Waking up with an RPi – pt.5: summing up


The dawn clock is working well. To recap, here’s how it works:

And here’s a basic description of how it works (more info & functions in previous posts):

  • One hour before alarm time (configurable), the first LED is switched on. Subsequent LEDs are switched on at the rate of one each minute. To simulate dawn, the first 8 LEDs are red, the next 8 are yellow, the next 8 alternate red & yellow, the next 8 alternate yellow & white, the remaining 32 are all white.
  • 30 minutes before alarm time, bird song (recorded in our orchard) starts playing.
  • At alarm time, the lights ripple, the remaining 4 LEDs switch on, the LCD backlight comes on, birdsong stops and a song, chosen at random from a folder of MP3 files, plays. The LCD displays the name (where available) or filename of the chosen song.
  • When the song stops, there’s a slight pause and then the clock starts playing the radio, streamed via the Internet.
  • 45mins (configurable) after alarm time, the lights ripple & go off, the radio stops & the LCD backlight goes off.

But no project is ever really finished. Here are some ideas for additions and improvements:

  • Have more ambient sounds, in addition to the bird song, and have that morning’s ambient sound selected at random. I recently recorded a local stream: and while that’s liable to make me want to pee, that’s probably not a bad thing, given the whole point of the device is to make me get out of bed.
  • A button on the front that will switch the lights on/off.
  • A button on the front that will start/stop the radio.
  • A button on the front that will start/stop playing random music.
  • Currently, the radio streams BBC Radio 3. Could add extra options in the config settings.
  • Add Twitter functionality – eg, the clock could tweet alarms/errors.
  • A security light mode where it switches the lights on/off at random intervals when the ambient light is below a certain threshold.
  • Add a 4-digit, 7-segment LED display to show the current time in nice large numbers.

Currently, in order to add MP3 files to the folder from which the clock selects its alarm song I SSH into the RPi, then SCP files from my Linux machine where I’ve copied the files. It might be nice to improve this process and maybe even use the clock’s web site to create & select playlists (different songs for Summer & Winter, for example).

Or maybe I’ll just get on with the next project…


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