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Sunday, January 14, 2024

This Cosmic Clock Can Show the Time and the Planets

Monitoring celestial our bodies

Wanting up on the evening sky and observing its stars/planets has been certainly one of humanity’s oldest pastimes, and even with the appearance of contemporary smartphones, discovering extra details about the place particular our bodies are might be tedious. Wealthy Stevens’ Cosmic Clock makes an attempt to make this simpler by displaying the place of the solar, moon, and a number of other planets relative to the Earth in a handy format. The system features a pair of microcontrollers and a real-time clock (RTC) to trace the time, in addition to a mess of shows and inputs for additional configuration.

Constructing the body

The construct course of started by affixing a pair of image frames collectively for extra depth, and it was adopted by including a backing and entrance PVC sheet. To ensure that the LEDs and show segments to shine by, Stevens fastidiously hand-cut slots and countersunk holes with a mix of drills and recordsdata till it matched his template. Lastly, ornamental parts had been connected for labeling and to cover minor imperfections.

Entrance panel and shows

Readouts of exact, numerical values are offered by a set of seven-segment LED modules. The 5 on the high present the celestial physique, its angles relative to the Earth, and the quantity of anticipated illumination. Within the middle are 4 extra modules which might be largely time primarily based, with three for the date and the ultimate one displaying the diploma of rise. LEDs on both facet point out if sure planets are seen, and the ring across the central shows reveals quite a lot of results.

Assembling the circuit

Because of the giant variety of inputs and outputs, a single, easy microcontroller wouldn’t suffice. As an alternative, Stevens went with each an ATmega644 and an ATmega328P to separate up the duties. The clock comprises a lot of LEDs- much more than might be pushed individually by the MCUs mixed, so 4 MAX7219 show drivers had been wanted for the multiplexing necessities. Different elements included a DS18B20 temperature sensor, DS3231 RTC, an LDR for getting ambient gentle ranges, and an entire host of passive elements.


The ATmega644 holds almost the entire timekeeping and planet-indicating logic, and the code Stevens wrote has a plethora of configurability for almost any location on the globe. By inputting one’s coordinates, timezone offset, and azimuth angle offset, almost each planet might be tracked primarily based on the present time. The central yellow ring of LEDs is supposed to show the variety of seconds and customers can decide from a complete of as much as 18 animations. In the meantime, the ATmega328P handles the hour show on its ring of pink LEDs.

Utilizing the cosmic clock

Powering on the cosmic clock presents the person with all kinds of buttons and choices that can be utilized to set/show the time/date, alter the show mode, and alter which animations are being performed. To see extra about this extremely constructed and documented challenge, you possibly can learn Stevens’ write-up right here on Instructables or watch this video on his YouTube channel.

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