PCB order placed for Binary Burst Clock

A lot of work went into designing this board. Thanks to help from Chris Meyer and Devlin Thyne I ended up with what I think is a design that will be friendly for the PCB manufacturer.

The parts order from Mouser came in on Saturday. I printed out the copper layers and checked all of the¬†footprints¬†against the parts. Everything looks just perfect. Yesterday I placed an order with Seeed Studio for ten copies of the board. Hopefully I’ll have then in hand in about two or three weeks.

Click on the image above for a larger version of the artwork. Or you can checkout the Kicad files from my git repository. This board is tagged as brd-v1.0.

Binary Burst clock concept

I’ve been working on a new clock concept and am far enough along to start sharing some details about it. I call it the Binary Burst. The latter is because I was inspired by some vintage starburst clocks and have settled on twelve spires as a reminder of that design. The binary moniker is because the readout will utilize binary code.

The illustration above shows my intended design. The time shown is 8:22. Each spire reads the minutes in binary shown as three bits made up of blue LEDs. The hour is noted as a red LED on the corresponding spire. If you saw the previous post about balancing the LEDs you may have figured out that the middle LED is a red/blue bicolor, with the rest being single blue. They are 5mm diffused packages that appear cloudy white when not illuminated. There should be some room for alternate display modes, but I’ll need to get working hardware in hand before I figure that out.

I spent a large amount of time over the Christmas break designing the circuit and laying out the board. This evening I ordered parts for four clocks. When they arrive, I’ll check that the footprints work and send the files off to a fab house for manufacturing. This is my first professionally fabricated PCB and I’ve put a lot of extra time in to make sure the design is up to snuff.

Binary Burst LED balancing

I’m working on a new clock design. I’m not ready to talk much about it yet, but I did order a couple of different LEDs for it. I need blue LEDs and red/blue bicolor LEDs where the blues match each other. I wanted 5mm diffused parts and was able to find them, but not both types from the same vendor. The parts just arrived and above you can see me testing them out.

They’re incredibly bright! In fact, I have to run them at a pretty low duty cycle for them not to burn your eyes out:

  • Blue LEDs at 1/16 duty cycle
  • Red LEDs at 1/4 duty cycle
I’m driving them all at 10ma. You can see that the bi-color produces a nice magenta color. One unexpected phenomenon is that there is a blue halo around the bicolor LED. It must have something to do with the wavelength and the curved dome of the case. Oh well, this will only happen a few times per day so it doesn’t worry me.
More on this clock as I get further into the development process.