Score! (The Maybe-Useful-Definitely-Geeky-Junk edition)

the talking alarm clock photo
Talking Alarm Clock
Originally uploaded by The One True Stickman.

I think maybe I’ll make this a regular feature thing. As regular as anything is around here, anyway. Sure it’s just a chance to brag about the weird stuff I’ve picked up for cheap or free, but what are blogs for, anyway?

This edition brings you the Talking Alarm Clock, an ancient kit I found assembled and stuffed forlornly in a small cardboard box in the dark and dusty recesses of the back room at school. Mr. Feeney said to Deep-Six it, and I mused that, oddly enough, my basement is about that deep.

It’s a neat find – it had all the paperwork with it, right down to schematics, construction notes, and board masks, and it still works despite being older than I am. (The papers are dated from 1983.) It’s pretty easy to use, as well. The three push buttons are for Hour Set, Minutes Set, and Speak Time. You hold the set buttons and it counts, you let go when you get to where you want to be. Push the Speak button to hear the current time. Simple. The slide switches set the speak mode and alarm – one just turns on the alarm (the Time Set switches then set the alarm time) and the other two set the Speak mode: No auto, on the hour, quarter hour, or minute. Every minute gets pretty annoying.

It is, however, extremely, dorkily, geeky. When you plug it in a deep male voice jerkily proclaims:

“*boop* Power, failed. Set, the, time. Power, failed. Set, the, time.”

When announcing the time a feminine voice says:

“Good evening, the time, is, nine, twenty, five, P, M.”

Better yet, the alarm:

“*boop* (female voice) Good morning, the, time, is, six, forty, five, A, M. *boop* (male voice) Time, to, get, up. *boop*”

And it repeats that every minute until you shut it off. I guess it would probably do it’s job.

I suppose one really can’t expect too much more from eighty’s vintage speech synthesis being run from a Z80 micro – you can only do so much at 2.5Mhz. At least the TMS5220 speech chip does have some inflection and isn’t totally monotonal.