Final Project


The initial though was to create an alarm clock that will wake up in a non-intrusive way

And one that will not require adjusting to tell time.

The first step was to try and fetch time online.

The ESP8266 wifi chip was very useful

Looking at Yuval Gonczarowskiís improvement of Neilís hello world board, included an extra button setting the ship into flash mode

I have tried to make the board. That follows Yuvalís instruction. However after many trails it ended in failure.


The result was me trying to attach a button with rudimentary methods

However, after many trails, it still have failed to be useable

Kevin Jiang whom used the esp8266 extensively then told me about the development boards and breakout boards

Of which with great surprise was found in the lab

The nodemcu amica was a development board that allowed auto reflash with Node MCU without the need to press

It also has pins for easy access with a bread board

Using the Arduino IDE, it was easy to flash the esp8266

The settings as follow


This board made everything much easier

Now onto looking on how to grab time from the web

Searching online I have encountered one that helps sets up the frame work for it

This one using the Arduino library was much easier for an entry level person like me to understand

However, the script that was provide had two major things that was incompatible with my purposes

I have learnt that the sever that I was to use to request time from will only receive requests every 4 seconds

And even so, the request will sometime fail and return an error

Hence I have remade the code so that it will

a.      Request for time every 7 seconds

b.      Make up for the time to display when the server does not respond

c.       Make up for the time to display if the server returns error


Here is the code


Kevin has also suggested me to use my phoneís wifi hotspot for stability issues which was very great advice

After seeing the results I wanted on the serial port with the serial monitor and the coolterm

The clock ticks every second without problem,

This can be checked with a online UTC clock


I have moved on to look at the LCD display.

Originally trying to display time with Nexie Tubes and have already brought a few

It turned out to be not a great idea as it involves high voltages DC current

Being not so skilled, I would save the parts for a later day

Hence a LCD display was chosen instead

Having looking at Neilís hello word board, I have made one to see how it works



After some research, the lcd screen should be soldered as follow


I was able to make it display the hello world message however it seems to be not so easy to figure out how to make it connect with the ESP 8266

Hence I have again turned to Arduino IDE for help

The library that the IDE provides is easy to figure out

With the AIDE I tired to flash a programme onto the at44

However, for some reason, it keep giving me errors, hence I have chosen to export a HEX file from AIDE and flash it onto the chip with atmel studio



Which proved to be a success

However one odd thing is that, although with the external crystal that was present on the board, to programme it, I would have to set the clock to 1mHz

It took me forever to figure this out

Hence, I then tried to modify neilís hello world board to have a input and output pin

I have added headers and rerouted it as follows



It now contains an extra header while another header can serve as power input

The at44 however didnít come with a serial input

Hence I had to figure out how to have a serial input and output, one to take messages from the ESP8266 and one to debug

Luckily AIDE provides a library for Software serial and it worked

One down side is that this library requires a large amount of bytes

Taking up a lot of space in the chip

Having it able to read the ESP

The biggest challenge here is to have it display. Little did I know, this will become to most time consuming and challenging part of the project

Many hours. 20+ was trying to get the rate of display and the rate of signals received in sync. Till now I still donít really understand why and how it failed

I believe the trick was to have the delay rate of at44 trying to read the incoming signals in sync with the rate that it was receiving it, and then have it display the received bytes

This process is incredibly frustrating

Another thing was that the software serial was only about to send out 8 bytes at a time, and hence it can only send up to the number 255

I had to work my way around that by making use of a serial event, knowing that no time number will exceeded 60. I have se 97 as the ending signal

When the at44 receives 98 it will then know to move on to the next round of incoming serial

With a bread board, it is much easier to debug and to have instant response in changes I have made






Here is the code


With the display and time down, I went and made the device that will serve as the waking up factor

With a previous idea of a dimmed light bulb, I have tried to continue on that and substitute a traditional alarm sound with light

With the optoisolator, it was able to control the light bulb which was connected to mains

It was interesting to have some experience with controlling devices that are connected to mains

Here are the files



I have made the following board and have added a capacitive sensing ability to control the light

Due to time and complexity, I have failed to make an interactive alarm setting function

The light now responds to touch and will set off to slowly get brighter over a certain pre-set time and after a certain pre-set time

By varying the on and off frequency though time, the bulb will slowly light up in brightness

while a time counter will delay the initiation of the light being activated



With the delay in activating the light and it actually being light up, it is hard to tell if the bulb will light up or not

Hence, I have gone back to the LCD screen to see if I can display the state of the light on the screen

The capacitive and light dimming board will send a signal to the LCD and display it as on or off



Here is the code


Hence I moved on to house the elements in a nice compartment

Using 1/8 acrylic the idea is to house it in a cube that displays it multitude of things that integrates into this one product


I have tired to use different joints that will seem to fit together easier for the sake to ease of making

So that I donít have to go around and keep adjusting the angles of the pieces


The box is laser cutted


The box is then glued together and houses all the elements inside it







To answer questions



what materials and components were used?

The pcb are from the milling machine at the lab

So are the components

Opto-isolator was from the lab

And the light build and compartment was store brought

Acrylic was store brought



how much did they cost?

The light bulb and compartment are around 20 dolalrs

The acrylic sheets are 20 dollars each I have used 2



what processes were used?

Used software rhino, eagle, Arduino, atmelstudio, photoshop, illustrator, coolterm



how was it evaluated?

Its not complex, a small fist step


what are the implications?

I now can make more complex things afterwards




I would have loved to learn more low level C coding. But however, with the very limited support online and in school it is very hard to troubleshoot on my own

Hence I find that the Arduino library and community was very helpful

It was a choice that I had to make. I did try very much to try to stick to low level C scripting but to no avail