DIY Digital Clock Contest Rules

2 min read

Competition Description:

IEEE Spectrum, the magazine of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, is sponsoring a contest to build the ideal digital clock—one that is attractive, interesting, functional, and suitable for use in a typical small office or indoor home environment.

The magazine’s staff will judge the entries based on the following seven criteria: display readability, DIY construction, a US $100 limit for all the parts, engineering design quality, accuracy, ease of setup and use, and attractiveness.

Judges will subjectively assign a 1 to 10 score for each criterion and objectively select three candidates based on the scores.

The winner will travel to San Mateo, Calif., for Maker Faire, which takes place on 3 and 4 May 2008.

Judging Notes:

Display—Should be readable by day or night from across a small room.

DIY—Other people should be able to reproduce your clock based on your documented design.

Cost—Parts should be readably available from standard sources for a total cost of no more than $100.

Quality—Design and construction should be robust and show attention to detail, inside and out.

Accuracy—Clocks should keep good time.

Usability—Initial setup, time setting, or other features should be simple and intuitive (with a minimum of manual reading).

Attractiveness—The clock should draw attention to some combination of the following attributes: beauty, cleverness, interesting design, envy-inspiring coolness, or just a ”wow” factor.

Technical Notes:

Proximity to a socket for ac or wall-wart dc power is assumed, if necessary.

Accuracy will be computed by measuring time errors at one-week intervals (submissions designed to excel in the accuracy category may provide an unobtrusive 1-PPS pin that the judges can use for precise measurements).

Use of such ultraprecise time sources as GPS, WWVB, telephone, or Internet is not precluded, but designers should realize that dependence on these technologies is likely to both increase cost and reduce the chance that the clock works out of the box in all home and office environments.

A formal, publishable project/kit description can wait until the clock is selected as one of the winners.

Use of microcontrollers is acceptable as long as binary and source code can be included with the design.

Send prototypes to Clock Competition, IEEE Spectrum, 3 Park Avenue, 17th Floor, New York, NY 10016-5997

Entries must have a postmark or courier-service registration of 7 April 2008 or earlier.

If you have questions, contact senior editor Phil Ross at

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