Last month’s post about the Heathkit Oscilloclock generated tremendous interest, and I’ve heard from several folks keen to try their hand at preserving their own beloved instruments.
… so let’s take a brief look at what was involved in the Heathkit OR-1 conversion!
Approaches to conversion…
There are many approaches to retrofitting a scope into an Oscilloclock, but it really boils down to how much of the original circuit you want to re-use, vs. what you will bypass with Oscilloclock boards.
From 1947 to 1992, the U.S. based Heath Company produced electronic kits for everything you can imagine: radios, TVs, computers, robots, ham gear, and electronic test equipment. Yes, you guessed it – they also produced kits for oscilloscopes!
My Grandpa purchased one such scope, the Heathkit OR-1, around 1960. He wanted to kick off a new career in electronics repair, and the ‘build-your-own-equipment’ approach to training was in full bloom at the time. Also, since this was before the era of cheap overseas manufacturing, he could buy a Heathkit far cheaper than an assembled scope.
Heathkit OR-1 manual – a work of art
Unfortunately, Grandpa’s electronics career never really took off. But decades later, he introduced me to his gorgeous oscilloscope, and boy – did that kick MY career off! Much later, the OR-1 came to live with me. (You can read a bit more about my affinity for this scope in my History page.)
The problem is, I have too many oscilloscopes. But I don’t have enough Oscilloclocks. What more fitting way to keep Grandpa’s legacy alive, than to retrofit his Heathkit?
By the time you read this post, you must have seen the term “Circle Graphics” in a thousand places across the site.
In fact, “Circle Graphics” is not an official term – I just use it to describe how shapes are drawn on these clocks:
Everything you see on this screen is made up of CIRCLES! Blank out part of a circle and you get an arc. Squish an arc and you get a line. This clock simply draws circles, lines, and arcs of different sizes at various points around the screen. It does it quickly. And it does it very, very well!
The effect of using circles is beautiful – shapes are smooth and precise, with no jagged edges or pixelation.
Making “perfect” circles
I carry on as if it were some incredible new concept or discovery, like the Higgs boson. But in fact, the analog technique of constructing perfect circles, ovals, and lines on a CRT is very, very old. These figures are really part of a class of shapes called Lissajous Figures.
This site is dedicated to showcasing my Scope Clock designs, and to sharing technical information openly to anyone interested in these vintage electronic timepieces.
What is an “(Oscillo)scope Clock”?
A unique style of clock that displays the time (and other fun things) on a CRT taken from an old oscilloscope. These clocks operate on a fusion of old and new electronics, and are often housed in beautifully crafted cases of wood, metal, or acrylic.