Introduction: Phone-In-The-Box

About: A Creative Technologies Major who is enrolled at Berry College.

Phone-In-The-Box is a project for those who just can’t keep their hands off those devices at night. The box will let you know when (11pm?) the phone needs to be on that charger using Lights and sounds. This is meant to boost health and wellness by helping an individual get to bed on time. It will be coded with an Arduino to get data telling if the phone is in the box or not. This project will keep the distraction of a phone away from the bed and encourage going to bed on time.

Step 1: Tools and Supplies

Most of the parts from this project came from an Arduino kit that I found on Amazon. You may own a lot of the supplies if you are into electronics.


  • The Box (From the Kit)
  • Phone
  • Dual USB Charger with chord: I used a hybrid one to make it portable (Amazon)
  • Thick Black Cloth (Used the Charger's Case)
  • Foam core the size of your phone (Walmart)
  • Arduino Uno Board (From the Kit)
  • RTC Attachment (Adafruit)
  • Breadboard (From the Kit)
  • Jumper Cables (From the Kit and Amazon)
  • Piezo Buzzer (From the Kit)
  • Common Cathode RGB LED: I premade mine but you can also make them from the kit
  • Resistors (From the Kit)
    • 3 220Ω
    • 1 330Ω
    • 1 10kΩ


  • Computer with the Arduino IDE installed
  • Ruler
  • Snips
  • Thick Knife
  • File
  • Extension Cord
  • (Optional) Demel Tool to make cutting faster

Step 2: Cutting the Box

  1. Start by cutting out the unnecessary walls within the box
  2. Cut out a place for both the charger and the charger's outlet prongs (make sure it's secured)
  3. Cut the foam core to the same size as your phone
  4. Trim down the inner walls to fit the foam and phone (this is where I used a Dremel tool)
  5. Cut the foam so that it goes around the charger
  6. Wrap the other side of the foam with the thick black cloth

Step 3: The Electronics

This is the smarts of the box

  1. I started on the RTC first (Adafruit has a guide here)
  2. I installed the LED just as shown on the first image
  3. The buzzer was installed just as shown on the first image
  4. Poke the Photocell leads through the black cloth so it goes through the other side
  5. With the Photocell, I had to use a male to female jumper cables to make the leads reach the breadboard

Step 4: The Code

The code is fairly simple. The main thing that would need to be changed is the awakeTime variable and the sleepTime variable. Which changes based on when you get up and fall asleep.

If you have not worked with Arduino before, you can use this tutorial to upload my sketch on to your Arduino. Just go to open rather than opening an example.

The only thing left to do is to plug in the USB chords into the charger and watch it go!


Step 5: The Future

In the future, I would like to add modes to further its capabilities. A study mode would be useful for one hour of time off of the phone. Also, a total phone detox would be pretty cool too. To add this kind of functionality I want to add a button that changes the mode when pressed. To refine the project, I would want to make a circuit board to clean up a lot of the jumper cables. Overall, a great way to get back on task and have a better digital lifestyle.