Talk:Alpha Clock Firmware

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This is the Alpha Clock Firmware discussion page. If you have suggestions for future versions of the Alpha Clock Five firmware, this would be a good place to leave them.

Count-down timer with elapsed rounds count-up timer with elapsed rounds

Documentation or feature demonstrating use of a common IR remote Documentation or feature demonstrating use of a solenoid or servo (useful for ringing a bell for example).

Documentation or feature demonstrating use of buttons ("mark time" or "laps", not necessarily stopping the clock).

This is an excellent idea, but we'll probably want to implement it as a fork; an independently downloadable set of software examples. -Windell Oskay / Evil Mad Science (talk) 18:09, 20 September 2012 (PDT)

Five letter word clock[edit]

How about a 5 letter word clock option? I don't know if you are familiar with the four letter word clock? The clock randomly generates four letter words. See (I'm not affiliated in any way, just came up near the top of a google search).

A four letter word clock would be a cool operating mode as well.

The Four Letter Word clock was indeed an inspiration in building Alpha Clock Five. We weren't sure if people would be interested in that. ;) Tricky question: Do we use random words (like the original) or do we seed it with a big dictionary? -Windell Oskay / Evil Mad Science (talk) 18:09, 20 September 2012 (PDT)

Also, some animation options would be nice when the time changes: spinners, chasers etc.

We're implementing fades between numbers. Spinners and chasers are something that we could consider for the future. -Windell Oskay / Evil Mad Science (talk) 18:09, 20 September 2012 (PDT)

How about a Bluetooth module that uses the serial interface which would connect to your computer and use the clock as a remote text display for tweets, stock ticker, emails notification, etc.

It's certainly straightforward to build this (Here's a related example with an xBee: ) but we don't plan to build this as a stock option. -Windell Oskay / Evil Mad Science (talk) 18:09, 20 September 2012 (PDT)

Sports watch fork?[edit]

Sports watches have a great deal of functionality, and many have only four buttons. Perhaps there could be a "sports watch" fork of the firmware.

This is an excellent idea. And yes, as we mentioned above, we'll want to implement these kinds of things as forks -Windell Oskay / Evil Mad Science (talk) 18:09, 20 September 2012 (PDT)

Would it be possible to buy an Alpha Clock case without the engraved labels on the top piece? (For instance, for "no snoozing" contexts)

Yes. Contact Evil Mad Science directly if you'd like to buy one. We will probably not put something like that up as a stock item unless there are a lot of requests. -Windell Oskay / Evil Mad Science (talk)

Countdown to Departure[edit]

I would like a countdown that automatically starts at a preset time. For example, at 6:30 am the clock starts a 60 minute countdown. That's when the kids need to leave the house. Thanks

Another excellent idea, one that we've discussed frequently. As we mentioned above, we'll want to implement these kinds of things as forks -Windell Oskay / Evil Mad Science (talk) 18:09, 20 September 2012 (PDT)

Clock Time in Words[edit]

Would it be possible to have the option for the clock to show the time in words? I made a hack of the existing software release to do this? A short video of the display is linked below

The off-on-off-on-off-on-off-on-off effect I have in the demo is not very esthetically pleasing.

It would be much better if the words TW'NTY -TWO PAST NINE subtly faded from one to another. The fade would go straight from one word to the next, so the brightness of any given line segment would be the mix of its starting and finishing intensity. The transitions wouldn't fade through blank each time. The overall fade transition effect would be less jarring than the on-off-on I demoed.

One could use one of the random 4/5 letter words you discussed above to indicate the start of a new cycle. The number->words should make more compact use of the display.e.g. I am sure it is possible to get the word TWentY squeezed into the 5-display cells. The use of non standard letter constructs would mean that the storage of the number->word look up table would need to account for some more exotic translations across the screen. The table should allow the easy substitution of other languages. I am sure people would be willing to pitch in to help.

That's a really neat demo!
  • First off, Alpha Clock Five firmware v2 can perform smooth fades between any two things that you care to display on the LEDs, so we can definitely help with that part. :)
  • We've thought about the rest of this a little bit, but have not yet implemented a "time in words" mode because of the difficulty in spelling out longer words (twenty, fifteen, thirty, quarter, eleven, etc.) while remaining readable. I'd have to suggest using hyphenated words as the best approach at present... but that's still a little "crude" in a sense. Another approach would be to use a scrolling text mode. We've tried this and it looked "okay," but not good enough to include as a standard display mode.
  • There are a few different ways to implement the number->words conversion internally. Firmware v2 has the ability to define custom characters right before they are needed. For example, we spell out the word "SNOOZE" by using a single custom character for the "oo." And, it's a good idea to do multiple language options.
  • Another approach to a word clock-- and though this doesn't really play by the same rules --would be to use two Alpha Clock Five units to spell out longer words. Alpha Clock Five firmware v2 features the ability to daisy chain multiple Alpha Clock Five units together. Two units side by side and display words like "SEVENTEEN," spread across ten characters.
- Windell Oskay / Evil Mad Science (talk) 05:47, 27 October 2012 (PDT)

Display as night light[edit]

I have the red version of the clock, and I have noticed that the display itself is bright enough to use as a night light.

A potential problem with using the display as a night light is that the brightness will change whenever the minutes change. (1:10 is brighter than 1:11, for example.) Several years ago, I had a bright bedroom clock which I rejected for this very reason. One could implement a "night light mode" designed to keep the brightness constant. There is more than one way to do this.

Automatic Daylight Saving Time / Summer Time adjust[edit]

I [WHO?] have modified firmware v1.0 to handle this.

As the clock is programmable, I can reprogram the clock in the event that the relevant laws change.