Part hat, part clock, a whole lot of awesome.
Not only did Maker “gifsh” want an attention-grabbing hat for last year’s Burning Man, he wanted something that would prove to be useful while in the desert. He also wanted a clock, but not just any clock. A clock that would be able to change time zones based on manual switches and physical location. Oh, and he wanted it all mounted inside the hat.
Rising to the challenge, the Maker devised a slick Steampunk-inspired top hat/clock hybrid. Like with most other timepieces, a pair of hands were positioned in the front of the hat, both of which were connected to a concentric shaft at the back. Meanwhile, micro RC servos were used to drive the hands. Mounted inside the hat was an Atmel based Arduino tasked with controlling the clock, a GPS shield to determine location, an RTC to maintain accurate time, and a 9V battery.
Attached to the side of the hat was a control panel, which he made from etched brass, that contained the project’s on/off switch, as well as a rotary switch for selecting a specific time zone and activating its GPS.
“Libraries exist for pretty much any microcontroller that let you control RC servos. You tell them what angle to go to, and they go to that angle. Simple! For use in controlling a clock hand. though, there’s a problem. Standard RC servos only have a 180 degree range, sometimes a bit less. That’s no good for a clock hand that has to rotate at least 360 degrees,” gfish explains.
This led the Maker to use gears, which meant that the drive system would be a bit too large to fit inside the hat. Instead, it would have to be mounted on the back side, with the clock hands controlled via coaxial drive shafts that passed through the center. Though a bit on the clunkier side, the gears complemented the overall Steampunk design — and with a purpose may we add!
“It works well for wearing at cons, and it’s a good conversation starter. Most people are surprised that it’s a real clock at all, much less that I can change the timezone, much less that it has a GPS mode!”
Looking for a fashionable yet functional hat for this year’s Burning Man or any of the Maker Faires for that matter? Head over to the project’s Instructables page here.