Alarm clock automated blinds


[Anupam Pathak] knows how jarring it can be to wake up to a traditional alarm clock. He decided to hack an alarm clock so that it would open the shades in his room to allow in natural light. He found the pin that went high when the alarm was triggered and used that to signal an ATtiny45. The microcontroller activates a servo connected directly to the blinds. He has switches on the side of the clock to manually control the blinds and to cut power to the audible alarm. Video embedded after the break.

[via SparkFun]


  1. racr says:

    that’s pretty nice. i was thinking about this myself lately but didn’t have motivation to do anything but google search.

    this blinds system by biochemtronics automated wit ldr:

  2. ex-parrot says:

    I don’t see how this needed a microcontroller.

  3. hex4def6 says:

    I’ve been thinking about a similar thing as well; my main issue is the best unobtrusive way of connecting to the blinds rod. His way is a bit permanent.

    The use of a microcontroller in this instance isn’t that bad. He needs something to generate the PWM for the servo, while you could do that with a 555, the external components + the 555 + some way of setting the length of the PWM on period (perhaps two 555’s?) would be far more pain (and probably more expensive) than just paying the $2 for the micro.

  4. macegr says:

    ex-parrot: the project used an RC servo. These need a precise PWM signal to operate. Otherwise, he would have needed to find a motor and gearbox, set up limit switches, maybe some TTL chips to save the current blinds status and watch the limit switches. Or, two 555 chips set for different PWMs, a third timer or make sure the servo runs long enough to move the blinds fully, and a multiplexer or some AND gates to select the PWM sources based on the alarm clock signal and the input buttons.

    Overall, the microcontroller cost about $2, requires basically zero external components because of the internal oscillator, and can do lots of other cool things if he wants, like slowly open the blinds, or close them automatically after an hour.

  5. hex4def6 says:

    Haha macegr… great minds think alike :)

  6. macegr says:

    if i had only typed a few seconds faster….

  7. hex4def6 says:

    Seriously though, it brings up just how cheap & useful these small micros really are. I’ve controlled servos with 556s and other discrete logic before, and its a real pain, especially if you want to start doing other sorts of control (in this case it was a remote-control car chassis, with the steering servo attached to logic that picked up the field of a 75khz wire on the floor and followed it… complete PID system. bleh). The amount of crap you can remove by using these cheapo micros is incredible. Also makes changes software related, not hardware, which is way harder to change generally.

  8. Please says:

    Please hack and delete my blog and

    please i need the blog down now.. cause i forgot the password and someone use it..

    its also challange for any hacker can you defeat wordpress..?

  9. J4y says:

    I am a fan of physical computing projects like this.
    I like the idea because I hate the sound of my alarm clock.

  10. Elepski says:

    Great stuff.. useless to me tho.. I getup before sunrise

  11. Andres says:

    then have it also turn on a flood light outside your window.

  12. Scelza says:

    This is great, it motivates me to do this myself. I’m what you call “not a morning person”. The sun has a way of getting me up that doesn’t piss me off.

    I could see this turning into a commercial venture. The next step would be to make this wireless. Picture an infomercial, “But wait, if you buy now, we’ll also send you the wireless activated coffee pot…”

    Congrats on this, very cool, very useful, very simple.

  13. hoffy says:

    Has anyone figured out a good way to raise/lower the blinds (as opposed to just tilting)? I’ve been watching to set something up with X10 or a remote or something, but haven’t found anything that seems to work well.

  14. Alan says:

    Great project idea! Do I smell a Walmart hit? :)
    I could see the creator making a version 2 since there is lots of possibilities here. It could including a serial interface for the device by incorporating the microcontroller and a small battery in the blind. This would allow communication to many of these devices for room mood control etc.

  15. noxestyle says:

    This would be better if it raised the bed and tossed you out of it, put you on a moving walkway to the shower, dressed you as you stepped out of the shower…

  16. mike says:

    So others outside can watch you laying in bed? No thanks. I’d rather be jarred out of bed by the news on the AM dial. The news, in and of itself, is enough to scare the crap out of you and jolt you awake.

  17. fartface says:

    Neat idea, problem is up here in the arctic circle, Northern Ohio, Opening the blinds when I get up = nothing.. It’s pitch black until 8:30am, so there is no hope of daylight at 6:00am when most employed people get up in the morning. (2nd shift typically rise noonish if you work factory)

    Neat idea for summer mornings, I’d rather it slowly turn up the lights in the room over a 1 hour period.

  18. mark says:

    Im waiting for them to release a wireless one, that turns the kettle on and makes the toast aswell:D

  19. rothgar says:

    A friend of mine had this back in college. But his was a cell phone set to vibrate on a alarm with the blinds rope tied to the phone. When the alarm goes off the cell phone vibrates and falls off the shelf it was on, thus opening the blinds.

    Actually for him it was closing the blinds but it’s the same idea. :)

  20. Y8 says:

    So others outside can watch you laying in bed? No thanks. I’d rather be jarred out of bed by the news on the AM dial. The news, in and of itself, is enough to scare the crap out of you and jolt you awake.

  21. Fabian says:
  22. Krissy says:

    Hey im thinking of buildig a similar project for my college corse. do you have the progrma for the ATtiny45 please.

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