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This iconic 1970s digital clock now has a new life displaying YouTube statistics, thanks to a funky Pimoroni "Inky pHAT" e-ink display and a Raspberry Pi Zero. It uses a simple Python script to query the Youtube API on a regular basis, refreshing the display with the data it retrieves, displaying the very latest site stats. The original Alarm On/Off switch at the rear toggles the display between Subscribers and Views for a specific YouTube site (in this case mine!).

The clock itself is a Digitron model, quite an early LED clock for the consumer market, solidly and stylishly cased in a sturdy aluminium body.

The full project video showing the code and build is at in case you can't see the embedded video, if you just want to see it in action there's also a shorter sneak peek.

Step 1: Back in Time for Upcycling

Picture of Back in Time for Upcycling
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I picked up this clock at a sale a few years back and until recently it was in daily use, tucked underneath the TV unit and keeping great time. Recently though we came into the room to find the LED display flashing crazily, with a disturbing buzzing sound, and it was obviously time for it to retire to the workshop.

I'd first been attracted to it by its solid construction and style - it's pretty much a solid lump of aluminium and very heavy. I loved the aesthetic so much I decided to rebuild the now-broken clock into an understated IoT device to provide passive information in my office.

The dismantling gave me a big clue to its bulk - modern LED clocks will often have a "wall wart" adaptor and run on low voltage, but this monster took full mains voltage and had a large transformer within the clock itself - accounting for its weight!

Aside from the bolts holding the stand in place the rest of the components were fixed to either the rear or front panels, which were made of plastic. I discarded the transformer, circuit and old LED display, and was left with a solid shell, front and back panels and some switches, which I boxed up waiting for the right idea to come along.

Arbormakes2 months ago
Great work!
Is this display similar to the ones used on kindles?
MisterM (author)  Arbormakes1 month ago
Yip it's the same e-ink technology, just with three colours rather than just black & white. It doesn't refresh as fast as the kindle when in 3 colour mode but I saw the other day if you run it in B&W it's much faster. :)