Hive-like LED wall clock offers a colorful and dynamic way to tell the time

Clock designs come in all shapes, sizes, and levels of complexity. On one end, you have ultra-minimalist analog clocks that barely have discernible hands or numbers on their faces. On the opposite end, however, you have not only sophisticated mechanical clocks with all their gears and movements, you also have digital clocks with smart features that go beyond telling the time. Of course, it’s always a matter of balancing functionality and features, and some designs intentionally tip the scales toward one or the other depending on their target audience. This DIY wall clock, for example, caters to those who want a more vibrant and creative way to display the time, though it does require a bit of technical and electronics know-how to make.

Designer: Dawid Karoński

It’s really impressive how far DIY tools have come these days, from desktop 3D printers to small circuit boards that can run complicated programs to control nontrivial devices. And depending on the skills of the one making them, the end result could even look like a professionally made product that came from a factory rather than someone’s garage or home workshop. The Hexaclock, named for its unusual shape for a clock, is one such example, offering a wall clock and smart lamp that can rival the quality and features of well-known smart lighting brands.

The catch is that you have to make one yourself, which may or may not result in a product of equal quality. You’ll need a 3D printer, unsurprisingly, but that is actually the easier part of the process. The more tedious phase requires precisely cutting an LED light strip into specific sizes so that the LEDs actually line up with the hexagon-shaped compartments of the lamp. Even more laborious is connecting these segments together again into a single unit, at least electronically, so that you can control the strip with a program as if it was never cut at all.

All of these details, from the schematics to the software, are made available for free so that anyone with the right tools and knowledge can make their own hive-shaped wall clock. In terms of functionality, the clock offers plenty of customization options, from animated color transitions to dancing patterns. What’s even more impressive is that it supports a light sensor that can dim all LEDs except the ones displaying the clock itself so that the bright lights won’t disturb your sleep at night.

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James Bruton’s Screw Bike moves smoothly in any direction, even rotates on its axis

James Bruton and his out-of-the-world creations never cease to amaze us. His Star Wars Speeder Bike is a good example of his inventive thinking. The DIYer knows his craft and his latest creation has got us mystified, yet again!

This omnidirectional bike gives the rider great freedom to move in multiple directions, allowing them to move sideways, diagonally, or even rotate on the spot. Now, who would say no to such a cool way to commute in the city?

Designer: James Bruton

Dubbed the Screw Bike, this two-wheeled commuter justifies the namesake. I can’t resist but see the reminisces of the retro Motocompo here, but that could be a pure coincidence. James has a thing for omnidirectional wheels and this could be his best one so far. Each of those peculiar wheels on the bike is 360 mm in diameter and comes with a packing of smaller wheels positioned with engineering craft for multidirectional movement. Originally called Mecanum Wheels, these unique tireless wheels are used widely in the scope of robotics and often in competitive robotics due to their ability to introduce fully omnidirectional movement onto a drivetrain. These rollers typically each have an axis of rotation at 45° to the wheel plane and at 45° to the axle line.

While your high-end bicycle will beat this thing in a straight spring, on the tracks of Monaco this thing will have the moves. For this bike’s custom design, the inventor employs 3D printing technology and uses materials like plywood. Implementing such a complex wheel design could only have been possible with 3D printing. There are 48 small wheels and 96 wedges that make possible this complex iteration. The movement of this bike is so smooth, that it calls for due credit to James.

The steering input from the handlebar is perfectly synched with the direction in which the inventor wants to move. He demonstrates the movement of Screw Bike inside a room and out in the open too. This very well justifies that the smooth moves are no fluke.

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Unique DIY watch moves liquid droplets around to tell the time

With the arrival of smartwatches, the divide between analog and digital has become a little bit blurrier. After all, you can create the illusion of a mechanical watch using a display and you’ll only realize the difference on closer inspection. That said, these two extremes aren’t the only ways to tell the time, and if you look hard enough, you’ll find other intriguing designs that make use of a combination of patterns and lights that you need to decipher and translate to regular numbers. This distinctive watch project doesn’t go to that extreme and still presents a more familiar face, but it does so using a medium that you’d least expect to see on an electronic watch.

Designer: Armin Bindzus

Analog watches and clocks use physical moving parts to indicate the passage of time, but there’s no hard rule that says there have to be three long bars or lines. Some minimalist designs even reduce those “hands” into circles, going so far as even removing all but four numbers from the watch face. This leaves a little wiggle room for experimentation, like this DIY electronics project that uses something like those aforementioned dots but also has those dots in liquid form.

Given how we’re often told not to let liquid near electronics, this might come as a bit of a surprise, but the droplets used in this intriguing design are actually polar liquids. This means they can be electrically charged and, in this case, move around a surface exactly because of that charge. The technical principle behind this technique is called “electrowetting,” and it is able to induce liquid motion by changing the electrical field on a given surface.

With the Droplet Watch, that shifting electrical field is done through three concentric circles of 60 electrodes, representing the 60 “ticks” on a watch face. Electrodes get charged or discharged, which causes the droplets along the lanes between these circles to move around, just like the hands on a clock. It’s a complicated process that has plenty of room for errors, but it’s certainly interesting to watch liquid dots moving around the clock, briefly leaving a trail before it catches up to the rest of the mass.

The Droplet Watch only consumes power when moving the liquid, which puts it on the same level as an E Ink display. Sadly, it’s also not a practical design, at least not for a watch that will move a lot since the liquid could be dislodged accidentally. And with many digital screens on clocks and watches these days, that same visual effect can be accomplished with little to no effort at all.

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Rare 2001 PS1 controller modded into a quirky PlayStation handheld emulator

Game controllers today follow a standard design and format, and most of them gravitate between two or three conventions, depending on the major console brand they’re supporting. Once upon a time, however, there was a bit more variety and exploration in what controllers could look like, at least as long as they still supported all the basic controls that the machine and the games required. This gave birth to a few oddities, some of which gained widespread notoriety despite their limited availability. One of those was perhaps one of the weirdest but also rarest controllers ever made for the original PlayStation, and one such design was reshaped to become one is probably one of the most distinctive PlayStation handhelds ever crafted.

Designer: Takara Tomy (modded by Hairoh Satoh)

In 2001, PlayStation owners in Japan got a glimpse of an officially licensed controller specifically designed for the popular Game of Life video game. Unlike rectangular controllers even during that period, this custom gamepad was practically square with a circle at the top edge extending a bit beyond the border. This circle was home to a roulette wheel used in conjunction with that game, earning this Japanese-exclusive design the name “Takara Roulette Controller.”

Images courtesy of miepro_02

More than two decades later, a modder best known for his Game Boy mods has given this rarely-seen controller a new lease on life as a standalone gaming device. The spinner wheel, which has no use in any other game, was replaced by a small LCD screen that allowed the user to play games directly on it. Of course, that also means that the internals of the controller have been gutted out to make room for a small computer, probably a Raspberry Pi or one of its kind.

That alone would have been impressive enough, but the mod goes above and beyond to bring a few modern gaming conveniences. While the original controller is more or less complete when it comes to buttons, the mod adds L and R back triggers as well. The small space also has a memory card slot, USB-C charging, and speakers that truly make the gaming handheld independent and portable. Whether it’s comfortable to actually play on for long periods of time is a different question entirely.

Unfortunately, the controller clearly shows its age with the absence of analog joysticks that are now standard on modern controllers. Then again, since it’s mostly emulating PS1-era games, that’s not exactly a problem either since those titles didn’t make use of such controls. But since it’s technically using a computer that can run emulation software, it’s theoretically possible to also run games from other consoles, particularly classic titles that have simpler controls, less demanding graphics, and gameplay that’s well suited for this retro controller design.

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DIY Macintosh Studio is an ingenious dock for the iPad mini and Mac Studio

They say necessity is the mother of invention, so it’s probably not surprising that some of the best and sometimes even outrageous designs were born out of someone’s itch, as they call it. Take for example this rather interesting DIY project that gives a home for an iPad mini and hides the Mac Studio in plain sight. While there’s no shortage of products that address those needs separately, this creative solution manages to combine both in an inspired way, paying homage to the product that catapulted Apple to fame 40 years ago: the venerable original Macintosh. Of course, it isn’t just a superficial nostalgia trip, but one that also harnesses some of the best features of Apple’s product design today.

Designer: Scott Yu-Jan

Although it’s patterned after the Mac mini, the powerful Mac Studio is exponentially taller, and its presence can’t be ignored when you place it under a monitor. On the other side of the fence sits the lightweight and compact iPad mini, which has gained a lot of features that almost make it suitable as a desktop device. These two products come from very different lines but share the same family spirit. Putting them together might sound superficial, but this 3D-printed modular case manages to pull it off so tastefully.

Dubbed the Macintosh Studio, the enclosure sits on top of and snugly hugs most of the Mac Studio, leaving only the ports near the bottom unrestricted. The front of the contraption has a slot for the iPad mini to slide in securely and connect to the Mac Mini via a single USB-C cable. This way, the iPad mini is always charged and ready to go when you need it, while also serving as a second screen for the Mac Studio thanks to Apple Sidecar. This gives both devices a customized home without removing anything from their functionality. You can even draw on the iPad quickly, though the position and angle of the screen won’t be ideal for working on art and designs.

The Macintosh Studio design doesn’t just copy the original Macintosh’s form but manages to insert a few modern conveniences to take advantage of all the unused space at the back. There’s a retractable headphone hook at the top, for example, as well as interchangeable drawers for a single portable hard drive or a stack of SSDs. There are other possible designs, but these two, in particular, add value to the experience while still staying within reasonable limits.

Given that it’s simply a 3D-printed enclosure, there’s plenty of flexibility when it comes to the color of the Macintosh Studio. A variety of hues could make it look like a hybrid of the Macintosh and the colorful iMacs, adding a bit of life to what is normally a plain and drab silver aesthetic. All in all, the design is quite ingenious in how it manages to solve two rather different problems while still preserving the individual values of each product.

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Retrofuturistic streaming audio player recreates the simplicity of a radio

There is no shortage of powerful and sophisticated media players these days that have almost every and all features you can possibly cram inside. Some of these designs are more upfront with the complexity of options and controls, while others hide behind a deceptively minimalist facade that relegates the knobs and sliders to a mobile app instead. While there is always a place for such advanced devices, there is sometimes also a need for simpler and more focused features. An old-school radio, for example, simply plays music it receives from certain frequencies, and that’s the kind of distilled listening experience that this DIY streaming audio player tries to offer in a retrofuturistic design that looks like a cross between that analog radio, a small TV, and, oddly enough, a miniature microwave.

Designer: Nik Reitmann

Streaming devices are so common these days that it almost makes no sense to make one yourself. After all, our smartphones themselves are capable of these and more, and you can easily pair them with a wireless speaker at home for louder output. Of course, if you value the journey and the process of making such a functional design more than the final product, then you’ll probably want something that at least stands out in more than just appearance alone.

This DIY streaming audio player stands somewhere in between a smart speaker and a smart display, focusing on the streaming audio activity but with a touchscreen display that adds a bit of flavor to the experience. It’s not a touch-only device, however, as its creator preferred to embrace some analog controls, especially a volume dial that seems to be a rare sight on many smart speakers these days. There are also a few LED-lit buttons, though, and the whole setup can be controlled remotely from your phone or even a computer.

The design chosen for the player is admittedly distinctive, embracing an aesthetic that seems to mix different eras. The arrangement of a large display or rectangular element opposite a set of buttons and a knob is reminiscent of analog radios and even some TVs from decades past. The smooth surfaces and curves, however, give it a more modern look that is amusingly close to the appearance of a microwave with a physical knob instead of just buttons. Either way, it’s an interesting design for a dedicated streaming audio player that distills the listening experience to its very basics rather than getting lost in a multitude of features.

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Cute quadruped robot is actually a watermelon in disguise

We saw quite a few robots at MWC 2024 last month, but the two brightest stars were dog-like designs that were derived from the nightmare fuel that was Boston Dynamics’ Spot. Nowadays, the term “quadruped robot” would call images of that machine or its more refined descendants, but that’s only by convention and not by definition. This DIY robot, for example, also has four legs, at least for the technical definition of what a “leg” means, except it doesn’t take inspiration from canines or other four-legged animals. Instead, it tries to disguise itself as a fruit that suddenly splits into four and starts moving almost like a crab. A real-world Transformer, but in a small and somewhat cute package.

Designer: Ryota Kobayashi

Most of us probably aren’t unfamiliar with robots in disguise, at least those fictional machines that transform from a mundane shape to something truly more robotic. Of course, those fictional robots try to mimic vehicles or even animals since those things are already mobile by nature. But a spherical fruit that only rolls when the law of inertia takes effect? Really an odd choice for a disguise.

But that’s exactly what the Sherobo quadruped robot does, looking like a very fake plastic lemon in its “inactive” state. The real inspiration isn’t actually the fruit itself but what’s done with it in Japan. A game called “Suikawari” is pretty much the Japanese form of piñata, trying to split the watermelon with a stick while blindfolded. Of course, you won’t be splitting this sphere, let alone hitting it, because it splits on its own when it stretches its legs to walk around.


Sherobo is actually made from many off-the-shelf components for the robot’s mainboard and motors. The frame, body, and legs, however, are all custom 3D printed, of course, and the designs are sadly not available publicly. What’s interesting is that each of the robot’s four legs has three degrees of freedom or 3DoF, giving it a great deal of mobility and flexibility. That said, given its design of the legs located around the body, it walks more like a crab than any other quadruped.


And, of course, it doesn’t have to be a watermelon, either, and it can be any fruit or spherical object you prefer. It’s definitely an interesting experiment on robot design and one that expands the definition of a quadruped robot. It doesn’t hurt that it is perhaps more adorable those those Spot-like dog-inspired robots, that is unless you actually have a phobia of crab-like and spider-like critters.

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3D-printed E Ink typewriter offers distraction-free writing with modern perks

Most if not all of us may have dreamed of writing some form of literature like a book or even a novel. It may be an adventure inspired by the latest bestseller that you read, a tear-jerking drama drawn from personal experiences, or even a technical matter intended to pass down knowledge to future generations. Although we still call it “writing,” the fact is that books today are all typed on some kind of machine or another, be it a computer or even an old-school typewriter, each with its own strengths and weaknesses. A computer, of course, delivers plenty of flexibility and convenience, but those also come at the cost of complexity and, more importantly, distractions. Distraction-free typing devices have been popping up here and there to cater to the needs of writers, but this particular design lets you create your own solution and, if necessary, even repair the digital typewriter yourself.

Designer: Vicente Cruz

There are quite a few distraction-free typewriter designs, but almost all of them have one important feature in common: they all use an e-paper display like E Ink. This usually monochrome screen is not just eye-friendly, it is also not that conducive to the colorful images and animations on the Web that distract us from our writing task. The technology is starting to catch up, though, but the advantages of E Ink still make it the perfect screen for such a purpose.

The Tapico Typer is a design that leverages that technology but also goes to the extreme when it comes to offering a distraction-free environment. You basically just have a keyboard with a somewhat small 4.2-inch E Ink screen centered on top. It doesn’t even have a battery, at least in this iteration of the design, so you’ll have to rely on an external power source like a power bank. It does have an SD card slot, however, which is the only way to get your files off the device since it has no network connectivity or even a USB data connection.

If that sounds extreme, it’s because it really is by design. The Tapico Typer is, interestingly, inspired more by a calculator than the old mechanical typewriter. It’s a single-function device that does only one thing but does it to perfection. It also means you have complete ownership of your content, free from subscription services and cloud storage. And, of course, there’s nothing to distract you on the screen, though the phone you place beside it could still steal your focus.

The digital typewriter is mostly 3D-printed and self-made, so it would be possible to follow the original’s design to make your own. Many of the components are available off shelves and there isn’t much soldering involved, so most of the work boils down to designing the chassis. A future plan is to include some internal power source or at least a way to use AA batteries that could last for months thanks to how little power E Ink displays consume. This also means that The Tapico Typerc can also be easily repaired, ensuring it will be your writing partner for a very long time.

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Gothic Wooden Box Lamp adds a mystical touch to your desk or shelf

Not all lamps are made to shine brightly and quite a number are designed to be more decorative than utilitarian, enhancing a space’s aesthetic while giving a bit of illumination. Some emit a gentle glow that tries to set a certain mood, while others paint a kaleidoscopic display that liven up a room. Some might be luxurious and elegant, while others are fun and whimsical. This DIY project somewhat straddles those two worlds, bringing an unconventional box lamp with gothic-inspired patterns on every face. The end result is a stunning yet subtle light display that seems to bridge the worlds of the magical and the technological right on your very desk.

Designer: Kostiantyn Andriiuk

Programmable RGB lights are quite common these days and they come in different forms, ranging from finished lamps to LED strips you can add to any project. Of course, simply displaying lights is hardly exciting and fails to take advantage of the flexibility that these lights can offer. So why not put these seemingly magical colored lights inside a design that’s exactly meant to convey a sense of mysticism and awe?

This Gothic-inspired lamp does exactly that, not just through the lights alone but from every inch and face of the box. The walnut veneer material, polished with flaxseed oil, gives it a vintage aesthetic as if the lamp was hidden from mortal eyes for decades or even centuries. All but the bottom faces have intricate cutout patterns that not only let the light shine through from the inside but also give it an otherworldly character.

The illusion of the mystical, however, comes from mundane technology. RGB light strips line the insides of the box and can be controlled remotely through software, almost like magic. The box also has hidden touch sensors that allow you to simply tap on a surface to produce the same results, at least for the most basic controls like turning it on or off and adjusting the brightness. With light shining through the extremely thin cutouts of the gothic-inspired patterns, the Box Lamp emits an almost eerie glow that can be appreciated whether outdoors under the sun or, better yet, inside the darkness of your room.

The Gothic Wooden Desk Lamp is something you might be able to create on your own, provided you have the necessary tools available. The hardest part is actually cutting out those complex patterns, which requires a decent laser engraver that can work with thin wooden boards. Fortunately, all that information, as well as the process, is available for free so anyone can design their own magical light box and fancy themselves as a master of the mystical arts.

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DIY macro keyboard gives designers customizable shortcuts for any app

Content creation is a big thing these days, whether you’re producing video for live streaming, making graphic art, or even digitally carving 3D models for virtual spaces. Unsurprisingly, there’s a wide variety of software tools available to creators as well, ranging from simple ones you can run directly on your phone to the more sophisticated suites that require a laptop or even a desktop. The variety of features in apps that people use on a daily basis can become mentally exhausting, especially when it comes to memorizing keyboard combos that should help speed up workflows. Our fingers can only do so much, and the number of shortcuts we have to remember across multiple apps can actually do more harm than good. This DIY project tries to make designers’ and creators’ lives a bit easier by offering a mini keyboard that can adapt its icons and actions to match the app you’re using.

Designer: Maximilian Kern

So-called macro keyboards like the Elgato Stream Deck are becoming more popular not just among streamers but also among computer power users. They provide a dedicated set of buttons separate from your keyboard that you can map to almost any function in an app to make them easier to use. As popular as these gadgets might be, they’re still considered niche and, therefore, expensive, out of reach of budding creators.

If you’re anything of a tinkerer or maker, however, you can also just make your own, like what this Keybon project aims to accomplish. It’s a small box with nine tactile buttons buttons that you can assign to a specific function or keyboard shortcut. And just like those pricey commercial macro keyboards, it can switch to a different layout depending on what software you’re running at the time.


What makes Keybon extra special is that each of those nine buttons actually has small 0.66-inch screens on top, and you can select an icon to match the action that the button represents at that time. While it might be faster with muscle memory, visual cues like this will help your brain adjust when switching between apps and layouts. At the same time, you also don’t have to force yourself to actually memorize the actions and buttons and simply take a quick glance at the keyboard to know which one to press.

That said, this kind of project does require a bit of electronics and software know-how to create Keybon, but that also opens the door to more freedom in the design of the device. Fortunately, all the needed pieces are available for free, so it can also become a springboard for makers and creators to customize their own personal macro keyboard to their hearts’ content.

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