiplexers and had just purchased some resistors he thought he would be OK. He also wanted to use moving coil meters to display the time, one for hours and one for minutes. At this point he stopped thinking and went to do something else assuming that he could get the meters later. Unfortunately it seems that low cost moving coil meters can only be obtained from China and the delivery time was after this competition ended. He was then about to give up when he just thought 'well, he could use digital multi-meters to display the two currents', as a sort of proof of concept he was just about to start construction when he also realised that analogue multiplexers would not provide an incrementing current value if the same resistor value is used. So, he was about to give up for a second time when he thought 'maybe he could use the 4.7V digital voltage outputs from a Nano, with a 4.7 MOhm resistor on the output to create the increments of 1 microamp. Unfortunately, Nano outputs do not work properly unless more than 100 microamps is drawn.


    Was he discouraged? Yes! But decided that perhaps he could use 1 milliampere increments rather than 1 microamperes and happily, this is the case. So he needed 11 digital outputs from the Nano for the hours - it has 12 so that was OK. He decided to make a neat little stripboard construction, with turned pin sockets as he had a Nano with turned pin connectors already soldered in. Everything went fine, everything was soldered together, he made preliminary tests and it seemed to work quite well, although getting exactly 1.00 mA increments was difficult but he managed 1.0 mA +/- 0.05 mA which he thought would be satisfactory. After all, the original design called for moving coil meters and these small discrepancies would not have been visible. At that point the Nano decided it didn't want to be programmed anymore so he had to change to a Nano with the square 1 mm pins, which of course, do not fit into turned pin sockets. Nor could he get any turned pin connectors in time to solder to a different Nano. So at that point he gave up on being next and went into just getting it connected together somehow mode. He used a protoboard for the Nano and used single core wire to make connections to my already assembled stripboard - as he didn't have enough 4K7 resistors to start again!. Success, it all worked well. Then he turned his mind to how to create the minutes. A bit more tricky. To get minute increments he would need 59 different digital outs and 59 resistors, - none of which he had. So he thought, why not use 5 minute increments and then he would need only 11 more digital outputs. Unfortunately there were not enough on the Nano to do this so it would have meant using two Nanos synchronised together.


    The Current Time: Hours and Deciminutes

    "A nice concept which he didn't give up on easily!" - Community Member Judge


    "Not everybody would turn a pair of DMMs into a clock, but the approach was unique and interesting." - Community Member Judge

    In the comments below:


    Be sure to Congratulate the Winners and Keep Being Awesome!