So here is the problem: How do we ship ATMEGA328 chip, with ClockTHREE pre-installed, AND allow someone to test each column of LEDs as they build it up? ClockTHREE_connect a “pre-alpha” suite of three interconnected tools that provide an interface between a computer and ClockTHREE: C3_interface.py which is the low level python interface, C3_GUI.py a graphical interface for setting alarms, and ClockTHREE.py a computer based ClockTHREE mirror.
ClockTHREE.py is what I want to introduce here. This program drives the LEDs on an actual CLockTHREE.py through the serial interface.
Here is how to use it (to test LEDs or expand it to do other cool stuff).
In between working on ClockTHREEjr, I have been experimenting with the WiseClock3.
Emily soldering the WiseClock3. You can see we were in the middle of ClockTHREE assembly when our WiseClock3 arrived. We took an hour off to build up WiseClock3 to provide us with the wisdom we needed to complete our ClockTHREE commitment.
The board was a snap to assemble, it took Emily (an expert solderer) less than an hour from start to finish. Usually, the real-time clock chip comes pre-soldered which leaves only a couple dozen through-hole parts to solder. Emily actually soldered the surface mounted clock chip on ours since Florin was out of them when we ordered. The assembly was very easy and would make a great second soldering project. If you are interested in making a clock, but have never soldered before, get a couple of cheaper soldering kits to get confident with, before you dive into a WiseClock3. For instance, we had great fun with the Larson Scanner Kit from EvilMadScience.com.
Once the soldering is complete, the WiseClock3 board plugs into an included display from Sure Electronics. This is a very cool product in and of itself: it provides an array of 16×32 RED-GREEN LEDs that can be individually controlled. That is a lot of LEDs in a small space. Just compare it to the ClockTHREE which is about 9 times larger in area, yet has only a quarter as many LEDs.
WiseClock3 packs in 4 times as many LEDs in 1/9th the area!
Finally we screwed on the simple but elegant acrylic enclosure and plugged it into an available USB port and voila: live streaming pithy quotes delivered directly from the SD card.
Fine, the WiseClock3 works great as is. But is it hackable? Indeed! Florin provided programming access though an FTDI interface and an ISP interface. With just a little effort I was able to run code that I had developed for ClockTHREE. One program that I had great hopes for with ClockTHREE is called “Night and Day”. It shows where the sun is shining right now, all over the planet. With only a 12 x 16 array of LEDs to work with on ClockTHREE, the resolution left a lot to be desired, but that same code looks great on the WiseClock3 (see above). Florin provides an easy function for setting the color of each pixel, so it was just a matter of linking in the counterpart method from ClockTHREE. I haven’t played with them yet, but he also provides functions to stroll or set text in small or large fonts.
Florin chose the ATMEGA644 as the micro controller because it has Arduino support, and beaucoup progamming memory, twice that of the Arduino Uno. I was running into that barrier while programming ClockTHREE and would gladly use the extra space.
The bottom line is that this is a great project for anyone with even a little soldering experience. It comes pre-programmed, but has plenty of hacking potential.