Tag Archive | "Parekh"

Clock Kit Round-up – December 2011

Hello Readers

If there’s one thing that I really like it’s a good clock kit. Once constructed, they can be many things, including:

  • a point of differentiation from other items in the room;
  • a reminder of the past (nixie tubes!) or possible visions of the future;
  • the base of something to really annoy other people;
  • a constant reminder to get back to work;
  • a source of satisfaction from having made something yourself!

So just for fun I have attempted to find and list as many interesting and ‘out of the ordinary’ kits as possible, and ignored the simple or relatively mundane kits out there. If you are in the clock kit business and want a mention, let me know. So in no particular order, we have:

adafruit industries “ice tube” clock

Based around a vintage Soviet-era vacuum IV-18 type fluorescent display, the ice tube clock is a rare kit that includes a nice enclosure which keeps you safe from the high voltages as well as allowing the curious to observe your soldering skills. I reviewed this kit almost a year ago and the clock is still working perfectly. Here is a video of the ice tube clock in action:

After some travelling meeting various people it seems that quite a few of us have an ice tube clock. There is something quite mesmerising about the display, perhaps helping to recall memories of our youth in the 1970s and 80s.

nootropic design Defusable Clock Kit

As recently reviewed, this kit allows you to build a simulated ‘countdown’ timer for a hypothetical explosive device that also doubles as a clock with an alarm. For example:

Whatever you do, don’t make a ‘fake bomb’ and leave it out in public! Only bad things could happen 🙂

ogilumen nixie tube kits

Not a clock kit as such, however they have made doing it yourself very easy with their power supply and IN-12A nixie board kits. We made one ourselves in a previous review, as shown below:

Alan Parekh’s Multimeter Clock Kit

This is certainly one from left field – using the analogue multimeters to display hours, minutes and seconds. See Alan describe his kit in this video:

Certainly something different and would look great on the wall of any electronics-themed area or would easily annoy those who dislike the status-quo of clock design.

akafugu VFD Modular Clock

The team at akafugu have created a modular baseboard/shield kit which holds a shield containing four IV-17 alphanumeric nixie tubes to create your own clock or display system:

vfd-7

Unlike some of the other nixie tube kits the firmware has been made public and can be modified at will. In the future different display shields will be available to extend the use of the kit.

tubeclock.com kits

This site has two kits available, one using either four or six Soviet-era IN-12 type nixie tubes:

large_red

… and another kit using the Soviet-era IN-14 nixie tubes:

You have to hand it to the former Soviet Union – they knew how to over-produce nixie tubes. One rare example where we can benefit from a command economy!

evil mad science clocks

The certainly not evil people have two clock kits, the first being the Bulbdial Clock Kit:

This uses a unique ring of LEDs around the circumference of the clock face to create shadows to mark the time. It is also available in a range of housing and face styles. Their other kit of interest is the Alpha Clock Five:

The photo of this clock doesn’t do it justice – the alphanumeric displays are 2.3″ tall, making this one huge clock. It also makes use of a Chronodot real-time clock board, which contains a temperature-controlled oscillator  which helps give it an accuracy of +-/ 2 minutes per year. Furthermore you can modify this easily using an FTDI cable and the Arduino IDE with some extra software. Would be great for model railways (or even a real railway station) or those insanely conscious about the time.

Kabtronics Clock Kits

This organisation has several clock kits which span a range of technology from the later part of the twentieth century. These guys can only be true clock enthusiasts! Starting with the 1950s, they have their Nixie-Transistor Clock:

neononwall

Look – no integrated circuits, leaving the kit true to the era. If you need to hide from someone for a weekend, building this would be a good start. Next we move onto the 1960s and the Transistor Clock:

onwall_l

The 1960s brought with it LEDs so they are now used in this kit, however the logic is still all analogue electronics. However next we can move to the 1970s, and finally save some board space with the TTL Clock:

ttlclock_1721

This would still be fun to assemble but somewhat less punishing for those who don’t enjoy solder fumes that much. However you still have a nice kit and something to be proud of. Finally, the last in the line is the 1980s-themed Surface-Mount Technology Clock:

smtclock_l

So here we have a microcontroller, SMT components, and a typical reduction in board size. Their range is an excellent way of demonstrating the advances in technology over the years.

The GPS FLW Display Clock

Wow – this clock makes use of huge Burroughs B7971 15-segment nixie tube displays and a GPS receiver to make a huge, old-style/new-tech clock. Check out the demonstration video:

This thing is amazing. And it is actually cheaper to buy a fully-assembled version (huh). The same organisation also offers another GPS-controlled clock using IN-18 nixie tubes:

nixichron10

Again, it isn’t inexpensive – however the true nixie tube enthusiasts will love it. This clock would look great next to a post-modern vintage hifi tube amplifier. Moving forward to something completely different now, we have the:

adafruit industries monochron®

Almost the polar opposite of the nixie-tube clocks, the monochron uses an ATmega328 microcontroller and a 128 x 64 LCD module to create some interesting clock effects. For example:

Many people have created a variety of displays, including space invaders and the pong game simulation. The clock also includes the laser-cut acrylic housing which provides a useful and solid base for the clock.

Spikenzie Labs Solder : Time™ watch kit

Technically this is a watch kit, however I don’t think that many people would want to walk around wearing one – but it could be used in more permanent or fixed locations. Correct me if I’m wrong people. However in its defence it is a very well designed kit that is easy to solder and produces a nice clock:

It uses a separate real-time controller IC to stay accurate, and the design However this would be a great suggestion as a gift for a younger person to help them become interesting in electronics and other related topics. The asm firmware is also available for you to modify using Microchip MPLAB software if that takes your fancy.

Velleman Kits

The Velleman company has a range of somewhat uninspiring clock kits, starting with the Scrolling/Rolling LED Clock:

… the 2ÂĽ” 7-Segment Digital Clock:

This clock includes the housing and also accepts an optional temperature sensor, and therefore can display this as well. There is also the aptly-named – Digital LED Clock:

mk151

It tells the time and would be useful in a 1980s-era idea of the future movie set. The final velleman clock kit is the Jumbo Single-Digit Clock:

In all fairness this one looks quite interesting – the LED display is 57mm tall and the time is display one digit at a time. It is powered by a PIC16F630 however the firmware is proprietary to velleman.

Nocrotec Nixie Clocks

This company has a range of kits using nixie tubes and numitrons (low voltage incadescent displays in tubes). One particularly lovely kit is their IN-8 Blue Dream kit:

in-8-bd-h-side-blue

The blue glow at the base of the nixie tubes is due to an LED mounted at the bottom of the tube. Another aesthetically-pleasing kit is their Little Blue Something nixie clock. Check out their demonstration video:

nixiekits.eu

More IN-12 nixie clocks from Germany, the first being the Manuela_HR. You can buy the kit without an enclosure, or choose from the ‘office’ style:

… or this funky number:

You can specify it with RGB LEDs which colour-cycle to provide the effect shown above. For those not too keen you can also buy the kits pre-assembled. Their other kit is the Sven:

Sven_IN-8-2_720

It is available with IN-8 or IN-14 nixie tubes. The design quality of the enclosure is outstanding, a lot of effort has been made to produce a complete kit that “won’t look like a kit” when completed.

Minty Time

This is a small binary clock kit that fits in an Altoids tin:

This is a nice little kit as it is inexpensive, easy to make and very well documented. You could also mount this in a variety of flat surfaces, limited only by your imagination.

The Chronulator

Here we find a unique design that uses analogue panel meters in a similar method to the multimeter clock detailed previously. Here is an example of the completed kit:

IMG_1113

The kit contains the electronics and meters (or you can delete the meters for a discount if you already have some) however the housing is up to you. Furthermore, this kit has some of the best instructions (.pdf) I have ever seen. They are a credit to the organisation. Our final clock kit is the …

Denkimono

This is another clock kit in the style of ‘suspicious bomb timer’-looking – and it pulls this off quite well. Consider the following video demonstration:

As well as a normal clock it can function as an alarm, stopwatch, countdown timer and lap counter. The instructions (.pdf) are well written and easy to follow. Furthermore the Denkimono is also well priced for the kit and delivery.

Hopefully this catalogue of clock kits was of interest to you. If you have found some other kits to add to the list, or wish to disagree or generally comment about this article please do so via the comment section below. This article was not sponsored in any way.

Have fun and keep checking into tronixstuff.com. Why not follow things on twitter, Google+, subscribe  for email updates or RSS using the links on the right-hand column, or join our Google Group – dedicated to the projects and related items on this website. Sign up – it’s free, helpful to each other –  and we can all learn something.

Posted in clocks, kit review, nixie, review, TTL, VFDComments (8)

Kit Review – Alan Parekh’s Infra-Red Jammer

[Updated 17/01/2013]

In this review we examine another kit which goes hand in hand with other mischievous items such as the TV-B-Gone – the Infra-Red Jammer kit by Alan Parekh of hackedgadgets.com. The function of this product is to create infra-red signals that are stronger than those from a normal remote control, thereby rendering it useless. Our jammer sends the signal out using four high-output infra-red LEDs, on the following frequencies: 30, 33, 36, 38, 40 and 56 kHz.

This is controlled by a small MCU that is included in preprogrammed form with the kit, so you don’t need to do it yourself. However, if you are building a jammer from scratch, Alan does allow the download of the hex file to program your own. However, please note that this kit is not an open-source hardware, so you cannot just start knocking out your own. But enough talking, let’s get building!

The kit is packaged in the typical minimalist fashion, the parts inside an anti-static bag:

bagss

Upon turfing out the contents, we find them to be:

contentsss

Unlike most other kit suppliers, I was very happy to see the IC socket included. It probably cost about 10 cents, but it can save someone a whole day of mucking about if they aren’t the best at soldering, and don’t have an electronics store nearby. Furthermore the PCB is solder-masked and silk screened nicely, and is of a decent thickness. Once again – if smaller companies can offer kits with such great PCBs, why cannot larger multi-million dollar outfits like Jaycar offer such great PCBs in their kits? Grrr. Anyway.

The assembly instructions have been compiled into a very neat and tidy book that is downloadable as a .pdf file. It is very clear and easy to follow, great for beginners or enthusiasts alike. So at this point it’s time to get soldering.

At first you need to decide upon the power output strength which is determined by R1 and R2 – for me, it’s all or nothing so I went for the high-power resistors. Thankfully values to use three output levels are included, so you will have some spare resistors at the end. Once those are in, the rest of the assembly is relatively straight forward:

pcbss

What did take me be surprise is the length of the leads on the two electrolytic capacitors – they were very short. This made mounting them difficult:

shortcapsss

However with a little perseverance they went in and stayed put. Although the jammer is activated for thirty seconds by pressing the button as seen in the photo above, there are also two pads on the PCB for another button… so you could, for example, mount the jammer under a lounge or inside an object, and have the button wired remotely. Very good idea:

extraswitchss

They are visible between the diode and the press button. Finally it was time to plug in a 9V battery and start jamming. Interestingly enough the PCB size matches the profile of a typical PP3 9V battery, so if you insulated the PCB with tape or another material, you could mount the PCB onto the battery:

9vsamess

As decided earlier, I chose the highest power output setting by using the low values for R1 and R2. At this point I was curious as to how much current the jammer will draw while operating – which turned out to be 209 mA:

209mass

So bear this in mind if you are going to spend the day jamming up things. You might want to carry a spare battery, or wire a couple up in parallel. But now it was time to get jamming and have some fun. The check of the infra-red LEDs was successful:

operatingss

A test at home showed it knocked out all the IR receivers on my sound and video gear from a distance of around 5 metres. I couldn’t try any further as a wall was in the way, but with the unit set to high power I’m sure it should be good for around fifteen metres at least.

Now when you press the button, the jamming will run for thirty seconds. However you can increase this by buffering up more presses – for example if you press the button three times the jammer will run for ninety seconds. If you were in a trade show, or somewhere you needed to create some mayhem, build a TV-B-Gone and one of these jammers. Turn off the screen then setup your jammer for a couple of minutes. You will drive the presenters positively nuts. Awesome!

Conclusion

This is another fun and inexpensive kit that can be used for hours on end in various situations. It was easy to solder apart from a couple of capacitors, and getting them in wasn’t really a problem once you held them in with some blu-tac. So if you’re looking for a gift for some trouble-makers, or just want to stop people changing the channel during the cricket, this kit is for you. It is available directly from Alan’s website here: http://alan-parekh.com/kits/ and is a steal for less than US$20 delivered.

In the meanwhile have fun and keep checking into tronixstuff.com. Why not follow things on twitter, Google+, subscribe  for email updates or RSS using the links on the right-hand column? And join our friendly Google Group – dedicated to the projects and related items on this website. Sign up – it’s free, helpful to each other –  and we can all learn something.
[Note – this kit was a promotional consideration made available by Alan Parekh]

Posted in infrared, jammer, kit review, product reviewComments (0)


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