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Old 11-19-2016, 11:47 PM   #1
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A Mod for, not to, my Escape.

ne·ces·si·ty, nəˈsesədē/, noun.
1. the fact of being required or indispensable.

Ok, not a necessity... But I really needed this for our Escape.
What is it? Its an alarm clock I built to my (unusual) sense of needs and desires.

I required an alarm clock that would:
a. Run on 12 volts.
b. Be easy to use. (No buttons)
c. Have an external antenna connection for camping in the boondocks.
d. Fit on the narrow shelf at the front of our '21.
e. Play my MP3 music, and when available, connect to WiFi for streaming my NPR station.

Since I could find nothing that fit the above, I decided to try to roll my own. Being a recently retired software engineer I figured a cheap computer could be the heart of the project. A quick google search and an application of credit card magic brought a Raspberry Pi and touch screen to my door.

A Raspberry Pi is a palm size wonder. 4 cores, wifi, usb, sdhc slot, gpio pins, 1 Gb ram, bluetooth, I2C - all for under $40. The 7" touch screen unfortunately was double that, but was the only solution to a no-button design. And I hate the tiny buttons on our bedroom alarm clock that lock the controls to "play" if you hit the wrong one at 5 am in the dark.

The "problem" quickly became bells-and-whistle-itis. To the requirement list I added goodies like:
battery backup, light sensor for automatic dimming, temperature sensor to see if I should stay under the covers, 7 day alarm for each day of the week, SDR radio so I could listen to ham radio if I got tired of NPR, adjustable volume ramping so as to not shock my delicate ears at 5 am, backlight ramping to match the volume ramping, quick timezone set for those east/west trips. And the list could be endless since its all software! Fortunately Susannah put her foot down and vetoed the built in GPS, barometer, video playback, maps, etc. Maybe in version II?

The first batch of photos show the innards. More to follow...
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Old 11-20-2016, 12:00 AM   #2
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Escape Alarm - continued.

Quote:
Originally Posted by alanmalk View Post
The first batch of photos show the innards. More to follow...
Here are photos of the important part. The main screen plus the screens that are used for settings - accessable by a finger swipe right or left. I can set the wake up parameters - volume and ramp-up. Push button time zones. Alarm times - day by day or a week at a time. Plus a "today only" alarm that does not disturbe the daily settings (to remind me of happy hour or other don't-miss events.) And the dim light display, which the camera ruined by trying to compensate for the dark room. Actually, the digits are dark grey on a black background. At the dimmest setting they can not be seen in normal light. The light sensor decides when the room is dark and switches to dim with oversize digits and all other information blacked-out. (We like a dark sleeping area.)

More to follow...
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Old 11-20-2016, 12:05 AM   #3
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Quote:
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More to follow...
And since it is really is a computer masquerading as a clock, some computer housekeeping functions plus the Raspberry Pi desktop (linux OS) seen when the clock is not running.

The clock software for anyone interested consists of about 2200 lines of Python. It was my first Python project and probably would make an experienced Python programmer cringe. But if you want a copy - at your own risk - feel free to ask.

Sleep tight,
Alan
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Old 11-20-2016, 12:17 AM   #4
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Super cool in a delightful nerdy way!
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Old 11-20-2016, 12:19 AM   #5
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Very nice Alan. You could also easily expand the functionality to automate lights or other things.
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Old 11-20-2016, 12:23 AM   #6
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I like it Mostly because you built what you wanted, Alan.

The version II possibilities all sound feasible, although each major functionality will cost about as much as buying a dedicated device (such as a GPS navigator).

Have you considered synching it to whatever you use for a calendar - if you use one - such as Google Calendar, iCalendar, or whatever?
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Old 11-20-2016, 12:27 AM   #7
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Well done. But how come you get to sleep in so late on Tuesdays?
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Old 11-20-2016, 12:29 AM   #8
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Alan, I love your clock. Don't know Python nor have the time now but it looks like a marvelous project that many would enjoy having. That it feeds on 12vdc is icing on the cake. Excellent project Alan.
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Old 11-20-2016, 12:31 AM   #9
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Quote:
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Very nice Alan. You could also easily expand the functionality to automate lights or other things.
Yes this has great potential managing so many trailer systems.
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Old 11-20-2016, 06:57 AM   #10
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Very impressive, well done!
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Old 11-20-2016, 07:38 AM   #11
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Very cool. I like that you wanted it so you built it!
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Old 11-20-2016, 08:11 AM   #12
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Alan, No voice command mode? Really?
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Old 11-20-2016, 08:20 AM   #13
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This is self-sufficiency of the highest order; very impressive. However, I'm very sorry for anyone who wants to be artificially awoken from a good night's sleep .
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Old 11-20-2016, 09:19 AM   #14
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Hi: alanmalk... Nice getup!!! I sure hope you enjoy the 5 minutes extra sleep on Tue morn's. For me the days of driving bus and being timed are over... gone are the mornings of being "Alarmed" too!!! Alf
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Old 11-20-2016, 09:27 AM   #15
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Alan,
You could make a little extra on the side by producing some duplicates, very nice, something I would like to have. Right now my alarm clock is 2 labrador retrievers, Franklin and Hershey...but once they cross the rainbow bridge they will be missed.
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Old 11-20-2016, 09:53 AM   #16
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Damn, Alan, that is one kick-ass creation!
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Old 11-20-2016, 11:03 AM   #17
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Nice job, on a device that you wanted and built.
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Old 11-20-2016, 11:05 AM   #18
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Did you time the time it took the build?
Just kidding! Very impressive!!! Will make some people jealous, that's for sure.
Not me. I keep on dreaming about my vintage bell alarm that only worked after winding it up.
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Old 11-20-2016, 11:25 AM   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ReagentGrade View Post
Alan, No voice command mode? Really?
Voice control, wireless dimming of lights, calendar sync, etc. - oh-me, oh-my. There is no end in sight, except for the fact that the Boss said "NO". I've been relageted back to washing and waxing...

Five extra minutes on Tuesdays for good behavior!

Adding in my hours would be crushing...

Thanks everyone!
--
Alan
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Old 11-20-2016, 12:32 PM   #20
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Quote:
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I keep on dreaming about my vintage bell alarm that only worked after winding it up.
I thought Myron's response would be a photo of one of those.

Great project for the techno minded.

Ron
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