The expo hall of Maker Faire is packed with hundreds of projects. Some Makers are there to sell things they've built. Others are just there to show off something fun. Craig Bonsignore, maker of the Open Clock, had a slightly different motivation for his project: He hated his alarm clock, so he built one of his own as a completely open source project. And every component, from the 6.4-inch resistive touchscreen to the 512 LED red/green display, is available online.
"It's the maker thing. Something bugs you, you just make a better one," says Bonsignore. "The design criteria were: Easy to use, easy to see, intuitive. I don't sleep with my glasses on, so with my glasses off, arm's length, I can read the digits without squinting."
The Open Clock looks a little like the time-telling equivalent of one of those cheap calculators with oversized buttons, and its numbers are big enough to read from across a room. But it's hardly a simple project. In his quest to make the perfect alarm clock--or, at least, an alarm clock that he won't hate--Bonsignore has given the Open Clock a fun array of features.
The display is touch-controlled, so a simple tap will switch from displaying the time to displaying the date. Another tap can open up the menu and adjust the time, and tapping at the top or bottom of a digit increases or decreases the number (if you've ever had one of those alarm clocks that makes you press a button 24 times to cycle through every AM/PM hour, you probably love this idea already).
The clock is green during the day from 7 o'clock in the morning to 7 o'clock at night, when it turns red.
"The clock is green during the day from 7 o'clock in the morning to 7 o'clock at night, when it turns red. So it's intuitive that right now it's day time, it's 1:52, it's green," says Bonsignore. He gestures to the three different models of the Open Clock he has on display at Maker Faire. A rough plastic frame houses the earliest model. "This is the first one--it's been sitting on my nightstand for about a year. I've sort of refined it over time. I think I started it with green at night, but decided, hey--red, submarines, there's kind of a night vision thing--red is better. You actually have more receptors on your retina for green. Green is an exciting color, and red is a subdued color, so that kind of made sense...The brightness adjusts automatically so it doesn't bug you at night. I had to go through some iteration on that."
The second Open Clock model has a smoother black shell. The third is made from transparent plastic, which shows off the Arduino board and speaker inside the clock. The LED face on the transparent model is also noticeably brighter than the other two, which he explains: