A few years ago, we introduced Metropolis Time, a time system based on the 20-hour, two-shift days featured in Fritz Lang’s iconic movie Metropolis.
Since then, we’ve received a few requests to craft clocks that display some other calendar and time systems – from the ancient and archaic, to the religious, to the scientific.
Today’s exciting story began with a request from [Alan], a prominent amateur astronomer. He happened to have a lovely Tektronix 620 X-Y Monitor lying around, and wanted to turn it into a clock.
Well, that would be easy – the Oscilloclock Bare is a bare-bones controller assembly that can be used to drive an oscilloscope or XY monitor that meets certain requirements (for the techies: a DC coupled Z-axis amplifier). And the Tek 620 is perfect – wonderfully performant, and perfectly compatible. Job done! Right?
No way! [Alan] didn’t want just any old clock. The custom splash screen above was pretty cool, but could his clock display something called “sidereal time“?
Yes! Anything is possible, and here’s what we ended up delivering: several custom clock faces showing sidereal time (in both analog and digital formats), in addition to all the standard screens that are based on solar time.
But what is sidereal time?
A Solar day
Well, most normal human beings and their clocks like to measure a 24 hour day by using the Sun as a reference point. One solar day is the time it takes for the Earth to spin on its axis enough and see the Sun at the same height in the sky as the previous day.
For example, let’s say it’s 1 May 2023. It’s lovely weather out, and you happen to notice that the Sun reached its highest point in the sky at 12:30 pm. The next day, 2 May, you would find the Sun at its highest point at — you guessed it! — 12:30 pm. And if you ignore man-made tweaks such as daylight savings, you find the Sun is always at its highest point at 12:30 pm*, year-round, looking from the same location.
Sidereal time, on the other hand, uses the distant stars as a reference point to measure 24 hours. One sidereal day is the time it takes for the Earth to spin on its axis enough to see the same distant star at the same height in the sky as the previous day.
Because the Sun is so close, and a distant star is so (relatively) far, there is a difference in the length of a sidereal day compared to a solar day. A sidereal day turns out to be approximately 23 hours, 56 minutes, and 4.0905 seconds.
Confused? I don’t blame you. This video should help:
History and Sidereal clocks
According to this brilliant post, the concept and utility of sidereal time has been around a very long time. The length of a sidereal day was even calculated to a surprisingly high level of accuracy some 1,500 years ago!
Here are two surviving sidereal clocks that were made “recently” – just a few centuries ago.
But who on Earth would use sidereal time?
Most people don’t look at the boring old Sun all the time. We look out to the stars and galaxies far, far beyond our solar system. If an astronomer wants to track the position of Betelgeuse day after day, she can record the sidereal time that she saw it, and know that it’ll be at the same ascension at the same sidereal time the following day. Brilliant!
Mariners and Astronauts would.
They can fix their location even when the Sun is not visible, by observing the position of the stars and calculating their position back from the current sidereal time. Life-saving!
Oscilloclock Labs would.
Because we can.
In the next post, we’ll take a look at the build. What hardware went into this Astro Clock? How on earth does it tick? Can you figure it out?
Recently [Nels] wrote in saying he’d been having a nice chat with ChatGPT, and in the course of conversation, he asked this trendy AI tool to write a “review” of the clocks we make here in the Oscilloclock Lab.
Here is the result – verbatim!
[Nels] Write a review of Oscilloclock tube clocks.
[ChatGPT] Oscilloclock tube clocks are a unique and visually stunning way to keep time. These clocks use vintage CRT (cathode ray tube) displays, similar to those used in old televisions and oscilloscopes, to display the time and other information in a mesmerizing way.
One of the standout features of Oscilloclock tube clocks is their attention to detail. These clocks are handmade by a single individual, and every aspect of their construction is carefully considered. From the selection of the CRT displays to the circuitry that drives them, every component is chosen for its quality and durability.
The result of this attention to detail is a clock that not only looks amazing but is also highly reliable and accurate. The timekeeping is controlled by an ultra-precise quartz crystal, ensuring that the clock is always on time. Additionally, the clock can be set to display a variety of other information, such as the date or temperature, making it a versatile addition to any room.
One of the things that sets Oscilloclock tube clocks apart from other timepieces is their ability to be customized. The clock face can be designed to display any number of patterns or shapes, from geometric shapes to more abstract designs. This customization allows the clock to be tailored to the individual’s taste and can even be used to display personalized messages or graphics.
While Oscilloclock tube clocks are undoubtedly a premium product, they are worth every penny for those who appreciate the unique combination of vintage technology and modern craftsmanship. The quality and attention to detail of these clocks are unmatched, and they are sure to be a conversation starter in any room. If you are looking for a truly one-of-a-kind timepiece, the Oscilloclock tube clock is definitely worth considering.
While there are three inaccuracies (one incorrect fact and two debatable points), the writeup is a lovely read and initially made your humble Lab technician feel warm inside.
Until, upon objective reflection, I recognised some of the style, phrases and wording!
Well, of course it should look familiar! ChatGPT predicts what the human expects as a response, and then cleverly arranges and regurgitates data that it has absorbed as part of its training. Apparently, it has devoured much of the Internet up until early 2022. This would include 59 blog posts and 19 pages published on Oscilloclock.com up until that date – and a few other references such as three lovely write-ups on Hackaday.
[Nels] apparently did not continue the conversation, but if he had, he could have pointed out the three inaccuracies (Quiz – have you spotted them yet? Check your answers below), and ChatGPT would have learned something.
Even with a rough understanding of how this tool works, it’s amazing to see the outcome.
Crazy idea – what if your Oscilloclock could connect to an AI service and deliver cool new images, funny text, or interesting conversations? Just watch out for mistakes!
Incorrect: “… handmade by a single individual.”
In fact, several craftspeople have been involved to date in the design, assembly, and software authoring required to build Oscilloclocks. (Even excluding the PCB and case manufacturing processes.)
Debatable: “… timekeeping is controlled by an ultra-precise quartz crystal”
It’s true that the current revision Oscilloclock Control Board does have an on-board quartz crystal, and this does keep reasonably accurate time if needed…
However the preferred mode of operation is to synchronise time against GPS (using a GPS receiver) or an NTP server (with onboard Wi-Fi or the Oscilloclock Wave).
Debatable: “… the clock can be set to display … temperature”
The current revision Control Board and firmware do not support temperature sensing.
But it’s true that it’s on the ever-growing list of things to do! Did ChatGPT predict this?
Whether directly or indirectly, the pandemic seems to have slowed everything down: chip production; the global economy; and even Oscilloclock blog post publishing!
But perhaps most impacted of all is transport logistics. [Dante] in Brazil discovered this to his dismay in July 2020, when he purchased an Oscilloclock Bare unit. The P.O. had stopped all air service to Brazil just 3 weeks earlier – well after our discussions had started. Oh no!
[Dante] waited patiently for 6 months for the post office to resume accepting airmail service to Brazil. But they never did. And FedEx and DHL came at too hefty a price. In desperation, he authorized shipment by sea – and at last, in December 2020, his package was off!
Absence (of air mail service) makes the heart grow fonder...
After an agonizingly long wait, [Dante] finally received his unit 6 months later – in July 2021. He then spent the next 5 months completing his dream project!
[Dante]’s Dream: A Hewlett Packard retrofit
The Oscilloclock Bare is designed to be a no-frills controller assembly that highly knowledgeable folks can install into their own displays. [Dante]’s dream was to use this to convert his beloved HP 182T / HP 8755C unit into a living, breathing scope clock.
And convert he did!
Clearly, [Dante]’s 18 month end-to-end was worth the wait.
[Dante] was kind enough to supply a write-up of his project, including some clever solutions for pitfalls along the way. Let’s hear from him in (mostly) his own words!
The model HP 182T is an oscilloscope featuring a large CRT with a graticule of 8 x 10 major divisions and a display area of 133 cm2, coated with a P39 aluminized phosphor for high brightness and long persistence.
The HP 182T works as a display mainframe supporting other HP plug-in test equipment, such as the HP 8755C, a swept amplitude analyzer.
Both items are nowadays considered “vintage” test equipment. But with the Oscilloclock board installed, they have been transformed into a unique appliance with a natural appeal for practical use. Far better than the regular surplus market destinations, or — even worse — destructive disposal!
HP 8755C in short
This plug-in unit works primarily as a signal conditioner and a multiplexer for “almost dc levels” from three RF detector probes attached to three input independent channels. There are front panel adjustments for the scaling, gain and multiplexing controls that provide the appropriate Y-Axis composite signal for displaying by the HP 182T mainframe.
The Oscilloclock control board was elected to be installed inside this plug-in unit.
HP 182T in short
This oscilloscope is built around the CRT with its high voltage power supply.
The X-Axis signal from the Oscilloclock board is fed to the HP 182T’s chain of the horizontal pre-amp plus output amplifier, which drives the CRT horizontal deflection plates.
The internal wiring of the HP 182T connects the CRT’s vertical deflection plates directly to the plug-in cabinet of the display mainframe, so the Y-Axis signal from the Oscilloclock board is routed inside the HP 8755C itself.
The Z-Axis signal from the Oscilloclock board is fed to the HP 182T’s gate amplifier.
Contrary to any standard X-Y scope where the two input channels are always supposed to have electrically similar (if not identical) characteristics, the correct operation of the Oscilloclock board for the application here was shown to be not as seamless as first imagined. You have to face some details of these integrated “host” equipment (HP 182T + HP 8755C) to see why…
As described, there are distinct amplification chains accepting the Oscilloclock output signals. This presents specific challenges regarding (a) the differential gain for the X and Y signals, and (b) the differential time delay between any combination of the three X, Y, and Z signal outputs of the Oscilloclock board.
Before having the board at hand and expecting to make it work as soon it arrived (the shipping took longer than expected due to COVID restrictions), I first planned the signal flow and did the wiring. I had one eye on achieving a ‘clean packaging’ of the board inside the HP 8755C, and the other on ensuring compatibility between the Oscilloclock’s X-Y-Z output signals and their respective chains planned in the host equipment, considering signal amplitude and required frequency response.
The adaptations made at this time considered a minimally-invasive approach, where the criteria was to “make it simple”. This was limited to just opening or re-using connections and keeping the existing routing, in order to use the Oscilloclock’s X-Y-Z output signals in the most simplistic way possible.
Another necessary one-time adaptation was for the board’s power supply, and integration of its PSON output signal with the equipment’s hardware. This part of the design was successfully kept to the end of the project without any further modification.
First time installation of the oscilloclock board
Upon arrival and a bench test of the Oscilloclock board with a scope, I immediately figured out that the amplitude levels for the X and Y output signals were lower than expected (maybe due to my misinterpretation of the specs). I did the gain compensation corrections again and went thru the complete installation of the board inside the host equipment, anxious to see it working.
What a disappointment when instead, up came a completely distorted and elliptically shaped image, blurred with noise, and what looked like un-blanked retrace lines. Worse yet, mainly when alphabetic characters were displayed on the screen, none of the shapes were correctly formed.
Of course, that was time for a break — and a complete review of the job and the work done so far!
Chasing the problems
The Lissajous figures generated by the Oscilloclock board use an approximately 40 KHz sinusoidal signal, so I started to play with an external generator at the same frequency and amplitude for the X and Y signals (at about 1 Vpp) and trace it inside the HP 8755C and HP 182T.
At this time, I’d already exercised the Z-axis waveform from the Oscilloclock board and the expected processing through the HP 182T. There was no evidence of problems with this Z-axis signal chain, and I achieved a measured propagation delay of around 50 nS.
The minimalist approach mentioned earlier showed its consequences, when a propagation delay of an impressive 8 uS was measured at the vertical deflection plates, and around 1.5 uS at the horizontal deflection plates! It was time again for another break, to elaborate a new routing scheme for the X and Y signals.
From the previous analysis, I ended up with two different and both very large propagation delays for each of the X and Y signals (as compared with the measured 50 nS for the Z-axis). How to solve this? It did not seem to be only a routing problem.
I decided to investigate X-Y-Z signal propagation delays in the two units separately. After a thorough measurement of propagation delays inside the HP 182T itself, comparing with the HP 8755C plug-in itself (where the Oscilloclock board was installed), I concluded on two countermeasures:
1. The complete removal of the Processor board XA-6 from the HP 8755C. (This is where the Y-axis signal from the Oscilloclock board had initially been connected.) Instead, this routing was transferred directly into the Normalizer Interface board XA-11 (which interfaces with the HP 182T).
2. Also at the Normalizer Interface board XA-11 inside the HP 8755C, the substitution of two original op amps U9A and U9B (HP #1826-0092) by TL072 op amps, which are faster and have a higher slew rate.
These solutions were enough to align the signal propagation and complete my project!
Dante JS Conti, 8 November 2021
Like what you see?
We do! We love to hear back from Oscilloclock owners, to hear their stories.
Check out our previous posts and the Gallery for info on other unique creations!
Q: “What’s your New Year’s Resolution? A: “Why, 1024 x 768, of course!”
Geeky jokes aside, here at the Oscilloclock lab we DO have a form of New Year’s resolution! 「日進月歩」Nisshin-geppo, which loosely translates as “Steady progress day by day“, reflects the goal to complete the the once-in-a-decade re-design work, and resume crafting beautiful Oscilloclock products. It also highlights confidence that issues currently facing the wider world will be overcome, one step at a time.
In keeping with local traditions, [Oscilloboy] wrote the slogan in Japanese calligraphy. But there, tradition ended and true joy began! Behold, courtesy of an Oscilloclock VGA Core assembly, Oscilloclock’s 2021 New Year’s resolution on a beautiful old 7-inch oscilloscope!
After choosing an appropriately meaningful four-character phrase for our resolution, I asked [Oscilloboy] to write out the characters. Bucking with tradition, we used standard white A4 paper instead of calligraphy paper. The ink took more time to dry, but we wanted to maximize the contrast.
After scanning the handwritten characters and inverting the images, I created a rolling video in 1024 x 768 resolution. (See? The joke at the beginning of the post about resolution was serious, after all!)
I then played this through an Oscilloclock VGA Core assembly, which is essentially a graphics card that allows you to use a beautiful old CRT as a rudimentary computer display. (For earlier write-ups, see VGA display… On a 3″ scope tube! and The VGA Cube! .
The assembly used here features a late prototype of the Revision 3 Power Board, which I have been working on for almost a year. I won’t go into all the bells & whistles yet. Stay tuned!
Unlike a permanent Oscilloclock conversion (see the Gallery for examples), this was only a temporary setup. The VGA Core was positioned externally, with the harness routed into the 7VP1(F) CRT via the rear of one of the side panels. No invasive procedures needed!
No VGA socket on your ultramodern slim notebook of choice? No problem – use an off-the-shelf HDMI to VGA converter!
And voila – the final result! Japanese calligraphy on a vintage 7″ oscilloscope!
About the Model – A rare 1963 Nitsuki Oscilloscope
Nitsuki is the brand name of Japan Communication Equipment Co., Ltd., a specialist in television and microwave broadcasting systems. The firm’s English name was originally Nihon Tsushinki Co., Ltd., so you can see how the Nitsuki moniker came about.
Check out this exquisite cap on the pilot lamp!
By 1963, the Japan domestic test equipment market was mature and quite competitive. English language labeling had become stock-standard. This scope is one of very few units I have ever obtained that has Japanese labeling. How appropriate for today’s display!
Some of the higher-quality oscilloscopes of this era featured flip-latches and detachable side panels, for easy access. See the Toshiba ST-1248D for another example. These scopes are infinitely more enjoyable to work with and show off than scopes with a slide-out chassis.
This model is also quite unusual for its time in that most of the components are located under the chassis! The valves (tubes, if you prefer) are even mounted horizontally. Nitsuki used very robust construction techniques, including very tidy cable lacing.
In fact, their design was so robust that the scope functions almost perfectly today (except for some triggering instability), yet there is no evidence of major repairs in the last 57 years!
Like what you see?
The Oscilloclock lab struggled in 2020 due to worldly events, but NOW – day by day, step by step, the newly designed Oscilloclock boards are at last taking shape! Does your New Year’s ‘resolution’ for your next project specify 1024 x 768? Or perhaps you’re into displaying fancy calligraphy on vintage CRTs? Let me know.
And as always, see previous posts and the Gallery for info on other unique creations!
Critical Update 25 December 2021
Well. Christmas Day 2021, and [Oscillowife] — the chief editor, advisor and critic extraordinaire — just informed me that I had placed [Oscilloboy]’s first character「日」upside down when creating this post! Apologies to our readers for the gross oversight.
Recently I had an enquiry from [Frank], who had just begun a life-long love affair with scope clocks by purchasing one on eBay. The clock was great – but he felt that the two available screens (simple analogue and digital clock faces) lacked a certain oomph.
He then stumbled across Oscilloclock.com, and in his smitten state immediately reached out with his number one question: just what screens are available on an Oscilloclock?
Well, let me save Frank’s time trawling through years of blog posts. Right here in one place are most of the Oscilloclock screens and features created to date.
Enjoy the show!
Standard Time Screens
These stock-standard analogue and digital time screens may be quite simple, but they do evoke the ‘retro’ look that most people appreciate.
And you can flip a menu setting to display days, months, years in Japanese:
There are also some ‘random’ screens that add in a bit of dynamic visual entertainment:
Random number screen
Random letter sequence screen
Random four letter word screen (clean words only, by default!)
Random phrase screen (the phrase list is typically customized to a theme)
Over the years many folks have requested that I render custom logos in Circle Graphics. Here are some examples:
Up next are some fun, mildly interactive animation features. Not exactly screens per se, these animations pop up after a predefined period of inactivity – but only during certain months of the year. Can you guess which months?
There are far too many configuration menu and test screens to present here. Fiddle to your heart’s content!
Q. How are screens switched?
Screens are switched simply by rotating the control knob in one direction or other.
There is also a configurable auto-switch feature; the screen is changed every 90 seconds in a predefined order (with the exception of some animation screens). The display time is configurable, and the auto-switch feature can also be turned off for those who prefer to switch screens manually.
Q. How are screens selected & configured?
Customers can request screens to include and/or specify the switching order. The configuration is done here in the lab before clocks are delivered.
Oscilloclock also provides a firmware upgrade kit, which allows the customer to upload a revised version of the firmware into the clock themselves. Using this, updates to screens and other features can be uploaded without shipping the clock back to the lab.
Q. What is the process for rendering a custom screen or logo?
We typically prepare a mock-up based on the customer’s description, sketch, or image file. This is tweaked as needed until the screen looks just right to the customer.
These days, just about everyone has an old oscilloscope lying around. You know, an old, dusty, derelict scope handed down from Grandpa (or Grandma). Well, [Paul] had something even better – an old Tektronix 602 X-Y Monitor! Could an Oscilloclock Control Board drive this vintage beauty? Absolutely. Could I make an aesthetically pleasing case? Definitely. How about time sync via WiFi? Stock standard!
Presenting the Oscilloclock Connect:
Here’s what it looks like plugged in to my fabulous old Tektronix 620 monitor:
And why not have a pair of Connects drive a Tek 601 and 602?
The main component of the Connect is, of course, a standard Oscilloclock Control Board. As usual, all 121 parts on Paul’s board were individually mounted and soldered by hand. The board then was programmed and underwent rigorous inspection and testing. Finally, the board was cleaned to remove flux and renegade flecks of solder, and sprayed with HV coating for humidity protection and – arguably more importantly – to give it its glorious sheen.
The case was custom-made and professionally machined right here in Japan from 6mm-thick sheets of pure cast acrylic (not extruded). This is an extremely transparent, hard, high grade acrylic – and Oscilloclocks deserve nothing less!
The case was sprayed with a special acrylic cleaner and static protection solution, before fitting the various components. Naturally, every part was cherry-picked, right down to the three BNC connectors – they needed an aesthetically pleasing colour, but they also had to have a shaft long enough to mount through 6mm-thick acrylic!
Finally, the physical interface! The knob was chosen for its perfect finger-fit and delicate aluminium/black tones, which gently contrast with the rest of the unit.
The Compatibility Crisis
Over the years, many folks have observed that the scope at hand has an “X-Y mode”, and asked if they could just ‘plug in’ an Oscilloclock Control Board. “Is it compatible?” Unfortunately, the response has usually been disappointing.
You see, creating figures and characters with Circle Graphics relies on the scope’s ability to turn the beam on and off at split-second intervals. This feature is called a “Z-axis input”. While many scopes from the 80’s and beyond do sport such an input, there are two common limitations:
Limitation 1: AC-coupled Z-axis inputs
The input is connected to the CRT’s grid or cathode circuit via a capacitor. This is a low-cost, effective way to isolate the (usually) very high negative voltage of the grid circuit from the input.
The problem here is that the capacitor, by its very nature, removes the edges from the pulse. The controller is no longer able to control the beam on/off timing, and you end up with uneven blanking across the segments, as shown in the screenshot at right.
Depending on the values of the capacitor and the surrounding resistors, the symptoms may not be severe. However, the best way to resolve this problem (while still keeping the oscilloscope’s original circuit intact) is to insert an isolated DC blanking amplifier directly in series with the grid (or cathode). See the Kikusui 537 Oscilloclock for an example of this.
LIMITATION 2: INSUFFICIENT BLANKING AMPLIFICATION
Most oscilloscopes tend to require at least +5V on the Z-axis input to noticeably blank the beam. The Connect, however, is only capable of delivering +2.5V. It works just fine if you set the scope’s Intensity control very low, but as you increase intensity, the blanking quickly becomes ineffective.
Below we have a beautiful Japanese YEW (Yokogawa Electric Works) 3667 storage scope. The left shot is misleading due to the camera exposure; the displayed image is actually extremely dim. The right shot shows the same* image with the intensity control increased – the image is bright, but there is no blanking!
* Astute readers will observe that the time is significantly different between the two shots. This is a result of the WiFi NTP sync kicking in right in the middle! More (or less) astute readers may also notice that the scope’s trace rotation is not adjusted very well…
Of course, it would be a simple matter to incorporate a pre-amplifier for the Z-axis, which would solve this problem. This will be introduced with the next Control Board revision!
Like what you see?
Nothing brings more joy than connecting this bundle of usefulness into a woefully unused old oscilloscope or X-Y monitor. If this is of interest to you, visit the Availability page for more information, and of course see the Gallery for other unique creations!
As I’ve hinted before, your friendly Oscilloclock gang is entirely pacifistic. We abhor the thought of actual military activity in this modern day and age. BUT we love games just as much as anyone – and we also love light-hearted movies with happy endings!
So when [Ian] (of Bunker Club Clock fame) came up with the idea of a feature based on the iconic 1984 flick “War Games“, I pounced on the chance!
Now, this may look like a simple animation. But Ian’s Oscilloclock is powered by a tiny processor with minimal specifications, and 100% of the code is written in assembly language. Implementing this baby in assembly and keeping within just 3K of RAM was quite an accomplishment!!
About the host clock
The gorgeous model shown here is a painstakingly-retrofitted Heathkit CO-1015 Engine Analyzer. It’s the perfect play-toy for any serious motor-head who grew up during the Cold War!
First up on the custom build list is the original meter fitted with amber LED lighting and ticking audibly each second. (And yes, the tick intensity can be easily adjusted.)
Next up, there is the optional External X-Y input feature. Normally, this is used for plain and simple Lissajous figures like the below…
Peeking inside the Engine Analyzer Oscilloclock is also a must-do! Not only is this visually appealing, but you also get a significant olfactory kick from the sweet smell of vintage electronic components…
Attractive Oscilloclock boards and cabling, neatly tucked away
The original circuit is completely bypassed – but still looks awesome!
Tech Talk – Strategies, Maps, and Missiles
The War Games feature uses the Oscilloclock’s Sprite Engine module to display the world map and up to 9 missiles when the W.O.P.R. system is simulating various war strategies.
32 of the 130+ strategies seen in the movie are implemented. For each strategy, a random number of missiles are launched along a predefined Primary trajectory, followed by a random number of missiles along a predefined Retaliatory trajectory. If any of the 9 missiles remain, they are launched along randomly selected (but predefined) trajectories.
Trajectories are predefined because computing them using 8-bit arithmetic would consume a huge number of cycles! At least, a small amount of randomness is added to the launch position and velocity parameters at run-time, to make things more interesting.
As the simulation progresses through the strategies, the speed of the launches increases and the delay between launches decreases. This gives a similar effect to that in the move, where WOPR moves through strategies at warp speed until it realises that there is no winning this game…
A Joint Effort
Creating a huge number of realistic trajectories (68 in total), translating start and end X and Y coordinates from latitude and longitude into the Oscilloclock’s Cartesian plane was a task of mind-blowing proportions! Here we see our 2nd junior technician eagerly earning his room and board.
Like what you see?
Are you a petrol-head? You need an Engine Analyzer ticking over at your bedside or in your office! Were you brought up during the Cold War, perhaps in the Soviet Union or in the US? Get the War Games feature and fry the world safely! Contact me if you like what you see.
(Disclaimer: Oscilloclock.com hopes that no-one is offended by the deliberately light-hearted tone of this post, in referring to the decidedly serious topic of nuclear warfare.)
When I first heard from [Masahalu], a local artist and woodwork craftsman, I had a hunch that Oscilloclock history was about to be made.
His request initially seemed simple; he wanted an Oscilloclock Core – a bare-bones board and CRT assembly, which he could install into a case of his own design.
However, he wanted something totally unique. Something old, yes, but also something new. The artist in him demanded a different canvas of creativity.
Presenting Masahalu’s new canvas: A 5″ amber CRT Oscilloclock!
The new-old-stock CRT shipped with this unit features a P12 phosphor, and was originally produced for use in radar equipment. The phosphor’s long after-trace (persistence) allows for some fascinating ‘trailing effects’ in the Oscilloclock’s various animations.
Those familiar with CRT phosphors may point out that P12 is often classified as an orange phosphor, not “amber”. To my eye, though, the soft, warm trace of this CRT is better associated with eons-old fossilized tree resin than the sharp, bright color of fruit.
Amber CRTs are quite rare, especially in larger sizes. 3-inch P12 CRTs can be found, but the Oscilloclock Lab was fortunate to find several of these rare 5-inch CRTs.
[Masahalu] has certainly ended up with the unique canvas he requested, and we look forward to seeing what kind of case design he ends up with!
Like what you see?
It’s so much fun letting these cathode ray tubes shine their colourful rays again! Whether you’re into yellow, amber, blue, white, or just plain green, there is something here for you. Visit the Availability page for more information, and of course see the Gallery for other unique creations!
Fake news – a common keyword these days. Fortunately, Oscilloclocks do not display fake news. But wouldn’t it be handy to see quake news on an exotic scope clock? This is the challenge [Atif] gave me – and one year and many grey hairs later, here is the result: The AfterShock Clock!
This custom-crafted Oscilloclock Core Duo assembly is a unique first in several ways:
It’s the first scope clock ever that pulls in and displays real earthquake data!
It’s the first scope clock ever that puts a dual-beam CRT to good use – one beam for the clock display, and the other for the earthquake and map overlay!
The AfterShock Clock’s WiFi module connects at regular intervals to two public APIs (servers) to collect the latest earthquake events. It then feeds earthquakes to the clock’s quake gun controller, rotating quakes every 30 seconds. Cool!
(Note: flickering is due to camera effects and is not visible to the human eye)
Of course, there is the usual wide variety of standard clock screens to cycle through! The quake map’s beam is automatically dimmed for most of the screens, giving a soft ‘watermark’ effect.
The E10-12GH CRT used in this clock is certainly not mundane!
Beautiful spiral PDA lets you really see inside the cavity!
Nothing beats a dual-gun CRT for intricacy… (except a quad- or pentuple-gun CRT!)
Oscilloclock Core Duo
Atif wanted to create his own case, so he initially asked for an Oscilloclock Core. But currently a single Core set does not provide control, deflection, and blanking circuits to drive TWO electron guns… So he had two choices:
Wait an eternity for me to redesign the boards to fully support dual beams.
Get started now! Simply put two Core assemblies together, with some degree of inter-control and removing any redundant circuits.
Atif chose the latter – and the Oscilloclock Core Duo was born!
Setting up the WiFi connection is easy – just connect a device to the clock’s administration SSID and pull up the admin page. (To foil any would-be hackers out there, the admin SSID is available only for the first 5 minutes after power is applied.)
Then, access the admin URL and configure the connection to your home router:
There are a million other advanced settings to tweak things such as quake polling interval, quake magnitude filters, maximum quake age before purge, and other geeky aspects….
Oh, I forgot to mention – the clock also synchronizes time against an NTP server, eliminating the need for a GPS module.
Like what you see?
Do you go for electron guns? idolize intricate electrode assemblies? Have a filament fetish? Or just want some quake news? This kind of clock might fit the bill. Let me know!
With so many exciting projects to finish (and new ones on the slate to start), the Oscilloclock blog has suffered dreadfully during 2017. Just to start things moving again, let’s catch up by posting a brand new video – albeit of an older creation!