Introduction: DIY Sesame Street Alarm Clock (with Fire Alarm!)

About: Hello world of instructables. I'm a college student interested in learning about arduino and raspberry pi. So you'll be seeing a whole bunch of projects centered around those two mini computers.

Hi everyone! This project is my first. Since my cousins first birthday was coming up, I wanted to make a special present for her. I heard from uncle and aunt that she was into Sesame Street, so I decided with my siblings to make an alarm clock based off Arduino. This project is really straightforward and it's simply just electronics inside a box. The alarm clock features a rotating Cookie Monster Train with Sesame Street figurines. Also, there is a fire alarm just as a precaution.

Disclaimer: The characters on top of the clock are owned by their respective companies.

UPDATE* Visit htxt for an article for this project! And check out the Arduino Facebook page where the article is featured!!

Step 1: Gather the Parts

Since this was one of my first projects using Arduino, I just went all out and bought a starter kit from Smarza.

Here are parts that I used from the kit:

Arduino Uno

Breadboard with Dupont Wires

Stepper Motor with Stepper Motor Driver Board

LCD1602 screen

Power Cord

4 Buttons


Passive and Active Buzzer

Real Time Clock (DS1307 or DS3231)


A couple of Resistors (10K, 220, and 300)

Flame Sensor

Other parts that I used in the project:

Arduino Nano

3D printed parts (platform, train, etc.)

Wooden Box (from Michael's)

Wooden House (from Michael's)

Paint (from Michael's)


The characters (I bought on Amazon)

Tools Needed:

Soldering Iron

Saw (my swiss army knife)

Paint Brushes

Electrical Tape

Step 2: Using the Breadboard: the Clock

If you're totally new to breadboarding, here's a quick description - a breadboard consists of two kinds of strips of metal: terminal strips go horizontally in the center and power rails on the side go vertically . If you want a deeper understanding, here's an explanation from Sparkfun. Once you get the basics of breadboarding down you can follow the fritzing diagram above to complete the alarm clock. For the resistor being used for the LCD, it should be between 220 and 330. The fire alarm in the main circuit is completely optional but, if added, make sure the resistor there should be about 10K and buzzer should be active while the alarm requires a passive alarm (which can be altered to play songs in the code). Also, in the diagram above, there's an LED in place of the flame sensor; just make sure you remember that the flame sensor is polarized. The Real Time Clock (RTC) module has a battery that allows it to keep track of the time even if the Arduino is unplugged. The buttons allow you to set the alarm, change the time on the RTC, and turn the alarm on and off. I decided to add wires and solder them to the buttons so that I can stick them out the box instead of keeping them on the breadboard. If you have no idea how to solder click here.

How to use the buttons:

When you press the two buttons in the middle at the same time, you can set the alarm. Press the first button to go from adjusting the hour to adjusting the minute.

If you press the first button, not in the alarm setting mode, you can set the time and date and keep pushing it to move on to different settings. Then the two buttons in the middle add or subtract to the time.

The fourth button turns the alarm on and off which is displayed on the LCD along with the date and time.

Step 3: Using the Breadboard: the Stepper Motor

Here you will be assembling the circuit to control the stepper motor which makes the train go around. The train moves when the magnet on the platform (3D printed along with the train) underneath the cover turns with the stepper motor and the magnet on the bottom of the train turns with it. It's all controlled with an Arduino Nano and is powered by a 9V battery which can be switched on and off. Remember when you want to use a power source greater than 3.3V to power the Nano you must connect it to the VIN pin. This Instructable shows how to add the switch between the battery and Nano to turn it on and off.

Step 4: Upload the Code

Get the code from my github and upload them to their respective circuits and you are done with the electronics. The alarm clock code is based off this website. Don't forget to download the libraries Liquid Crystal and RTClib. If you are total newbie to Arduino, here's a good guide. And if you don't know how to upload libraries here's Adafruit to the rescue.

Step 5: Assembling the Final Product

Now that all the electronics have been assembled, you can begin cutting up your box. Since I got a wooden box I simply used a saw to cut out the holes for the LCD, buttons, and switch. Then I used a whole bunch of hot glue to keep everything in place. Next, I painted the tracks for the train and painted the wooden house from Michael's. Finally, I went onto Thingiverse and 3D printed a bunch of thing related to Sesame Street. I'll add the the things that I designed, the platform, train, and cover for the LCD, in github for you to download. Also, you can add a LED just to light the house up at night, just don't forget the 300 resistor!

Step 6: Final Thoughts

This project does not have to be designed around Sesame Street. I just thought it would be cool to give a DIY alarm clock to my cousin as a present. If there are any questions, don't hesitate to leave them in the comments below. Please vote for this in the competitions that I am part of!


Box Contest 2017

Participated in the
Box Contest 2017

First Time Author Contest

Participated in the
First Time Author Contest