Introduction: Blind Opening Alarm Clock

Picture of Blind Opening Alarm Clock

The Blind Opening Alarm Clock was a project that had it's challenges but was entirely worth it. It is created using a Spark Core micro controller, a H-Drive circuit, and a really strong geared motor. Its cheap, simple to use, and pretty easy to make! Essentially this project allows your blinds to open and let the sunlight in to wake you up in the morning instead of waking up to that annoying alarm we all have. Let's begin!

Step 1: What You Will Need


  1. 1 Geared Motor $32
  2. 1 H-Drive Circuit (more info later) ~$2
  3. 1 Spark Core (Or Photon) $20
  4. 1 Small Bread Board (Or Prototype board) ~ $5
  5. 1 Hall Effect Sensor / Board (Again More Info Later) ~ $1
  6. Longer Pull Chain for blinds (Get at any blind store) (Varying costs)

  7. Extra Blind Chain Gear (More Info)

  8. 12V 1A Power Brick (At least)

  9. USB extender cable & phone charger wall plug ~$8


  1. 2 Push Buttons ~$2
  2. 1 RGB Led ~$2

Total Cost

~ $75

Depends on country and currency. All Currency in this tutorial is CAD.

Step 2: H-Drive Board

Picture of H-Drive Board

The H-Drive board is the board that will control the direction that the geared motor turns. It's a pretty simple circuit that can be easily made yourself. I believe you can buy these online but I just made my own because it's cheaper.

PCB File Link

H-Drive Parts

  • L293NE Chip
  • 2 x 10k Resistors
  • 3 x connector of your choice (Like the grey ones on mine)

Step 3: All Things Motor

Picture of All Things Motor

What you need to do

This whole step will really vary based on what kind of gear you get to grip the chain.

  • Create a mount for the whole motor (I used an aluminum L-Bracket)
  • Create an adapter to go from the motor to the gear (Optional, i guess you could always just glue it on or something)
  • Get a gear that will grip the chain on your blinds (Get at any blinds store that sells spare parts) (Basically the same part that's at the top of the chain)

Step 4: Software! (Spark Core)

So I came into this project probably knowing less than the basics of programming with the spark core so I am not saying that my code is the best, but I can say that it works (That's the most important thing right?). Programming the Spark Core in general is pretty easy, all you really need is the spark web IDE. You can find my code to paste into your own program in the IDE here, just download it and open it with Notepad ++ or something and paste it in. Then just compile it and flash it to your device. The program is written in Arduino Language (.ino) for more info on how to program on the spark core you can look here.

Step 5: More Software! (App) (UPDATED)

Picture of More Software! (App) (UPDATED)

The app is used to set the alarm time and its status as well as open or close the blinds manually. I created this app using MIT app Inventor so it's super basic (because I know pretty much nothing when it comes to making apps). You can download the app here, and then upload the .aia file (using the "Projects" drop down menu and selecting "Import Project (.aia) from my computer") to MIT App Inventor were you can then install it on your android device for free using the "Build" drop down menu. This app is only available for android devices because Apple only lets you make apps if you pay $100 a year...

**Make Sure You Replace The Access Token in the app with the access token for your spark core As Well As The Device ID**

**Where Ever it says: "put access token here" or "put device ID here" otherwise it will not talk to your spark core**

Step 6: Hall Effect Sensor

Picture of Hall Effect Sensor

The hall Effect Sensor is pretty straight forward. You can make one yourself or buy them online its your choice. I have a PCB for the hall effect sensor as well. This will be mounted at the top of your window so you know when your blinds should stop going up. Solder telephone wire to the pins so that you can wire it up later (Like in picture).


  • OH090U Hall Effect Sensor
  • 20 pf Capacitor (Pretty sure this is optional but I put it in anyways)
  • 820 ohm resistor
  • Small Magnet

Step 7: Mount Everything!

Picture of Mount Everything!


I mounted my project on a piece of thick wood, but you can really use anything as your platform. Just screw everything securely to the base!

  • Mounted motor using the L-Bracket like I said earlier
  • Mounted Spark Core on a small breadboard that had a Sticky bottom, then I just stuck the breadboard to the wood
  • Just screwed the H-Drive into the wood (use a washer to keep the bottom of the board off the wood
  • Mount the hall effect sensor at the top of where your blinds will stop (Do this however you want)
  • Mount a small magnet on the bottom bar of your blinds so it will trigger the Hall effect sensor (Yes it does matter which way it faces, The south Pole must be facing towards the window)

Step 8: Wiring!

Picture of Wiring!

This will probably we the hardest task just because its important, but its pretty straight forward. Basically there are two parts, power connections and I/O connections. Most of the wiring I did was with computer cable and bread boarding wires which are pretty widely available at electronic stores.

Power Connectors

  1. Wire the 12v power brick wires into the mV (Motor Voltage) connector spots on the H-Drive board
  2. Wire 5v and ground from the spark core to the bV (Board Voltage) connectors
  3. Wire the motors pins to the connector spots right beside were you wired in the power brick (mV)


  1. Wire the D2 and D3 pins on the spark core to the far right input pins on the H-Drive, if it doesn't work just fiddle around with the connections (You can't really break anything here)
  2. wire the cable from the hall effect sensor to the 3.3v pin, ground, and D6 on the spark core
  3. As for the buttons and RGB led just wire them according to the i/o pin variables set in the code and to ground

int red = A5;
int green = A6;

int blue = A7;

//button input pins

int upBtn = A1;

int downBtn = A0;

Step 9: Case!

Picture of Case!

I made a cover for the whole device just out of some really thin wood paneling. I cut to slots, one for the chain to go through and also one for the power to come in. Then on the face I made holes to put in the buttons and the RGB led. For an overall idea just look at the pictures. One good idea that I have been wanting to do but haven't done yet would be to get some sound proofing foam and cover the inside of the case with it to reduce the sound coming from the motor.

Step 10: Mount It on the Wall!

Picture of Mount It on the Wall!

Basically just mount it on the wall like you would mount a shelf. Make sure you put a lot of pressure downward on the chain so that the chain doesn't slip as the motor turns. You can also put a piece of foam between the device and the wall to reduce vibration through the wall.

**Make sure when you mount it the blinds for the first time they are either closed all the way or open so that the magnet would be setting off the hall effect sensor**

Step 11: Enjoy!

If you have any questions about the project feel free to ask I will try my best to answer them! This is my first instructable tutorial so I am sure I missed something :)



MKozik (author)2015-11-21

hey, could you you add a modification so that it can react to low light level and be controlled by bluetooth?

Jaybuilder (author)MKozik2015-11-21

Yeah it's obviously possible... Will I do it probably not. In my opinion adding Bluetooth is completely redundant and worse than using WiFi considering every time you come home you would have to reconnect to the device and you would be wasting your phones battery life having Bluetooth on all the time. The low light sensor on the other hand is a good idea, I have been thinking about doing that for a while but just haven't had the time to get around to it. You could easily add that yourself though.

MKozik (author)Jaybuilder2015-11-21

Thanks for the reply

rafununu (author)2015-10-18

There's avery similar project on Kickstarter ( Maybe you could ask some royalties !

Jaybuilder (author)rafununu2015-10-18

Unfortunately they started their project before I did lol... So they didn't steal my idea. But I appreciate the info

iDouwe (author)2015-05-26

I love this project and i'm going to make it.

I have a question

does the motor make any noise?

Thanx Douwe

Jaybuilder (author)iDouwe2015-05-26

Yes the motor does make noise... Although it is not that loud and there are ways of reducing the amount of sound with sound proofing foam and stuff. I have just left it how it is though and I have started to get used to the sound and it hardly wakes me up at all anymore. The Sound isn't necessarily a bad thing though because It will also help wake you up.

fanj0205 (author)2015-04-29

i will give credit!!! (probably)

anniemagz (author)2015-04-17

i swear i've been trying to figure out how to make this exact thing for months. thank you so much for the ible!! i can't wait to make my own!

Jaybuilder (author)anniemagz2015-04-17

Hope you have fun making one!

Gusgonnet (author)2015-04-16

this is a GREAT project!

did you find an advantage to drive the cord from the bottom as opposed to mounting the motor on top, maybe kind of driving the shaft the blind has already?


Jaybuilder (author)Gusgonnet2015-04-16

I thought about driving it from the top (and it could work) but I thought it would be easier to mount the whole project on the bottom with the chord.

Gusgonnet (author)Jaybuilder2015-04-16

cool, thanks

vincent7520 (author)2015-04-11

Being such a dinosaur I don't get the geek aspect of this project at all, but I love it's purpose and philosophy : waking up quietly when the sun rises…

Therefore you have my vote …

I repeat : YOU HAVE MY VOTE.


Thanks for sharing.

PS. Now let me find among my friends one who has a kid who could build this for me …

Gusgonnet (author)vincent75202015-04-16

Hey vincent7520,

one geek aspect of this project I see is to put a microcontroller where you would normally use your hands. In other words, with this project we don't have to lift the blinds ourselves, just because the author automated the process!

Imagine programming a couple of extra lines in the Spark Core, and the blinds would go down at sunset.

My advice is to find the kid inside yourself, order a spark core and try it out! the people at spark made programming microcontrollers a piece of cake with their cloud system.

Imagine this: you just use your browser to program the thing! and since it's wifi, no need for wires! (ok, just for power).

So, maybe, just maybe, you find some confidence in what you are doing and you could build it yourself :) (or start with something simpler, it does not really matter).

good luck!

Jaybuilder (author)vincent75202015-04-11

I appreciate the compliments! And Also the vote! Hope you can find someone who can build this for you!

phil.eyewin (author)2015-04-15

Hey do you have a video of this in action?

Jaybuilder (author)phil.eyewin2015-04-15

I will make one when I get the time...

EvolvedAwesome (author)2015-04-14

This is one of those ideas that has been in the back of my head for years, yet has always seemed a bit silly... this is some excellent execution and a really cool project, well done.

Marcelo Ricardo (author)2015-04-09

Olá qual o motor que o Sr. usou para este mecanismo

o motor é É isso que você está procurando

Hey! I would love to help... Unfortunately I do not speak Portuguese so I am not quite sure what you are saying... But this is what Google translate said so...

"Hello which engine did you use for this mechanism"

Not sure if you speak English though but hopeful I can somewhat help...

The motor I used is this one:

sturific (author)Jaybuilder2015-04-11

Hello which the motor what you used for this mechanism

Jaybuilder (author)sturific2015-04-11

Thats what I said he said

bcavaciuti (author)2015-04-12

Ive been thinking of doing this but havent had the time or information so thankyou! Do you think a raspberry pi would be a good platform for this?

Jaybuilder (author)bcavaciuti2015-04-12

it could work yes but it is a lot bigger and harder to set up web info with. the spark core has everything built in and its all really easy. Either could work its up to you.

Anybodysguess (author)2015-04-11

I had thought of this years ago, but never got around to it as my blind is the tug to release type and would require an entirely new blind. Excellent build and great exicution.

Mine was also going to be controlable by an infared remote control, something that may be useful in your situation, something you might want to consider, as its only one extra component, and a little code.

Jaybuilder (author)Anybodysguess2015-04-11

true but I can also control it through the app I made

Anybodysguess (author)Jaybuilder2015-04-11

Oops, skimmed right over the app part! I was interested in the mechanical motor side, and just read those parts.

jueljp (author)2015-04-07

I have tried this before, but the motor I used wasn't powerful enough. my Idea was to build a similar project and add rfid to my bedroom door, as I walk in it would automatically open the blinds

Jaybuilder (author)jueljp2015-04-07

Yeah I had similar problems when it came to the motor as well. The motor I used in the end product is actually the third motor I tried. The amount of torque you will need to open your blinds will depend on the size of your blinds and how much they weigh.

I also have tried this with several motors to no avail. How did you calculate the amount of torque you needed to lift the blinds? A ballpark calculation would be a great help!

I didn't really... I just used estimation and trial and error and then just way overcompensated lol. You can calculate it though using a newton force meter, But that could be a little difficult If you don't really know how to calculate torque (It's kinda weird)

I've kinda done something similar, tried a couple of motors but they failed. My next step was to use a drill motor to power them, which after some tests works but is definitely overkill! Roughly how big were the blinds that your motor was pulling?

About 5" 5 inches wide by 3ft tall... But the motor I used could pull a blind much bigger than that

SugarCluster (author)2015-04-10

Maybe for a fail-safe approach, it might be a good idea to include a line to trigger room lamp or some sort of bright light in case of cloudy days or lazy sleeper.
(not to mention it should also include a loud buzzer in case if the person doesn't wake up in time)

Jaybuilder (author)SugarCluster2015-04-11

Yeah I thought of that and I am thinking of building another snooze/Wake-up module to put closer to my bed that would have a secondary alarm in it and buttons to snooze and wake up

uncle frogy (author)2015-04-09

I would suggest putting the filters on the cables going to the "box" inside the box making it neater and re-leaving any strain on the wiring connections.

Great idea it would be easy to also make it close blinds say on west facing windows to reduce heat gain in summer.

uncle frogy

PhiliptheLesser (author)2015-04-09

I can usually wake up if there is enough light coming through the window. It would be cool to see a photocell mod for this instructable. Great job either way.

Daneel (author)2015-04-09

I really like this idea, I'll have to adjust this to open the tent-flap windows I have in my bunk area.

Jaybuilder (author)Daneel2015-04-09

yeah that shouldn't be to difficult. you might be able to use a less powerful/expensive motor that way too

HeatherP2 (author)2015-04-07

This has to be one of the most effective alarm clock designs I've ever seen. Great job, and great instructible!

Jaybuilder (author)HeatherP22015-04-07


NathanSellers (author)2015-04-07

Effective and cruel. I was expecting this in the prank contest.

Jaybuilder (author)NathanSellers2015-04-07

I never even thought about it being cruel... but I guess if you really don't like waking up in the morning it would be cruel :)

skarfac3 (author)2015-04-07

ha ha ha a very good one.

tommygirl69 (author)2015-04-07

cool.. :)

tomatoskins (author)2015-04-06

This is aweseome! I've been thinking of different alarm clock type projects and this one of the ideas I thought about. Your's just turned out so perfect!

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