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[#] Sun Jul 07 2019 22:25:30 EDT from IGnatius T Foobar

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He's done a couple of them, I think. They're all basic free-running digital clocks with 32.768 KHz crystal oscillators as the time base and no external time source.

I think the thing that makes me want to build this clock is the idea that it will have no buttons -- no local inputs at all. The 60 Hz mains voltage drives the ticktock and (probably) a WWVB receiver is the time-of-day source.

I suppose it could use a jumper or something to tell it what time zone it's in, but I'm just building it for myself and could easily just set it in firmware.
If I like the results and end up building them as gifts then that might be another story.

[#] Mon Jul 08 2019 07:12:07 EDT from zooer

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Step one:  Eliminate the Daylight Savings Time switch.

[#] Tue Jul 09 2019 10:45:00 EDT from fleeb

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I don't use my phone as an alarm clock, either.

Mostly because I don't use an alarm. I just wake up early.

[#] Wed Jul 10 2019 15:53:37 EDT from Freakdog

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Tue Jul 09 2019 10:45:00 EDT from fleeb @ Uncensored

I don't use my phone as an alarm clock, either.

Mostly because I don't use an alarm. I just wake up early. 

At present, I don't use mine that way, either.

I don't necessarily wake up early on my own...I have an elderly Beagle who acts as my alarm clock between 4:30 and 5:30AM, daily.

[#] Thu Jul 11 2019 10:05:11 EDT from IGnatius T Foobar

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Thank you all for sharing your alarm clock stories. Looks like we have to boil it down to: *I* use the alarm clock on my phone, and don't need one in a digital clock. And the point of this exercise is that the clock has no buttons and you never have to touch it.

It could be argued that even using a microcontroller is cheating, and I ought to do the time count using discrete logic. I know how to do that logic; it isn't that difficult. But, once you add a WWVB or GPS receiver to read an external time source, it becomes very difficult to interface *that* to anything other than a microcontroller.

[#] Thu Jul 11 2019 11:51:08 EDT from wizard of aahz

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This conversaton made me think of this quote..

Far out in the uncharted backwaters of the unfashionable end of the western spiral arm of the Galaxy lies a small unregarded yellow sun. Orbiting this at a distance of roughly ninety-two million miles is an utterly insignificant little blue green planet whose ape-descended life forms are so amazingly primitive that they still think digital watches are a pretty neat idea.

[#] Sat Jul 20 2019 09:10:54 EDT from IGnatius T Foobar

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Digital watches are a pretty dumb idea once you have a smartphone in your pocket ... and I'm going to be a curmudgeon and say I don't ever want a smartwatch.
My wrists are freeeeeeeeeeee!!!!

As I work out the design of this clock, I'm thinking it's going to have a parts list something like this:

* Mains transformer with 6 volt AC output. After rectification it'll supply 5 volts for Vcc.
* A comparator hanging off the AC side to produce a 60 Hz timing signal.
* ATMEGA328P microcontroller, programmed using an Arduino board (because I'm only like what, a decade late to that party?)
* TM1637 LED decoder/driver chip (I might get lazy and use a preassembled TM1637 + 4-digit display)
* MAS6180C receiver IC for the WWVB time signal

Even the parts are so advanced at this point that building this thing is going to be more of a craft than an art. And I think I'm ok with that.

[#] Sat Jul 20 2019 18:03:52 EDT from zooer

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Watches are coming back in style, however they are huge, far too big to have on your wrist.  They are larger than smart watches without the functions of a smart watch.

[#] Sat Jul 20 2019 18:12:59 EDT from ParanoidDelusions

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I've got a Galaxy Smartwatch. It is convenient for telling time, date and temperature without having to fumble in my pocket to get my phone out - and it tracks my exercising. I very rarely use it for any of the other functions it is supposed to be good at. After wearing it for a while, I now once again feel kind of naked if I happen to leave home without it. 



[#] Sun Jul 21 2019 12:46:30 EDT from IGnatius T Foobar

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Some people like big watches, just as part of their personal style. Big, chunky watches.

I think smart watches are just an intermediate step in the wearables game.
It will only take a few more generations of semiconductor evolution before we get to a point where some distant successor to Google Glass becomes mainstream.
Current technology is still a bit too chunky and obvious to wear. A direct brain hookup is probably still a hundred years away, if ever. But the prototypes of devices that can simulate a heads-up display by firing directly at the eyes without needing glass in between, are looking promising. Currently they're still too large.

In the mean time, I'm perfectly happy taking my phone out of my pocket when I want to know what time it is.

[#] Sun Jul 21 2019 17:35:06 EDT from Ragnar Danneskjold

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I wear big watches..... 46mm without the crown at a minimum. I detest smart watches. I've bought pretty much every Apple product for years and I have zero interest in a smart watch.

My wife has one. I think for her the most convenient aspect is to look at text messages when her phone is "somewhere" around the house.

[#] Mon Jul 22 2019 10:27:35 EDT from LoanShark

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2019-07-20 09:10 from IGnatius T Foobar
Digital watches are a pretty dumb idea once you have a smartphone in
your pocket ... and I'm going to be a curmudgeon and say I don't ever

Then why the eff do we have the Apple Watch, Arthur Dent?

[#] Mon Jul 22 2019 12:50:34 EDT from IGnatius T Foobar

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I explained my reasoning behind that remark a few messages later. Basically the whole idea seems like a half baked intermediate step, on the way to true wearables.

Also, watches are dangerous. Just look at how Hans Gruber almost killed Holly McClane. If that watch band hadn't been removed he would have gotten off a couple of shots. Better to just have no watches at all.

[#] Tue Jul 23 2019 14:55:10 EDT from IGnatius T Foobar

Subject: the perfect clock continued...

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Here's the initial sketch of my "The Perfect Clock" project.  The low-voltage AC supply is clipped by a zener diode and then referenced to ground by a regular diode, and then sent into the microcontroller as a 60 Hz reference clock.  The rest of the circuit is pretty much off-the-shelf.  The microcontroller will be programmed using an Arduino but then removed and placed directly onto the board (the crystal clocks the microcontroller itself, not the clock).  The display will be a TM1637 module which has the latches and decoders/drivers on board with the 7-segment displays.  Then we couple it with either a WWVB or GPS receiver.  I haven't decided which, yet.

If I wanted to get lazy, the parts count could be cut in half by using an Arduino Nano instead of a bare microcontroller, receiving a 5VDC supply from USB, and deriving the clock from software interrupts.

[#] Tue Jul 23 2019 18:34:40 EDT from zooer

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but but it doesn't have an alarm.

[#] Thu Jul 25 2019 10:20:24 EDT from IGnatius T Foobar

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And it doesn't have buttons. The IGlet loves buttons. So we can build a separate model for the two of you that has a zillion buttons and extra lights on it.

[#] Tue Sep 17 2019 22:28:33 EDT from IGnatius T Foobar

Subject: Re: the perfect clock continued...

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After a lot of deliberation I settled on the WWVB receiver. The signal comes in pretty well where I live, and I know it could go away at some point, but with 50 million receivers out there it isn't likely, and I could just replace it with a GPS receiver in the future if I needed to. The advantage of WWVB is that the signal has a DST bit, so I don't have to program in a new calendar every time some government dipwad decides to move the dates around again.

The other Arduino is going into an elevator panel the IGlet got from his grandfather, who is friendly with an elevator mechanic. This thing was probably built in the 1930's or 1940's ... bakelite buttons, real old-school stuff.
I've written code to simulate the elevator traveling between floors and answering floor calls, illuminating the up and down indicators, and I'll be adding in an 8x8 display and a piezo buzzer to simulate the experience of his favorite Dover Impulse elevators.

[#] Tue Sep 17 2019 23:35:10 EDT from wizard of aahz

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Can you also make it lock the door to his bedroom to simulate getting stuck between floors?

although, overall it's a really cool thing.

[#] Wed Sep 18 2019 13:27:17 EDT from IGnatius T Foobar

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Funny thing about that ... I was demonstrating it to him on a breadboard yesterday and we talked about how the parts are so cheap that once the code is written we can build as many as we want ... and the thought occurred to us to turn his bedroom door into an elevator, with floor indicators up top, up/down lanterns on an upper corner, and floor call buttons on one side.

For those unaware, yes there is an "elevator fan" community, and it's bigger than you might think. It's mostly made up of high-functioning ASD people -- watching an elevator operating just really lights them up.

[#] Fri Oct 25 2019 23:03:21 EDT from IGnatius T Foobar

Subject: Re: the perfect clock continued...

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So the WWVB receiver arrived after a month ... from Canada. When I inquired about it they said they were on vacation.

And then the module didn't work, but that may have been my fault. I think I busted it while soldering the antenna wires on.

There isn't anyone else selling WWVB modules on eBay so I was forced to shop the Monopolistic Scumbags of Seattle who had a 2-pack of modules from a different manufacturer on sale for a much lower price. I also read in a web forum somewhere that it isn't uncommon for hobbyists to just buy the cheapest "atomic clock" from Target and remove the receiver module.

I did briefly consider just getting a GPS module, which are far easier to source, but GPS doesn't tell you whether it'
s currently Daylight Savings Time or not. WWVB sends a flag in their bitstream for DST, which is nice because when some moron in the federal government decides to change the DST schedule, you don't have to reprogram anything.

I might consider GPS for a future build in a device that behaves more like a computer, like maybe an NTP server.

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