Yesterday, I ordered the components for 100+ kits – chips, meters, resistors, capacitors, and all that good stuff. The circuit boards were ordered back on Wednesday. I also ordered shipping boxes and padding. All the parts should arrive by the end of the week (December 5). Once I get the documentation and Web site updated a bit, I think we'll open for kit pre-ordering around the middle of this week (December 3, perhaps?).

Today, I worked on the documentation. All the photos and diagrams need to be updated because the design has changed dramatically to accommodate the Atmel chip. I've replaced most of the diagrams already. Tomorrow, if the weather is nice or I can find some decent light, I'll re-photograph the assembly process and drop those photos into the documentation too. There will also be a couple of extra steps, as the Atmel ATmega168 microcontroller requires a few extra components that the TI microcontroller didn't.

I also worked today on improving the timekeeping accuracy of the clock. The capacitors that hook up to the quartz watch crystal have a small effect on the speed of the clock. My tests show the clock running a bit fast (about one second a day), although it's well within the tolerance I should expect from the crystal, and about as accurate as your average wristwatch or wall clock. I was just thinking I could make it a bit better. In any case, there's the strong possibility I'll hack the Chronulator to connect to an atomic clock receiver or GPS.

I enhanced the Chronulator serial command set to permit control not only of meter needles, but also the brightness of the optional LED backlight behind each meter. That should make hooking your Chronulator to a computer just a bit more fun…