Tue 30th June, 2020 I have (on thepage) some clocks that tell the current time at various locations on Mars, keeping both the Martian calendar and the correct Martian time (which has extended seconds). Ever since I first wrote a Martian clock, I had the extremely nerdy idea of making a physical one. I mean, what nerd wouldn't want a clock like that on their desk? It has nerd-factor 10 stamped all over it.
There are several ways to go about this. The Viking team members at NASA used ordinary watches slowed to compensate for the extra length of the Martian day. It's a good solution, but rocks in at nerd-factor 0.5. There are other ways, but what I had my eyes on right from the start was the Raspberry Pi option.
At first, the idea was simply to replicate what I had on the weather pages, but with the ability to switch to any experiment on the Martian surface. That raised the question of how to switch. Would I have to attach a keyboard to reconfigure the clock? Would I telnet in via ssh from another computer? Would I use a touchscreen as the clock's display?
Yeah, you guessed it, I went for the touchscreen. In use it would be by far the easiest option, but coding for it was another matter. When you can edit the configuration file, you don't need to worry about things like a complicated (and complex) settings screen. Still, it's just a coding problem, and not a huge one, it'll just take a bit longer to code. I don't mind, I am after all, a code-monkey.
At this point I've done a basic prototype (in code). It tells the time at a single location, and it has the same dimensions as the touch screen. Speaking of which, the package with the Pi and all its accessories arrives today.
In case you're interested, the software is being written using Electron, which has an extremely rapid development process. Last night and most of today, I've been re-writing the prototype using leaner code and making the HTML a lot more sparse. The result is that the interface (clock display) is now skinnable. That means even after the clock is 'finished' and up and running, I can waste hours every day creating new skins. What joy!
I also decided to write a blog inside my blog (a sub-blog?) where I can post updates. You're looking at it.
In theory, once the box of parts arrive, it'll just take me an hour or so to set everything up and have the clock working. I've never had my hands on a Raspberry Pi before though, so I'll take things slow and I'm probably going to run into a lot of issues configuring the Pi so the clock runs as expected.