27 December 2020

Eight TIL308 displays in a clock

I would not say that the long lockdown and alike has allowed me to reach the bottom of the to-do bucket, but it slowed down the consumption of projects in the waiting list.

When I spend the whole work-day at the computer, writing firmware in the remaining hours is not so pleasant. In the Xmas break I finished the code for the clock that uses eight Texas Instruments TIL308 vintage LED+logic displays.

Final firmware onboard! I can solder the remaining capacitors to complete symmetry.

Hardware design files and software source code have released to github.

This clock is self-standing if the RTC module is inserted perpendicular to the display board. Adjustments are accomplished through a linear potentiometer and a push-button. With a software trick ;) the same analog input is used both for reading the light-dependent resistor to adjust display luminosity and the push-button. I had to adjust resistor values and add a couple of them outboard.

I like these clocks to do something unexpected, so every 60" it might display a word built using available letters (or lookalike) and numbers:

// Available letters are:   ABCEFIOSG-
// Mapped to these symbols: A8CEF1059B  (mind the mix of letters and numbers!)
// Plus space ("D") and all the numbers are at your disposal!

TIL308 is not a full hexadecimal display because it maps "B" to "dash" and "D" to whitespace. This reduces the possibilities of long words and exercises your fantasy a bit further to find meaningful text to display randomly. Don't forget you can use multiple languages for your words!

A nice addition would be to be able to add words at runtime (and store them in EEPROM), rather than at compile time. That means more firmware to write ...