String clock


passage of time can be measured in many different ways. We often check it visually on a clock or computer. With the string clock, we wanted to create a clock that can be checked by listening. With this clock, a guitar string is played each hour, you can learn what tone goes with what time. However, like most musical instruments, the tone of the strings change over time. This abstracts time as what you once heard as 6 pm has now changed. The clock is tunable with pegs on the face of the clock. One can retune the clock to its original tune. The clock is made out of wood, we laser cut a design for the front face with, four numbers, rectangular holes for the other numbers and four brackets cut out to help with the sounds. We chose the brackets because they are used in sheet music and give the clock a musical aesthetic. The face we stained white, this gave a really nice surface for the strings to stand against. For the sides, we cut a wood disk out to give the clock height and somewhere to put the electronics. The clock only has an hour hand. The hour hand is laser cut from black acrylic and has a magnet on the tip. The tip is a pick like structure designed for plucking the strings. However, it was too ridged and we had to glue on a piece of more flexible plastic for the strings to pluck without causing the hand to stop. The strings were a little tricky to figure out, after some testing, we found the best way. In order to have the strings tight but tuneable we discovered a nail and eye screw system. The strings are nailed around the center of the clock, they then are tired to an eye screw on the edge which tightens the string when it screws in. The excess amount of string was stapled down to the back and glued around the sides. This system gives the user of the clock a chance to tune the strings because the ‘pegs’ are on the face of the clock. 

The mechanism we used for our clock hand was a multiple piece circuit. The circuit was a stepper motor, an h-bridge which is a piece that powers and drives the motor.  a real-time clock chip, which communicates with your computer to get real-time, a magnetic switch, and an Arduino microcontroller. When the clock is first turned on the hand will complete one revolution to look for twelve which is home where the magnetic switch is. When the switch is triggered thee Arduino pulls the time from the clock chip and calculates how many steps it needs to take to get to that time. It then moves that amount of steps and stops. From there it moves one step ever three minutes. All of these elements work together to form the string clock. It is a beautiful clock that makes dainty noises every hour. The string clock is one that anyone would want hanging in their home.


Final Project Plan

Project Description

For our final project, we will be creating a clock that will have an hour hand that strums a guitar string each hour on the hour. We wanted to make a clock that resonates with musical people and build something that plays and changes music in a unique way over time. The clock will be composed of twelve strings stretched across a circular frame. The strings will meet at a center point on the clock and the frame will have the wires wound and tightened. The hour hand will be driven by an Arduino, real-time chip, and a servo motor so that it is strong enough to strum over a tightened guitar string. We will be tightening the strings with an eyelet screw and bolt method, where the string is anchored at the eyelet and tightened at the bolt. This will provide initial tension but the strings will loosen over time, changing the tone. The user will be able to re-tune the clock if they desire. 

Interface Drawing


Construction and system diagrams


50 Timepieces

In this exercise, I generated 50 Ideas of timepieces. It was a hard task for me, I really struggled to sit down for an hour and just generate ideas. I ended up coming back to it a few times. I think that it would have been better to get all of them done at once, however, I still came out with some good ideas. The last time I did it went the best and I was able to generate ideas quickly. I think the excersice as a whole would have gone better if I had been more strict with myself.


Time Prototype – Food Clock

This last prototype came to me in a stroke of inspiration! I usually go through my day wondering when I can eat my next meal. So I thought I would make a clock that times till the next meal. My original idea was to have a circular clock with three colored dots evenly spread for three meals. Arielle suggested that people be able to put in how many meals they eat a day! So I created a version where you can put in a number and it generated circles. However, I was stumped when it came to measuring the time between the circles. and if they change.

I gave up on this, but I think it would be a really cool concept to flesh out if I had more time. However, this did play into my final design aesthetic. I used the rectangle for my clock face and added different color dots.  I still had to contemplate how to mark the passage of time here and I really wanted the hand to move with seconds, but I could not figure it out. I also wanted to map the time passage to the position so that the dots were evenly spaced and the had moved faster between some than others. However, I could not figure this out and put the dots where the times I set meals as. I also changed the color on the text to indicate better.

Here is my code: Food Clock

This is a project that I really liked the concept and look of and would maybe flesh it out more in the future!


Time Prototype – Language clock

For my second prototype, I created a language clock. It started as a clock that I wanted to have write out the time in words. Then, it developed into having the time in numbers and then in a different language. My language clock is a clock that gives the time in Hungarian. I chose Hungarian because I spent a month of summer in Hungary and I learned all the numbers.

For this prototype I had to learn how to make a button, I found a tutorial online and it was super easy to achieve. I also had to write new functions for what happened when the button was pressed. Another challenge I had to face was getting the Hungarian to correlate to the number. I first set every hour and minute to its Hungarian number. I later changed my code and set the numbers one through nine to variables and also ten, twenty, thirty, fourty and fifty. All the numbers in between are some of those added together. This was a much more efficient way to do the code, however, I only did it because my code did not save.

here is my code: Languages


Time Prototype – week clock

I often lose track of what day it is during the week, thinking it Wednesday when it’s really Tuesday. Because of this, I designed a clock that tracks which day it is through colors, switching gradually from one to the next. I had to look up all the color values and decide how I wanted them to switch over time.


for the code I have it reading in the day of the week, for a while I was stuck because I could only get the date, not the day of the week. Arielle helped me I used the getDay function which gets the day from 0-6. Once I had that figured out it was just a matter of when it was a certain day, transitioning the colors. This was the first prototype I made and I was surprised at how easy it was to work with time!

here is what it looks like around 11 am the start and 11pm of each day. I really like how subtle it is, its a very discreet clock system.

Here is the link to my p5.js code: weekdays


Speculative Timepieces

In a speculative world where time does not exist as a fixed medium, how could you measure your own life experience?

Concept One: Measuring life experiences by the length of my hair. For example, during my freshman year of college, my hair was very short, about chin length, it grew out over the semester and I cut it again shortly before I studied abroad my sophomore year of college. My hair has now grown out since then quite a bit so I remember that I studied abroad while my hair was shorter.


Concept Two: Measuring life experiences by a Japanese rocking fountain. Unlike the actual fountain, this fountain would fill slowly. For example, when I have breakfast it is empty and then I have lunch when it tips into the basin, then when it tips again when I am eating dinner.


Concept Three: Measuring life by contact with one person. For example, I last time I saw my dad I went to visit my grandma. So I am measuring when I visited my grandma by the last time I saw my dad.  when I see my dad again it will be his birthday, thus I know both when I saw my grandma and when his birthday is because I saw him both times.