Like a phoenix…

… from the ashes.

A while ago (7 years and 9 months to be precise), I posted here about my old MSF Clock project that I’d built back in the eighties.  It had stopped working when the MSF radio signal moved from Rugby up to Cumbria, but with a little bit of tweaking, I managed to get it working again.

Then, last year, it died again and this time – no matter how many times I tried blowing logic into its little CMOS lungs – there was no chance of bringing it back to life. It was a goner.

And so, I’ve built another one.

All credit for the design of this goes to Chris Johnson, who came up with a clever, but wonderfully simple, hardware design which was a joy to build. But the real cleverness is in the software which he wrote for the micro-controller.  I barely understand any of it, but it’s clearly the work of a genius!

For old times sake, I put the new clock into the original case, so that outwardly, it still looks the same. Inside though, it is vastly different.


The old clock used 4 circuit boards with 22 integrated circuits – an array of decoders and counters and drivers and such. The new clock uses just 2 boards: one for the display and one to do all the clever stuff. And it has just the one IC on it: the aforementioned micro-controller. How things have changed.

Hopefully, I’ll get another thirty years out of it, then, no doubt, I’ll be rebuilding it again, but this time with just a small holographic crystal doing all the work!

2 thoughts on “Like a phoenix…”

  1. Microminiaturisation at it’s finest. I wonder how compact I could get all the gadgets I built when I was picking up electronics as a teenager. You know, if I had the time…….

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