There are quite a few commercial products that are easy to replicate with a Raspberry Pi. For many makers, its often more fun to create your own version of something and that seems to be the case with Matthias Wandel. Using our favorite microcontroller, the Raspberry Pi Pico, Wandel has developed an LED-based timer that changes color instead of using alarms or beeps.
The idea began when Wandel’s brother-in-law, who is a counselor, brought to his attention an LED cube timer that changes color to signify the passage of time rather than a clock face. However, the clock must be pre-ordered and gets pricey when factoring in shipping. Wandel decided to create one of his own using a custom design and unique input parameters.
The LEDs are a chain of NeoPixel WS2812B RGB LEDs which are controlled to produced a series of colors. The light begins as a teal color at the beginning of a session, changing to yellow around the halfway mark. By the last five minutes, the LEDs change to red before flashing purple if the session is in overtime. It can be programmed with a variety of session lengths and warning lights but this one works well for Wandel’s idea of a therapy light.
The project is driven by a Raspberry Pi Pico and housed inside of a custom made enclosure. Instead of 3D printing or laser cutting a case, this one is handcrafted out of wood. It also features wooden buttons on the top. These interact with the GPIO pins on the Pico which triggers the light effects accordingly.
The light from the LEDs is diffused using a plastic light diffuser. A small window on the front of the box features a plexiglass panel. The lights are mounted behind this panel to the back of the box. The rest of the electronics tuck neatly against the wood frame thanks to a mount put together by Wandel.
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Ash Hill is a Freelance News and Features Writer at Tom's Hardware US. She manages the Pi projects of the month and much of our daily Raspberry Pi reporting.