Final Project

Wake-Up Phone

Creating an alarm clock by recycling an old rotary dial telephone


Rotary Dial Telephone
Source: Rotary dial – Wikipedia

I came up with the idea for my project, when Matti introduced the rotary dial mechanisms of old telephones and how they can be used as potential inputs. I want to turn an old rotary dial telephone into an alarm clock and this is how it is supposed to work: the rotary dial is used to set up the time of the alarm. When the alarm goes off, the telephone starts ringing and it only stops, when the phone is picked up.

Like many other people, I find it difficult to get up early in the morning. Especially during autumn and winter here in Finland the days get really short and the mornings are dark. For this reason, I am using a light alarm clock (also called “wake-up light”) that makes it easier to wake up and get out of bed during dark times. Ideally, I manage to transform the telephone not only into an alarm clock but also into a light alarm clock.


Must have

The telephone must have a display that shows the time of clock and alarm. It must also have buttons for navigating (“Select” to switch between options and “Enter” to confirm the selection). The rotary dial must be used to set up the time of the clock and the alarm, and the original ringing sound of the telephone must be the alarm sound. Furthermore, picking up the phone must dismiss the alarm.

Should have

To turn the telephone into a wake-up light the telephone should also have a connection to a light source. 30 minutes before the alarm, the light should start to brighten continuously like a sunrise until it is at full brightness, when the alarm goes off. A LED strip should work well for this.

Could have

The telephone could have options to turn the light on and off and maybe even to adjust the brightness of the light. These information could be shown on the display.

Another extention could be to replace the build-in speaker and mikrophone of the phone with two bigger / louder speakers. I could then choose any audio I like to play as the alarm sound.


Matti told that these kinds of old telephones can be found in thrift stores or recycling centers all over Helsinki and are sold around 5-10 €. So I began my search and eventually found and bought one for 6 € at Metka kirpputori (

The phone seemed to be in good shape and I was pleased with the good deal I got. A small downside was that I had to clean it because it was really dirty in some places. Luckily, it was a similar model to the one Matti showed us. So I knew how to open the case by using a flat-head screwdriver to remove a screw on the backside of the telephone’s case.