Really Alarming Project Started

The parts are in to start prototyping the next project!

I am embarking on a new project to save myself some frustration in my personal life. I have two teenage sons and one of the rules in our house is that screens/phones aren’t allowed in their room after bed time. So, that has left me being the alarm clock that gets them out of bed in the morning. I could just go out and by an “old fashioned” alarm clock but I am a single parent and they spend the end of the week at their mother’s place, which means I would be the one getting woken up by their alarm going off on the weekends not them. Unless of course I/they remember to turn off the alarm when they leave for their mum’s. Then, there is the other opposite problem of remembering to turn the alarm back on again when they get back.

This all leads me to a point where I am in need of an alarm clock for the boys that has a configurable day-of-the-week alarm function. That way we can have it configured to only have alarms go off on the days that they are actually at our house and allows me to get my much loved sleep-in on the weekends. This is where Really Alarming comes in! Really Alarming will be a configurable and easy to use physical alarm clock for them to have in their bedroom and that replaces their old warn out model called Dad.

It will be a WiFi enabled alarm clock with a simple button layout for basic usage (E.g. snoozing and turning off alarms) as well as a web based user interface for configuring the device and setting up different alarm options.

The backbone of the project is a LILYGO TTGO T5 development board with a 2.13″ E-Ink display. This is powered by an ESP32 microcontroller, includes a GDEH0213B72 display driver and has a large amount of i/o pins broken out for connecting to the rest of the hardware.

The other parts that are going to be used will be one or two white LEDs for lighting the display, since this board hasn’t got a built in backlight, a DS3231 RTC module with an extra 32k of EEPROM onboard for accurate timekeeping and storage of configuration data respectively, a piezo buzzer for generating the most annoying alarm sounds possible and a series of tactile buttons for basic operation.

I’ve decided to go with an extra RTC module over syncing with an online time keeping service because I am trying to keep the device as self contained as possible. Once the initial project is finished, I may extend it’s functionality with things like datalogging, so that I can log how long it takes the boys to turn off the alarm with different alarm tones, specific date alarms, alarm tone uploading, etc. The T5 board also has an external LiPo battery input that I may take advantage of to make it fully portable.

From here, I plan on testing the RTC/EEPROM module, designing a flexible/scalable GUI library for the E-Ink display, making the self-hosted configuration website and then integrating them all together.

After all of that, I plan on not having to wake my boys up to get them ready for school ever again! I know that last one is probably an unattainable goal. But, I like to dream big!

If you feel like helping out, don’t be afraid to get in contact with me via the GitHub page or Discord server that is linked in the project Wiki.


Link to my Old WordPress Site

In an attempt to consolidate my only presence somewhat, here is a link to my long neglected WordPress site. One of my projects actually got featured on the technology blog website HackAday back in the day.

Feel free to look around and ask me any questions on here. I don’t intend to check comments on that site anymore though, so please comment here if you would like a prompt reply.

Looking forward to hearing from you all.


MigraineAway v1.0 Just Released

MigraineAway Logo

Constantly looking at a computer screen for hours on end can cause migraines due to eye strain and/or bad posture. MigraineAway aims to prevent this by reminding the user to take regular breaks away from their device.

MigraineAway was initially developed out of a need for me to take regular breaks whilst coding. I was suffering from migraines due to eye strain (hence the name) and needed a simple timer that would remind me to look away into the distance every now and then.

A nice side effect of creating this small app is that I now also have a simple timer that I can use to steep the perfect cup of tea! FYI, 3 to 4 minutes at ~80°C is perfect! I also use it to remind me to go and pickup my take-away lunch after ordering it on the phone.

How it works

MigraineAway is a stand alone app designed for the Windows operating system. It has a simple to use interface that isn’t filled with unnecessary clutter. You have one time for setting how long your work blocks are for and another for how long your breaks are. These default values can be changed within the apps configuration file or you can write your own custom times into the corresponding input boxes (formatted as hh:mm:ss. So, the above screenshot has a work time of 30 minutes).

Clicking “Start Work” will start a timer that will last for the length of time stated within the Work Time input field. The window will also minimise by itself so that you can get straight to work. Once the time has elapsed, the window will pop up over the top of all your currently running applications and start slowly flashing blue to give you an obvious prompt to take a break.

If you click the “Start Break” button, a timer will be started in the same way as the work timer, except the app will not automatically minimise.


The only little issue I have found with MigraineAway popping in front of what you are currently doing is that sometimes you’ll press either the enter or spacebar keys at the exact time that the timer pops up. This will then restart the timer and re-minimise the app. It’s not a huge issue, but just something to be aware of.


MigraineAway is a very simple application but that has also made it quite handy in my everyday work life. It is a no fuss timer that isn’t too in-your-face to be annoying. But, is also just enough in-your-face so that you remember to take those all important breaks!

Go and grab your copy now! Or, feel free to get in contact if you wish to help collaborate on some improvements.