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Timed dimmer (ie "Dawn simulator")

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I've spent the past several days looking at "dawn simulators" and being aghast at their prices.  This has led me to wondering how difficult it would be to create one independently.  Unfortunately, I am only familiar with electronics from physics class and the few little breadboard projects we did there.  However, if someone who actually knows what they're doing is looking for a project which could be useful to themselves and maybe even marketable, this seems like it has potential.

The idea is to work essentially like an alarm, where you set a time at which to trigger an event.  Instead of making noise however, it would begin the process of slooooooowly turning on a light, which would not come to its full intensity until perhaps 30-60 minutes later. 

It is difficult to find many of these devices that cost under $100; am I crazy in thinking it could be built for much less than that?  Would it be easier to make a module that a lamp plugs into, or have the light on-board?  Anyone know of an electronics kit that would contain components capable of making this?  I don't have experience with electronics, but I'm a very logic-oriented person and can usually figure stuff out eventually.

Heck if any of you electro-gurus could make something like this for cheaper than the store, I'd happily commission the project.

- Dan (A single-poster who speaks english natively!)

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Hi Dan

doesn't sound too difficult, essentially it's just an alarm clock (4, 7 segment LED displays or LCD display plus some means of setting time and an alarm time). 

Thereafter it's just a dimmer circuit, fired from fully off to fully on for a programmable time (another 2 switches).

I'm sure there are many on this forum who could design one, maybe even me, if and when I get the time.

Nor should it be horribly expensive! (Take a look at the 'giveaway' clocks available and imagine the cost of adding dimming....zilch + zilch =



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You can turn the light on slowly with a Pulse Width Modulation (PWM) circuit. The expensive units in your link are most likely controlled with a microcontroller.
You could certainly make a PWM circuit without micro connected to the buzzer circuit of an existing alarm clock.
I do not have the time to design one, but there have been a number of conversations on this site regarding PWM control and in these posts, I recall seeing several schematics. This should get you where you need to go.
This site is all about learning.


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