Toastmasters Speech Timer

Hey, I'm new at this (this is my first post, but I did have the common decency to Google and make sure there wasn't already something out there on this) and want to see if a project I'm thinking of tackling is even feasible for someone with no experience.

I am the president of my local Toastmasters club. People give speeches and have them timed and evaluated. The speeches range in length from 1-2 minutes to upwards of 20 minutes, but the common thread is that there is a defined minimum time and maximum time. The speaker is notified when he has reached the minimum time with a green card, then shown a yellow card upon reaching the midpoint between the minimum and maximum times, and finally shown a red card upon reaching the maximum time limit for the speech.

I would like to replace this manual function with a machine that would look something like a stoplight but would automatically time the speeches and light up the green, yellow, and red lights automatically as needed. I think the easiest way to control the device would be to connect it to a smartphone or laptop through a captive WiFi connection, but I am open to other suggestions.

I have fairly extensive C++ experience but haven't used it in a long time. I'm confident in my ability to program this device, though. It's the hardware side I'm worried about.

Is this something feasible for a first project, or am I about to get in over my head?

If it is feasible, is it something that could be done with Arduino, and do you have any suggestions in terms of LED modules, power supply, and a case?

What role would the smartphone play? You could do this with nothing more than three colored LEDs and three resistors and a little code. Maybe a button to start it up. Does the time need to be adjustable? That might necessitate a couple more buttons and some sort of display, either an LCD or like a 4 digit 7-segment display. Either way, super simple to code and the hardware side is all very well documented.

delta beat me to it. Was going to say just that

Delta_G: Does the time need to be adjustable?

Probably a few standard times, like maybe a 2, 5, 10 or 20 minute talk, needing a couple of buttons to choose the right one, or a rotary switch, without the need to dial in an actual number?

Then the minimum, midway and max values are hardcoded in each case of a switch/case, the case being determined by which button is pressed or the position of the rotary switch.

Delta_G: either an LCD or like a 4 digit 7-segment display

How far from the speaker will this device be?

dougp:

either an LCD or like a 4 digit 7-segment display

How far from the speaker will this device be?

I don't think the suggested display is for the speaker but for the official to set the time for the next one up.

kenwood120s: How far from the speaker will this device be?

I don't think the suggested display is for the speaker but for the official to set the time for the next one up.

Bingo!

And if the LEDs aren't big or bright enough, you can always swap them out later for strips or even proper light bulbs on relays. But you can get it working first with LEDs.

Whitesox14: I would like to replace this manual function with a machine that would look something like a stoplight but would automatically time the speeches and light up the green, yellow, and red lights automatically as needed.

kenwood120s: I don't think the suggested display is for the speaker but for the official to set the time for the next one up.

Hence, my question. I take Whitesox14's statement to mean that the timer is with the official for starting/stopping/etc. but will have LEDs - rather than manually lifted cards - to inform the speaker about his time. If we're talking about a garden variety single LED it'd be easy to spot from two feet. From across the room, not so much.

But, I could be wrong.

Two answers to questions that have been asked so far:

  1. The display is for the speaker so he knows how much time he has been talking. The speaker will be approximately 20-30 feet from the display, so it needs to be bright enough to be seen from far away but not bright enough to blind someone sitting close by.

  2. Yes, the times will need to be adjustable. I don't know if a predetermined list of times or a custom setting (or some combination of both) is best, though. I'd prefer to have both so the timer can be started quickly for most speeches but can still be configured for a speech that's a weird length.

Delta_G: What role would the smartphone play?

Alternatively, this is a project which could be implemented entirely on a smart phone - just show the colours on the screen.

...R

If you're not bent on building a display yourself you could get something like this.

Robin2: Alternatively, this is a project which could be implemented entirely on a smart phone - just show the colours on the screen. ...R

Yes, there are apps for that.

I think I'm going to go ahead with this project. It seems like it's a good first project that wouldn't be prohibitively difficult.

So I've picked out most of the parts I'd need; all i am having a difficult time finding is some good LED modules that are a decent size but not too bright.

Any suggestions?

A starting point.

If you can't find one with adjustable brightness perhaps you could dim it with a fabric cover. Something like black hosiery stretched over the lighted part.

Hi all, I dont know if this is still relevant, but this code uses an ESP8266 and a 32x64 RGB LED matrix as a timer that changes color according to the time frame set in a browser app.

https://github.com/DarmstadtBri/ToastmastersTimerWiFi