AMS Spring 2023

Taking and Making Time with Ekaggrat Singh Kalsi’s 3D Printed Clocks

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Doodle Clock

Clocks are a recurring theme in the work of India-born and Beijing-based architect and designer Ekaggrat Singh Kalsi. His previous forays into clockmaking have included The Torlo, a clock with a simple oscillating motor and The Doodle Clock, a machine which repeatedly writes and erases the time on a board, legibly albeit in handwriting reminiscent of a young child. The time pieces are all 3D printed efforts to question the ways in which measures of time can be conveyed and explore unique methods for mechanizing the measurements themselves.

The Edgytokei pushes that envelope yet again. For the 3D printed clock, posted on Hackaday, Kalsi drew inspiration from Japan, hence the incorporation of the Japanese word for clock, “tokei”, into the name of the piece. The two arms of the clock revolve around each other and each throws the other into place, somewhat akin to the traditional Japanese weapon, nunchucks. The arms switch from representing minutes to representing hours as necessary in order to complete the 360 degree turn of analog timekeeping, with an LED light illuminating the arm representing the hour at any particular moment.

Held in balance on a steady base, each arm turns upon a fulcrum and is driven by a stepper motor. The power lines are hidden via copper tracks while still allowing the arms the freedom needed to move in this unusual formation. The timekeeping mechanism itself is controlled by an Arduino Nano and the coding borrows a gcode parser from MarginallyClever in addition to a custom gcode sender. The 3D printed pieces were fabricated on a custom dual color Corey machine.

On the whole, the process for creating the clock was much more complex than Singh had originally imagined, as he described:

“The biggest PITA was the homing. That actually made me scrap the clock for a year. The problem is that when the clock is powered up from a unique position a usual homing of the bottom arm can end up in a crash. So, the lower arm needs to know which end it is at when powering up. The solution to it is very unique. The lower arm contains a color strip with four parts, two parts in length are of the same color and he other two parts are another color. A reflective sensor senses these values and gives two different distinct values for two different colors. So now the lower arm knows which way to home, left or right. Once the direction is known, it uses hall sensors to home.”

The aesthetics of the clock are interesting, but the movement is still a bit too crunchy to really impress. I found the clock a challenge to read, but that’s what happens when you rethink something that we’re all used to from a young age. Working a little bit is good for our brains, and the challenge to conventional analog time telling is definitely a worthwhile effort.

Singh’s interrogation of time and its portrayal continues to make progress and to clearly demonstrate that reimagining basic tools can be among the most challenging of design activities.

What do you think of this news? Let us know your thoughts; join the discussion of this and other 3D printing topics at 3DPrintBoard.com or share your thoughts below.

[Images: Ekaggrat Singh Kalsi via Hackaday]

 

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