Who among you has difficulty rising in the mornings? Sunrise clocks that simulate a — well, sunrise, are a gentle means of returning to the waking world. [FlorianH], grappling with this very issue, has built his own impressive sunrise clock he has named Circadia. Some sunrise clocks mate an LED with a dev board and call it a day. This work of hardware art will never be confused for something rudimentary.

Standing at 187cm tall, the 8mm thick PCB frame contains three main sections that plug into each other “like Lego”: the top houses a cleverly designed (and virtually silent) propeller clock and a speaker with a 3D-printed, omni-directional reflector. The midsection is reinforced with an MDF column, around which is wrapped 16 strips of 18 RGB LEDs with a heat-molded sheet of acrylic to diffuse the light, while the bottom section has the mid-woofer, the Raspberry Pi 2 brain, most of the electronics, and three switched power supplies.

Built over two years, the primary feature is a variety of themes — with more being added all the time — ranging from rain forest, to arctic, to the warp core of a starship that will rouse you over the course of a half hour. Circadia can also function as a visualizer during a party, or even a Tetris display (a theme that was designed and tested in an afternoon!). Seeing it in action is a treat:


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For a different take on a sunrise clock, check out this one that requires you to move the pieces on the clock face to set the time!

[Thanks for the submission, FlorianH!]


  1. Holy sht, that looks polished O_O

  2. notarealemail

    Artic Spring and ‘Tetris’ mode are my favorites.
    Absolutely fantastic work!

  3. Awesome, indeed !

  4. Michael Horne

    My goodness. What a thing of loveliness. 🙂

  5. Add weather animations, and you’ll have reached perfection!

  6. Beautiful work. However, to me, a sunrise clock is one that tracks the changing sunrise time at your location, waking you at a slightly different time each morning.

  7. I made something similar to that with https://hackaday.io/project/8327-light-alarm-clock
    Although it was set for a constant time to fade a light on leading up to my normal alarm time. Definitely made getting up in winter easier.

  8. Absolutely love this idea!

  9. Code?

  10. notarealemail

    I’ve looked around; he might give it out over email.

  11. Or he might (reasonably) want to sell this lovely thing. Though, it would be quite a project to replicate all the mechanical parts.

  12. Am I the only one thinking : “How do you get a RaspberryPi to talk to 800KHz smart LEDs?” Has anyone dug into this to see, if in fact, that is what’s going on in this project? I had thought that (almost?) any OS based computer wouldn’t be capable of producing and endless stream of perfectly timed 800KHz data to control so many smart LEDs. That you would need a dedicated “go-between-processor-board” like a dedicated Arduino.

  13. I find the Fadecandy board from adafruit is great for this purpose. It communicates with Open Pixel Control over USB and handles up to 64 individually-addressable LEDS per channel (8 channels per chip, 512 LEDs total).

  14. But Fadecandy requires a server—too much trouble!

  15. It won’t be capable of doing it in stupid bit-banging mode. Which is anyway not the way to do this when you want some performance of the system. There are always peripherals like SPI, PWM, DMA or I2S hardware devices- Luckily in the mean time somebody made a library for the Pi which is able to do it. After all the Chip of the Raspberry Pi is called a System-on-a-Chip, not just a CPU or MCU.

  16. The Raspberry Pi can drive addressable LEDs directly thanks to the PWM engine – https://github.com/jgarff/rpi_ws281x

  17. I absolutely love this, but unfortunately my attempts at something similar revealed that I’d just burrow deeper and deeper into the covers as the light and noise increased and sleep through it all. Perhaps some Jetson-like sheet puller is needed…

  18. If you just want to wake up in the engine room in deep space with a sore head, go drinking in the wrong bars near a spaceport.

  19. NewCommentor1283

    as a moodlight/alarmclock, the appearence is very pleasing.
    and the non-sunrise modes look cool; tetris-screen saver anyone? 😀
    but as a sunrise… it seems to me like a halfway improvement
    i dont mean to say its useless, its better then a monochrome sunrise!
    a MONOchrome sunrise is not bad, but not great either, and a full-color sunrise is great, but why pay for RGB when RGB is halfway between mono and full(er)-spectrum?
    i mean we are talking about a biological process, if sleep is disturbed by royal blue light, then maybe having the orange and yellow (and lime?) (and cayan) (and violet) might be a lot better then RGB?
    so shouldnt any non-monochrome sunrise be made using ROYLGCBV or at least ROYGB ??? i mean individual LEDs are always cheaper, right?
    PS maybe the cost of C and V are excessive, the V being not very efficient (like lime) and C being new and hard to find (im NOT talking about GB hardwired for C or B with G phosphor, im talking about either C chip or B/UV chip with CAYAN phosphor)

  20. I’ve been wondering about something similar but, rather than trying to buy a myriad of different spectrum LEDs and balancing them, I wondered about using a full-spectrum white LED (one with a high CRI, such as those from Yuji that had been mentioned a couple of weeks back), possibly combined with a simple RGB array for transition periods.
    I’m not sure there is a complete spread of LED colours to fill the entire visible spectrum, most are just very tight ‘spikes’.

  21. Holy Shit ! … Take my money now !

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