Published on April 1st, 2012 | by Jules Yap


Can this be done? Expedit Clock

Materials: Expedit, LED Bars, know-how

Description: This isn’t really a hack yet, this is inspiration and a challenge to one of your hackers. I saw this while checking out the Cheeseburger Network and I immediately thought that something similar could be done. This version is small and only a CD holder, but you could do this if you knew how with an Expedit bookcase and really make it work.

See more of the bookcase clock.

~ Joelle, Calgary, Alberta, Canada

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The Author

Jules Yap

"I am Jules, the engine behind IKEAHackers and the one who keeps this site up and running. My mission is to capture all the wonderful, inspiring, clever hacks and ideas for our much loved IKEA items".

18 Responses to Can this be done? Expedit Clock

  1. Anonymous says:

    Using pieces of frosted acrylic/plexi you could incorporate three or four leds on the vertical/horizontal axis of each bar. The frosting scatters the light beautifully within each piece.

    tips: http://www.oznium.com/forum/topic22526

  2. Ian says:

    Sparkfun did something similar, their LED bars could be of use here, as with all the other parts mentioned (RTC, microcontroller, PSU)


  3. Anonymous says:

    Easy to do. Not so easy to make look good.

    You can go with either led strips or el strips. Led strips are cheaper, but don’t give a solid color. You need something to defuse the color so you don’t get bright points (which the picture above has).

    5 leds per segment, 100 (+4 for the hour/minute divider) leds total. Standard 60 leds per meter led strips means only 2 meters are needed. Can be powered with a single 12v 1.5a power supply (wall wart, standard, assuming all leds are on at full current).

    The rest is aesthetics.

    • DanSam says:

      I think your math is a bit off here… those are 7 segment displays. Using 5 per segment would mean 35 per number unit. That times 4 (or 3 + 10 extra for the 4th [for a 1]) would be 140 LEDs plus the 2 or 4 for the “hour/minute divider”. So the least you would be able to get away with would be 117, and the most would be 144.

      The hard part will be finding a good clock schematic that you can hack a bit to make it run on LEDs instead of 7 segment displays. If you are good at reverse engineering things, you could just use a cheap Walmart clock and to run the time for you, but you will have to figure out the pin configuration for the 7 segment displays in the clock.

    • Anonymous says:

      You are right. I counted wrong. I was off by 40 (8 segments). Even at 144 leds, a 1.5a power supply would be more than enough.

      As for the schematic, any led based clock schematic would by adding in a transistor on each segment control (same as hacking an existing clock). Even on the ones that multiplex the leds (meaning that each led is not driven directly, but alternated, just fast enough for the human eye not to notice).

      Thinking about it, this can be done for about 100, pre tax, with a new expedit unit (69.99), 5 meters of red 3528 led (60 per meter) (10 dollars ebay buy it now, cheaper in auction ~8), donor clock ($5), 50 transistors (1.49), some spare wire (5 bucks, or free if you ask a telco worker nicely), and the hardest part, a sheet of translucent/opaque acrylic/plastic/plexiglass (5 to 15, with shipping, based on how accurate you can cut). Needs to be transparent enough to let through the lights, without showing the led parts. And a 12v 1.25 or greater power supply (scavenge)

      The rest is tools. Solder+Iron, routing bit and drill, and PATIENCE.

  4. Anonymous says:

    Hm…sounds more like a question for the folks over at http://www.evilmadscientist.com. They have all sorts of kits and stuff that may be helpful :-)

  5. Stacy Devino says:

    However the LED strips won’t look nearly as nice. The LCD displays on almost all newer clock radios have control boards on the displays themselves, so it won’t likely be that easy. Maybe you can rip apart some early 80′s models to do this, but you would need one that used individual 7-segment displays.

    Almost all Good LED strips require 12v so you would need a couple of darlington transistor arrays to drive the logic for a switch on each segment (they run at least $1-2 a piece. That kind of electronics would not be as easy to hide either and use more power. The LEDs alone would be more expensive than using EL-tape and not look as nice. Its way more fabrication.

    • Anonymous says:

      Each 5 led section (which would amount to two 3 led segments of a standard led strip) would only consume 40ma at full brightness. Each section would be wired in parallel, not series, as they need to be individually controlled, would allow this to be controlled by 21 standard, tiny, low current transistors (like 2N2222, or it’s smd equivalent). No need for darlington pairs or high current transistors. 40ma * 21 = 840ma total.

  6. Anonymous says:

    I think you can do it even cheaper, there’s no need to program or build from scratch.

    Find a spare 7 segment LED clock from a flea market, take the LED’s off it and replace them with power transistors to increase the output power handling. Then just attach LED strips to it of your choice.

  7. Stacy Devino says:

    This is easy, but expensive.

    Here is a list of parts

    - EL Tape (can be cut down) need 10 http://www.adafruit.com/products/445

    - EL Sequencer (need 4)

    - Real Time Clock (need 1)

    - Protosnap Arduino (need 1)
    *protosnap is for being your main controller board (control the sequencers), has the FTDI you need to program the sequencers, light sensor to get control for setting brightness of the EL wire, push button to turn off lighting (not the board), buzzer for maybe an alarm function

    This is likely the cheapest way to do this and get the best effect. So about $250 in electronics + IKEA parts. Oh, and you need to design your own serial protocol for setting the brightness and control, then programming each of the sequencer boards. Have fun kids!

  8. Anonymous says:

    Arduino & Dioder.
    Seems relatively straightforward. Not something I would be interested in, though.

  9. Anonymous says:

    It cries out for 2×2 Expedit units hung on a wall. The dividers are kind of narrow though, and you have to run 2 vertical LED strips on each. Maybe add a piece of furring strip to the vertical divider give you a little more width? It might work with 4 Narrow Billy units and have the top two shelves form each of the 7 segment displays.

  10. Anonymous says:

    The question should not be “Is it worth it”… You can only win, even by doing something weird, riskful or seemingly senseless. That’s a motor of creativity and innovation.

    I haven’t seen something like that, but i’m pretty much fond of it.

    You can also set up a bunch of BENNO CD-towers to create something like a dot matrix of 12 “pixels” in height.

  11. Anonymous says:

    ANYTHING can be done. But is it worth it? And yeah. Arduino is the way to go.

  12. Anonymous says:

    One could set up red LED light strips to an arduino.

  13. Anonymous says:

    How ’bout a picture from Cheeseburger Network ?

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