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Building a gigantic clock along the side of my basement stairs.

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  • #16
    Originally posted by roon4660 View Post
    I'm impressed too. It is interesting to put electronics into the 3d printer world. That's going to be an expensive clock by the time you are finished.
    It is quite okisch and still cheaper than getting some real and boring furniture to fill up the empty wall. Filament is quiet cheap. I payed around 12 Euro per ABS and 14 per PLA spool. No p&p as the shop is around the corner. Processor and LEDs are peanuts and the board itself was 35 Euro. The wires are all from my private dumpster in the basement, where I keep all obsolete cables for a later usage. So they got a second live.

    Most work was the soldering. It took me a few days to solder all the LEDs and hot glue the contacts afterwards, as I want to avoid as much maintenance as possible, because the clock will be mounted more or less out of reach. There is no way I can put a ladder next to the wall to fix some wires later on.

    Most wires came from an old 10m VGA cable and the rest from a broken CAT5 network cable.

    Fun part: When taking apart the CAT5 cable, I found out, why it was so bad. The "made in china" text beside the CAT5 on the cable should have been an indication, but when opening there was basically just wires and plastic insulation. There was absolutely no shielding. Not even the foil you find in all cables. Also no mesh around the wires. Nothing. Just single copper wires twisted around each other. I now have an idea why this cable was so bad behaving in my network.

    I rate it as an interactive multimedia art installation. So it is priceless anyway.

    The electronics are not even complicated. All elements are connected by the same three wires in series, which end up on the power supply and the processor board. Beside these components I just added one resistor to avoid the processor burning out, when power from the LEDs gets cut (broken cable or soldering).

    Programming is a little more complicated as you need to know at least basic C and C++ programming, unless you want to use some ready to use code, which I didn´t.
    Last edited by Geit; 12-23-2020, 05:39 AM.


    • #17
      Geit, I have a small correction for you. I was involved with some of the very 1st twisted pair Ethernet development, as a tester of SynOptics Corporation's LattisNet product, in the mid 80s. LattisNet was the very 1st Ethernet cabling system that didn't rely on COAX cable.

      The design specifically forbade the use of shielding in the cable. Shielded cables performed much worse than unshielded cables. Twisted pair Ethernet is designed to accept external interference and filter it out at the endpoints. The idea is that, as long as the cable is unshielded, the outside interference will be induced equally in the individual wires. This makes it relatively simple to create a filter that ignores all the signal that's common to the wires, and only keep signal that's different. It's the prime reason why the cables have to be twisted in pairs, each pair with its own specific number of twists per inch.

      Since then, development of the system has led to cables, such as CAT6, that do incorporate shielding. However, CAT5e still does not have shielding, and it's not supposed to have any. I'm not sure how much the technology has changed from the early days but, given that CAT6 requires a cross-shaped divider to keep individual twisted pairs apart from each other, I can only assume that filtering of interference is still important.

      It's possible your cable's poor performance isn't because it lacks shielding. It might be that that manufacturer didn't organize the wire pairs properly or didn't use the correct number of twists per inch. Perhaps the copper itself is not the proper alloy. Is it possible the cable is longer than 100 meters?


      • Geit
        Geit commented
        Editing a comment
        Did not know that. Though CAT5 requires at least some shielding beside the twisting and at least foil or a mesh shielding like even serial cables usually have.

        The cable was around 20m or so. Maybe some wire was broken. No clue then.
        Last edited by Geit; 12-24-2020, 05:11 AM.

      • Ender5r
        Ender5r commented
        Editing a comment
        There are STP (Shielded Twisted Pair) & UTP (Unshielded Twisted Pair) versions of CAT5 & CAT6 cable. For example I have 4 partial boxes of CAT5e UTP Riser cable under my basement stairs, in case I need to run a new cable.

        I'm not sure there is an official definition of "Riser Cable", but it's generally thought of as the solid core cable used to do vertical cabling, especially in multi-floor office buildings. Solid core wire conducts current better than multi-strand wire; that's why it's used for riser. That said, solid core wire is also often used for the horizontal cabling on the floors of buildings -- IOW, from the wiring closet on a floor to individual offices/cubicles. Multi-strand cabling is used to patch from the wall/cubicle outlet to the computer/printer/etc; hence, why they're called patch cables.

        I remember when STP cable came into use. There was 1 specific, initial reason for its use: in multi-story office buildings, the easiest, quickest place to install vertical wiring is in elevator shafts. The problem is that elevator shafts are very electrically noisy. They generate strong but erratic electrical fields (picture the elevator, with its fluorescent lighting and circulating fan motor(s) going up & down past the cabling, inducing current). Using cabling that has shielding, & grounding the shielding at 1 end can help block the electrical noise from getting into the wires.

    • #18
      Ok, the last elements are about to be printed.

      I created a thingiverse thingy as I (of course) over enginiered the entire thing adding even more parts to it, but I think the new black components make a huge differences and they solve some minor issues I had with the original design.


      • #19
        Well done my friend. It's a huge project & you've brought it home very well.


        • #20
          Ambitious project. Well done.


          • #21
            It took three people and 3.5 hours (most of it filling up the staircase so we could place the ladder somewhere), but finally the clock is mounted where it was planned.

            In the end it worked quite well and no one died in the process. We really tried.

            One of our constructs that failed. We needed to be higher and more to the right:

            Click image for larger version

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            In the end all three holes finally were drilled into the wall, at the right places and the clock is up and not running as I need to finish the wiring.

            For today I am done.

            To fill up the staircase we used: 8 car tires, 2 palettes, 14 bricks, 16 50x50 carpet floor tiles, a small tool cabinet, an unopened box of carpet floor tiles, some random 40x50x12mm wooden plate, some cutting 20mm board, a 4 meter long power cord as security wire to prevent the ladder from falling, a four segmented 4 meter ladder and three people to lift it up to the centered hook I mounted in advance. Later more stunts where required to drill the holes for the left and more dangerous the right wall hook.

            This was fun and Tetris on max level.

            Click image for larger version

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            On the top left you can see the closed electrical wall box, which I taped the extended wire from my door bell onto, so it was out of the way. The door bell will be placed on top of the clock and probably integrated, so the clock face also shows/blinks "door", when someone used the bell. The power cord will be routed to the main power box, too. The dangling plug is just from testing on my workbench.


            • #22
              Reminds me of my construction days.


              • #23
                I'm glad you got it done. I am a little surprised you didn't use/have ladders that can have the feet set to different heights: something like this

                In any case, I'm glad no one got hurt (and the job got done). I look forward to see photos of it in action.


                • #24
                  Just a small picture. I need to wait for day time. With the side ceiling light it looks uneven, which it isn´t.

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                  I am unable to fill the right boxes right now as I need some extender grips or so. Even for the last view boxed I had to bend dangerously over the stair case.

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                  Here a little peek to see how high the right part is positioned!
                  Last edited by Geit; 01-08-2021, 05:24 PM.


                  • #25
                    Excellent, congrats!


                    • #26
                      You've got your own airport lobby. Brings back memories of being stuck last April trying to get a plane back to Montreal before the island was shut down completely. If I was younger and sprier I would have stayed.