peteg's blog - hacking - 2010 07 16 Bulbdial

A Bulbdial clock

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I bought this kit a while ago, when the Australian dollar was near its peak. The postage to Australia is insanely expensive at $US40 or so, whereas they'll ship it for free to the locals. The kit itself is a bit pricey, partly excused by the high number of LEDs (about 70) in it. I got the Chronodot, so it would keep time even without power, and a black/transparent plastic case.

Putting it together is too simple: the instructions are exceedingly well written and the design quite well thought through. It took me about five or six hours in total to solder the components to the board and assemble the case. The few fiascos were minor.

Ultimately it is even more beautiful than I expected, and I'm very happy with it. That doesn't stop me carping though. :-)

  • Most irritating is that the power supply socket and programmer header are well inside the case (you can see it on the right in the picture). This means that you need to pull the front cover off to access them.
  • The viewing angle is quite narrow, as the clock dial is recessed a long way into the case.
  • The clock is essentially digital, i.e. 3:45pm is rendered with the hour hand pointing at '3', and the minutes hand at '45', whereas an analogue clock would point the hour hand closer to '4'. This is surprisingly confusing.
  • The flat watch battery that powers the Chronodot is soldered on, so replacing it will require finding something very similar. These days I would hope for a super cap.

I highly recommend this kit, with some misgivings about the cost; the Evil Mad Scientists deserve to become rich if they can keep cranking out open-sourced novelties like this one.