Author Topic: a 100y lifetime project : incredibly difficult ?  (Read 3949 times)

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Offline ker2x

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a 100y lifetime project : incredibly difficult ?
« on: August 28, 2014, 11:53:17 PM »
So, first post here, never designed a project from idea to pcb to mini-production. (never design anything actually, i buy "starter kit".
i got a gift idea for a birth : let's offer a clock that will count day from birth to infinity and beyond.

That's around a 100 year lifetime, and it need to need a stability of 1 day per century.
it need to be rock solid, it need power, it need some kind of super simple display, it need to be switched on.
after a few minute of thinking about it ... doh! is it even possible ?

I'm stuck at the very first problem : power !

Battery :
does a battery that last 100y exist ?
solar panel ? can a solar panel live for 100y ? and it still need some kind of battery anyway
replaceable battery ? who know what kind of battery will be available in 100y ? Perhaps lead-acid battery will be forbidden in 50y, who know ?

Rust/moisture/oxydation :
i tought about sealing the project in a glass cube. Well not glass because the melting temperature is too hot for the electronic to survive, but some kind of transparent plastic ?
Transparent so the solar panel can be sealed, and the display is still readable but not exposed to the elements.
But if it's sealed, how to switch it on ? i switch it on before sealing it ? (there is no need to switch it off)

human interface :
What kind of display ?
It can't be always on, to save power.
But if it's sealed : no push button. perhaps an IR receiver ?

Power again :
i know it's hated but : "energy harvesting" ?
i mean... this think will probably need a few picoAmps (random prefix, i like pico... will it be nano ? femto ? micro ? dunno...), isn't it ?

Any random tought ? some "very important" stuff i didn't mention and forgot about it because i'm a noob ?
Perhaps it shouldn't be on a PCB, i don't know...

Thank you  ;D

Code: [Select]
EDIT (where are we now) :

Mechanic :
- pure mechanical solution (eg : good old clock) is out of topic
- Mechanical part may be introduced if it improve the lifespan and do not require regular servicing (eg : lubrication). But it may greatly increase the manufacturing complexity & cost

Battery :
- no solution found yet
- battery self discharge is a major problem
- super/ultra capacitor are given for < 20 years

Display :
- LED (green one apparently have a better lifespan than red one)
- Electromechanical counter may be a viable option ( [url]https://www.google.com/search?q=electromechanical+counter[/url] )

Oscillator :
- Apparently, aging is not a problem.
- stability may be a problem
- frequency ?

Eprom/flash :
- 100 year doesn't seems to be a problem
- but we need redondancy/error detection

Microcontroller :
- it can be done.

Enclosure :
- need protection from rust/oxidation/moist
- http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Poly(methyl_methacrylate)#Acrylate_resin_casting ?

TODO :
- A lot :)
- Grab/post/archive datasheet for future reference
- Power is the main topic.

« Last Edit: August 29, 2014, 06:50:39 PM by ker2x »

Offline EEVblog

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Re: a 100y lifetime project : incredibly difficult ?
« Reply #1 on: August 29, 2014, 12:11:32 AM »
Interesting...
I'm sure there are countless issues involved in keeping something running for 100 years.
Solvable of course, but so many traps, and how do you test it?
I think a mechanical clock is probably the best way to go here?

and there is 10,000 year clock project that cost a measly $42M:
http://www.10000yearclock.net/learnmore.html
http://mashable.com/2012/11/30/jeff-bezos-10000-year-clock/
« Last Edit: August 29, 2014, 12:16:11 AM by EEVblog »

Offline ker2x

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Re: a 100y lifetime project : incredibly difficult ?
« Reply #2 on: August 29, 2014, 12:13:26 AM »
IR emitter (like a remote command) may not be easily available in 100y. (we don't use it anymore in 2014  :-// )
It need something as simple as possible.
no code or anything : if any kind of IR is received : display days for 1 second.

I think about engraving the instruction manual in the transparent sealing :
- how to read (eg : if it's a binary display. but 36500 (100years) is 16bit, it may be difficult to read but good for 179.5 years)
- how to switch on the display

Perhaps something about battery too
- eg : need 1h of light per day
- Which is by the way, not practicable. what if it's traveling on a boat for 4 days, it need to survive in dark for some time.

Offline ker2x

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Re: a 100y lifetime project : incredibly difficult ?
« Reply #3 on: August 29, 2014, 12:20:21 AM »
Interesting...
I'm sure there are countless issues involved in keeping something running for 100 years.
Solvable of course, but so many traps, and how do you test it?
I think a mechanical clock is probably the best way to go here?

and there is 10,000 year clock project:
http://www.10000yearclock.net/learnmore.html


This is the project that gave me this idea  :-+
About testing ... i don't know... probably can't. But the project need to provide as much warranty as possible, which may lead to something super expensive.

Priority :
- Reliability. of course, it's the ultimate priority.
- Cost : not as important, but don't be silly. Let's forget about gold, saphire, diamond. Well... not sure about gold. Considering the power usage, and considering it will be sealed, ultra thin gold wire, gold plated button, ... may be a possible option
- design : let's make it beautifull enough, it should be a gift  ;)

EDIT : $100 doesn't look overpriced, it's (literally) a lifetime gift.
« Last Edit: August 29, 2014, 12:24:39 AM by ker2x »

Offline FrankBuss

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Re: a 100y lifetime project : incredibly difficult ?
« Reply #4 on: August 29, 2014, 12:40:40 AM »
I would use an epaper display:
http://www.frank-buss.de/raspberrypi/epaper/index.html
Needs only power to change the image, but no power to show it. But no idea about the lifetime of it, 100 year is a lot. Same for a microcontroller: the flash might not hold the charges so long, maybe use some old school CPU with an EPROM, but then it needs more power and you would need a big solar cell area. Maybe a smart algorithm which refreshs the flash every some years might work.

And then there are the problems when someone moves to a Mars colony. On mars the solar day is 24 hours and 39 minutes. So you should add some buttons to adjust the length of the day, and to adjust the time if someone just moves to another timezone, because it could display the time as well, and I think it should increase the day count always on midnight.

Accuracy should be no problem, because 100 years are 36,500 days. A 10 ppm crystal (for less than 2 dollar at Digikey) would have an error of 1/3 day after 100 years. But maybe worse after 100 years? Probably a good idea to add an IR sensor to do some day light synchronisation.

Please report back in 2114 in this thread how it did go :)
C64 MIDI interface, preorder: http://www.frank-buss.de/c64/midi/buy.html

Offline Pedram

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Re: a 100y lifetime project : incredibly difficult ?
« Reply #5 on: August 29, 2014, 12:44:07 AM »
a solar panel and a supercap may give you 20 years.

a primary lithium battery also may give you 25-30 years.


100years.... hmmmmmm



Please report back in 2114 in this thread how it did go :)

Let's hope Sagan keep this forum alive until 2114!
« Last Edit: August 29, 2014, 12:48:18 AM by Pedram »

Offline ker2x

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Re: a 100y lifetime project : incredibly difficult ?
« Reply #6 on: August 29, 2014, 12:46:34 AM »
And then there are the problems when someone moves to a Mars colony. On mars the solar day is 24 hours and 39 minutes. So you should add some buttons to adjust the length of the day, and to adjust the time if someone just moves to another timezone, because it could display the time as well, and I think it should increase the day count always on midnight.

Let's plan this feature for the version 2, when the v1 will reach its EOL  :-DD

Online coppice

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Re: a 100y lifetime project : incredibly difficult ?
« Reply #7 on: August 29, 2014, 01:01:01 AM »
Most electronics engineers have the attitude that getting rid of moving parts is generally getting rid of wear and tear, and increases reliability and life expectancy. The reality is its easy to make a mechanical timer than will run for 100 years, and really really really hard to make an electronic one do the same thing. You would need to develop new components for almost every part of the device, as off the shelf ones have something that will chemically degrade over 100 years.

Offline G7PSK

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Re: a 100y lifetime project : incredibly difficult ?
« Reply #8 on: August 29, 2014, 01:15:37 AM »
For a 100 year plus battery life you would more than likely need a radio isotope thermal battery, the sort of thing NASA uses on some space probes and rovers.

 http://www.technologyreview.com/view/428751/nuclear-generator-powers-curiosity-mars-mission/

Mechanical clocks would certainly last a 100 years plus, I have worked on some clocks in the past that were 150 years old, but they only kept going due to regular servicing and they needed winding once a week or so cant see hou you would provide spring or weight power in one wind for so long.

Offline ker2x

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Re: a 100y lifetime project : incredibly difficult ?
« Reply #9 on: August 29, 2014, 01:22:34 AM »
Yes, mechanical solution is out of topic.

Perhaps changing a battery every 20 years may be an acceptable solution, but it won't be sealed anymore and may lead to aging problem.

It could be a wearable product with kinetic energy harvesting. But who would want to wear a product all his life ?  :palm:

Online Marco

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Re: a 100y lifetime project : incredibly difficult ?
« Reply #10 on: August 29, 2014, 01:42:45 AM »
You would need to develop new components for almost every part of the device, as off the shelf ones have something that will chemically degrade over 100 years.

If you seal it from air/moisture/light what exactly is supposed to happen to dry components in 100 years? (Lets ignore electrolytics, they aren't necessary any way.) There are plenty of electronic devices which already have passed the halfway mark.
« Last Edit: August 29, 2014, 01:51:18 AM by Marco »

Offline FrankBuss

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Re: a 100y lifetime project : incredibly difficult ?
« Reply #11 on: August 29, 2014, 01:46:34 AM »
Maybe use only low-tech components, like this mechanical dot matrix display:

Flip Dot Matrix


And no highly integrated components, only components with big structures where the chemical degration don't influence it (Commodore had some problems with electromigration in some of there chips, which causes them to fail sometimes after 30 years). Only a lot of transistors to build a counter, and a simple RC oscillator, synchronized to an IR sensor.

Solar cells should work 100 years. One of the first solar cell from 60 years ago is still working:

http://inhabitat.com/worlds-first-modern-solar-panel-still-works-after-60-years/

But there might be a loss of power of 0.5% per year, so only half the power after 100 years.
C64 MIDI interface, preorder: http://www.frank-buss.de/c64/midi/buy.html

Online zapta

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Re: a 100y lifetime project : incredibly difficult ?
« Reply #12 on: August 29, 2014, 01:57:01 AM »
Why battery? Make it working on mains power, store the start time in non volatile memory, user atomic clock radio signals and you are done. If the clock break, have a way to clone it with the same start time. Piece of cake. ;-)

Online max_torque

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Re: a 100y lifetime project : incredibly difficult ?
« Reply #13 on: August 29, 2014, 02:32:11 AM »
Your "Life time" is just the current time minus the time you were born.

Realistically, someone is going to have to set your birth time into the unit (i think mum and dad are going to be a bit busy at your actual birth to worry about pressing a few buttons on a clock!!)  That means you will need some form of "user input" unless you let people specific the "birth time" on ordering, and you write that into the firmware before the unit is sealed.


Current time is more complex.  It could be set by the user, or returned from another souce (GPS, radiodata, internet over wifi etc) but you will have to ensure those sources remain "live" for the duration of the lifetime.  I guess a combination of all four might  be necessary.  That means an onboard realtime clock, that can be set by the user or by input from GPS/radio data etc

If you want it to display simply "days alive" that only obviously changes once a day, then a epaper display makes a lot of sense, otherwise, the device may have to only show the "lifetime" when prompted by the user.

Any of those methods would perhaps be easiest with a wireless access (no plugs/sockets, and the device can be fully sealed), and you could use a "local" webpage to set it up and a remote webpage to supply it with the current time/date etc

Using an inductive charging loop means you could use an internal capacitor, and then give options for the "power supply", like, mains powered, solar powered, even "wind up" etc


interesting project, but very difficult to test over it's (your) lifetime ;-)

Online coppice

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Re: a 100y lifetime project : incredibly difficult ?
« Reply #14 on: August 29, 2014, 02:43:36 AM »
Why battery? Make it working on mains power, store the start time in non volatile memory, user atomic clock radio signals and you are done. If the clock break, have a way to clone it with the same start time. Piece of cake. ;-)
Do you think a compatible atomic clock radio signal will be there in 100 years?


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