During the Summer I'm either surfing or working on projects around our small garden/farm. Winter is upon us here in Boston and I'm ready to start attacking the long list of projects I've postponed for the 'indoor months'.

However, I have hit the problem I face every Winter. I suffer from Season Affective Disorder which can result in a lack of energy in the dark Winter months. I have many ideas waiting to be made - but I've lacked a degree of motivation, until now that is.

Instructables to the rescue:
Eric's dawn simulator put me on to the Soleil lamp: I purchased a Soleil on ebay and I'm very happy with the lamp, my boss is happy I'm turning up for work on time... but...

The problems with the current design...
Feature creep is defined as the proliferation of features in a product such as computer software. Extra features go beyond the basic function of the product and so can result in baroque over-complication rather than simple, elegant design.

I'm a designer and believe that design, in part, is the art of removing the non-essential such as a 'Demo' mode. This is an alarm clock folks... my microwave oven has fewer buttons. I continue this critique in step 2.

The other major aspect of design is the visual aesthetic. I've included an image comparing the Soleil with its twin sister Mrs. Dalek and its cousin Robbie the robot. Danger Will Robinson.. you're about to be woken up by an eye sore.

Electronics devices do not have to be so drab
You don't need a laundry list of expensive tools nor a degree in industrial design to remake manufactured products.

With this Instructable I hope to demonstrate how you can both construct a new home for almost any gadget and utilise a simple hand drill for any number of jobs; achieving some pretty nice results.

Even if you do not particularly like the final outcome of this project I hope it motivates you to take a second look at those generic plastic products that clutter our lives and re-make them in to objects that suite your needs and please your senses.

So, with superfluous functions and the looks of a Dalek from Dr. Who on the chopping block.... my first project of Winter '09 is the Alarm Clock Retrofit.

NOTE: many people have reported problems watching the videos for this instructable. It seems google video is having problems. I recommend hitting your browser's reload button and clicking the play button again

Step 1: Design 1: Understanding What I've Got to Work With

When I purchase a new device, one of the first things I do is take it apart to see how it works, see if there's anything interesting going on inside. There's a lot to learn from doing this and as the Maker Mantra goes - if you can't open it you don't really own it.

Inside this alarm are all the standard parts you get in any $10-$20 alarm clock. I was a little dissapointed to realize I paid four times that amount for an alarm clock WITH a light bulb that wouldn't look out of place on a Christmas tree. Now, I'm super motivated to remake it.

Functional design basics
'"Security mode", Automatically turns the lamp on at random intervals to give burglars the impression that someone is at home....
I highly doubt this will deter any burglar worth his salt.

Seriously manufacturer... just because you can incorporate a particular feature doesn't mean you should. The more complex a device is, the harder it is to use it.

When redesigning something ask yourself these questions;
1) What exactly is this feature?
2) How often will I use this feature?
3) With 'less is more' in mind, can I remove this feature and have the device/product still meet my needs?

Go where no average consumer has gone before:
As I dismantled the device, I was happy to find that it would be relatively easy to solder in new switches for the front panel. The Volume and Tuner controls are going to be a little trickier but not impossible. The Tuner display and related cogs are going to be difficult and then it struck me! I only ever listen to one radio station, the local NPR: Boston's WBUR. A second, closer look at the tuner control told me it was going to be more difficult to convert than previously anticipated. That sealed the deal - one less 'feature'... this radio is going to be a 1 trick pony with me waking up to Tom Ashbrook covering the world's events.

With the research expedition into the clock complete, I reassembled the parts and moved on to prototyping the new design.

List of features and functions I need to carry forward into the new design:
Time: 7 segment display & am/pm LED
Light: will require a holder
Sun up setting: momentary switch
Sun down setting: momentary switch
Alarm or time set: momentary
Alarm on/off: momentary & LED
Volume control

List of features and functions being deleted:
Snooze. (I abhor this feature on any alarm and its the point of many a debate with my wife!! (o;)
Tuning Dial
AM/FM Switch
Radio Buzzer selector. This will always be set to radio as I hate buzzers

For more information on the alarm clock itself;

How to take apart electronics

Understanding the different types of switches
Nice info all around the post! thanks for publishing <br>
That's what meat tenderizers for. LoL
i am doing exactly this with my ratty old guitar amp, but putting it into a wall area where there used to be a whole home speaker.
Lol. You have a pet rooster??<br />
its a chicken :P<br />
I have a question. Are chickens (female) the only ones that get eaten up?
generally speaking yes, chickens (female) are the ones that are eaten. Roosters (male) can be eaten but they're tougher and require special recipes like Coq au Vin
Oh, wait... Her name is Arduino. I guess that means she's not edible...
Awesome!<br />
LOl just curious very nice but what's up with the chicken lol??
We keep chickens, I thought it would be a laugh to take a picture of Arduino (the chicken) 'reviewing' the build.
It was a good laugh lol just was like wtf lol.
when you keep chickens you have a lot of wft moments. They are the dumbest, funniest and most adorable pets you will ever come across. All the best /pauric
I love them! So fun! I named one of mine Mrs. Featherfoot! She was the best!
I think it would be amusing if, in some future -ibles, to have Arduino pop in once in a while. kind of like a running joke, or maybe a mascot. That's what I would do. I don't know, however, if you feel the same way I do.
I like it! Arduino will be a regular feature from now on. Thanks! (o;
as usual 420 ftw, love the design beautiful work
&nbsp;That silver clock one looks a little bit like the head of a protectron in fallout 3 lol
Incredible! I love it!
Wow... Just imagine if you program the radio to play the GNR radio from Fallout 3 and added a Pip Boy decal to it!<br />
Fantastic Instructable. What a Community.
lovin' the retro look.. but me and wood dont get along well
Doesnt have to be wood, in fact, you dont even have to make the case. You could retrofit an alarm clock in to some old school electronics such as an antique army radio...
I was thinking more along the lines of concrete but it would be one heavy alarm clock... anyway the retrofitting is a really good idea
where can you get one of those radios?
Check out the community section of makezine.com I created a few maps; users, places of interest etc. In Places you will find interesting shops - hopefully one is near you. Alternatively check out army surplus stores or ebay
This is fantastic.
is the chicken name arduino (of course it is) because of the microcontroolller and do you have any other neat chicken names
see, i was going to get one of those alarm clocks like you i was less then impressed by the design though so i instead simply used a cheap alarm/radio and took off my curtains >.< the light alone doesnt wake me, but accompanied with the radio its perfect
for sure, but unfortunate for me is that sunrise is too late here in Winter for me to rely on that alone to wake up.
yeah, it is always more effective in summer xD in winter its a bit of a bugger but i always find my sleep cycle goes nutty in winter anyway
great instructable man! I love what you did with it. Great mantra by the way, I have been trying to get some trihead screwdrivers to mercilessly mutilate an antique Game Boy I have(yes, it is the original and yes, it still works) good job on this....now to find a way to make my "Clocky" look a little better...... XD
Thanks! If I remember those gameboy screw will work with a flat head screwdriver - you might need a file to mod the screwdriver so it -just- fits the triheads. You'll figure it out! best of luck /pauric
I happen to have a CD/radio/ nature sounds alarm clock. The CD player is broken, I hate the nature sounds, and it has some really small buttons to operate the darn thing. This seems to be a great solution to trim the features I don't want! Thank you.
Sound perfect for an extreme makeover. Please document your project and post it here. Let me know if you have any questions if you get stuck... there's more than one way to skin a cat (o;
Ask and ye shall receive. The clock took five days to finish and is nine inches to a side. I'm now terribly proud of it and have you to thank for the inspiration.
cooool! what kind of case is that?
In short, wood. I found a couple of pre-made boxes at Pat Catan's that are supposed to be used as modern art display boxes or some artsy fartsy thing like that, removed the brackets, pegged them togather (pegs have no external hardware and are better than glue), painted, and installed. I found the clock display cover, a piece of plexiglas, in a parking lot about five or six years ago. The front and back are 1/8 in. plywood. I keep forgetting the span of time that things like this take. I had to borrow my brother's alarm clock to wake myself for those five days. Boy I missed the comforting orange glow of an old friend. Now I call it the battery clock. I think it looks like a car battery, the red and black buttons resemble positive and negative terminals.
I have a couple of console radios. One from the 1920's and the other from the 1930's. I like the 'A/V equipment as furniture' aspect of them. But what I'd like even more is a modern audio system put into a modern-looking furniture-grade housing. You gave me fresh hope that I may be able to do that someday. Nice.
Check out this guys work - its insane!<br/><a rel="nofollow" href="http://www.slipperyskip.com/">http://www.slipperyskip.com/</a><br/><br/>thanks /pauric<br/>
Holy crap. Thats astounding. by the way, what does "Pauric" mean?
My name is Pauric, its Irish.
Oh, I see.
I think it needs more videos. Great instructable!
'Why,' said the Dodo, 'the best way to explain it is to do it.' Alice's Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking-Glass
Totally love it! It came out looking like an old KLH radio almost. Neat idea.
Just checked out the KLH radio, love the off-white/cream facee plates, wish I had done that instead. Thanks! /pauric
420!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! nice instructable, 5*

About This Instructable




Bio: Appreciate what you've got, every day will bring something new.
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