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• The clock is one of the most important discoveries in the history of

man and civilization.

• The division of time into slots with different sizes and units is
fundamental to the operation of society as well as individual.

• Hesiod, writing in the 8th century BC., used celestial bodies to

indicate agricultural cycles. Later Greek scientists, such as
Archimedes, developed complicated models of the heavens--celestial
spheres--that illustrated the "wandering" of the sun, the moon, and the
planets against the fixed position of the stars.

• The process of measuring time has progressively become more

accurate, and the devices more localized ever since.

• In our time, the dates and time are predominately measured by

mechanical, and now mostly by electric and electronic clocks.
Mechanical clocks
Let us start with a primitive time measuring system that some of us are
familiar with: A wind-up alarm clock,
as shown in Fig. 1.

As we expect a clocks must have

the following fundamental properties:

1. Be practical and for a need (purpose)

2. Comfortable to use

3. Cost effective

4. Manufacturable

Fig. 1 – A wind-up alarm clock

Figure 2 shows how a wind-up alarm clock looks from inside.

Main components of the clock:

1. Display system with clock

handles (not shown)

2. Wind-up springs (two)

3. Gear system to reduce

the speed (notice two color

4. Fly-wheel oscillator and

speed controller

Fig. 2 - A wind-up alarm clock. A look from inside and back

Mechanical clocks with pendulum.

Pendulum clocks have been used to keep time since 1656, and they have
not changed dramatically since then.

Pendulum clocks were the first clocks made to be accurate.

When you look at a pendulum clock from the outside, you notice several
different parts that are important to the mechanism of all pendulum clocks:

• There is the face of the clock, with its hour and minute hands .

• There are one or more chained weights to power the clock; or a

keyhole in modern clocks that are used to wind a
spring inside.

• And, of course, there is the pendulum itself.

In most wall clocks that use a pendulum, the pendulum swings once per
second. In small cuckoo clocks the pendulum might swing twice a second.
In large grandfather clocks, the pendulum swings once every two seconds.
How the pendulum swings

(a) (b)

• Figures (a) and (b) show how a pendulum controls the

circular motion in a clock; and how the power is transferred
to the pendulum to keep it moving.
• Pendulum Formula

• w0 = (g/l)1/2

• Where w0 is the circular

frequency of the pendulum,
g is the gravity of the earth
and l is the effective length of the pendulum.

1. How a wind-up alarm clock works?

2. How a wind-up alarm clock gets power?

3. Why there are two wind-up springs used in the


4. Explain how the motion of a pendulum is

5. Explain how a pendulum controls the circular
motion in a clock?

6. What makes it possible to have different circular

motion speeds for different handles in a clock
(Hours, Minutes, and Seconds)?
1. How a domestic power line is characterized? Give at least two
main characteristics.

2. Why 60-Hz power signal is essential in some electronic clocks?

3. What synchronization means?

4. What a crystal oscillator is made of?

6. What is a piezoelectric material?

7. How does a crystal oscillator works?

Digital clock with crystal oscillators

There are variety of methods that one can design and construct a
digital clock.
• One method is to use discrete components, known as standard
cells or shelf devices.
• A second method is to use integrated circuits, known as chips.
• A third method is to use programmable devices such as FPGAs.

Integrated circuits are much more efficient and commercially

available. You can simply buy a clock chip and build the entire
clock by adding other components such as display and power
supply to it.
FPGA Development Boards
FPGA Development Boards
Digital clock IC chip
Figure 5 shows one Digital Clock IC that is running four displays (seven
segments), two to indicate hours and two for minutes. This particular chip
operates with 32768 Hz crystal oscillator.

Fig. 5 – A Digital Clock IC Chip

IC chips
Dual in line

1. What is DC power, and how is it different from the power line

(called AC)?

2. What is an Integrated circuit (IC) chip?

3. What is a seven segment display?

4. How do we build a digital clock from a digital clock IC?

Clock Display
Figure 6 shows a typical LED seven segments display. A
typical digital clock has to have at least four of these seven
segment displays: two for displaying hours, and two to
display the minutes. As shown in Fig. 6, a 7-segment
display has seven bars on it, and by turning on different
bars you can display different numbers:

Fig. 6 - Typical LED seven segments display

Cost and cost effective designs

The last part in this study is to find out the cost of a digital clock, and
compare it to a one in the market.

1. Evidently, building one digital clock in the laboratory turns out to be

much more expensive than buying it made, from the market.


2. Suppose the unit price of all five types of components of a digital

clock are given, as listed in Table 1. Add 20% cost for other
unspecified parts, and 50% of the total cost for labor and other
handling charges.
Table 1

Items Qt. Unit Price in $ Total price

• Digital clock chip and socket 1 6.50 6.50
• Crystal oscillator and the circuit 1 2.80 2.80
• Seven segment displays (4) 1 9.60 9.60
• Battery and battery holder 1 3.30 3.30
• PC board and casing 1 6.70 6.70

Calculate the price for a digital clock you build, and compare it to your choice
of a desk clock bought from a department store.

How much difference do you see, and why?


We have studied as to how the clock as a time

measuring devise is developed through the history of
human civilization. More accurate time keeping devices
are shown to be mechanical and electronic clocks.
However, up to date most developed clocks are
electronic digital clocks. We learned that we can make
our own digital clock in several ways, and one that is
more economical and simpler is by starting from clock
ICs. We can add crystal oscillator, display units, and
batteries to the IC chip and make it a full fledge clock.

The detailed solution for constructing a digital clock is

the subject of our next session.