James Bond villain-style alarm clock for the deaf

A quick post today: I’m in a tearing hurry trying to get our display for today’s UK Technology Industry reception at Buckingham Palace ready, in the face a few awkwardnesses. We’ve got an entire education team and half an engineering team that’s off sick with something we’re calling the Raspberry Flu, and an SD card that corrupted when someone who will not be named yanked the power cable at an awkward moment. Frustrated weeping commenced about thirty minutes ago, but I think we’re going to get everything sorted in time.

Here is Kim Wall’s rather magnificent giant deaf alarm. It’s very feature-heavy, with a fire alert, an IRC interface, and the ability to hook up to other things around the house like the doorbell and phone. I’ve spent ages using my Google-fu to try to find out more information about it, but sadly all we’ve been able to come up with is this video, and the explanatory text next to it on YouTube:

Over at YouTube, Kim says:

Control is via the LCD and buttons, and also over the network via an IRC bot interface. Fire alerter and vibrating pad are FireAngel Wi-Safe2, which continues to operate if the clock fails.

The clock is also a GPS-based Stratum 1 network time server, and is able to maintain accurate time without a working network connection.

The clock will connect with other modules over the network for doorbell, telephone alerter, central heating control and various other features.

Power is supplied at 48V in a IEEE 802.3af style, but as the Raspberry Pi lacks POE breakout, the passive POE dongle is required.

We’d love to learn more about your setup, Kim; if you’re reading this, please drop us an email!


David avatar

So why does the countdown skip 5?

Chris avatar

There’s probably some rounding down going on. If you notice, there’s also a whole second between the countdown displaying zero and the actual time ticking over.
Behind the scenes, I predict there’s something with a 1 second sleep() in it that’s doing the countdown, but always querying the system clock to derive the number to display from the actual time. In other words, what you’re seeing is more like 8.002, 7.001, 6.000, 4.999, 3.999, 2.998, 1.997, 0.996, in all cases rounded down.

David avatar

I figured something like that (I’m a software engineer). It just made me smile and think of hypnotists that make you forget the number 7 and then ask you to count to 10


Dougie avatar

All countdowns should skip “five”, it sounds too much like “fire” with potentially disastrous consequences.

ukscone avatar

I believe in the British army it is at least it was mentioned in an episode of scrapheap/challenge/junkyard wars (i saw it on US TV so not sure what it was really called) and when I was learning German many years ago my teacher said that luftwaffe used Zwo rather than Zwei so that two wouldn’t be confused over the radio although i’ve heard other stories about the Zwei/Zwo thing so it might not be true

Bantammenace avatar

wrt. getting-ready in a hurry, I have three plans that always seem to work.
Plan A: Put on a Blue Peter badge (in my head), find a few coat hangers and some sticky-backed plastic.
Plan B: Start drinking heavily.
Plan C. Don’t forget to hold your hat on with your hand.
Good Luck round at Liz’s place and watch out for the Corgis.

AndrewS avatar

Great use of the Pink Windmill :-)

Best wishes for speedy recoveries from the Raspberry Flu!

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