Seven-segment displays have been extremely popular for several decades now. You almost certainly have them in your microwave, your alarm clock, somewhere in your car, and in many more places. They’re affordable, efficient, and can be read very clearly. But not many of us consider the commonly-used LED seven-segment displays to be attractive. They’re practical, but they rarely look good. But ChristineNZ managed to build a beautiful IoT seven-segment display clock, and has a tutorial that explains how she was able to accomplish that feat.
This clock design shows the time across eight individual seven-segment displays. Each of those is a completely conventional LED style—the kind that most people wouldn’t give a second look. But thanks to a fantastic enclosure design, the clock still looks very nice. It’s also functional. In addition to displaying the time, the clock also has IoT features and monitors the local temperature, atmospheric pressure, and humidity. That information can be checked through a custom Android app, which can also be used to set the time on the clock wirelessly.
The clock is controlled by a WeMos D1 R2, which is a microcontroller development board based on the WiFi-equipped ESP8266 that comes in an Arduino Uno-compatible form factor. The environmental sensing is handled by a popular BME280 sensor. Music and other sound effects can be played through a DFPlayer Mini MP3 player module. The seven-segment displays are controlled via a pair of 74HC245 and another pair of 74FC595 shift registers. A DS3231 RTC (Real-Time Clock) keeps the time.
It is, however, the enclosure that makes this project really stand out. It was constructed from a combination of mahogany wood and hollow steel tubes. Each seven-segment display is contained within its own tiny wood box that floats suspended from a horizontal steel tube. A black mesh covers each display to make the LEDs look a little bit less harsh and to hide unlit segments. The result is one of the best-looking seven-segment display clocks that we’ve ever come across.