One thing that certainly differentiates human beings from other members of the animal kingdom is our near obsessive attention to artificial divisions of time. Marking the passage of time in units more precise than light/dark or warm/cold has led to the creation of a number of devices from the sundial to the atomic clock.
Timepieces do more than simply tell us when it’s almost time for our favorite TV show or that it is most definitely time to get up if we want to get to work and still find ourselves employed. They are also symbols of status and as such have received a great deal of attention from designers as a project worthy of their name. The complexity of their mechanisms has meant that the vast majority of clocks within a given time period are differentiated largely by their external appearance.
During the period when Louis XV reigned over France, the fascination with clocks and the regularization of their production meant that they became necessities for upscale interiors and the wealthy, who had very little reason or need for knowing the time, would often have several clocks in each room. Much later, during the middle of the 20th century, clocks would be created by stars of the design world such as George Nelson and Norman Bel Geddes.
As we hurtled toward industrial manufacture, the dominance of the factory work schedule combined with the possibility for living out of earshot of a factory whistle made the keeping of time something essential for the common person. With the miniaturization of the clock to be wearable as a watch, the stage was set for the next great revolution: digital.
As with each technological innovation, there are complaints that the digital clock will leave us unable to read the analog clock. Possibly this is seen as a problem because of the understanding conveyed for the relationships of the parts to the whole in the visual of an analog clock. Whatever the case, the digital clock has settled comfortably into the world of time telling.
Add to this now, the word clock. The word clock is, as it sounds, a time telling device that literally spells it out for you. Instructables contributor drhatch has provided an eight-step guide to an innovate technique that he used to create his own. The word clock works by giving each word that could appear in the telling of time its own light well that will separate it from the others so that only the ones needed at a given time are illuminated.
The creation of these wells is a time consuming part of the creation. Drhatch worked to reduce the overall time taken to create the piece by using a two-headed 3D printer so that he could print the light diffuser at the same time that he was printing the walls of the light wells. The left head printed the walls using black ABS while the translucent diffuser was created with a .05” layer of ABS that allowed for containment of the light without over dimming.
The CAD file was created using Autodesk 123D Design, a free software that was also ideal for printing an object that requires separate STL files for each color to be printed. Drhatch then details the selection of the microprocessor and the rest of the parts list in order to create the functioning aspects of the word clock. As a personalized touch, he decided to use the bottom of the PCB as a Christmas card, printed with silk screen and visible when the back of the clock is opened. A final personal touch was the creation of a front panel word mask that would light up the words “Family is four ever” at four o’clock each day.
While the precision of the time piece is somewhat limited by the number of words that it can contain, it is most likely as precise as any of us will ever need. Chances are that if your life requires marking time to the very second; it might be time to take a vacation… or at least make a larger word clock.
This user designed his word clock to be easy to read and, importantly, easy to create, as he wanted to make several. Have you tried this design out? Let us know what you think about the 3D printed word clock over at 3DPB.com.