Saturday, October 24, 2009

Mars Clock

What do you do if you have a spare LCD module with backlight, a weird 16 button keyboard, and a PIC16F877A microcontroller gathering dust? A monster Martian Clock immediately springs to mind.

You are probably thinking "There are hundreds of PIC clocks on the Net - do we need yet another one?!" Well, this one is a bit different:
  • It has 16 timers that can be independently paused and restarted, and can run forward or backward.
  • There are 16 alarms with configurable sounds and actions.
  • Timers can show Earth, Mars, Jupiter, etc. times at the same time.
  • How about sidereal time, Moon phase, Jupiter's Great Red Spot transit time, and anything periodic in general?
  • Simultaneous 24-hour and Julian-time decimal display.
  • All changes in configuration can be done from the device's keyboard - no computer necessary.
  • External AC power with built-in rechargeable battery, so you can take the clock around.
  • High on the geekness scale.

If you would like to build this clock, of if you are just curious about it, check the links below. The same information is accessible using the tabs at the top and bottom of the page.

Construction The construction process in pictures, step-by-step.

Clock Operation How to use the clock - menu navigation, setting up timers and alarms, examples.

Schematics Schematics, list of parts.

Code PIC assembly code, adapting the code for a different hardware (keyboard, working frequency, etc).

How-To Examples, useful tables, links, etc.

Other Projects Some other projects I've been working on - mostly PIC-microcontroller stuff.

If you have questions or comments, or if you have an error on this site, please let me know. My e-mail is at the bottom of the page. I would be also interested if you have built the clock - if so, I will appreciate any pictures from your project and would be glad to post them on this site, or to put up a link to your site.

Finally, if you want to build a Mars clock but you don't have the tools to program a PIC microcontroller, check Mars Base dot Net for another project based on a 4059 programmable divide-by-n counter and a MM5387/LM8361 alarm clock IC.

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