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I'm looking to build a very simple NTP clock, nothing else. I'd like to get a small screen and mount a small chassis to the back of it. It's sole purpose will be to display a clock and poll the data from our in house NTP server.

The reason for this is that we stream video live to multiple sites around our city and we need to show our operators when to start a count down and show our speakers when to start speaking. We find that standard clocks are unreliable and are looking for an extremely accurate solution without breaking the bank.

Basically I'm trying to get the absolute smallest form factor possible with a CPU capable of polling an NTP server... IE: next to ZERO horsepower.

Any thoughts?

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up vote 4 down vote accepted

Sounds to me like you're looking for one of the mini embeddable systems, something like this or this.

You didn't specify that wireless was a requirement, so that might do it.

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That's pretty amazing, thanks. I could easily do something with a device that small, and it'll hook into any monitor.. .great! – Chase Florell Jun 4 '10 at 1:40

Well, I don't know if it's the smallest or whether the fact that it's ARM based will be a problem, but there is the "Marvell (?) SheevaPlug Computer". But perhaps it's too big for you. My understanding is somewhat the size of a wall-wart power adapter on steroids.

Sorry that I don't know enough about it to post "good" links. The two below are just picked at random after a Google.

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That's pretty amazing. The only thing I see is that I would need to buy a specialized USB monitor, and I'm not sure about what OS you can load on it. – Chase Florell Jun 4 '10 at 1:42
The OS used is branch of Linux. Unfortunately I don't know enough about Linux to give more detail. Yes, I'm not sure how you would connect the display. Maybe you could use one of those USB -> VGA dongles I think I remember seeing? – irrational John Jun 4 '10 at 2:00
MIMO Monitors would work too, but that really increases the price. – Chase Florell Jun 4 '10 at 2:11

How about the world's cheapest netbook, $99 and that includes the screen, cpu, battery, keyboard, mouse. Everything you need, its really really slow, but for your use, its probably good.

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it's a good idea but I want it to look more like a clock and less like a netbook. IE: I don't really want to be looking at a keyboard. – Chase Florell Jun 4 '10 at 1:11
Even cheaper here: surprisingly the $85 price tag is what you will actually pay (comes complete with free world wide shipping and tax and duty evasion...) – Faken Jun 4 '10 at 5:26

Very few DIY systems are as cheap as something dedicated to the purpose.

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I know that this device is an Atomic clock, but it does NOT poll our NTP server. We need to be able to use our internal server, not a global atomic system. – Chase Florell Jun 4 '10 at 1:41
@rock you could always sync your server to the atomic clock too. – Joel Coehoorn Jun 4 '10 at 1:47
I don't have control of our servers as they are all controlled by our IT department. I'm an IT guy working as a media tech... I don't get to play with the "fun" toys ;-) – Chase Florell Jun 4 '10 at 1:54

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