Making a flying saucer clock (with data storage) controlled by a Raspberry Pi

I love this strange and wonderful project on It is digital clock which uses a ring of 60 NeoPixels in a 3D printed flying saucer and 12 lights on the inner ring to indicate the hours. It also does backups. And light shows. All it needs is a cow being sucked up into it.

At the end of November 2019 my trusty old iomega StorCenter NAS (Network Attached Storage) started behaving eratically and would keep disappearing from the network and locking up every few hours. I immediately made sure I had several copies of the data and started the search for a replacement. But it dawned on me that whatever I would buy would ultimately go the same way: unsupported and unfixable.

So, with the new Raspberry Pi 4 having USB3 ports and a long running desire to make a circular neopixel clock at some point, it dawned on me that there are two devices that run 24 hours a day: my NAS and my trusty old Tix clock that I bought several years ago.

Why settle for another boring NAS when I can make the ultimate NAS come Clock combination? So began the flying saucer clock project...

So, how does it tell time?

The inner ring of the saucer contains 12 LEDs behind diffusers made from a ring of transparent PLA with black PLA colour separators, which are lit according to the current hours. The minutes and seconds are shown on the outer 60 LED ring. This also displays the hour as a series of 5 LEDs lit blue and also hour markers shown at spacing of every 5. There is plenty of scope to tune the colours and display.

See the full project instructions here.

[Via Adafruit]

Image: YouTube