How do I make a light-based alarm?
November 11, 2008 3:00 PM   Subscribe

I want to make an unobtrusive, light-based alarm to help me remember to take my pills. What do I need to do?

I have a pill that I have to take once in the morning and once in the evening (but not at a particular time). I'd like to create a little alarm that can live on top of my dresser and light up twice a day to remind me to take it. Maybe with LEDs. It does not need to show the time (and in fact, I'd rather it didn't).

My searches online to figure out how to make one keep leading me to those expensive "gradual daylight" alarms, but that's not what I need. I'd like this to be as simple, and as small, as possible.

I am good at putting things together, but have no special skills with electronics.
posted by ocherdraco to Grab Bag (7 answers total)
Get a simple timer switch (they can be digital like that link, or analog) from any home/garden/department store, and set it to the times of day you need to take pills, then plug a lamp or a bare bulb into it. Voila! It lights up when you need to take your pills.
posted by tybeet at 3:15 PM on November 11, 2008

A couple of those X10 things should do the trick.

Once your lamps and stuff are plugged into one of those relays, you can get remote controls and timers and whatnot to control them. Just rig a timer to turn a lamp on twice a day; turn it off by hand once you've been suitably reminded.
posted by you at 3:16 PM on November 11, 2008

There are a couple cheap micro-controllers out there that could handle this job which wouldn't be terribly expensive. An Arduino could more than handle this, but is also massive overkill. If part of the fun here is learning something that might be cool to know later, this would be my approach.

Or you could start with something like this, only just replace the relay with an LED and a resistor.
posted by Kid Charlemagne at 3:18 PM on November 11, 2008

@Kid Charlemagne: since I have no experience putting together any kind of circuitry before, what's a good place for me to go online to learn about it? Your "something like this" link looks like the kind of thing I had in mind.

@you: what are "those X10 things"?

@tybeet: your idea may well be the simplest. Thanks.
posted by ocherdraco at 3:30 PM on November 11, 2008

Just came in to say what tybeet said.
posted by pompomtom at 4:03 PM on November 11, 2008

The link tybeet had was to a timer that replaces a switch, you can also get timers the just plug in to an outlet and plug anything you like into it. It could be a light, a lava lamp, a dancing chicken, whatever.
posted by advicepig at 5:21 PM on November 11, 2008

Plug-in timer. Now that it's getting into the Christmas season, they should be easy to find at Target, Home Depot, etc. (For timing holiday lights.) Some of them are digital and can be set all sorts of fancy ways, others have a sort of of analog clock where you press down the times when you want the plug to be "active." I have one of those from Ikea that I use for a morning light alarm. And then you just plug in a light and leave it on all the time.
posted by epersonae at 5:50 PM on November 11, 2008

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