In the early '90s, Yukio Shinoda imagined making a bubble display, but as many of us can relate to at times, his skill and available time wouldn’t allow him to complete this idea. Now, however, “the right time has come.” He’s been able to create a glowing bubble clock that shows the current time, and other characters, as air bubbles that slowly rise through a tube of glycerin.
Bubbles are controlled by a bank of eight solenoid valves a the base of a clear glycerin cylinder, with a common pump for air supply. As bubbles rise through the medium, clear separators between each nozzle prevent bubbles from drifting off course and interfering with their neighbors.
The device is built around an ESP8266 dev board and a small OLED display is embedded in the base to quickly verify the correct time. Lighting is provided by a bank of eight NeoPixels to set off the bubble display and an array of standard LEDs that appear to mirror the movement of the solenoids themselves. This would be quite useful for troubleshooting, especially given how much of the assembly is made out of clear acrylic.