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w=300&h=225" data-large-file="https://fowkc.files.wordpress.com/2013/10/unixclockblock2.jpg? w=640" class="size-medium wp-image-176" alt="A system-level view of the really simple UNIX Clock" src="https://fowkc.files.wordpress.com/2013/10/unixclockblock2.jpg?w=300&h=225" width="300" height="225" srcset="https://fowkc.files.wordpress.com/2013/10/unixclockblock2.jpg? w=300&h=225 300w, https://fowkc.files.wordpress.com/2013/10/unixclockblock2.jpg? w=600&h=450 600w, https://fowkc.files.wordpress.com/2013/10/unixclockblock2.jpg? w=150&h=113 150w" sizes="(max-width: 300px) 100vw, 300px" / of these things except the buttons would cause delays and hassle. The normal way to drive multiple seven-segment displays to multiplex them; that is to only turn on one display at a time, and rely on our rubbish, slow, biological eyes to make it seem as if all of them are on at once.The enclosure design was simple enough, but the laser cutting did not go well, and I ended up staying at the hackspace into the early hours of the morning with a scalpel removing bits that didn’t quite cut through.Lesson 4: Check laser cutter alignment and settings at the extremes of the cutting area.For those that don’t know, this is simply a count of the number of seconds since on 1st January 1970. Lots of computer systems use this system to internally store time.The time currently needs ten digits to display, and that will do until Sat, , which should be long enough.
It’s silly to have to set the time every time this happens, so I got a Chronodot RTC board, which is really just a breakout for a DS3231 RTC chip and backup battery.I designed a board that was the width and height as the display, so they can just be butted up against one another and soldered together.Each board has a TLC5916 8-channel constant-current LED driver, enough for the seven segments and the decimal point. The decimal point in 1″ displays typically only has one LED (the segments have two), but I decided to cheerfully ignore this, especially as for this application there wouldn’t be any decimal points on.So, I had to modify each board to have both 7 Vand 5V supplies by: A hand-drawn circuit diagram showing before-and-after the modification to the display PCB " data-medium-file="https://fowkc.files.wordpress.com/2013/10/unixclockmod.jpg?w=300&h=159" data-large-file="https://fowkc.files.wordpress.com/2013/10/unixclockmod.jpg? w=640" class="size-medium wp-image-173" alt="The modifications I had to make to each display board" src="https://fowkc.files.wordpress.com/2013/10/unixclockmod.jpg?This approach has the benefit that you only need one seven-segment driver and as many power transistors as there are displays.Also, as only one display is on at a time, the power consumption is factor of N lower than keeping all the displays on, where N is the number of displays.This chip stores the date and time (plus alarm settings and control) in 12 8-bit registers, read/writeable over i²c.I’m quietly building myself an embedded software library, with generic components where possible, feeding into architecture-specifics where necessary.Lesson 3: Where components might potentially have different voltages, consider designing for contingency and including jumpers/switches etc.I think that this type of project lends itself to see-through casings, so you can look at my shoddy soldering and gluing. I designed a box in Inkscape, starting with a template from and modifying to suit.