[MakingDevices] has created a simple stopwatch that makes for a nice introduction to surface mount electronic design and assembly. The project is open source hardware (OSHW) certified, with Gerbers, KiCAD files, and software all available.
Conceptually the stopwatch is straight forward, with a row of two four digit seven-segment displays being driven by a PIC18LF14k50 microcontroller through multiple NPN transistors. The PIC doesn’t quite have enough data lines to drive the two displays at once so an inverter is used to toggle between the two seven-segment blocks.
The circuit is continuously powered from a CR2032 coin cell battery. For normal usage with display, [MakingDevices] estimates 30+ hours of operation and 140+ hours without display, but still counting time. When idle, the “Extreme Low-Power (XLP)” capabilities of the PIC put the operating window estimates well beyond the self discharge of the coin cell battery. There’s an in circuit serial programming (ICSP) footprint that accepts a pogo pin TC2030-MCP-NL adapter for flashing the PIC.
Don’t let the simplicity fool you, this is a well documented project with detailed posts about the design, simulation and battery consumption. Various videos and glamour shots give a whole picture of the process, from design, assembly, testing to final validation.
It’d be wonderful to see the project extended or hacked on further, perhaps with a cute enclosure or case.
Continue reading “Add An OSHW Certified Stopwatch To Your Toolkit” →
[zorbash] came up with a great side project while designing a way to read notes and highlighted sections from e-books without having to use Good Reads or the Amazon tool: build a gadget to display a parade of quotes from favorite authors and their books. The project is called Brain because it’s built on an IoT platform called Nerves.
As a bonus, the gadget functions as a Pomodoro timer of sorts — that’s the time management method where you work for 25-minute periods and take 5-minute breaks in between, with a longer break every four Pomodoros. Brain displays a quote for 25 minutes and then flashes the screen to draw [zorbash]’s attention to the fact that time is up. We think this is a nice, unobtrusive way to do things. There are no breaks built in, but that’s just how [zorbash] rolls.
The quotes are fetched using Bookworm, a script [zorbash] wrote that’s available on GitHub. It uses a Raspberry Pi 2 B, an SD card to store the JSON’d quotes, and a Wi-Fi dongle to allow the fetching. If you’re wondering about the enclosure, it’s made of clay.
If you like your Pomodoro timers a little more physical, here’s one that starts as soon as you plug it in to a USB port.
When you need to get some tasks done and are short on attention, it’s hard to beat a timer. But whenever you do, it feels pretty darn good. The problem is that when you don’t finish in time, what’s the punishment? There are no consequences baked into the Pomodoro Technique other than good ol’ guilt. Wouldn’t it be better if there was a bit of negative reinforcement involved?
[Hardware Unknown]’s Focus Flower never needs watering, at least not in the normal horticultural way. You will have to fill a reservoir, because this flower provides liquid motivation. No, it’s not a spirit spritzer, though we suppose you could turn it into an avant-garde vodka fountain when the novelty of water wears off, making this Pomodoro with a twist into more of a Bloody Mary. It’s a natural next step, especially if you were already into the hot sauce idea.
Operation Focus Flower is simple: just push the easy button to start the task timer, and the Arduino Nano attached will begin a countdown. Push the button again when you’re done, but if you don’t do it before the countdown is over, the plant squirts you with a steady, skin-blasting stream of water from a solenoid-driven flosser tip. An air compressor nearby is required, which blows the minimalist vibe a bit, but you could always stow that part underneath your desk.
The Focus Flower sure looks to be effective at the whole negative reinforcement thing. And it doesn’t leave you totally clueless — there’s a ring of LEDs around the base that show how much time is left. Whenever you do successfully hit the button in time, it will say ‘that was easy’ in one of 12 languages, hence all the flags. Do not miss the totally free infomercial below.
Maybe you want a more friendly way to manage your time — we understand. Meet the Pomodachi productivity pet.
Continue reading “Focus Flower Motivates By Squirting Water In Your Face” →
If you have trouble staying focused and getting work done, the Pomodoro Technique of working in 25-minute intervals with 5-minute breaks is pretty hard to beat. The only problem is that it requires a lot of input from the user, and all that timer-setting can get in the way of actually getting down to business. The absolute worst is when you find yourself working hard, but see that forgot to set the damn timer (ask us how we know). In essence, the tomato itself can only do so much — you have to actually use it and honor the timer, put in the work, and believe in the system.
But what if you didn’t have to do as much? With [Erfan Sn]’s design, all you have to do is plug it in to a USB port and the countdown starts automatically. Not only does this Pomodoro timer force you to get with the program, it also makes you take breaks from the screen by putting the computer into sleep mode when the 25 minutes (or whatever time you set in the software) are up. This thing even keeps track of your Pomodoro count.
At the heart of this build is the Digispark ATtiny85 dev board, which has a handy onboard USB plug. It can be built with or without the OLED screen, which is good if you are easily distracted by the timer itself. This cherry tomato only costs about $10 to make, it’s tiny, and you can take it anywhere.
As you will see in the gifs on GitHub, [Erfan Sn] has it plugged into a female USB-A to male USB-C, which is probably better for the computer long-term, what with all the plugging and unplugging. When we make ours, we’ll probably plug it into a hub that has power switches for each port.
If all of this sounds like too much work, check out this build that senses whether or not you’re in the chair.
Student and hacker [prusteen] recently fell in love with the Pomodoro method of time management. That’s where you concentrate on your task for 25 minutes, then take a five-minute break, and repeat this four times with a longer break at the end. Initially, [prusteen] was keeping track on their phone, but hated having to change the timer value between Pomodoros and break times. In order to keep the flow mode engaged, [prusteen] came up with this darling little study buddy that does it all with the push of a button.
By default, this tomato shows the current time, which we think is a handy and often-overlooked feature of Pomodoro timer builds. Press that momentary switch on the front, and it starts counting upward to 25 minutes. Then it beeps in stereo through a pair of buzzers when the time is up, and automatically starts a five-minute break timer. Press it again and the display goes back to clock mode, although judging by the code, doing this will cancel the timer.
Inside the juicy enclosure is an Arduino Nano, an RTC, and a 7-segment display. We love the attention to detail here, from the little green leaves on top to the anatomically-correct dimple on the underside. And we always like to see lids that snap on with magnets. So satisfying. Check out the brief demo after the break, which unfortunately does not include any lid-snapping action.
Do you need more interaction with your Pomodoro timer? Build yourself a pomo-dachi instead.
Continue reading “World’s Cutest Pomodoro Timer Is Also A Clock” →
Being productive doesn’t have to be a lonely endeavor. Even if you’re a lone wolf, who wouldn’t benefit from having a cute little productivity pet to cheer them on? That’s the idea behind [droxpopuli]’s Pomodachi, which combines a hardware implementation of the Pomodoro technique with a virtual pet. It adds some fun, but doesn’t overly gamify time tracking to the point of distraction. And this is way more fun than just sticking a pair of googly eyes on a tomato-shaped timer.
Inside the box is an Adafruit HalloWing M4 Express and a NeoKey FeatherWing with two Kailh box white switches for a satisfying clack. [droxpopuli] printed up a PyPortal-inspired case and added a glass lens for a spiffy tube TV look.
Pomo himself is a cute little jack-o-lantern looking creature with a teddy bear face and no arms or legs. He could eat with his face, but prefers to be fed. That’s where you come in. You feed him by completing a set of four 20-minute work intervals.
Don’t worry about keeping track of time, because he does that for you and spends the time foraging for food. When it’s break time, Pomo lets you know and suggests an activity. This is when you press the button and feed him. If your productivity begins to flag a bit, don’t freak out — there’s a multiplier for catching up, and you have seven chances before Pomo runs away forever.
The Pomodoro Technique is pretty great for productivity, and it’s versatile, too. Here’s a hydration-based Pomodoro that will flood your desk if you don’t drink enough water.
How much water have you had to drink today? We would venture to guess that the answer is somewhere between ‘absolutely none’ and ‘not not nearly enough’. You can go ahead and blame poor work/life balance — that’s our plan, anyway — and just try to do better. All this working from home means the bathroom situation is now ideal, so why not drink as much water as you can?
But how? Well, you’re human, so you’ll need to make it as easy as possible to drink the water throughout the day. You could fill up one big jug and hoist it to your mouth all day long (or use a straw), but facing that amount of water all at once can be intimidating. The problem with using a regular-sized vessel is that you have to get up to refill it several times per day. When hyper-focus is winning the work/life tug-of-war, you can’t always just stop and go to the kitchen. What you need is an automatic water dispenser, and you need it right there on the desk.
[Javier Rengel]’s water pomodoro makes it as easy as setting your cup down in front of this machine and leaving it there between sips. As long as the IR sensor detects your cup, it will dispense water every hour. This means that if you don’t drink enough water throughout the day, you’re going to have it all over the desk at some point. [Javier] simply connected an Arduino UNO to a water pump and IR sensor pair and repurposed the milk dispenser from a coffee machine. Check it out in action after the break.
Of course, if you aren’t intimidated by the big jug approach, you could keep tabs on your intake with the right kind of straw.
Continue reading “Drink Water On Schedule Or Else Flood Your Desk” →