mercury

Digital Orrery Version

orrery-natal-example-500

At last week’s Crowdfunding SF Meetup, I was talking about Celestyme with a designer who suggested that a round display rather than dot-matrix with glyphs– to make it more like a digital orrery. This is more like my original design conception for the clock, which is why I reserved the domain digitalorrery.com a while ago, before I got celestyme.com. Hmm– which one? Both could presumably share a lot of the same back-end development, which is nice.

I think it would be totally lame to display the time in the middle with digits– you need hands. So I just searched around for optoelectronic components that might make good hands, but didn’t find anything good. No purpose-built analog clock-style displays. Some bar graph displays are curved such that you can make a circle with 12 of them, but the lines are so short. Others are long and thin, but you’d need a large and expensive number of them to make a clock face.

It seems easier, cheaper, and more elegant to go with a cheap electromechanical movement for the time in the middle, and then LEDs for the planetary positions. You can get clock movements for $3, and people have succeeded in controlling them from an Arduino.

Here’s a sketch of what this Digital Orrery version clock face might look like. The colored circles are LEDs (not exact colors) showing the same example time as the one used below, 12:30am GMT on January 25, 2014. They read outward starting from Mercury, just like the real solar system, and skipping Earth. Then an outer ring shows sun, moon, and rising/ascendant, without showing the phase of the moon like the dot-matrix version does.

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