In the realm of digital motion and pixel animation – albeit extremely low-resolution – here’s the clock for the open source lover, a hackable bedside clock that can be programmed to display custom animations. From random dots to Pac-Man cameos, it’s a clock that breaks from stock, coded by you instead of Sony. And there is a special charm to low-density matrices of lights in visuals, I find. (It’s not an alarm clock — yet — so a good place to begin hacking might be there.)

Creator and CDM reader Andrew O’Malley writes us:

DOTKLOK is an open-source, hackable, Arduino-based digital clock that displays a series of unique time-telling animations. The passing of time is depicted with numbers and abstract/geometric patterns such as Morse code and minimal analog clock faces, and includes animations inspired by classic video games such as Pong, Tetris, Pacman, and Space Invaders. It was prototyped during my hacker residency at NYC Resistor during the summer of 2010.

If you’re thinking of working in hardware as a medium, there are a number of nice details here. It’s a good example, naturally, of using a clock – in this case, a real-time clock for accuracy. It’s also power-smart, using just two watts of power and shipping with a custom power adapter for universal compatibility with any socket anywhere in the world. More details on Andrew’s product site, plus of course open source details and how to order.

Find other hardware inspiring in the same vein? Let us know. (Andrew thought maybe this wasn’t relevant to this site, but I beg to differ – a screen’s a screen.)

  • Coincidentally – of course – the Dotklok shared a stand (or, a pair of stands) with our modular music box at Kinetica 2011. The Dotklok is a lovely piece of work, although the meta-cokebottle-shift button combinations necessary to set the time correctly are slightly obtuse. (Not as obtuse as anything shipped by Sony.) To be fair, it is well documented…

  • Thanks for posting, Peter!

    @cassiel — your comments about the time setting are amusing 🙂 Luckily, once the time *is* set, you shouldn't have to re-set it again unless you change time zones or go through daylight savings time, since the clock chip has a battery back up that will continue to keep track of time even when the clock is unplugged.

    The other comforting news I can offer is that the open-source nature of the project allows anyone to re-program how all the buttons work 🙂


  • outpt

    Looks like somebody's been raiding ITP's stash of LEDs. And ideas. 

  • Hi Andrew – I wasn't being critical 🙂 I was just given the task of working out how to set its time and date for the Fair, a few minutes prior to the public opening.

    It's a lovely piece of work.

    At one stage we were thinking about putting a clock function into our previous Kinetica work, PEAL ( – I may even have the code somewhere.

  • @cassiel — no offense taken, I was indeed amused by your comments 🙂

    PEAL looks cool, let me know if you update it!