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Sunrise Alarm Clock

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Project Information

About this project:


The proposed project was to design and implement an artificial sunrise alarm clock which gently wakes a person by simulating a sunrise, rather than jarring someone awake with a loud noise, as almost all alarm clocks currently do; similar to the ones found here, here, and here.  This sunrise alarm clock can help people start the day in a better mood and feeling more refreshed.  This is also good for people that live in apartments, or have bedrooms that do not receive natural light in the morning.

    When it is time to awaken, the clock slowly begins to brighten the light on top, simulating a sunrise that can last anywhere from 5 to 60 minutes. The Sunrise begins before the programmed wake up time and becomes brighter until it is at full brightness at the alarm time.  In the off chance that the user has not awaken during the Sunrise, then a back up alarm is used to make sure that the user does wake up.

    The main goals are to have it be cheaper, and open source than commercial units.  This project was originally concieved to fulfill the requirements of a Embedded and real time systems class.

Version 1.0 implimented features:


            This project was, from the outset, designed and destined to be an open source, open hardware project.  As such every effort was made to use only free/open source tools when available.  The project presentations and documents were written with Open Office (  The software component was written and debugged with the freely available Keil Embedded tools that are offered by ARM (  The hardware components were designed in Kicad, an open source schematic capture and board layout program (  Finally, all documents, schematics, board designs, software, and media applicable to the project are freely available on SourceForge at

Hardware Description

Bill of Materials

Software Description

Future Work

            For the hardware, one piece of future work is self evident; the main board needs to be routed.  Also, a standalone temperature sensor could be added to the system; maybe just a simple thermocouple and a resistor into one of the ADC lines. 

            The volume of the backup alarm, while adequate, could be made louder.  It is just barely loud enough to wake the user, having it a bit louder would be good.  This could be possible through the use of both secondary taps off the transformer, that provides a good 14V P-P, that could be rectified, run through a smoothing cap, and used through a mosfet H bridge to apply full forward and reverse voltages creating a 28V P-P earsplitting 90db+, which should be plenty enough to wake any heavy sleeper, and possibly their neighbors.  The possibility is there in the hardware; just a few more components could get that to work.

            Finally, for hardware, the backup battery could be changed to a coin cell.  A CR2032, or the like could adequately power the backup circuitry for years, and might never need replacing.

            For the software, due to the limitation of resource and time, a simple way to directly connect the GPIO with the LED modules was used, which could have used a MUX to save a lot of pins. Also if time allowed, a DMA should be used to transfer the display data from memory to GPIO without CPU intervention, which could save a lot of CPU run time.   

            Further work could be done in concert with the hardware feature that allows the chip to be fully powered after the unit is unplugged from the wall, for a period of at least 20ms.  This could be used to store time in the backup registers, and upon power up, know how long the unit was unplugged for, which may be useful.  Or perhaps it could be used, with some additional circuitry, to alert a user via text message, or tweet, that power was lost.

This project was registered on on Mar 22, 2011.

©Copyright 2011 Allen Kennedy, All Rights Reserved,

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This file last modified 05/03/11
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