Light Alarm Arduino Shield

Comes with nRF24L01+ for communications and a RTC for timed animations!

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This board is the latest in a series of wake-up light alarm iterations. Apart from a personal desire to develop healthier habits by waking earlier, Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) also affects approximately 5% of the population. It is believed that light therapy helps to relieve some of its depressive effects.

A light-up alarm serves as a gentler way to wake up, using light to bring your body to full wakefulness. The Philips Wake-Up Light Alarm costs $114. I believe that a DIY solution can be much cheaper.

The problem is that putting together a light-up alarm can be quite messy in terms of wiring. So I built a board that allows me to share my project as easily as possible. This is also safer because there isn't any potential for wiring problems. It is a simple solution to powering, communicating, and timing your LED strip.


I think a DIY light alarm can be made more interesting than a light on a shelf or a smart bulb because of the possibilities in mounting. I wanted a realistic effect, so I mounted my LED strips on my windows, so that it would look like light was pouring in from the outside, increasing my motivation to wake up. Inspired by Smart LED Window.

This is how my LED window looks like. It was pretty good, and fooled me sometimes where I would get out of bed in a panic, thinking that the day was already well on.

I built this board because there is no board on the market that targets LED strips specifically. My first few designs were a pain to move around because it was just a bunch of wires on a breadboard. Soldering them up on a perf-board kept the wires neat, but it took a bit of time and I still made mistakes. So I wanted a solution that keeps the wiring neat, and has all the components that I wanted in a way that would make it easier to share, so I decided to make an Arduino shield, because I have found that when people say they own an Arduino, usually that is an Arduino Uno, especially for people who have just started in electronics.

Apart from being a light-up alarm board, I also included some other features such as an nRF24L01 radio to talk to other microcontroller boards, and wiring to support colored LED lights. It also has educational opportunities because the shield has components with different levels of difficulty: LEDs are the simplest, followed by getting high powered devices to work with MOSFETs, and then working with RTC modules, and finally, radios. There is a pathway of increasing complexity that should prove to be an interesting challenge. When the learning is complete, the result is an interesting product. It could be a remote controlled lamp or a multicolored display.

From a enthusiast's perspective, the board is useful for driving high-current devices like motors and LED strips and the built-in modules enable timekeeping and wireless communication for automation projects on a single neat board.  

*The DC jack connects to the VIN pin to power the Arduino. A 5V supply is not enough to power the Arduino properly, so a voltage regulator must be used on the PWR line to step down the voltage to 5V before powering the Neopixel strip. 

sch - 371.14 kB - 04/12/2018 at 00:29


brd - 100.60 kB - 04/12/2018 at 00:29


  • Part 2: Assembly

    Ben Lim04/12/2018 at 00:39 0 comments

    I have successfully assembled the project by hand, but currently I am exploring pcb assembly options among the PCB manufacturers. This will enable the small surface mount parts to be soldered on while the larger parts can be provided as a kit for those who want them. However, I'm not sure yet how far down the line I should pursue this path.

    I'm also exploring mounting options. No use having a nice shield if the LED is all spaghetti-ed on the floor.

    Lastly I'm writing the code that will allow anyone to just plug the shield on and have it start working immediately. This is taking a bit of time.

  • Whoops!

    Ben Lim04/02/2018 at 14:01 0 comments

    Turns out that I wired up my power MOSFETs wrong, so PWM doesn't really fade the LEDs at the moment. I was using an N-Type MOSFET and a P-Type wiring. Silly me.

    But not to worry! I switched the wiring around and sent it off to be made again! You can also use a P-type MOSFET as well

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