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posted Feb 13, 2011, 8:55 AM by Justin Shaw

Baffles 2.0

Update #16 posted 2 days ago

Behold the new baffle/enclosure design! You can thank Anool and Amy for the baffle border (the vertical pieces that shield the outer ring of LEDs from the outside world). I thought we could get away without them, or have a simple card stock border, but they won me over in the end. I just sent the PDF files to Hines Design Labs. Your "custom laser cut parts" should arrive in Reston, VA sometime next week.

Anool just shipped the C3 main boards and BoBs along with the screws and standoffs. You can track the shipment here 873231001487.

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    ClockTHREE Boards Complete

    Update #15 posted on February 4

    With the ClockTHREE main boards back from fabrication, we are back on our feet again! Plus, we've redesigned the baffle and enclosure (see 3D picture on the bottom). The colors are just to help distinguish the parts. All parts will be black with the exception of the clear front face.

    Backers, we are getting very close! Keep the faith!

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      Backer_whiteFor backers only,Update #14 posted on January 28

      We suffered a setback this week. During fabrication, the baffle walls were splintering. We had two choices: make the walls thicker or redesign the baffle grid. Although it was appealing to just increase the wall thickness to 0.15", Anool pointed out that this would leave very little margin for LED clearance. We went with the second option.

      The new baffle design is implemented with an interlocking grid of horizontal and vertical walls. This will probably add to the unit cost but it is definitely a superior design. Angus Hines of Hines Design Labs is standing by while Anool and I iron out all of the details.

      On the bright side, Anool has been pushing out BoBs faster than you can say "Break out Board". They will be ready to ship when the ClockTHREE main boards return from fabrication.

      Interesting note here on rtcBoB. I notified ChronoDot creator, Garret Mace, of the ChronoDot (CD) friendly rtcBoB. He was pleased to hear from us and was encouraging on the rtcBoB design. He also told me that the next version of CD will have a removable battery! This explains why he has not restocked the sold out CD.

      Kevin (ClockTHREE backer and Arduino hacker) has agreed to review the code. This has already enhanced code quality, as I have gone back and added plenty of comments.

      Look for ClockTHREE main board images next week!

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          BoB's have arrived!

          Update #13 posted on January 21

          Just after last week's update, the Break out Boards (rtcBOB and rowBOB) return from the manufacturer. Anool has been up to his ears soldering the SMD components. The rtcBOBs are going together nicely and work as planned. Some of you may be familiar with the ChonoDot realtime clock used in some other Arduino clocks. These are very cool little boards with one big drawback: the battery gets soldered in. Anool and I have designed a break out board for the same chip, the Maxim DS3231 with the same pinout as the ChronoDot but with an easily replaceable battery. The breakthrough came when we discovered the surface mounted female headers that will not foul the battery holder. You will be thanking us seven years from now, when you need to replace the battery.

          Another one of the several custom ClockTHREE parts have been ordered. The LED isolating baffle (see image below) went through a couple of design iterations this week and I think we ended up with a very elegant part. Too bad it will most likely be hidden from view! They should arrive late next week (perhaps by the next update).

          On the software side, we've made a rudimentary computer interface to ClockTHREE. This interface allows you to set persistent alarms and reminders. This computer component could easily become a whole-n-other project. I decided to take a minimalist approach for this first release.

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            Things are really cooking now.

            Update #12 posted on January 14

            The ClockTHREE boards are off to the printers! 
            The breakout boards (rtcBOB and rowBOB) should arrive back this week along with thier parts.

            The software is talking its final shape. I've modified Time.h and really did a complete rework of the AlarmTime library to support multiple persistent calendar events. Also, in support of this, I've written a very handy EEPROM library I call "EEPROM DATA LIBRARY" or EDL. This acts like a tiny disk drive to store the calendar events and strings like "HAPPY NEW YEAR!". Don't worry. When you unplug your clock or lose power, all of your events will be there when power is restored.

            Here is what we have left to do. 
            Finalize the enclosure design (baffle, front and rear covers, faceplate and hardware seen below) 
            Fabricate the enclosure. 
            ClockTHREE initial software release. 
            Finally --- Assemble kits and clocks!

            Enjoy Anool's masterful design work on the enclosure sandwich!

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              Steady progress.

              Backer_whiteFor backers only,Update #11 posted on January 8

              Just a quick C3 update. The main board is ready to go. We will send it off the the printers early next week.

              Here are the global logistics if you are interested. 
              The parts are ordered and should arrive next Monday. I will forward all break-out-board (BOB) parts to Anool in Mumbai shortly thereafter. They should get there around the same time the BOBs are back from the printers. Anool will assemble the BOBs while the mainboards are being printed. He will make a shipment back to the USA where the kits will be assembled and complete clocks will be built.

              A quick note about the parts are in order. At each turn, Anool and I have chosen the highest quality parts we could find. The power supply is top notch. It provides a very efficient, regulated 5 volts directly to the main power on the board. We chose an international plug for our overseas customers so everyone should be able to get things going right off the bat. Also we decided to include a USB to serial cable with our clocks, so that you can set times and dates and anniversaries out of the box. I think you will be pleased when your clock/parts arrive!

              Here is the latest image.

              'Til next week! 

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                Happy New Year!

                Update #10 posted on December 30

                I took the week off work to make steady progress on ClockTHREE. I've had to overcome a few snags but have managed to make progress every day. Here is the current state of the software.

                The base code works really well. All the features you'd expect from a basic clock are there: setting the date and time, setting the alarm, display seconds (and temperature too). On top of that you can select the color mode (choose a fixed color or temperature based color).

                Today I've been working on the serial interface for communication with a desktop computer. The clock recognises time-setting/getting requests, alarm-setting/getting requests and data setting/getting requests.

                Next up, a countdown alarm (think new years) that will display a countdown to a specified event and scroll a message with the time arrives. For birthdays, I think you should be able to scroll "Happy Birthday Bob!" every five minutes for the whole day.

                On the hardware side, Anool has sent off rtcBOB and rowBOB to be fabricated. Those boards should be back by the middle of January. The schematic for the main board has been finalized. But since we've re-purposed some pins on the MEGA, Anool has had to vigorously attack the rats-nest of traces that need to be sorted out before we can finalize the PCB design.

                We've been experimenting with faceplate designs and have found a few that look great. We are going to let the ClockTHREE owners choose their own faceplate font, so look for some font selection choices to arrive by Kickstarter poll soon.

                I've attached some faceplate and baffle images to hold your enthusiasm while we continue work on ClockTHREE.

                It was a pleasent surprise today to find ClockTHREE listed as one of The 10 Coolest Kickstarter Projects of 2010. Thanks Courtney!

                As always, please don't hesitate to contact us if you have any questions!

                Happy New Year from the ClockTHREE Team!

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                  Merry Christmas and more C3 progress.

                  Backer_whiteFor backers only,Update #9 posted on December 24

                  Merry Christmas ClockTHREE backers! A digital post card is waiting for you on YouTube: 

                  So far so good on ClockTHREE.

                  Anool has finalized the designs for rtcBOB (real-time clock Break Out Board), the ticking heart ClockTHREE. This is a board makes it easy to use the very accurate Maxim DS3231 temperature compensated real-time clock. This break out board is very similar to the beautiful ChronoDotavailable from We did not use the ChronoDot because its battery is soldered in place. We thought this is simply unacceptable for a time piece that will last longer than the seven year battery life. We hope you will be enjoying ClockTHREE when you finally need to change the battery on rtcBOB in the year 2017.

                  Also finalized this week are the plans for a board we call rowBOB (row Break Out Board). Your ClockTHREE will have two of these daughter boards. Their main job is to store the 32 on-off values for a single column of the display. They will also provide a manual dimmer control.

                  Anool just started on revising the main board. One big change you can see in the image below is the stagger of the RGB pins. This will make ClockTHREE way easier to solder. I'll have more highlights on it next week.

                  On the software side, I've been working on the main ClockTHREE application. The interface is composed of three hidden buttons: decrement, mode, and increment. Though this thin interface, you will be able to set the time, alarms, color, display the seconds, and connect to a computer. The basic mechanism is in place and working well.

                  I also started developing faceplate creation software. I've found some open source fonts at the open font library . Browse the fonts and if you have any favorite, let me know and I'll be sure to make it an option. When I get done with the software you should be able to design you own faceplate.

                  We are using goole code for all of the development files (hardware and software). If you are curious, check it out.

                  I hope everyone is enjoying the holiday season! 
                  Till next week, 

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                      WE DID IT!!!

                      Backer_whiteFor backers only,Update #7 posted on December 17

                      Dear Backers!

                      It has been an exciting month and, thanks to you backers, we will end the funding phase of our project with over 300% of our initial funding request. We will do everything we can to maintain the trust you have expressed with your generous support.

                      That means we will continue with the weekly updates to keep you informed of the project as we finalize the designs, fabricate, and assemble your kits and clocks. We will also make every effort to promptly reply to your questions, suggestions and concerns.

                      Now, on to what we've been up to over the last week. We suffered a semi-major setback this week when, during testing of the light meter, the bottom half of the USA LED display quit working. Looking fruitlessly for a cause that could be traced back to the light meter took the better part of two days on both sides of the planet. The root cause is still undetermined, but the failure is being attributed to a short caused by a stray wire on the bench. As of a half hour ago, both prototypes are fully functioning.

                      While waiting for the replacement part to arrive, Anool finished the second prototype and started revising the schematics, and I've been writing several test routines so, if you are inclined to write software for ClockTHREE, you will have a large set of examples to get you up and running quickly. There are 14 test files currently, that cover everything from the array itself to the real-time clock interface, to the effects and text libraries.

                      We've opened a google code repository for tracking issues in both hardware and software. Follow along from home, browse the code, and track the issues.

                      Till next week (if not sooner), thanks again!


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                          One week to go!

                          Update #6 posted on December 11

                          Hello Backers!

                          We are down to the last week of our Kickstarter fund drive and you backers have overwhelmed us with your response. After a few frustrating days when I though I'd have to call the whole affair off, things finally started working... working great!

                          I'm starting a small library to make customizing ClockTHREE managable. So far it supports lines, ellipses, and text in multiple colors. Have a look here to see it in action: More effects can be found here:

                          This has been a fun couple of weeks although I have to admit, this project has cut into sleep and family time! Thanks to the fam for putting up with the late nights.

                          Two new backers came as a shock today! Thanks to all of the ClockTHREE backers! I can't wait to get the boards and clocks into your hands.


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                              ClockTWO LED matrix complete!

                              Backer_whiteFor backers only,Update #5 posted on December 8

                              This is a mid-week update to keep you (our beloved backers) informed of all breaking news!

                              (See video demo here:

                              The LED matrix on ClockTWO has been assembled and tested! And the colors are stunning! We have learned a ton from this full scale ClockTHREE prototype and have improved the design accordingly. These changes will make the kits way easier to assemble and really improve the end product.

                              The first major decision is to eliminate all required surface mount soldering for the kit builders. This means that your rtcBOB will be pre assembled. The row drivers will come ready to plug right into your ClockTHREE. Also we decided to add a potentiometer to each row driver for controlling the brightness manually. This will make a nifty little part that you can just plug into your board.

                              The next mod is to stagger the LED leads to separate them out and make them easier to solder. I created many unwanted solder bridges assembling ClockTWO and there is no reason to put you through that frustration.

                              Also we have figured out a way to pump more juice through the LEDs for brightness. Since only one column (of 16) of LEDs is on at a time, the LEDs can be driven up to 100mA safely. ClockTWO LEDs are only being run at 30 mA so ClockTHREE should get even brighter. Don't worry about ClockTHREE being too bright, the potentiometer will be there to tone it down whenever you want.

                              Anyway, there are quite a few changes to the board. That means it will take a little longer than we expected to get the designs to the printer. However, I know these changes will be worth the wait!

                              Thanks again, and as always, if you have any questions, comments, or suggestions, we'd love to hear from you!

                              ClockTHREE Team

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                                  Gearing up!

                                  Backer_whiteFor backers only,Update #4 posted on December 3

                                  Two weeks to go and 5 more kits that need a home! I've lobbied unsuccessfully to get a shout out from Make and also Evil Mad Science. If you have any other venues that might be more enthusiastic, please let me know and I will send them the info.

                                  Since we are a go, I went ahead and ordered most of the parts from Digikey (see below). They arrived this week along with ClockTWO prototype boards from Mumbai. The ClockTWO boards are really substantial and hefty and beautiful.

                                  In building up ClockTWO, we have discovered some changes we'd like to make to the ClockTHREE board. At first the LEDs were not getting bright. We discovered through trial and error how to configure the column driver to get a nice bright light from the LEDs. Plus we will make some minor routing changes and pin usage on the ClockTHREE to make it easier to talk to a host computer or other peripherals, like a GPS or a digital read out.

                                  Thanks again for your support and confidence. Do not hessitate to contact us if you have any questions, suggestions, or concerns!


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                                    Electronics Assembly and Test

                                    Backer_whiteFor backers only,Update #3 posted on November 26

                                    Happy Thanksgiving!

                                    As always, we have a lot to be thankful for. This year we are especially thankful for the support we have gotten from you!

                                    Anool has assembled the first ClockTWO (prototype) up to the first few LEDs. The board passed the smoke test and the blink test. Next was a simple test to see if he could talk to the array. You can see a video here.

                                    I have been working on the ClockTHREE code library and tests. Since I don't have a board on hand, I mocked a few LEDs (see below and videohere).

                                    The initial testing had the LEDs a little dimmer than we had hoped. We've managed already to get them brighter and are still working this. More to come.


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                                      ClockTHREE is Kickstarter Project of the Day!

                                      Update #2 posted on November 22

                                      Thanks to the Kickstarter Team for making ClockTHREE the Project of the Day! We are putting together an pre order to complete 10 LED arrays. We are hoping to find at least 5 more backers who want to build up a ClockTHREE.

                                      Thanks again, 

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                                          PLEDGED OF $1,111 GOAL
                                          SECONDS TO GO

                                          FUNDING SUCCESSFUL

                                          This project successfully raised its funding goal on December 17.

                                          PLEDGE $1 OR MORE

                                          BUCKAROO -- Backstage pass to our Kickstarter project. You'll be swimming in the weekly updates like Scrooge McDuck!

                                          Backer 2 BACKERS

                                          PLEDGE $7 OR MORE

                                          NAME IN LIGHTS-- YouTube video of your name scrolling over ClockTHREE. It's like getting your face on the Jumbotron at the ball game, only it's on the internet and we won't spill any beer on you by accident, no matter how excited we get.

                                          Backer 1 BACKER

                                          PLEDGE $11 OR MORE

                                          JUST BOB -- rtcBOB unpopulated printed circuit board / keychain / lucky charm. We had some spare room on the rev0 board layout, so we added 7 real time clock Break Out Boards or rtcBOB for short. Put a DS3231 on here with a couple of resisters, and you have a temperature compensated realtime clock, accurate to about 1 minute every year. (Add $20 outside of US or India)

                                          Backer 1 BACKER

                                          PLEDGE $22 OR MORE

                                          REALTIME BOB,--rtcBOB populated real time clock, ready for your next project. This clock is the ticking heart of ClockTHREE. You'll never be late to work again, after you integrate this into your next home brew alarm clock. (Add $20 outside of US or India)

                                          Backer 4 BACKERS

                                          PLEDGE $33 OR MORE

                                          LIMITED REWARD     6 of 6 remaining

                                          HARDCORE -- The rev0 ClockTWO board, warts and all. You gotta be hardcore to build this alpha board up. (Add $20 outside of US or India)

                                          Backer 0 BACKERS

                                          PLEDGE $77 OR MORE

                                          GATEWAY -- Unpopulated (but destined to be popular) ClockTHREE bare board. (Add $20 outside of US or India)

                                          Backer 0 BACKERS

                                          PLEDGE $111 OR MORE

                                          BAREBONES -- ClockTHREE board and electrical components. Everything you need to get the board talking to the ARDUINO programming environment, but no LEDs. You don't need no stinkn' LEDs! (Add $20 outside of US or India)

                                          Backer 1 BACKER

                                          PLEDGE $222 OR MORE

                                          THE MATRIX -- Everything from BAREBONES plus all the LEDS you need to make an awesome RGB LED matrix. Take the red pill and see how far down the rabbit hole goes. (Add $20 outside of US or India)

                                          Backer 0 BACKERS

                                          PLEDGE $333 OR MORE

                                          KIT AND CABOODDLE -- Everything from THE MATRIX + light shielding baffles, laser cut frame, and English faceplate. A complete ClockTHREE kit. Shovel-ready winter project. (Add $20 outside of US or India)

                                          Backer 3 BACKERS

                                          PLEDGE $444 OR MORE

                                          CLOCKTHREE -- You will receive the complete, assembled ClockTHREE. When you do hang this on your wall of your den or love nest, you'll become the envy of all who can tell time and know beauty when they see it. (Add $20 outside of US or India)

                                          Backer 5 BACKERS

                                          PLEDGE $999 OR MORE

                                          FULL MONTE -- Assembled ClockTHREE, but with a custom faceplate in your favorite language, alphabet, and custom software we will collaborate with you on. Want your clock to show the time in Bushman click language? No problem, with your help designing it, we will heat up the laser cutter and make it happen! This reward is just too big to fail!

                                          Backer 0 BACKERS

                                          PROJECT BY


                                          Justin Shaw

                                          Straightpin Reston, VA

                                          Justin's training is in Mathematics. But lately, he has been enamored with interacting with the "real world." After experimenting briefly with the Basic Stamp and PIC mirco controllers, he came across the Arduino platform and has never looked back.

                                          "If Arduino can do it, there is no easier way."


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