A word clock is a clock where you actually read the hour. There are plenty of wordclocks out there, some of them have had successful campaigns in sites like Kickstarter or Indiegogo. This project is not meant to be innovative or revolutionary, it's more like, again, an I-can-do-that-too project, a pretty big subset of the DIY movement.

The goal of the project is to have a wordclock that would tell the hour in catalan and spanish. Whilst spanish hour system is pretty simple, catalan one is not and, AFAIK, there are no wordclocks in catalan out there.


The clock

The hardware has been designed using OpenSCad and it's inspired by the PiBow cases for Raspberry Pi. A series of layers forming a sandwich. From top to bottom the layers are (this is true for beta version):

  • frontend, a smoke colored acrylic layer cut with a laser cutter
  • stencil, a thin black cardboard with the characters cut out with a laser
  • diffusor, a thin white paper sheet
  • lattice, a 3D printed black PLA grid to isolate each pixel
  • LED matrix, a 16x16 flexible RGB LED Matrix w/ WS2812B pixels
  • support, a clear acrylic layer
  • controller, custom PCB attached to the backend
  • backend, a clear acrylic layer with holes for wall mounting

The controller

The controller is a custom PCB designed to serve different purposes. On one hand there is an RTC and a uC (ATMega328P, same as an Arduino UNO). The user interface are 4 big 12x12mm buttons and, optionally there is an SD card reader (more about this in a future project).

It can be powered with 5V via a 2.1x5.5mm barrel plug or a screw terminal, there is an FTDI-compatible header to program it and a 3-wire screw terminal to connect Neopixel-like strips.

You can check the schematics and board layout for this controller in the repository of another of my projects, the Fibonacci Clock.


The project is ready to be build using PlatformIO. Please refer to their web page for instructions on how to install the builder. Once installed:

> cd code
> platformio init -b uno
> platformio run
> platformio run --target upload

Library dependencies are automatically managed via PlatformIO Library Manager.