Marquee Clock Design – Step 1

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So, I says to myself

[blockquote type=”center”]What does this silly Marquee Clock look like, Son?[/blockquote]

Well, I figure that the clock ought to look like a real clock.  And what better way is there to look like something real than to rip the guts out of something real and put your own in it?

Hey! I’ve got some of these Ikea RUSCH clocks already hanging on my wall. They’re cost only $2 a piece. No loss beating on them, eh?

[blockquote type=”center”]What does the new clock face look like?[/blockquote]

I took some measurements of the white paper clock face that I carefully took off the clock. The diameter is 7.25 inches.  So I whipped something together in Altium to see what it looks like.

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Now I am going to have to make a list of questions so that I can come up with a proper design spec.


  1. LEDs
    1. What kind of LEDs will be needed?
    2. How many LEDs will be needed?
    3. Should it have 12 LEDs?
    4. Should it have 60 LEDs around the outer rim of the clock?
  2. Power
    1. What is the current consumption?
    2. Should the main source of power be a wall wart?
    3. Should the main source be a battery?
    4. What voltage do the LEDs operate at?
    5. How much current do the LEDs eat?
    6. Should the battery be:
      1. LiPoly,
      2. 18650 LiPo,
      3. 18650 LiFePO4 or
      4. 26650  LiFePO4?
    7. How will the battery get charged?
  3. Brains
    1. What microprocessor should be used?
    2. How many IO pins are required?
    3. Can the LEDs be driven by the SPI port alone?
    4. Will voltage level translation be required to talk to the LEDs?
    5. How much RAM is required?
    6. How much FLASH is required?
    7. Should the system have a battery backup for the RTC?
  4. Operation
    1. How will the time be set up?
      1. Buttons
      2. IR remote control
      3. WiFi
    2. Will the User want to animate the LEDs with custom patterns?
      1. How do you input the patterns?
      2. How do you activate the patterns?
      3. How do you automate the patterns?
    3. How will the User debug to the Unit?
      1. USB serial port?
      2. Wifi terminal session?
    4. What Communication protocol is used to talk to the Unit?
      1. 7-bit ASCII?
      2. 8-bit Binary?
      3. XML?

The circuit design will commence once the majority of these questions are answered.


In the meantime, I am going to hack something together as a proof of concept using a TI LaunchPad and some of these babies:

[image type=”none” float=”none” info=”popover” info_place=”top” info_trigger=”hover” src=”1172″ info_content=”This is what 200x WS2801B looks like. WOO HOO!” title=”WS2801B RGB LEDs”][gap size=”1.313em”][blockquote type=”center”]Let me know what you think. Send me your feedback.[/blockquote]

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