Studio 60 Countdown Clock

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RickGreerUK

Member
I've looked to get a replica of the clock in Matts office for a while, I did find someone once after the show finished :)cry) but the guy was talking about $2000+ to make it, which seems crazy for a clock..

I never thought to post on here, I'm probably not the only Sorkin fan around (I would also quite like the Bartlett napkin from the West Wing or M&Ms with the seal of the president)

I've attached some pictures - wondering if anyone had a clue as to making one, or if anyone has or even where the original is?





 

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Quinn

Well-Known Member
I'm a fan of Sorkin, and the show, but I have no ideas on the construction. I work in TV and I've never seen anything like that. Looking at the photos above the Groucho quote is two different styles, though. I never noticed that before.
 

RickGreerUK

Member
You're right, I thought it just lit-up - I didn't realise it was different.

I wonder who I could contact about information on it? Do the studios/shows ever respond to queries like that?
 

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TheNickFox

Sr Member
RPF PREMIUM MEMBER
Start reading all you can on 7-segment displays and how to make simple count down clocks. Here's an example using an Arduino to control it:

Arduino 7 segment countdown timer

I'm not sure an Arduino has the OOMPH to handle a display of that size, but if you ask people who can do smaller projects like this, you're more likely to start finding people who know the ins and outs of scaling this up. Essentially you're going to need a driver, a controller, and a power source. (A plug if you're being screen accurate) Unfortunately, I'm just not familiar with the components for a project of this scale.

Good luck, I'm a big fan of Studio 60, so I hope you pull this off.

-Nick
 

RickGreerUK

Member
Hey TheNickFox,

Thanks - I found a site that looks like they make custom clocks, but they have yet to reply to my e-mail. If not, I might go for the do-it-yourself build!
 

RickGreerUK

Member
Just found out that the original was sold on eBay about 5 years ago - I've checked the sellers feedback though (of which there is a lot) and the details aren't there so I don't know where it went to :-(
 

Zev

Well-Known Member
Just found out that the original was sold on eBay about 5 years ago - I've checked the sellers feedback though (of which there is a lot) and the details aren't there so I don't know where it went to :-(

I might have found you the buyer of the clock. I've contacted them to see if it is actually them. I'll let you know.
 

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MrGlass

New Member
I'm thinking about building myself a replica as well. I'm certain I could get the countdown working using an arduino & some common LED controller chips (I've built clocks and such before).

I'm thinking that I'll build a scale replica to start, as smaller 7 segment displays are pretty cheap, and then I can scale it up if I feel like investing serious $.

Anyone have any idea what the dimensions are? Or how big the LED displays are?
 

MrGlass

New Member
I've been putting in some effort in the electronics on the project, and figured it was as good a time as any for an update.

My brother has some experience building replica props, so I asked him if he could get me some measurements. Actual size isn't a big deal for me, as the size I'm going to make this depends on the size of the displays I will use, and I figure I can just scale everything else relative to the displays.

Speaking of displays, I have been doing a ton of research. there are 7" displays for $15 available online, but buying 8 of them would cost more than I want to put into this (at least right now). There are also guides on how to build huge 7 segment displays, using an array of consumer LEDs or LED panels, but those would require a lot of work. 1" displays are only 1-2$, so I decided to experiment with them first.

I bought all the electronics online the other day, from a wholesaler named Jameco. I made a list of what I'm using right now:

Arduio UNO - $29.95:
LED Controller - $7.95
7 Segment Display (red) $1.25 (x8) - $10
10µF electrolytic capacitor $0.06 (min 10) - $0.60
0.1µF ceramic capacitor $0.15 (min 10) - $1.50
Current limiting resistor $0.03 each (min 100) - $3
Rocker switch - $0.39


This is not a final list, just what I need for a countdown clock prototype. The arduino is rather expensive, but I probably will switch to a cheaper equivalent once I get all the kinks out (the arduino is designed for prototyping, makes the process much easier). We also need some way to enter a start time in the clock, which I could do with a menu and a few buttons, but I have other ideas. And, of course, there's lighting all the other bits to think about.

The only real problem with the clock circuit, right now, is that its time is based on the arduino. Some people have reported a time drift of >20 seconds a day with standard hardware. Also, it doesn't have a battery backup, which is a key part of the joke for me. I'm pondering getting a clock module such as this, which has reasonably good accuracy, or the chronodot which users report has a drift of 2 seconds a year.

My parts should get in over the next couple days, but I'm going to hold off soldering together anything until I know my dimensions. Hopefully I can get something working over the weekend.
 

spam

Active Member
Here is a bit of a better shot of the entire clock head on from the very end of epsiode 2 "the cold open".
vlcsnap2011091415h36m09.png
 

RickGreerUK

Member
I've been putting in some effort in the electronics on the project, and figured it was as good a time as any for an update.

My brother has some experience building replica props, so I asked him if he could get me some measurements. Actual size isn't a big deal for me, as the size I'm going to make this depends on the size of the displays I will use, and I figure I can just scale everything else relative to the displays.

Speaking of displays, I have been doing a ton of research. there are 7" displays for $15 available online, but buying 8 of them would cost more than I want to put into this (at least right now). There are also guides on how to build huge 7 segment displays, using an array of consumer LEDs or LED panels, but those would require a lot of work. 1" displays are only 1-2$, so I decided to experiment with them first.

I bought all the electronics online the other day, from a wholesaler named Jameco. I made a list of what I'm using right now:

Arduio UNO - $29.95:
LED Controller - $7.95
7 Segment Display (red) $1.25 (x8) - $10
10µF electrolytic capacitor $0.06 (min 10) - $0.60
0.1µF ceramic capacitor $0.15 (min 10) - $1.50
Current limiting resistor $0.03 each (min 100) - $3
Rocker switch - $0.39


This is not a final list, just what I need for a countdown clock prototype. The arduino is rather expensive, but I probably will switch to a cheaper equivalent once I get all the kinks out (the arduino is designed for prototyping, makes the process much easier). We also need some way to enter a start time in the clock, which I could do with a menu and a few buttons, but I have other ideas. And, of course, there's lighting all the other bits to think about.

The only real problem with the clock circuit, right now, is that its time is based on the arduino. Some people have reported a time drift of >20 seconds a day with standard hardware. Also, it doesn't have a battery backup, which is a key part of the joke for me. I'm pondering getting a clock module such as this, which has reasonably good accuracy, or the chronodot which users report has a drift of 2 seconds a year.

My parts should get in over the next couple days, but I'm going to hold off soldering together anything until I know my dimensions. Hopefully I can get something working over the weekend.

Great start, agreed that a battery backup is a must!! It needs to be endowed with special powers ;-)

Good shot of the head on grab, I didn't think there was one!

Still hoping we find the original, would be great for some better reference pics etc
 

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spam

Active Member
At first I thought that the upper part of the board was LEDs, but it looks like the upper part of the display is actually a backlit printed piece. You can see the difference in backlight strength between the beginning and end of seconds in this screengrab.
vlcsnap2011091415h31m09.png
 

MrGlass

New Member
Wiring up the displays took my entire day yesterday, and I didn't even get up to adding in the controller chip. Here's a pic from when I was halfway done:
401394195.jpg


That's a lot of soldering, and getting the connections right in such a tight space is a HUGE pain. A custom circuit board would eliminate the need for 90% of this work, I might look into that in the future. Also, bigger displays would mean more space, which would help a lot.

Now that my soldering is mostly done, I'm starting to worry about the housing. This is the bit I've never done before.
 
Last edited:

RickGreerUK

Member
Annoyingly, I never received a reply from the person I contacted, and it's been a couple of weeks now. :(

The person I contacted was a photographer or something, in her eBay profile it says she's a fan and she has the clock to prove it. I contacted her on Twitter and she said she sold it about 5 years ago. Unfortunately, (even though I looked through her massive feedback) eBay doesn't give you the name of the auction, just the feedback and I didn't see anyone say, hey thanks for the cool studio 60 prop :wacko


Wiring up the displays took my entire day yesterday, and I didn't even get up to adding in the controller chip. Here's a pic from when I was halfway done:
401394195.jpg


That's a lot of soldering, and getting the connections right in such a tight space is a HUGE pain. A custom circuit board would eliminate the need for 90% of this work, I might look into that in the future. Also, bigger displays would mean more space, which would help a lot.

Now that my soldering is mostly done, I'm starting to worry about the housing. This is the bit I've never done before.

Wow, that is a lot of wiring! Hope it's progressing ok!
 

MrGlass

New Member
Wow, that is a lot of wiring! Hope it's progressing ok!
I finally got to test it last night, only had 1 bad connection, otherwise the display works great. I think they may have shipped me orange LEDs instead of red, but everything lit up great and the code to control it looks real easy. No pics of the full display yet, didn't have a chance to wire everything back up and I fixed the 1 bad connection.

Anyone ever fab a box like this? I'm open to suggestions.
 

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