Main Project Aesthetics 2020: Water Clock

For my main project, I will be developing an analog or digital clock using an Arduino and some kind of sensor feedback. Either the water will be pumped to a certain height and dropped on the sensor, ticking the clock on the Arduino and displaying the time on an LCD. I am also thinking about using a cylindrical reservoir for the water and using a sensor to detect the height of the water; as the reservoir fills, the time will tick. Other ideas I have thought about is running water over a water wheel to turn an analog clock. The body of this clock will most likely be made out of acrylic. I find this interesting because it incorporates both water and electricity as well as time.

There are a couple aesthetics I may target with my water/electronic clock. The first aesthetic I am thinking of incorporating is a contemporary theme using primary colors. LEDs could be used to generate the desired colors and could refract through the water and acrylic to create an interesting look. Some examples of what I am thinking are below.

Figure 1: Contemporary art piece with RGB LEDs [1]

Figure 2: Another contemporary art piece using LEDs [2]

Another aesthetic I am leaning towards is Apple’s aesthetic of brushed aluminum and black and white trims. I have always been drawn to this really clean look. Because my project contains an electrical aspect, I figured this could be an effective aesthetic to apply to my project. Examples of the aesthetic are below.

Figure 3: The “Apple” aesthetic [3]
Figure 4: Apple’s curved lines and brushed aluminum [4]

At this point, I am leaning towards the “Apple” aesthetic. I could use white or black acrylic for the frame of the clock and mount the LCD screen in the acrylic. It will be hard to incorporate the curved lines that Apple uses in its devices with acrylic, however, the colors would get the point across. Please let me know if you have any suggestions.


[1] The Red Book. “Experience High-Tech Art,” May 4, 2017.

[2] “The Serious Relationship of Art and Technology | Widewalls.” Accessed February 24, 2020.

[3] Pinterest. “What an Aesthetic. | Home Office Setup, Desk Inspiration, Apple Products.” Accessed February 24, 2020.

[4] “Gxtech » The Importance of Aesthetic Design, and Apple.” Accessed February 24, 2020.

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4 Comments. Leave new

  • Isabella Colosimo
    February 28, 2020 2:58 pm

    Hi Danny, I love the idea of creating something with colored LEDs. I’ve worked with colored LED’s and acrylic before and I would warn you that clear acrylic doesn’t refract the light very well…like you can pretty much just see the LED. However, frosted acrylic makes a really nice diffusing look if that’s what you want. I bought clear acrylic and spray paint that made it look “frosted” for a project I worked on. Frosted acrylic is kind of hard to find! 🙂

    • Daniel Straub
      March 2, 2020 1:26 pm

      Isabella, thank you for this suggestion! I will definitely keep this in mind because I think that frosted look could be really great.

  • Hi Danny! I think the Apple aesthetic is perfect for your idea. I think you can still incorporate LEDs as long as they are white. As for achieving curved lines with acrylic, you can cut some pretty organic shapes with a laser cutter. Also, I have never tried grinding/sanding acrylic, but I’d like to think you can do that to achieve curved lines as well.

    • Daniel Straub
      March 2, 2020 3:14 pm

      I wrote a response to you but I guess it didn’t post. Thank you for your suggestions. I do plan on using the laser cutter to cut the acrylic. I will look into other post-processes to achieve those curved edges. Let me know if you have any other suggestions.


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