Forums/Discussions/Show & Tell

Word Clock Front Panel

B4me100
posted this on July 20, 2011 10:51

First attempt at using the Ponoko services.  This project had been looking for the front panel for about 2 years, who said projects had to be done quickly!  There is, of course, an electronic component to this project which had been lingering in the cupboard. 

If there is sufficient interest then I could be persuaded to put together a self assembly kit.  There are two pieces to the front panel, 1 board for the LEDs and one for the control logic.  Then of course some soldering and mechanical assembly is required.  Unfortunately I did not document this build, but instructions could be generated quite easily :)

Depending on which LEDs chosen you can set your own color preferences.  I used blue and amber, but white and green might look good too.  Unfortunately the pictures are not very good I will try and update them later.

Blue_Clock.jpg

Amber_Clock.jpg

 

Comments

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Josh Judkins
Ponoko

Hi B4me100!

Thanks so much for posting this project - I really love it!

Can I clarify that it's mirrored acrylic on the front (surely it must be)?

I think you got a great result with this project, and as a clock it is super fun. Cheers!

July 20, 2011 13:03
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B4me100

Yes this is the mirrored acrylic, etched from the back. 

The nice added effect is that the edges of the acrylic are also illuminated and it looks very good at night. In either color.

July 20, 2011 16:34
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Rich Borrett
Ponoko

Great project!

July 20, 2011 20:55
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Yana Skaler
Ponoko

Great idea!  Will be interesting to see how this wears overtime.  Mirror acrylic is easily scratched.

July 20, 2011 21:07
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B4me100

Hopefully not too bad.  The clock face will not be touched too much. The mirroring is on the back and protected by the circuit boards. 

I can always make new  front panels they mount with 4 bolts :-D

July 21, 2011 10:12
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Doug Jackson

Wow - That looks really like my PIC based clock modules in a custom faceplate - It looks really amazing.

http://www.dougswordclock.com/

http://www.instructables.com/id/A-Word-Clock/

I have been considering developing a Ponko design to make the enclosure for my big clock.

http://www.instructables.com/id/The-Wordclock-Grew-Up/

It is on my to do list :-)

Thanks for that .

 

Doug

August 25, 2011 03:28
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B4me100

Hi Doug

Thank you.

Interesting indeed. My influence was the QCLOCKTWO http://qlocktwo.com/info.php?lang=en the original came out quite some time ago, late 2008 maybe?  It looks like they have updated it since.  I changed some of the number positions to make it fit my original shape for a word search clock. It took quite some time to be happy with the aesthetics of the front panel.

The very first idea was to use a word search type face with horizontal, vertical and diagonal time, however that proved to be a very large face plate.  The electronics were designed way back in 2008/9 to support that idea and the SMT LEDs are multiplexed so the front panel can be anything. 

This is about the 3rd panel design and I did start out with a Vinyl cutout on clear acrylic, covered with opaque window frosting plastic. The mirror version is the latest idea, the next is to modify the LED board to use RGB LEDs and change the colour as the day progresses.

Using the acrylic front and including the spacer the clock is about 10mm thick which makes it a good fit on my desk :)

August 25, 2011 07:44
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Doug Jackson

Wow - Thats cool.  

I too was inspired by that clock, and wanted to make one for my wonderful wife (megan) - So I spent hours mucking around with layouts I came to the smallest layout I could, and I had some spare letters, so I could place Megans and my names.  

 

I ended up going with strip LEDs to allow me to make bigger clocks - I felt that the size constraints with the PCB processing (and associated expense) slowed me down.  Making a 30cm x 30cm PCB costs a fortune!!

Hey - can you let me know what software you use to interface with the manufacturing stuff here?  it is something I would love to explore.

 

Doug

August 25, 2011 15:37
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B4me100

Hi

Strip LEDs, now that is interesting.

I used the Inkscape package and their templates, primarily because it was a free application.  It took a few attempts to get it right.  However the support folks were a great help in sorting out my problems.  The biggest issue with Inkscape is that if you switch to mm to work out sizes it causes problems with scaling.  So you need to import the final design back into a px based design, the default setting.  There is a 'How to' in the forum which explains the process.  Then they will also check the design before you run it.  It is pretty easy to drive and operate.  If you have Illustrator that can be used too, just pick up their templates and follow the instructions and off you go.

I was really impressed with the support and help trying to get the design done the first time - I was a little impatient with the tools.  

I am now pondering my word search clock with maybe strip LEDs and no PCB :)

If you need anything else just let me know and good luck with your next project.

August 25, 2011 16:01
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Ben Carney

I've never had a problem using MM in Inkscape. I design my project in 3D in Sketchup first to work out any bugs or kinks to the vision of the final project in my head. I change and modify the design until I have something that I believe I can reasonably accomplish with my limited wood working tools in my condo. Then I create squares in P1 or P2 or P3 size and lay out my pieces on those squares to see what size sheets I need. Once I have the sheet cuts laid out right I use the plug in for Sketchup created specifically for use with Inkscape and Ponoko by Flightsofideas that exports the cutouts to a file type Inkscape can import. From there I import it in to the appropriate template from Ponoko, change the measurements to MM and the size to .003. Then I save it as an .eps file and upload it to Ponoko to be cut.

September 06, 2011 04:28
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Josh Judkins
Ponoko

Thanks so much for sharing your experiences here Ben!

B4me100 - Regarding the px / mm issue with Inkscape, we've resolved that issue with the latest Inkscape design templates, which you can download here:
http://www.ponoko.com/starter-kits/inkscape

Our apologies for the earlier inconvenience.

September 06, 2011 09:14
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Ian Clasbey

I'm trying to figure out how to work out how to laser cut acrylic without having the middle of the letters drop out. Would you mind sharing your template? I would love to see that.

 

Thank you!

December 19, 2012 13:41
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B4me100
OK. Just need to know where to send it.
December 19, 2012 20:28
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Ian Clasbey

Would you mind sending it to phaerus@gmail.com ?

Thank you!

December 20, 2012 08:35
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Brett Wilson

I would really be interested in the template too.  I don't understand how to make the letters without the middle falling out for like O or P or A.

 

Thanks!

January 25, 2014 16:07
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B4me100

In this case the letters are etched into the plastic front piece, they are not cut through.  If that will work for you I can email the template just need the email address :)

January 25, 2014 16:10
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Brett Wilson

The light gets through the etching?  I am planning to make a word clock very similar to what you have and so I assumed that the material had to be completely cut out to let the light through (and then use thin tissue like paper behind it to diffuse the light).  I was looking at using Ponoko's mirrored acrylic.  I would need to mirror the design too, right?  If the light comes through the etching that would be great.  I also saw a web page which shows you how to take out the counter (I just learned that is the piece in the middle of like an "o") and basically make a laser safe/stencil type of font which might work too.  There are also lot's of stencil fonts out there I could try and use.  If you can send me your template that would be great too.  My email is brett.david.wilson@gmail.com.  Thank you.

January 25, 2014 17:32
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B4me100

Yes in this case I used mirrored acrylic, the silver variety, it looks really good.  Although the bronze might be even more interesting.   The light does pass through, but it is not very diffused so I stuck some window frosted film material from TAP plastic over the etching to provide an even more diffused look.   I also made a standoff piece to fit over the back of this front face to mount the LED PCB the correct distance from the front.  I have sent both files.  Have fun building the clock!

January 25, 2014 17:48
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Brett Wilson

Thank you and I just went back and read about the mirrored acrylic and that makes sense that with engraving it will let the light through because it's done on the back side like cutting as well (hence the mirrored image required).  Here is the statement about that "The engraving will remove the reflective coating making that section of the acrylic translucent.".  Thanks for the help and the files.  Much appreciated.

January 26, 2014 08:51