Enjoying The Sunrise Every Single Day


[Andy] wanted to take a few at sunrise, but waking up before sunrise has obvious problems associated with it. Instead, he built a device that calculates the local sunrise time, snaps a picture, and goes to sleep until the next morning.

The camera used for the project was an old Canon point and shoot, chosen for the ability to load CHDK firmware. Other electronics included an Arduino pro mini, a LiPo battery and charger board, real time clock, and an old Nokia LCD for the user interface.

There’s quite a bit of code that goes into figuring out when the sun will rise each day, but once that’s figured out, all [Andy] has to do is take the camera somewhere pretty, point it East, and record a few days worth of sunrises. When put into a ‘game camera’ enclosure, its rugged enough to stand up to everything except a thief, and has enough battery power for a few weeks worth of sunrises.

Video demonstrating the local sunrise time below.

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Sunrise alarm clock mounted above the bed


This sunrise alarm clock was made in a bit different form factor than we normally see. Instead of a box next to the bed it’s a bar above the headboard which slowly illuminates every morning. This was [Holly's] first electronics project. She spent pretty much all summer working on it and accumulated a skill set that included designing for and operating the laser cutter and assembling and programming the electronics.

She didn’t start from square one. The hardware and programming were greatly simplified by the availability of RGB LED strips and the Monochron clock which drives them. [Holly] altered the code to bring up a blueish hue over a 35-minute time period. Since this will be used to wake her at 5:30am she was also obliged to include some backup sounds just in case. But after the project was finished and mounted she forgot to turn them on and was pleasantly surprised that the lights woke her up on time. The mounting bracket seen above uses t-slot rail with laser cut brackets to hold the half-cylinder shade for the sconce. The final product looks fantastic!


Raspberry Pi used to automate a dimmable light bulb


[Stephen] took the safe route when getting his Raspberry Pi to dim an AC light bulb. He didn’t roll his own outlet box with a mains-rated relay inside, going with a mechanical connection instead of electrical. By attaching a servo motor to the dimmer knob the RPi can adjust the light level without risk of electric shock.

He is using the ServoBlaster package to drive the servo motor with the Raspberry Pi GPIO pins. That’s all fine and good by itself, but he went the extra mile and designed a few different levels of functionality around the pairing. The motivation behind the hack was to build a sunrise clock that had a lot of power when it comes to luminosity. But he also plied the RPi’s networking features to serve up a web-based control. It has a slider to set the light level, as well as breath (like a slow fade) and flash features.

The servo is a bit noisy when moving quickly, but the sunrise alarm takes 30 minutes so the gears don’t really make any noise at all. Check it out in the clip after the break.

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A sunrise clock for those cold, dark winter mornings


For most of the working world, the onset of autumn and winter in the Northern hemisphere means one thing – waking up well before the sun rises to get a start on the daily grind. [Brent] from Freeside Atlanta knows that routine well and decided to build himself a sunrise alarm clock in an attempt to wake himself more naturally on those dark mornings.

He bought an assortment of LEDs in varying colors including blue, red, yellow, and white, along with a few UV diodes for good measure. His goal with this array of LEDs was to simulate the natural colors of the sunrise, rather than simply slowly brightening the room. The clock uses a DS1307 RTC to keep the time, and an Arduino is tasked with lighting the LEDs about 25 minutes before it’s time for [Brent] to wake up.

He says that it seems to be working pretty well, gently waking his body before the clock radio kicks in. It certainly beats a loud buzzer!

Waking up with the (fake) sun

[Bogdan] has some trouble getting up in the morning. A blaring alarm will do the trick but that’s no way to start the day. To get him through the dark winter months he wanted to try a sunrise simulator. He patched into the alarm signal of his bedside clock, intercepting the command from the clock’s microprocessor and using it as an input for his own ATtiny13. From there, the tiny13 gradually brightens a 150W halogen lamp using a triac until his room is as bright as a July morning. A signal is then sent to the alarm clock’s audio amplifier to turn on the audible alarm. He’s got the system set for a 20-minute sunrise so it’s just a matter of programming his alarm 20-minutes early than the ‘I absolutely have to get out of bed now’ time.