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Digital Big Ben

Large Implementation of a Mechanical Seven Segment Display
  (+12, -2)(+12, -2)
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Analogue, as everyone knows, is only any good for audio applications. This is because electricity needs room to move about properly in order to reproduce high fidelity sounds.

Time however, is an entirely different, discretely portioned thing. You're either late or you're not - at the third stroke, it will be 4:45pm, *precisely*. There just isn't room for any of this wishy-washy analogue nonsense.

By replacing each of the four faces of the clock tower commonly known as "Big Ben" (Big Ben referring of course to the large bell housed within the tower, rather than the tower, or the clock itself) with a mechanical, 7 segment digital display, we will both be dragging ourselves out of the previous century, and striking a blow against the temporal analogists.

Plus, we may be able to include such functions as Calendar, Stopwatch (with Lap timer), Alarm, Snooze, Light etc.

zen_tom, Jan 04 2007

When the ice melts http://www.telegrap...12/27/nlondon27.xml
[Dub, Jan 04 2007]

Flickr: How it might look... http://www.flickr.c...0040/in/photostream
[zen_tom, May 30 2011]

[link]






       Sounds like a perfect photoshop opportunity, anyone care to try?   

       Ps,needs a egg timer.
skinflaps, Jan 04 2007
  

       (+) if it has a built-in calculator and pedometer.
hippo, Jan 04 2007
  

       And a timer to remind you when your parking tax's about to expire.   

       BTW - It should be waterproof to 100m [link]
Dub, Jan 04 2007
  

       <tourist comentary>"...each oneof those blinking dots between the numerals is 2 feet across; Over 500 gallons of liquid crystal was used in the display; The little button on the side you have to press in to set the time takes 5 men to press it..."</tourist commentary>
hippo, Jan 04 2007
  

       The cuckoo that comes out every hour should sing one in Romanian every few hours or so.
Ian Tindale, Jan 04 2007
  

       There is a ceremony every 5 years or so when the whole thing gets dropped off at the jewellers in order for them to change the battery.   

       I was thinking of having the display work purely mechanically, with big plates clunking in and out of the segment display, rather than using liquid crystal - but the idea of there being gallons of the stuff sloshing about is quite appealing.   

       I have a sketch on paper, which I might photograph and post - but a photoshopped version would be awesome (adds project to to-do in 2007 list)   

       Also trying to imagine Aztec Calendar Stone, and Druidic Stonehenge implementations of the same thing.   

       I've searched, and 'One' in Romanian is 'întâi'. I guess that's a Romanian Numeral. Which does raise the question of whether we ought to keep the classic numerals of Big Ben, and use a segmented display comprising of Is, Vs, Xs and Ls.   

       "At the 11th bong, it will be XXIII, precisely."
zen_tom, Jan 04 2007
  

       This idea was depicted in one of the Xmas episodes of Futurama.
jaksplat, Jan 05 2007
  

       <pedantry> Technically a digital Big Ben would be the giant electronic alarm behind the mechanism </pedantry>   

       Where do you put the snooze button?
fridge duck, Jan 05 2007
  

       Can you imagine the striking of the hour?
Beep, Beep, Beep...
Ling, Jan 05 2007
  

       //Where do you put the snooze button?// In the House of Lords, obviously
Dub, Jan 05 2007
  

       good one [Dub]!!
xandram, Jan 05 2007
  

       *snort*
skinflaps, Jan 05 2007
  

       There's one in New New York in Futurama. Maybe just wait 1000 years and this idea will bake itself.
Cuit_au_Four, Jan 07 2007
  

       A digital Big Ben doesn't bother us British anywhere near as much as being abbreviated needlessly to a "Brit…" - c'mon, aren't you going to finish the word you started? It's just a meaningless syllable until we get to hear it all, in full.
Ian Tindale, Jan 07 2007
  

       Better a Brit than a Pom   

       //Time however, is an entirely different, discretely portioned thing. ... There just isn't room for any of this wishy-washy analogue nonsense.//   

       Pish-tosh. Time itself is analogue. It's only our numerical record of it's passing which is digital. Non-numerised analogue timekeeping predates numerised clocks; to whit: candle and water clocks.   

       (sits back and waits for the quantised time pedant)
BunsenHoneydew, Jan 07 2007
  

       I'm an uptight 'Brit' and it doesn't upset me.
hippo, Jan 08 2007
  

       As well as digital, make it a binary display like those watches they stock in gadget shops.
Helixthecat, Jan 08 2007
  

       Love it. If you hit the snooze button the whole of London gets the afternoon off.
energy guy, Jan 08 2007
  

       WTCTTISOnFuturamaWIBNIIWR?   

       [marked-for-deletion] surely.
Texticle, Jan 08 2007
  

       Surely not: [zen_tom] hasn't said that's where he got his inspiration. Not everyone watches Futurama. If anything, //I was thinking of having the display... I have a sketch on paper...// seems to make it clear that [zen_tom]'s come up with this idea independently. And an amusing idea it is too. +
imaginality, Jan 08 2007
  

       If I suggested hover boards, completely independent of Back to the Future II & III, I would still expect an MFD regardless of how cool an idea it may be. If I had no knowledge of the WICTTIS prior art until the MFD pointed it out to me, I would accept that I was not the first to think of it and therefore not the inventor. Not being the inventor, I would happily to remove it from a forum in which my very posting implies that I am pronouncing myself the inventor.
Texticle, Jan 08 2007
  

       Darn it, I like this idea.   

       For those interested, the inspiration came when, one sleepless night, I tried lulling myself into sleep by imagining in detail an arrangement of cogs, gears and escapements - it didn't work, I still couldn't sleep. In my mind, the mechanism got bigger and heavier, the little ticks and whirrs transforming into clunks and grinding sounds. I turned over in bed to check the time on my bedside digital clock, 3am. As well as the hours and minutes, the clock shows the seconds ticking by in 7-segment display (much more restful than blinking dots) and, in the state between wakefullness and sleep, my thoughts drifted off into how to generate a 7-segment display out of big clunking clockwork components - Big Ben just seemed like the appropriate place to house such an arrangement.   

       But, if it's been done before on this thing you people call "Futurama" I can't claim credit, as much as I'd like to. At the same time, I'm still emotionally attached to this idea, so don't really want to delete it.   

       Could those people who saw this Futurama episode suggest some arbitrary difference that I can incorporate into my idea in order for it to be glitteringly and significantly original? I'd come up with some ideas myself, but not having seen the programme in question, don't want to include something that they too, have alreday conceived. For example, perhaps we could build in a cuckoo-clock type window at the 12 o'clock position that, on the hour, ejects a rollerskating family of octopi that is then seen to helter-skelter down a perspex tube, into the safety of a soft jam and beeswax aquarium at the base of the clock. One minute later, the whole lot starts getting sucked back up the clock-tower (a process taking roughly 59 minutes) ready for the marking of the next hour. I mean, not that. But something like that. Yeah?
zen_tom, Jan 09 2007
  

       I haven't seen the precise episode of Futurama - but I would suggest that the digital clock face used in the cartoon was just a giant LCD screen.   

       Your digital 'Big Ben' is mechanical, with a purely mechanical 7-segment display to maintain it's prestige and gravitas.   

       (And also allow characters to hang off parts of it)
Jinbish, Jan 09 2007
  

       I'd like to see Big Ben replaced with a massive 300ft high candle clock (the sort that has marks down the side to show the time as the candle burns down). Each candle would last a week before being replaced. The flame at the top would be 20 ft high, and molten wax would cascade down the sides, burying people alive and causing traffic mayhem as it congealed in Parliament Square.
hippo, Jan 09 2007
  

       So instead of being clockwork, it'd be waxwork.
Ian Tindale, Jan 09 2007
  

       In the episode in question, the clock is made by some unexplained future technology. The segments appear and disappear as they would on an lcd screen but are physical things which can be touched.   

       I would suggest this idea is different enough to stick around.
fridge duck, Jan 09 2007
  

       //So instead of being clockwork, it'd be waxwork// and we're back in the Lord's chambers again.   

       I would love to see the mechanical implementation of a seven segment display timepiece. My mind is having fever dreams of levers and cogs as we speak. So a tasty pastry from me.   

       If only that jolly clever Mr Babbage were still with us; I'm sure he could whip up a rough sketch to be getting on with in, oh a decade or two.   

       And surely, as this Futurama of which you speak hails from the 25th century, no prior art can be claimed?
BunsenHoneydew, Jan 11 2007
  

       [zen_tom] <link> Ha, better late than never... but you missed a bit?
Ling, May 31 2011
  

       Hey Ling - yes, I think it needs redoing - it's supposed to say 18:33 (but the initial segment displaying the 1 is too close to the second segment, and it's not so easy to read off the numbers) plus, there ought to be a bit more filgereee type stuff around the face, to have it more in keeping with the old-style face. Be sure to check back sometime around 2015 to catch the updated version!
zen_tom, May 31 2011
  
      
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