This clock is an updated version of an older kit by Cambridgeshire, UK-based Neon Things. The update isn’t to the VFD tubes, which are ancient bits of Soviet display kit now found on internet auction sites. The update is instead to the software that runs the clock.
Whereas the previous version of this clock ran on an Arduino, this uses CircuitPython, making it considerably more user-friendly for anyone with Python as a first language. Even better, thanks to I2C, you can connect this clock to anything you want, turn it into a temperature readout, stock price monitor, or anything else that uses four seven-segment displays.
Thanks to CircuitPython, it’s easy to create a circuit that acts like a USB device such as a keyboard, mouse, or games controller. You can add whatever inputs you like to make all sorts of strange and curious controllers. However, a problem is getting things in the right form-factor. No one likes to hold a breadboard, and I’ve had mixed results when I’ve tried to mount components in wood.
It’s time to get serious, so I designed a PCB which was just a matrix-style protoboard and mounting for a Pico. I got a few printed off, and set about seeing what weird and wonderful creations I could come up with.
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Stop breadboarding and soldering – start making immediately! Adafruit’s Circuit Playground is jam-packed with LEDs, sensors, buttons, alligator clip pads and more. Build projects with Circuit Playground in a few minutes with the drag-and-drop MakeCode programming site, learn computer science using the CS Discoveries class on code.org, jump into CircuitPython to learn Python and hardware together, TinyGO, or even use the Arduino IDE. Circuit Playground Express is the newest and best Circuit Playground board, with support for CircuitPython, MakeCode, and Arduino. It has a powerful processor, 10 NeoPixels, mini speaker, InfraRed receive and transmit, two buttons, a switch, 14 alligator clip pads, and lots of sensors: capacitive touch, IR proximity, temperature, light, motion and sound. A whole wide world of electronics and coding is waiting for you, and it fits in the palm of your hand.
Have an amazing project to share? The Electronics Show and Tell is every Wednesday at 7pm ET! To join, head over to YouTube and check out the show’s live chat – we’ll post the link there.