Secret Scotland

If it's secret, and in Scotland…

The old home-made digital clock

Rummaging around some of the many boxes of spares accumulated over the years, I recently unearthed one of my old projects – a digital clock, not seen for years:

Dead LCD digital clock

Dead LCD digital clock

Sadly, this relic will never tell the time again – the LCD (liquid crystal display) has been ‘poisoned’ by exposure to the atmosphere. Most of it has been blackened by this, leaving only the triangular grey ares to the left of centre likely to show anything if I inserted a battery.

This was a problem with early LCDs. Many reports of display failure appeared in electronics literature, as the seal around the edge of the two glass plates which held the liquid crystal material failed, and let air in. Cameras adopted these displays (film only in those days), and if I recall correctly, many reviewers of Canon SLRs referred to the problem of the LCD fitted to the top panel requiring regular replacement every few years, which involved sending the camera to the service department, and paying for it. Again, from memory, the same camera had to back anyway, since it had an internal backup battery, and this was not user replaceable. Seven years rings a bell, but mine must post-date this problem, as the displays are still fine. Only problem is the redundancy of some expensive camera bodies.

Returning to my clock, this was needed because the car I had at the time did not have the luxury of a clock – imagine that today!

The three buttons on the top are for time setting, and back-light. The DIP-switch on the right was for programming – but now I have no idea what for. Just as well it doesn’t work.

It was eventually replaced (which is why it got put away and forgotten, as the company I was working for at the time began to stock proper OEM digital car clocks, so one of those was fitted instead.

I don’t know if things are ‘better’ today, even they are simpler, since a mobile phone would be jammed somewhere, and an app used to display all sorts of clock display with little effort.

But then again… the number of cars without a clock today is so small, something like this isn’t really needed.

Photography tag

I tagged this under ‘Photography’ for a reason.

Recalling a scene in The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, where the sentence “Every time I press one of these black controls, labelled in black on a black background, a little black light lights up black to let me know I’ve done it,” highlight the blackness of this little clock, and the first shot I tried came out… black. No great surprise, but since the camera maker said it would automatically get the shot right, I was disappointed at how black it was. Allowing the camera to add flash didn’t help either, and the buttons on the top were still in need of imagination to see them.

I didn’t have any proper reflectors to hand, so some white card was used to throw some more light from the left, and while the result is not great, and a darker background would have helped reduce the range of exposure across the shot, at least the buttons did eventually show up, and I could refer to them without asking the reader to trust me about their existence.


July 4, 2013 - Posted by | photography | , ,

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