Kitchen timer hack

18 07 2015

I had the idea of using a programmable timer for lucid dreaming or sleep exploration quite a while back. Recently I even thought of purchasing something along the lines of a wearable Gymboss fitness type trainer as it can be multi-programmed with different timings, has a short ringing alarm bleep and even features a built-in vibration motor.

However during my travels I came about a cheap kitchen timer generally used for cooking from a local charity shop in town.

kitchen timer

 

I didn’t say what I wanted it for, plus I’m useless in the kitchen. I was tempted to ask if it came with the Jolly Roger Cookbook. The latter which most schoolkids had as a bootleg copy on floppy disk for the Commodore Amiga back in the days before Google.

 

Features

The ‘Simply Delicious’ is a fairly bog standard 3 button single-programmable LCD timer which can countdown from anything between a maximum of 19 hr 59 min down to 1 min.

It can also act like a stopwatch count-up timer.

The annoying thing apart from being single programmable is that the length of the alarm bleep cannot be changed from the default 60 seconds duration. The good news however is that the alarm can be switched off beforehand where there is also repeat option available.

Power for the device is via a single 1.5 volt AA sized battery.

 
Overview

After initial tests and cleaning I decided to rip the thing apart. Upon pcb inspection I wired in a couple of 3.5 mm jack sockets that I had knocking around. The first one I managed to cram in is on the audio output to the piezo buzzer. This gives me the option for either external audio or LED lighting, etc.

Timer pcb mod

 

I would have liked to have used a mini-vibration motor but I would have needed a driver stage and an extra power supply to use it. An LCD backlight, although a useful idea for night use would have meant more fiddling about for me as I wanted to keep things simple.

The second socket had to be mounted on the back of the case. This is wired in parallel with the start/stop switch for remote operation.

 

Testing

I intend to experiment with the modified timer, either for WILD and awareness practice or reality checking, with the remote switch in my hand providing it is sensitive enough to detect when I’m dropping off to sleep.

Modified timer for WILD

Complete set up

 

I now have the option of either using the normal built in buzzer, or I can use an external LED mounted in my mask. One idea would be to set a target time length and countdown to aim for one of my longer REM periods like how the Remee sleep mask does, except I will have the major disadvantage of a long trigger output which is more likely to wake me up.

The output could also be used to latch a relay for use with an Arduino board or a computer but it defeats the object for a single standalone portable device.

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