In the maker community, the term “freeform sculpture” refers to an electronic device that is constructed by hand in a freeform manner. The various electronic components that make up the circuit are usually connected by thick wire or conductive rods that are able to support those components. This gives the maker a lot of freedom to form the sculpture in artistic ways that aren’t possible with flat PCBs or perfboards. It seems that freeform sculptures reached the climax of their popularity last year, but the art is still going strong. Tauno Erik has proved that with his most recent creation: a 64-bit binary counter called “God’s Clock” that features a freeform LED matrix.
You may be asking yourself how useful a 64-bit binary counter can be. How big of a number is that even able to contain? As it turns out, a signed 64-bit number is massive — anywhere from -9,223,372,036,854,775,807 to 9,223,372,036,854,775,807. That’s why Erik chose the name “God’s Clock,” since this can theoretically count every second for a few hundred billion years (it would be twice that if it were signed). For reference, the universe itself is only about 13.77 billion years old. Simply put, this clock will barely be getting started when you’re dead and buried. Of course, actually reading the time is a different matter altogether, but we’ll let that slide given how cool this idea is.
The counted number is displayed in binary across the 8x8 matrix of LEDs (equating to a total of 64 LEDs). Of course, it would take more than 70 years until you get through even the first 32 of those LEDs, which is why this freeform sculpture also has a mode that randomly flashes the LEDs. The LEDs are controlled by a Microchip ATtiny13 microcontroller through a total of eight 74HC595 shift registers. Very little additional hardware is required, just a capacitor, resistor, power switch, and a breakout board to supply power from a USB cable. The sculpture is mounted on top of a solid chunk of wood that was stained a nice dark charcoal color, which contrasts nicely with the brass rods that are used to form and support the circuitry. It’s doubtful that many people are interested in mentally converting a 64-bit binary number into the current time, but “God’s Clock” is still beautiful to look at.