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Brett Oliver's Atomic, Arduino-Powered Grandfather Clock

Gareth Halfacree

Brett Oliver's Grandfather Clock

We've previously seen how Arduinos can be used to breathe new life into otherwise outdated or damaged devices, such as Peter Edwards' Commodore 64 tape emulator or Jan Cumps' vintage turntable repair project, but Instructables user Brett Oliver's latest project is something very special indeed: a long-case Grandfather clock brought bang-up-to-date to micro-second accuracy.

The latest in a string of projects from Brett, the base of the build is an empty long-case clock to which off-the-shelf movements were added with isolated stepper motors for Arduino control. A self-built Arduino Uno compatible provides the driving logic, though Brett indicates that a standard Arduino Uno would work just as well, but it's the extras that really make the build: the pendulum swings realistically, and the custom-built clock face includes dials for both the time and the current phase of the moon.

Externally, then, Brett's project looks like any other mechanical clock - complete with chiming sound effects provided by concealed speakers within the body of the clock. Internally, there's a lot more going on: a radio receives the time signal from Germany's DCF77 transmitter, constantly updating the time to an atomic source for accuracy the clock's original innards could never have attained. A hidden LCD panel provides a digital read-out, accuracy ratings, and allows for various clock settings to be adjusted as required.

While the complexity of the project - and the space needed in your workshop for the metalwork and simply to work comfortably around the long-case clock - means it's not the most accessible to beginners, Brett's build offers a great look at just what is possible with an Arduino, some affordable components, and a little ingenuity.

A more detailed write-up of the project is available on Brett Oliver's website.
This Instructable shows how to add Arduino controlled analogue movements to a Grandfather (longcase clock/tallcase clock) or any other clock case where analogue displays are required. The Arduino gets the time code from the DCF77 transmitter in Germany and will work for any location in range of the transmitter including England. The code can be used for any other transmitter in the world by changing the decoder library and modifying the code to suit.

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