Home > Group Projects > Handy Timer Project
UPDATED:.22:51 05 March 2020


A versatile timer that can be used in a wide range of projects.

It's compact and runs from an on board 3v button cell and with a micro-controller it can go to "sleep" when not in use conusming a few micro-amps meaning battery life up to 12 months. So no wires and no power switch!

Set in 30 second intervals, by repeatedly presseing the button up to a maximum of 5 miunutes. There are 4 LEDs which indicate the last 120 seconds. To cancel just pause and press the button again

This project is available in our shop now!.

With such a wide range of applications, this can be easily tailored to cover a topic chosen by a student, or to explore ideas in one particular topic selected by the teacher.

Some suggested applications are:

  • Fitness program, reps, HIT
  • Turn time when playing games
  • Shower timer using water wisely
  • Cleaning teeth
  • Cooking eggs, meats, steak
  • Developer timer.

The timer has a range of extra functional features listed below.
  • Every press of the button the timer flashes an LED up to 2 minutes to show it has been set
  • Every 30 seconds of count down the timer beeps twice with the pitch getting progressively lower.
  • When timing finishes, it plays a brief tune.
  • If the timing is cancelled it plays a sequence of notes with a falling pitch and the LEDs seqence down

Amazing what you can program a PIC chip to do!

This is the new version (v3.14) which is shown below and makes the buzzer a little louder.

If you need to look at the circuit of the old version 2 then click here.

An example of the PCB from our shop

The PCB measures approximately 60mm x 29mm with an extra 6mm needed for the button cell.

The component layout is identical for versions 2 and 3 but the components are not. Assembly details are available at the bottom of the page.

Circuit Diagram - v3.14

The heart of the circuit is a PIC micro-controller that has runs a programme pre-loaded into it. It generates the timing, control of the LEDs and sound effects.

When functioning the circuit draws around 5mA which is mainly due to the LEDs. When not in use, the controller goes into "sleep" mode where it almost shuts down, saving power. When the button is pressed, it immediately wakes up. This means that the button cell lasts for months and there is no need for a switch and with everything on the PCB, it means no wires either!


The projects shown are made using "layering" where a drawn or cartoon image is taken and split into layers and sections. A particular area can be chosen for the LEDs and button depending on the image or theme chosen. The position of the PCB, LEDs and button can be found using a template.

For example, a cooking timer could use a Chef as the design:

Select a cartoon of a character you want to use for the timer. It needs to be fairly simple in order to split it into seperate parts.

Use a template of the PCB showing the position of the LEDs and the button, to find a suitable position for them to go. The thickness of the material can be up to 5mm.

PCB Dimensions

There are templates below available for download - print out on to card.
Break the image into simple shapes allowing some overlap where pieces join together. Also layer some features.
Draw these pieces onto 4mm birch plywood or MDF. Fit them neatly so to save materials. Cut out using a fine blade coping saw or powered fret saw
Paint the front, sides and back using poster paint or PVA paints. Try to leave areas clear where gluing together.
When gluing together, ensure that the buzzer and IC is not obstructed so that the PCB sits flat.

The PCB can be held in place with a 12.5mm x 4 self-tapping screw with a pilot hole of 2.5mm drilled into the plywood or MDF. Be sure not to drill too far. In most cases only one screw is needed. The PCB fits 6.5mm from the back of the model. A guide can be used to help solder the LEDs at the correct height.

The finished model can be placed on an oval plinth with triangle supports behind the feet to strengthen the join.


These toothbrush timers are made from 3mm acrylic in just 3 different colours and glued with tensol. The pieces are laser cut from a software design package.

The penguin has an extended tail which has been shaped using a strip heater to create a stand. A piece of softwood has been glued with epoxy glue to the back and a piece of 1.5mm HIPS fitted over the PCB with a self taping screw. This version is hung on the wall using a bracket made from white acrylic shaped with a strip heater and glued to the back. There is also a bracket to hold a toothbrush on the back. This also has softwood and a HIPS bracket to hold the PCB in place.

Use a plastic guide of 6mm in height to solder the LEDs into place as shown. (Guides are supplied in the kits from our shop)

Step-by-step PCB Assembly Guide (v3.914) - PPT

Assembly Instructions v3.914 - PDF

Templates for PCB - PDF

There are kits available from our shop pages in packs of 1x, 10x and 50x which offers bulk discount.