Jonathan Warren

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Engineering IRS Countdown Clock

Engineering Graduation Committee - Fall 2010 to Summer 2011

IRS stands for Iron Ring Stag, a Waterloo Engineering celebration held after the Iron Ring Ceremony, where undergraduate engineers receive their Iron Rings. Classically, each graduating year of engineers will keep track of how many days they have left until they get their Iron Ring, as a fun morale-booster. I volunteered to assist with this project after the previous IRS Countdown Clock was stolen, and a replacement had not been created for some time. I was involved in designing, building, and programming all of the hardware that went into this new clock.

The clock is based off of eight 8x8 LED matrix units, each with a custom designed PCB hosting a 64-LED controller. These are linked together in series over SPI and connected to an Arduino microcontroller breakout. The controller acquires the current timestamp from an external Real-Time Clock and compares it to the event timestamp which is programmed into an external EEPROM. Buttons on top of the device allow for different graduating years to be displayed on the screen, and the EEPROM can be programmed easily via a custom USB-Serial command-line interface I programmed into the microcontroller.


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