5 ways to make a clock with a Raspberry Pi

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Given how rudimentary many traditional clocks happen to be by modern standards, it makes sense that, if you are seriously contemplating building things with a Raspberry Pi, you could ease yourself into this journey gently by making a Pi-powered clock.

Here are several types of clock you would be able to — with our guidance and instructions below — create with a Raspberry Pi programmable microcomputer and other bits and pieces.

Flip clock 

If you are old enough to remember when flip clocks were a big thing (or at least big enough for them to have remained firmly imprinted in your mind to this day), you could be enticed by the prospect of assembling essentially an up-to-date take on this retro variety of timepiece.

MUO highlights one example of a Raspberry Pi-powered flip clock, adding: “You will need to create a printed circuit board fitted with a microcomputer and drivers to control the flip digits on the clock.”

Binary clock

You might have heard of a binary clock before, but in case you haven’t: it shows the time in the form of LED lights representing binary numbers organized in different columns.

Though this kind of clock is hard for most people to read, it actually makes a good starter project for someone looking to build a clock with a Raspberry Pi for the first time. 

YouTuber Gary Explains has fashioned a Pi-based binary clock of his own from a Raspberry Pi Pico W, an 8×8 matrix display module and some Python code.

Clock on an e-ink display 

Like the binary clock, this is a beginner-friendly project due to being relatively easy to pursue. You will need just three physical parts for it: a Raspberry Pi Zero, a Waveshare 2.13” e-ink display, and, from The Pi Hut, a case for holding both the Pi and display.

It will also be necessary for you to install Raspberry Pi OS, albeit the Lite version — and Python 3 and tmux (terminal multiplexer) will be other required pieces of the software puzzle.

Word clock

If you fancy something more challenging, building a Pi-based word clock can be hard to beat. A word clock is so-called as it displays the time in words rather than traditional numbers — and a Raspberry Pi can fit into all of this by illuminating relevant words or phrases.

The project will, however, require you to make an enclosure for the clock as well as sort out complex wiring. Other essentials for the project include a 5V power supply and an LED strip.

Resistor clock 

What exactly is a resistor clock? It uses the resistor colour code system, which came about at the behest of the Radio Manufacturer’s Association so that numerical values could be marked on small components.

Tom’s Hardware explains how you can put together a resistor clock you would be able to use on a daily basis to help yourself in memorising the resistor codes. Among the parts you will need for the project are a Raspberry Pi Pico W and an Adafruit NeoPixel stick.

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