ESP32 LED Eyes Help Keep Toddler In Bed

We’ve seen a lot of custom clocks here at Hackaday, many of which have pushed the traditional definition of the timepiece to its absolute limit. But for all their wild designs, most of them do have something in common: they assume you can actually read a clock and understand the concept of time. But what if you’re developing a clock for a toddler who’s only just coming to terms with such heady ideas?

The answer, at least for [Riley Parish] is a set of 3D printed eyes that are illuminated with either yellow or green LEDs depending on whether or not it’s time to get out of bed. More than just the color of the light, the eye design (which is embedded into the rear of the front panel) switches between wide-open and tightly shut depending on the time of day.

Internally the device is very simple, with the 5 mm LEDs and their associated resistors connected directly to the digital out pins on an ESP32 development board. While the dual-core microcontroller is admittedly pretty overkill for flipping some LEDs every 12 hours or so, the firmware does at least pull the current time from NTP — plus the powerful MCU offers plenty of room to grow. A web front-end to configure the device or check its current status would only be a few more lines of code.

As it so happens, this isn’t the first toddler timepiece to grace these pages. Perhaps unsurprisingly, those previous examples also used changing color to help indicate the passage of time.

14 thoughts on “ESP32 LED Eyes Help Keep Toddler In Bed

        1. Methinks you miss the point of this build.

          It’s not to tell the kids it’s time to go to bed. It’s to let them know it’s not yet time to get up – without them waking you to ask.

          We used a groclock, a commercial version, and it’s really helpful.

    1. To pull the time from an NTP server? I’d love to hear how you did that. ;-)

      As an aside, I really like this project. It’s sleek and perfectly suited for a toddler. If I were to build something like this myself, I would like the option to change the wake time remotely based on whether I wanted to sleep in or not.

  1. This is where it’s useful to have a home assistant server running. Set up switch 0/1 in esphome and set a schedule that pulls from when your phone’s alarm is going to go off each morning. Could have used an esp8266, but it depends what’s in the parts bin.

  2. Well I think that is a terrible thing to put in your toddler’s room because it will give her a complex of thinking she is always being watched even through her adult years after you remove it that is playing with a child’s mind and emotions.

  3. I made a similar one years ago in a 3D printed rocket, my newer version is a cheap IKEA clock with a neopixel ring and esp32 using NTP time. It tells the time with dots of different colours, but the main ring colour is night/day. Helps my boys know when it’s time to get up, or go back to sleep.

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