Dmytro Panin's Solar System Clock Does All Its Orbital Calculations on a Raspberry Pi RP2040
Developer Dmytro Panin has showcased a tiny solar system clock, powered by a Raspberry Pi Pico, which lets you know exactly where our planets are in their orbits at a glance.
"I always wanted to have a desk piece that would show current position of the planets in [the] solar system, similar to what some smart watches do," Panin explains of the project. "As this device doesn’t have access to the internet, the positions of the planets are calculated internally based on date, so it doubles as a clock and displays current date as well as time."
Written in MicroPython, the program runs on the Raspberry Pi Pico's RP2040 and displays its output in full colour on a Pimoroni Pico Display Pack. Rather than relying on the RP2040's internal clock, it uses an external DS3231 real-time clock — which, once set, can be kept ticking using an optional coin-cell battery. The current date can be adjusted using the buttons on the face.
"You might have noticed something bouncing on the right-hand side," Panin adds. "After creating pixel drawings for all eight planets, I realised that just because Pluto was demoted and is no longer a planet, it cannot be left out and I decided to give it a job of tracking seconds. Can you guess how to tell seconds by looking at Pluto?"
The source code for the project has been published on GitHub under the reciprocal GNU General Public License 3. Panin has also designed a 3D-printed housing for the hardware, but has not yet released design files publicly.
More information on the project can be found on Panin's Reddit thread.