Time for a project!

Posted by Nate in Ideas, Projects.
Wednesday, October 10th, 2007 at 6:06 pm

I’m sure you’ve all experienced this: waking a half-hour before your alarm, alert and ready, but decided to sleep the extra half hour.  When the alarm goes off you find yourself back in REM sleep and can barely open your eyes.  Or, like this morning for me, the heat comes on and the temperature change causes you to wake up too early.

Ever since moving north, I’ve been looking for an answer to waking up in the dark and trying to convince my body it’s actually time to get up.  Last fall I researched a number of products, include the DayBreak Duo Sunrise Simulator, the Soleil Sun Alarm, and the Progression Wake Up Clock.  They all look intriguing but are either pricey, ugly, or both, and none offer the full set of features I’m dreaming of.  Recently my coworker pointed me to an article about a guy using an Arduino to control the temperature in his kegerator, and it got me thinking…

The human body responds to light and heat to come out of deep sleep and into an alert waking state.  Surely there’s a way to combine all of these into a cohesive and natural wakeup system??

Wish List

  • must be easy to set the alarm, no tricky knobs or interface
  • has to fade a light on over an adjustable period of time
  • must have an option for external lights
  • play birdsong and morning sounds, also faded in
  • have an actual "alarm" sound if not deactivated
  • flash lights if not deactivated
  • tie into the thermostat to bring the heat on
    • must be separate from the programmable thermostat so we can adjust the wakeup time without reprogramming
  • has to make me coffee!

wakeup_system.jpgMy current plan is to find a cheapish CD player alarm clock, and hack the guts of it to find a way to tell the controller the alarm is "on", or going off.  This may end up being the hardest part of the project, but I’m hoping that with the CD circuitry there will be a pretty obvious change I can monitor, maybe voltage across the motor?

Once the controller goes into an alarm state and the CD starts playing, it will start looping:

  1. The CD player will be playing either a blank CD or birdsongs or whatever
  2. Arduino loop:
    1. fade the light up a bit
    2. check the room temperature and fire the furnace if needed
      1. some timer here to make sure we don’t call for heat too often
    3. exit the loop if the alarm is turned off or times out
  3. If the alarm is still on after X minutes (we’re not awake)
    1. flash the lights
    2. the CD will switch to an actual loud alarm sound or song

I put the coffee maker in there as a joke, but it’s totally possible – who knows, maybe I’ll include it!

Watch this space for updates – I’ve ordered the Arduino and a dimmer kit, with any luck I’ll have something hacked together by next week!

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8 Responses to “Time for a project!”

  1. Sierra Says:

    Sounds pretty sweet. Oh, by the way – for whoever is my secret santa or wondering what to get me for my birthday. . . . I would take something that wakes me up with heat, light, birdsong, and coffee. Or maybe I should just start negotiating a later start time at work…..

  2. Laurel Says:

    Hmm, maybe I’ll hold off on my post about my latest home project. Reorganizing my file drawer sort of pales in comparison to this… which sounds pretty crazy awesome! You might just be a genius.

  3. Q Says:

    Dude! That Arduino thing looks sweet! The things that could be done with something like that. It boggles the mind!

    Also, please make extras.

  4. Brent Says:

    I like my method. Set alarm for 8:30, wake up at 8:45, throw on pants and go to work.

    Mornings suck, no need to extend them. That Arduino thing does not suck though, that looks pretty cool. The fact that it uses Processing is dope.

  5. troy Says:

    Hell, for half the cost me and Cody could just hang out there turn the lights on while whistling and hand you coffee. Next project!

  6. Mary Jo Says:

    Put us down for one—-but please not until you get it perfected as I don’t need to be woken up like I am when Jack puts the clock radio over to “alarm” instead of “radio”.

  7. Peter Says:

    over. the. top.

  8. Nate Says:

    Two updates:

    1. After talking to my brother about his new programmable thermostat, I realize my labels are entirely wrong in the diagram. It should be W and R.

    2. Yesterday morning in the fog of waking it occurred to me that I could make this whole thing much more easily if I skipped the thermostat. I could use a waveform editor to make one of the channels of the CD track a steadily increasing DC bias which I could calibrate using the volume control of the stereo and use directly to control the DC voltage light dimmer! So all I’d need to do would be to disconnect one speaker and hook it up to the dimmer and go burn a few CDs — DONE!

    … of course, I’m sticking with the more complicated plan. :) But I might use this idea for testing…