This Raspberry Pi Pico marble clock displays the time using magnets, ball bearings and spiral towers

Raspberry Pi
(Image credit: C Forde)

We’ve covered a few Raspberry Pi Pico clocks over the years but we haven’t quite seen one like this beautiful marble clock. Created by maker and developer C Forde, this clock uses marbles to display the time. There are two marbles used in this clock that shift up and down spiral towers—one to display the hour and one to indicate the minute.

The design consists of two custom-built towers housed inside of a wooden case with acrylic windows. In addition to the marble display, a digital clock is also mounted to the front panel which is also operated by the Raspberry Pi Pico. It can be disabled, however, allowing the marble design to be the star of the show.

To move the marbles into place, stepper motors rotate the spiral towers. A magnetic vertical slider is used to hold the marble (a metal ball bearing) in place. To see what time it is, just look at the slider and check what hour and minute the ball are resting next to. It’s worth noting, this design will only work with metal marbles rather than glass as magnetism is critical for its function.

The towers were designed by Forde and 3D printed just for this project. The wooden case houses all of the electronics including a Pimoroni Pico Display Pack, a Pimoroni Pico LiPo, a Pimoroni RV3028 RTC module (for keeping time), as well as a GPIO expander. You can get an in-depth look at the hardware design over at the official project page shared to Hackster.

According to Forde, the Pico was programmed using Thonny along with the Pimoroni Pirate Brand MicroPython v1.20.6. This is a version of MicroPython which comes with a series of extra modules for Pimoroni's range of add-ons. If you want to see this Raspberry Pi project in action, you can check it out over at YouTube. We also highly recommend exploring the project details over at Hackster. Be sure to follow Forde for more cool projects as well as any potential future updates to this one.

Ash Hill
Contributing Writer

Ash Hill is a contributing writer for Tom's Hardware with a wealth of experience in the hobby electronics, 3D printing and PCs. She manages the Pi projects of the month and much of our daily Raspberry Pi reporting while also finding the best coupons and deals on all tech.