The Space Race of the 1950s and 1960s was, quite possibly, one of the most exciting periods of technological development in history. That, of course, resulted in the Apollo program that finally put men on the moon in 1969. The general public’s fervor for space exploration may have dwindled in the following decades, but there is no denying that the Apollo missions captured the world’s interest at the time. To celebrate that legendary achievement, David Schneider built this fantastic clock using analog meters sourced from NASA.
Schneider started this project after he found some vintage analog panel voltmeters on eBay for $15 each. Aside from the looking cool, they also originated from the NASA Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama. Schneider doesn’t know what they were used for there, but just having a connection to NASA makes them special. After receiving the voltmeters, he was able to determine that they were manufactured sometime in 1955. That means that it’s entirely possible that they were used in some capacity as part of the actual Apollo missions.
To use them with a clock, Schneider first needed to modify the voltmeters to work with lower voltages than the standard 10 and 50 volts that they were built for. He then used an Arduino Nano to drive each voltmeter’s needle position with PWM (pulse-width modulation). A GPS module is used to pull satellite data, which comes embedded with the exact time. A set of five LEDs on the front of the clock are used to indicate how many satellites are overhead in binary. The final step was to create new face plates for the voltmeters and mount them on a simple industrial-looking panel and frame.
The finished clock looks like something from the lunar module, and has the added benefit of using real voltmeters from the era.