Life Clock

Thanks. I reckoned that using a glass dome would be suitable for a clock. Plus, being transparent, it gives access to the IR receiver.

No, I did not use the seedstudio's RainbowDuino. I designed my own and I got it manufactured by them. (My previous posting has a link to the photo of the little black board, the LED matrix shield).

I can provide more hardware details if you are interested.

Yes, more details please! :)

Did they do this for you as a one-off, or are they going to manufacture your design?

Seeedstudio offers this so called "Propaganda PCB service" , check it out at You email them the Eagle board file (must be open source) and they send you 5 boards for $30.

I had the shield for the 8x8 RG LED matrix made by them. Theoretically, you should be able to buy the boards I designed from their website, although I did not see them posted yet. Just ask. Anyway, I just finished revision 1.1 and I will get it manufactured in bigger batch.

As for the arduino, I used one made on the small prototype shield, since I wanted all the boards in the sandwich to have the same dimensions, and also because I wanted to eliminate some components (from the original arduino) that I did not need and which took some juice out of the batteries. I almost finished the design of this board (waiting to get a few more components). This should be also available soon.

After much thinking, I came to realize that Mr. BroHogan's original "sandwichduino" is the best approach for this kind of project. And coming up with a case is as challenging. The glass dome I used is not cheap, but the cherry case required even more effort, I assume.

The project is still in development, since I plan to add a few more things, as suggested in previous postings here.

Here is a new version of the clock project:

The idea was to be hung on a wall. I had a few options for the case, but they would require some fine work and skills, so I opted for the easiest and quickest, a bent piece of plexiglass (clear acrylic).
The circuitry fits on one custom board. It should have been black, but I forgot to ask when I ordered it.

My friends asked for a larger display. Using the same LED driver circuitry, I replaced the bi-color 8x8 LED matrix with two, single color (red), 8x8 LED matrices. The result is shown below.

(The case, bought from a photo shop, was designed for storing 4x6 photos. It has a hinged glass door, held in place with small magnets. It can be also hung on the wall (this has become an obsession, it seems :'())

wow, i'm impressed. I like how your project got increasingly more complicated!

as a sidenote... any figures in terms of total cost?

The good thing about using 74HC595 is the price. The bad thing is that most of the digital outputs are used, there is no room for other add-ins like an ethernet card

Not sure what you mean by that. You only need 3 pins to drive 74HC595’s.

Mike, My approach uses a combination of 595 (2 pieces) and direct outputs, as shown in the schematic here: I could have used a third 595 to drive the rows and save some 5 outputs. Since I dropped some "requirements", there are still 3 analog/digital pins available (for alarm/buzzer/x10, for example). As for the input pins, I only need to use two: one is for IR receiver, one for a redundant push button. I am trying to funnel every user input through the remote control, including setting the time and the alarm.

Regarding the cost: the parts, PCB included, would run between US$60 (digikey) and $75 (sparkfun).

I see. Nice project by the way.