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What is a Snow Clock?

S. Gonzales
S. Gonzales

A snow clock is an alarm clock that has been configured to sound only when snow doesn't preclude the daily activities of its owners. In essence, the alarm on a snow clock shuts itself off when its owner cannot partake in his or her scheduled routine because of the presence of snow. The snow clock's alarm does not sound during these times, so its owner is allowed to sleep uninterrupted.

Most snow clocks are designed to follow a school's schedule. Students can easily configure snow clocks so that their alarms do not sound on days when snow makes getting to school impossible or dangerous. Snow clocks deactivate based on school closure announcements that have been placed on the Internet either by news sources or another information conduit. This saves students the trouble of having to rise in the morning and listen for announcements of schools that are closed because of inclement weather conditions.

Traditional clocks and watches use a system of gears and pulleys to keep time.
Traditional clocks and watches use a system of gears and pulleys to keep time.

Snow clocks are made out of regular alarm clocks that have been dissembled and reconfigured to function in a new way. In this project, switches are identified, wires are rerouted and a fair bit of soldering is done. Potential clock owners should be comfortable disassembling and modifying electronic equipment before attempting to create snow clocks.

The key part of a snow clock is the software that is used in conjunction with the modified alarm clock. The software provides the information that is necessary for the clock to function properly. Without this software, users are left with a standard alarm clock. Clock owners are expected to be familiar with Python®, PySerial and PythonWin and should have the necessary drivers installed on their computers so that the software can run.

By the same token, users need to be familiar with their computer's functions and should also be prepared to make operational modifications to allow the clock to work. For example, a laptop owner needs to adjust his or her computer so that the laptop doesn't shut down after a certain amount of time or when the laptop is closed. Similarly, an owner should be capable of inputting the time, his or her school's name and a website announcing school closures using the snow clock software.

The software necessary for the snow clock to receive and interpret school closures is available on the Internet. General Internet searches might yield results for the software, but potential clock makers should search for snow clock building instructions first. Instructions on how to construct a snow clock are likely to have links to suitable software for the clock.

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Discussion Comments


I would like to learn how to build a snow clock--the right way. I have attempted to build them and, for the most part, I never really got off the ground with my efforts. My lack of experience working with certain software hampered my attempts.

For all of you who had to do like did and wake up and listen to the radio while getting ready for school to find out whether we were going to get a snow day, I ask: can you believe this? I bet there are kids all over the world who are at this moment ruining their desktop clocks in an effort to build a snow clock.
By no means do I have the brain power or knowledge to convert my digital alarm clock to a snow clock. No, I would not even begin to attempt such a procedure, but the clocks sound so cool. Has anyone out there tried this? I wonder whether my kids could do this. They know much more about computers and these types of devices than I do.
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    • Traditional clocks and watches use a system of gears and pulleys to keep time.
      By: tycoon101
      Traditional clocks and watches use a system of gears and pulleys to keep time.