After finishing his jukebox project, maker Octo (Derek Konigsberg) found himself in a situation that many of us struggle with: what to do next. We all want to build something that stands out — something that’s useful, original, and worth the effort. After spending some time searching the internet for inspiration, Octo decided to build an alarm clock that wakes you up with the pleasing sounds of retro games instead of a grating buzzer.
Octo’s Nestronic alarm clock project was heavily inspired by Aidan Lawrence’s Sega Genesis VGM Player, which we’ve covered in the past. Unlike the Sega Genesis, however, the NES didn’t have a dedicated sound synthesis chip. Instead, the NES had a modified MOS 6502 CPU, with an integrated APU (Audio Processing Unit). To get that working, Octo did some pretty incredible work to interface a real NES CPU with an ESP32 in order to extract and play the music from NES games.
That huge undertaking was only half the battle — he still had to make the actual alarm clock. His gorgeous design, which is 3D printed, looks exactly like what you’d expect an NES-themed alarm clock would. Gray and black plastic with orange-red accents, and a controls on top that match the original NES controller. With those controls and the display on the front, you can select test sounds and what the alarm sound should be, and they’re all from the classic games you grew up with. Octo has generously provided the code and schematics to build your own over on the GitHub page.