The clock is counting down to ESC Minneapolis 2017

October 23, 2017

Max The Magnificent-October 23, 2017

As you may recall, one of my current projects is to build a Countdown Clock with six pairs of digits showing the years, months, days, hours, minutes, and seconds remaining to the start of some event.

This is going to look a bit like the Nixie tube clock owned by George Clooney in the Tomorrowland movie, but mine is going to be built using Lixie displays (see Lixies + Rotary Telephone Dial = ‘Ooh, Shiny!’)

Countdown Clock in Tomorrowland movie (Source: Walt Disney Pictures)

My Countdown Clock is still a work in progress, but -- if it were finished -- it would almost certainly be displaying the time remaining to the Embedded Systems Conference (ESC) Minneapolis, which is now only a couple of weeks away as I pen these words.

Actually, things have taken a bit of a turn regarding the Countdown Clock. Originally, I’d planned to use the rotary dialer mechanism from an old telephone (see Using Arduino and Rotary Telephone Dial to Control ‘Stuff’), but now I’m planning on using an entire phone.

Automatic Electric AE40 Art Deco rotary phone (Source:

I’d love to have a display piece like the Automatic Electric AE40 Art Deco with chrome trim bands as shown above, but I’m going to be more than happy with a regular black rotary phone (see 'Ring-Ring' It's for You!).

The idea is that I’m going to augment the phone with speech recognition, and then use it to control my Countdown Timer by simply picking up the handset and talking to it.

In order to do this, I’m planning on using a Speech Recognizer/Synthesizer Arduino Shield called the MOVI, which was created by Bertrand Irissou and Gerald Friedland at Audeme.

I met Bertrand and Gerald a couple of years ago when they were presenting a paper on non-cloud-based speech recognition at – you guessed it – the Embedded Systems Conference (ESC).

ESC really is the place to “see and be seen.” Will you be attending ESC Minneapolis yourself? If so, look around for a tall, dark, handsome engineer with a set of six-pack rippling abs, then keep on looking till you see a techno-dweeb ambling around in a Hawaiian shirt (that will be me). As always, all you have to do is shout "Max, Beer!" or "Max, Bacon!" to be assured of my undivided attention.

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