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Weekend Project: It’s Time to 3D Print a Digital Clock

Picture of Tyler Koslow
by Tyler Koslow
Feb 17, 2019

Weekend Project: It’s Time to 3D Print a Digital Clock

Table of Contents

OTVINTA, a platform for 3D modeling and 3D printing tutorials, shows us how to 3D print a digital clock that is driven by a Raspberry Pi 3 and a handful of micro-servo motors.

Although certain 3D printing projects may take up a fair amount of time, the end result is oftentimes worth the wait. If you need to keep track of time, you can even use your machine to create one of the many clock designs that are available on the internet.

Usually, most 3D printed clocks we’ve seen are in the analog style, creating that classic tick-tock that stems from the movement of each hand. It’s also possible to create a digital clock with a 3D printer and some additional components.

One of the more unique designs we’ve found on the 3D printing project block is the servo-driven digital clock by OTVINTA, a platform that offers tutorials and resources to those looking to master their 3D modeling and 3D printing skills.

Instead of using an LCD or LED screen to showcase the time, this clock uses a large number of individually controlled servo motors to physically pivot the digits to match the correct number. These servo motors are connected to an array of controllers that can be controlled by Raspberry Pi 3.

Not only does it keep precise track of the time, but the inner mechanisms are on full display, giving a distinct mechanical feel to this digital clock. It’s also pretty large at 23″ x 8″,  so rest assured you’ll be able to tell the time from anywhere in the room.

If you’d prefer to use an Arduino over the Raspberry Pi, you can check out the remix created by Thingiverse user Jordi Ginjaume. Otherwise, let’s take a closer look at the 3D printed servo-driven digital clock!

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Weekend Project: It's Time to 3D Print a Digital Clock What You Need

Image of Weekend Project: It's Time to 3D Print a Digital Clock : What You Need

Now, be prepared, this 3D printed digital clock is comprised of a lot of 3D printed parts. All of the STL files are available on the OTVINTA website in the zip format. You’ll also find a part checklist here, and although most of the parts are relatively small, you’ll need to print over 80 of them to assemble this project.

Here are the non-3D printed components you’ll need to complete this project:

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Weekend Project: It's Time to 3D Print a Digital Clock How to Build it

Image of Weekend Project: It's Time to 3D Print a Digital Clock : How to Build it

Don’t be intimidated by the massive amount of parts you have, the assembly process isn’t too difficult thanks to some informative and tidy instructions from OTVINTA. We’ll give a recap of the step-by-step guide, but if you want to jump right into the nitty gritty details, check out the full monty here.

After the 3D printed segments are complete, you’ll want to make the flat surface a different color to improve the visual perception of the clock.

To do this, you can either utilize a dual extrusion 3D printer or, if you don’t have one at your disposal, apply spray paint or paste colored paper onto the surface. The OTVINTA team also created 3D printed shoes that can be glued onto the segments.

The build process is a bit meticulous, but shouldn’t cause any problems for a knowledgable maker. Taking the SG90 servo motors, inset the one-sided horn into each segment, using clips to secure it into place if necessary.

Next, take the M3-12 screws and nuts and use them to assemble the four 3D printed frame corners, frame top, and frame bottom into a complete frame. Mount the four bases and base center onto the frame and secure them with washers.

Finally, insert the servo motors into the slots (demonstrated in the photo above). The servo cables should be run through the slits marked with a red arrow.

Now that the assembly process is done, the following sections focus on connecting the electronics, calibration, and software to make the clock operate. These steps are likely a little bit complicated for the novice maker, so we’ll refer you to the full guide to follow along with the OTVINTA instructions.

All in all, we’d say this project is best-suited for DIYers with intermediate to expert experience. Beginners should be able to handle it with a little time and patience as well. So, what are you waiting for? Let’s get this clock ticking!

License: The text of "Weekend Project: It’s Time to 3D Print a Digital Clock" by All3DP is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

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