Homemade Word Clock

(a work in progress)

Well, if you don't know it yet I'm a fan of the Raspberry Pi microcomputer. It's small, affordable, and the possibilities of what you can do with one are endless. So far I have made an emulator using RetroPie and a system to log temperatures in and around my house. After I had both of those in a quite stable state I ordered another Pi and was looking for a project when I came across Das Wordclock. I was instantly hooked.

After sitting around with the new Pi for a while I finally bit the bullet and purchased the rest of the equipment I needed. I picked up a charger from Amazon (faulty) and also a strip of WS2801 LEDs (also from Amazon - also faulty) and thanks to some not-so-great instructions coupled with my not-so-firm grasp on how electricity works with the GPIO on the Pi I fried that spare Pi. :(

Once I had a better grasp on what I was doing (I'm still not really sure WTF I'm doing) I ended up with the following equipment which seems to work just fine:

After I gathered the above and overcame my ineptitude at soldering, it was time to try things out. The first test which I was still kicking around after my failure with the previous LED strip, and which seemed like the most straightforward, was to install Hyperion on OSMC. Hyperion is an open source "AmbiLight" setup which works fantastically well. In fact, it worked so well I was tempted to leave it permanently installed and buy another setup for my word clock project.


There are few things more fulfilling or exciting as getting something to work after hours of messing around and having nothing happen. I blame part of this time on faulty equipment, part on my lack of knowledge, and part on trial and error. Nonetheless it feels fantastic when things finally pan out.

After I got it to work and was certain that the equipment was good and hooked up properly it was time to get started on the Word Clock. I flashed the card with a fresh copy of Raspbian making sure to enable SPI through the advanced options on the raspi-config menu.