Sunrise alarm clock project - selecting lighting options

Hello,

This is my first Arduino project, so appreciate your patience.

I am trying to build a functional Sunrise clock with a significant amount of light (about 200W of incandescent light or equivalent) the plan is to have the Arduino Uno set an alarm to a time when it will gradually increase a light level over ~30min and possibly also sound a buzzer when the light is at full intensity.

nice to have: support both 110V/60Hz and 220V/50Hz as I know I plan to move out of the U.S. in about a year.

I am trying to decide between driving standard AC lights and using high power LEDs

[u]AC light options:[/u] 1. Velleman K8064 dimmer kit costs about $40 including shipping and requires complicated assembly and soldering, supports both 110/220V Link to Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/VELLEMAN-K8064-CONTROLLED-DIMMER-KIT/dp/B008NR8608 power capacity seems OK.

2. Power switch Tails use one ZeroCross tail and one PowerSSR at total cost of $50 with shipping cons: no 220V support, size pro: easy and very safe - all AC power is contained in a closed product. http://www.powerswitchtail.com/Pages/ZeroCrossTail.aspx

[u]LED Light option[/u] 3. use a few high power LEDs with an external DC power supply, I think I will have to drive about 10 x 3W LEDs to reach the 200W incandescent light level pros: easy to find a similar 220V DC power supply when I move cons: need to build a heatsink for the LEDs vs. using a retail level AC light fixture

I am looking for the easier solution, I rather shell the extra bucks and not try to design an equivalent of the K8064 on a breadboard. my electrical skills are limited to a few courses in electrical circuits that I took in my bachelor degree a while back - I have been practicing software since...

appreciate any comments, did I get my options right ? did I miss any easier option short of buying a full product ? (I still want to make this a DIY project, only limit the scope)

Thanks !

these powerfull bright leds generate quite some heat you definitely need heat sinks - please read the discussion under the product.

Check out this post

http://www.nycresistor.com/2012/09/16/sunrise-lamp-alarm-clock/

If this is your first arduino project and if your are new to electronics in general then I would highly recommend the LED approach. You don't want to be messing with mains AC on your first project, it could get very ugly very quickly.

There is one other option you could look into if you have your heart set on incandescent lighting. X10 home automation gear. You can get a lamp module for the lights and control it from the arduino using an X10 interface module. You should check out Tom Igoe's book "Making Things Talk" it has a section on using the Arduino to control lamps with X10 modules. Its also a great book if you are just starting with the Arduino.

I've been meaning to build a sunrise alarm clock for quite a while now, maybe this will inspire me to start the project.

I hope some of that helps.

Thanks for your insights tgregor,

the project you referenced seems like a great reference for a LED based sunrise alarm clock.

I agree playing with AC for a first project is not a great idea. did you see the power switch solution (option #2) ?

I think it contains the AC portion of the project in a safe way and saves me from having to worry about heatsinks and the physical design and making of a lamp.

my only concern with that solution is 220V/50Hz support.

appreciate your thoughts on that option

I don’t know how you are going to connect/link K8064 to Arduino, ie, how to control K8064 output? PWM?

Having done some LED projects myself, I am biased toward using high power LEDs. In your situation, you can buy some high power LED dimmers capable of PWM so that you can control intensity with Arduino. You can search for “PWM LED DRIVER” on eBay, you should be able to find plenty.

As for heatsink, you can buy some 3W MR16 LED bulb, take it apart and take out the driver inside and wire those LEDs directly to your PWM driver, this way, you solve the heatsink issue. These MR16 12V 3W leds are cheap.

Another way is just buy the aluminum casing for 3W bulbs, not sure if you can find it on eBay, but it does exist and assembling it into a bulb is not that hard, I have done it for 3W, 5W, and 12W ones :slight_smile:

In terms of power supply, you can use any capable switch power supply suitable for the voltage in the country you plan to move to.

One other thing is LED bulbs save a lot energy and your electric bill . . . particularly when you don’t want to get up when the alarm sounds and the lights keeps going brighter and brighter . . . :slight_smile:

The rest is to design your real time clock . . . Good luck.

One more thing is, with LED approach, you can find LEDs with different color temperature, so you can set mood . . . you can even mix up different color temperature LEDs and have different perceived color temperature. I have seen this kind of LED bulbs.

as far as I could tell, the K8064 dimmer can be attached directly to the Arduino PWM for control.

I found this 3 LED light bulb, on Amazon - is that what you meant ? http://www.amazon.com/Lighting-EVER-Halogen-Replacement-Resecced/dp/B004BCVMEG

what do you use to drive them ? how do you find the LED's specs ?

mjkzz: I don't know how you are going to connect/link K8064 to Arduino, ie, how to control K8064 output? PWM?

Having done some LED projects myself, I am biased toward using high power LEDs. In your situation, you can buy some high power LED dimmers capable of PWM so that you can control intensity with Arduino. You can search for "PWM LED DRIVER" on eBay, you should be able to find plenty.

As for heatsink, you can buy some 3W MR16 LED bulb, take it apart and take out the driver inside and wire those LEDs directly to your PWM driver, this way, you solve the heatsink issue. These MR16 12V 3W leds are cheap.

Another way is just buy the aluminum casing for 3W bulbs, not sure if you can find it on eBay, but it does exist and assembling it into a bulb is not that hard, I have done it for 3W, 5W, and 12W ones :-)

In terms of power supply, you can use any capable switch power supply suitable for the voltage in the country you plan to move to.

One other thing is LED bulbs save a lot energy and your electric bill . . . particularly when you don't want to get up when the alarm sounds and the lights keeps going brighter and brighter . . . :-)

The rest is to design your real time clock . . . Good luck.

Most LEDs in MR16 bulb are 1W ones and most of them need 270-350ma to drive, so the one you found are probably the same. This is based on experience, not actual specs.

I mentioned that there are PWM drivers that can do 3W, please search Amazon or eBay with key word "PWM LED DRIVER". The one I have seen is based on PT4115, some others drivers allow you to adjust current etc.

I created an account just so I could respond to this post. I am also currently on my first arduino project, which is also a sunrise alarm clock. I am a little ahead of you in the process, but not much, but I can tell you about what I've learned so far if you have any questions.

Right now I have the clock working with a Real Time Clock unit with battery backup and a pin that goes high when the alarm goes off ($5), perfect for this project, but took me a while to figure out. I have the LCD screen working as well which displays the clock. For the lighting, I decided on LEDs. I did TONS and TONS of research into how LEDs work, how to make a constant current circuit, and how to drive LEDs properly. I started to buy all my own parts and build this super elaborate power scheme for it. Then one day, once I had familiarized myself with many of the ICs out there, I realized this cheap chinese constant current/voltage driverhttp://www.ebay.com/itm/321295655963?ssPageName=STRK:MEWAX:IT&_trksid=p3984.m1423.l2649 ($3) has an Enable Pin (XL4005 Check the Datasheet) and I think I can drive it under spec. So My current plan is just to wire the PWM out directly into the Enable Pin, and I believe it should work, without any more complicated wiring.

For the LEDs, I got the 10W LEDs off ebay from China. They probably put out the light of an expensive 3W LED, but the price is right. I originally bought larger ones (they go up to 50W), but the voltage required to drive them gets quite high. So Instead I am going with 5 10W RGB LEDs in Parallel, (Thats 3W per RGB Channel), and a driver for each.

Would love to provide help, and discuss this project as you'd like. I can tell you more about what I've gotten so far and maybe we can collaborate. I'm just doing a little each night, so progress is slow, but its coming along.

FWIW, these are the LEDs Im using - http://www.ebay.com/itm/141204691731?var=440273556984&ssPageName=STRK:MEWNX:IT&_trksid=p3984.m1497.l2649

Everyone talks about heat being an issue, but at 3W in that platform (max, per channel at 100% duty), I don't think it'll be an issue. Just the same, I'm strapping mine to a heat sink, it needs to be mounted to something after all. This will go in the bottom of a glass sphere: http://www.ebay.com/itm/161252321465?ssPageName=STRK:MEWNX:IT&_trksid=p3984.m1497.l2649

The opening to this is 8cm, and I found an 85mm assymetric glass lens to put at the bottom as well.

OK New developments. It turns out if you follow the tracings of those constant current/voltage boards theres somewhere you can solder a pin, and PWM works wonderfully.

On the downside, those lights produce a tremendous, stupendous amount of heat. Even on a heat sink they destroyed themselves in minutes. Im not sure what I did wrong, but now I have to wait for replacements from China.

Any ideas on how to produce lots of RGB light?