3D Printed Sun Clock Page

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May - 2021

While Heather and I were on vacation in Gualala, CA we visited a shop that sold live edge wood and wood objects. They had this Sun piece that I thought was very nice so I discretely took a picture of it and thought that when I got home I would try to make something like it. I could have made a copy out of wood but I thought I would 3D print a version so that I could decorate it with LEDs as I do with most of my projects. After all I am not called  "Mr. Blinky" for nothing at least according to my friends (;>)

As you will see in the images below, I made my own version of the wooden sculpture augmented with LEDs. My version actually has practical application because with the incorporation of some electronics it is a motion controlled night light and an always accurate clock.

Here is the finished clock in operation. I currently have it hung on the wall in my music studio.

 When motion is detected the clock lights up and does a gradual brightening which lights up the room day or night, hence a night light. It then displays the time for 3 minutes and finishes with a dynamic and beautiful rotary rainbow effect like that shown at left. After the rainbow pattern display is finished, the clock does dark and waits for the next motion detection event to start the sequence over again.

The core of the Sun Clock is this 3D printed piece that was modeled in OpenSCAD. There are twelve rectangular hole around the circumference where the rays will be glued. The diameter of the inner circular support was chosen so that the Neopixel LED string of 12 LEDs would line up exactly with the ray centers. The adhesive on the back of the LED strip was used to hold the LED strip to the circular support.

If you look close you can see a hole in the outer shell and a corresponding hole in the inner support to allow for wiring.

Next up is the Sun Clock cap. It was also designed in OpenSCAD. The hole in the cap is for the motion sensor. It was necessary to make the cap flat on top so that it could be 3D printed successfully. It was printed upside down so that supports were unnecessary.

Another view of the cap. The inner ring slides snugly into the LED support in the core piece. No glue was necessary to attach the cap to the core.

This is the design of Sun Clock ray. 12 of these are necessary for the clock. There is an unseen hole the entire length of the ray for a piece of side lighting optical cable which transports the light from the LEDs in the core to the end of the rays.

Here is the finished Sun Clock. The rays are attached to the core with super glue. Notice the rays alternate. That is the rays are attached right side up then upside down around the clock.

What is not shown is that the optical cable inside each ray pushes right up to the LEDs in the core so the rays get the best illumination possible.

The black USB cord out of the bottom of the clock is for power and programming.

As mentioned when motion is detected the Sun Clock slowly brightens like a Sun rise.

Half way through the brightening.

Full brightness

After the brightening process completes the clock displays the current time with the hour displayed in red,  minutes in green and the seconds in blue. As there are only 12 rays to the Sun Clock, minutes are displayed to the nearest 5 minute interval. The blue seconds indication advances around the clock every second.

The time being displayed is 7:50:00.

The clock runs in 12 hour format. A code change would be required to run in 24 hour time.

In terms of electronics, the Sun Clock is powered by a WEMOS D1 Mini which is an ESP-8266 which has WiFi connectivity. The Mini is programmed using the Arduino IDE. Also inside the clock core are three capacitors to smooth out the USB power for the clock, 12 Neopixels on a Neopixel strip and a motion sensor module. Connection details are provided in the code listing. The NTP protocol is used to fetch the current time from the Internet and that keeps the Sun Clock always accurate.

The code and STL files for the Sun Clock are available on request.

Questions and comments to me Craig at: calhjh@gmail.com

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