Introduction: Smartphone Alarm Clock

Hi!

In this Instructable I will tell you how to make a good looking smartphone alarm clock. The alarm clock displays the time, can charge the phone and houses a mini amplifier and speaker. I had the idea to build this alarm clock for a long time but the "Time" contest helped me to get started.

The design is inspired by the Areaware alarm clock. I loved the design and simplicity from the first moment I saw it. The disadvantage was that the costs where a little bit high for only a piece of wood. The model that I build can be made for only 25 euro and houses a speaker and amplifier.

This Instructable consists of 4 steps:

1. Materials

2. Design (Sketchup and Autocad)

3. Building the box (I used a laser cutter for this)

4. Doing some electronics

Step 1: Materials

For this alarmclock you need the following materials

- 3 mm MDF

- USB aux iphone cable

- Some wires and heat shrink tubing

- 2 on/off switches (power on/off/ amp on/off)

- 5/12 V amplifier module

- Speaker

I send the design to a company that does the laser cutting for me. It cost me less than 10 euro (material and work).

Step 2: Design

The first thing you have to find out is which material you want to use. Look for a lasercutting company in the city and get information. They will tell you which materials they have and you can choose. If you have figured it out we can start the design!

Sketchup

For the design I used the software Sketchup. Sketchup is design software and easy to use. It can be downloaded free from this website.

Simply start by drawing a cube in the dimensions you want your clock to get an indication. You can also download the model of your phone from the Sketchup library. In my case I added my iphone 4 to see if the proportions where right (see picture 1).

Now start to create walls/plates/lines. Draw a square and pull it up until you reached the hight of your material. For my clock I used 3 mm MDF. Make sure to group each plate/wall you design and don`t forget to design the holes for switches/cables/speaker support.

When you are ready with your design you can move all the parts on one level (see image5/6). Change the Style (window --> style) in 3D printing style. Also change the projection from perspective to parallel (you can find this option under Camera). Than take a top view (camera --> views --> top view) and export your model as 2D graphic to an Autocad dwg file.

Autocad

To cut the 3 mm MDF I used a lasercutter. The company that run these things has got an manual on how they like to receive the information. I downloaded Autocad to make the required file. You can download Autocad for fee here if you are an student.

In Autocad open the file you exported from sketchup. Put the cutting, engraving and edging lines each in seperate layers. Consult the manual of the company for the requirements. I had to make the cutting lines blue and the engraving lines red (see image).

Make sure to delete double lines in your Autocad drawing to avoid the laser running twice the same line. You can do this by selecting the entire drawing and use comment: "OVERKILL". Then press enter and Autocat tells you how many lines are deleted.

You can add engraved text to your model. I added the words: "Power" and "Sound" next to the power and sound switch. Make sure you use a front with a single line when you want the text to be engraved instead of edged.

Save the file in format the laser cutting company requires.

Now send your model to the lasercutter and cross your fingers!

Step 3: Building the Box

Lets see! Tape all the parts together to see if everything fits.

(Sidenote/tip) I made two holes for on/off switches for the power and amplifier. I copied the dimensions from the supplier of the switches (Panel cut-out size: 15.5 x 6.5mm) but came 1,5 mm too short in the end. Also, the hole for the iphone connector was too small as the connector I ordered on the internet was bigger than the original. Please make sure you have the right dimensions in your design for the switches and the iphone connector. In my case I had to enlarged the holes for the switches and the cable connector with a fretsaw.

If you are sure about all the pieces you can put the MDF together with a bit of wood glue. In my design the top of the box is not glued as it gives me the opportunity to do some electronics later on in the project.

Step 4: Electronics

This is the difficult part. Although, if you want to add an amplifier and speaker to it. I will try to explain what I did with the help of some pictures.

In picture 1 you see the Iphone/aux/USB cable I bought. As this cable was 1 meter I cut a bit of the aux side and the iphone connector side. See the purple area in picture 2. I removed the cable parts in the middle (picture 3).

Next to this I had to power my amplifier. For this reason I connected the power and ground of the USB cable also to the amplifier. The amplifier is connected to the speaker. This is a good moment to test if everything is working (see picture 6).

To make the whole project more user friendly I added two switches. One switch puts the entire alarmclock down. The other switch only shuts down the amplifier. See picture 7.

If you connected everything it should look like picture 8.

Step 5: Waky Waky!

Use the following apps from the app store:

-Alarm dock

-Alarm Clock

-Clocks

Test your alarm clock, download some apps, post pictures of it, ask questions and let me win a instructables T-shirt with your vote for the Time contest!

Cheers!

Step 6: Further Improvements

Further improvements, eg.
-Eliminate the power cable by using a wireless charging transmitter (source: holidayv).

-Eliminate the aux cord connection and use a Bluetooth receiver for audio. Use an NFC tag to tell the phone to connect to the clock (source: holidayv).

Comments

author
bobflynn made it! (author)2016-01-12

I liked the look of this project from the beginning. My daughter had received an iPhone 5S for her birthday and I liked the idea of building an accessory for her. I'm a fairly novice woodworker and it looked like a decent learning project.

I started out by going to my local maker space (shout out to BloomingLabs) and getting help laser cutting a sheet of 5/8" birch plywood from Ingenerare's design file. I scaled it for the slightly larger iPhone 5s. This got me off to a great start, but also presented a couple design challenges.

My first challenge was to figure out how all of my newly cut parts fit together. I did a pretty good, but not perfect job. At one point I realized that there was nothing to put the phone on. Somewhere along the line I realized that I'd left out the shelf for the phone. No problem. My woodworking mentor always says that there are no mistakes, only engineering challenges. Consequently I decided to put the whole thing on a base and chisel out a sloping spot for the phone. Since I was making a base anyway, I added a container for pens and knickknacks. This gave me a chance to learn to make a box joint.

Like many of the recent commenters I faced issues with the newer iPhone, namely the lightning cable no longer has an audio channel you can tap into for a speaker. I tried to figure out how to stay true to the original electronics, but ultimately had to give up and forge a new path. The best way to deal with the speaker and amp was to get one pre-packaged. It had to get audio from the phone, but couldn't share power. I ended up with an Anker Ultra Portable Pocket Size Wireless Bluetooth Speaker. It was small enough to fit easily into the box.

Since both the speaker and the phone required their own power I needed a double USB power plug. The phone would only be plugged in when it was in place charging but the speaker would potentially be plugged in all the time. I used the holes for the two rocker switches to put in my own switch to shut off power to the speaker. I fashioned a brass plate to put the switch in, spliced the USB cable for the speaker and wired it up the power lines. I reinforced the spot behind the switch and put in a frame to hold the USB plug. I applied some clear silicone on the back side of the switch to help protect the connections for inadvertent bumps and stuck an appliance extension cord on the back. You can see it all in the photos.

Here are the electronics I bought. It made the project a little pricier than I'd hoped, but it was a great learning experience and it wouldn't have been possible without Ingenerare's plans.

4" Lightningbolt cable
Dual powered USB Wall Charger
8' Appliance extension cord
Anker Ultra Portable Pocket Size Wireless Bluetooth Speaker
Rocker Switch w/LED indicator
150 ohm resistor

IMG_7238.jpgIMG_7230.jpgIMG_7231.jpgIMG_7232.jpgIMG_7229.jpgIMG_7233.jpg
author
bobflynn (author)2015-12-15

This looks great. I'm eager to build this. It doesn't look like the Sketchup file shown in the images as "areaware alarm clock voor.dwg2" (the actual cutsheet) is included as a download. Could you add that?

Thanks!

author
Ingenerare (author)bobflynn2015-12-16

Hi, thats right. I did change the sketchupfile a bit as there where some minor mistakes. For example: I adjusted the hole for the i-phone adapter. This makes that the autocad printscreen displayed in this instructable is also a bit outdated from the one you should get when you export the adjusted sketchup model. I will add the new dwg file of the lines to the instructable. note that every laser cutter company requires different colour lines and formats. Regards

author
WakeKello (author)2015-11-29

That is a very nice tutorial indeed (disclaimer: I'm doing a connected alarm clock). We are crawling the web to search for creative ways to wake up and I must say I love this DIY project. I wonder if it kills the iPhone screen to leave it on during the whole night...

author
Ingenerare (author)WakeKello2015-11-30

Hi, thanx! To give an answer on your concens, see the attached picture

foto.PNG
author
WakeKello (author)Ingenerare2015-11-30

Nice! Anyway I think that in a smartphone the battery will be long dead before the screen starts to wear out... Still it's a nice feature.

author
jvan zuijlen (author)2015-11-29

Very good idea! I took the liberty of putting it in my inspiration list (http://nebula.schrijverslab.nl/category/inspiratie/). One day I'll make my own. Where did you have your lasering done though?

author
brian32768 (author)2015-11-26

This is a great idea, I am going to make one.

author
EconoProbe (author)2015-11-26

A great idea. Thanks for sharing.

author
Bosun Rick (author)2015-11-26

How did you set it to Kansas Time (1927) ? LOL ( I know about it being a 24 hour clock, just couldn't resist the joke; and Yes I live in Kansas)

author
PaulE20 (author)2015-11-26

I created something similiar a while ago as a nightstand alarm. The problem with phones like the iphone was, that the background lighting of the screen was way to bright and lighting up the whole room - i used an old android phone with an amoled screen instead and put a better optimized launcher on it that works great sidewards. Do you also have this background light problem, or do you just use it during the day?

author
Ingenerare (author)PaulE202015-11-26

Nice, I would love to see a picture of it. As you can see on my video (second 54) you can see that the app allows the user to dim the light. This works perfect for me! If you wand to dim it even more, and the phone is permanent on the dockingstation, you can think about a dark screen protection plastic.

author
Seeed Studio (author)2015-11-25

A good way to re-use the old iPhone.

author
Ingenerare (author)Seeed Studio2015-11-26

Yes it is! But in fact you can make an alarm clock from any smartphone if there is an app available. Black phones (in contrast to mine) do look the best as you can`t see the transition between the case and the screen.

author
Ingenerare (author)2015-11-25

There it is, see step 1: Design

author
andydoro (author)2015-11-24

This looks great, but do you plan on releasing your vector files to make this easier for others to make? Are they posted somewhere?

author
3366carlos (author)2015-11-22

nice. can you attach a video to the instructable? thanks.

author
Ingenerare (author)3366carlos2015-11-22

Thanx for your advice. I did this and put it in step 4. Have fun watching it!

author
holidayv (author)2015-11-22

This is awesome! I do not have an iPhone, but with my phone, I would eliminate the charging cord by using a wireless charging transmitter. I would eliminate the aux cord connection with a Bluetooth reciever, and use an NFC tag to tell the phone to connect to the clock via Bluetooth when docked and charging. I love your design idea, and when I have the chance, I'm going to make one with the above mentioned changes. Great Job!

author
Ingenerare (author)holidayv2015-11-22

Thanks! It is a very good idea to replace the power and aux cable for wireless alternatives. I added your ideas in step 5. I would love to see your alarm clock when finished.
Note that you have to use a thinner material to allow the wireless transmitter tranfer some power and a phone case to hide the charging transmitter and NFC tag if your phone does not have this integrated.

author
gabgra11 (author)holidayv2015-11-22

Cool Idea! It would be easier to dock and undock the phone that way.

author
BeachsideHank (author)2015-11-22

Clever design and smart looking too, nice job!

author
DIY Hacks and How Tos (author)2015-11-22

Fun way to use a smart phone as a clock

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Bio: The term, engineering originates from the Latin word Ingenerare, which means "to create". My name is Vincent and I am a graduating student in the ... More »
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