discussion / Acoustics  / 5 April 2024

WILDLABS AWARDS 2024 - TimeLord: A low-cost, low-power and low-difficulty timer board to control battery-powered devices

Hi everyone,

@Alasdair from Arribada Initiative and I are so pleased to announce our TimeLord project as one of the lucky winners of this year's WILDLABS Awards. What is TimeLord we hear you ask? It's an open source, 1-4 channel timer board designed around powerful and feature-rich Arm architecture, capable of easily controlling one or more peripheral devices such as GPS loggers, drop-offs, VHF/UHF transmitters, cameras, audio recorders, LEDs, sound players and a host of other devices. By providing an easy-to-use yet powerful control system at a very affordable price, conservation practitioners will be able to build modular devices that suit their specific requirements and use minimal power without needing a PhD in electrical engineering in order to custom design devices, or a multi-million dollar trust fund to pay for them. Instead of being limited by the cost and inflexibility of commercially-available hardware, TimeLord will give practitioners the opportunity to mix and match sensors in a straightforward and modular fashion. 

To make working with the TimeLord even easier, we will also provide a highly intuitive user interface (UI) for programming schedules, so that users require no knowledge of coding or complex firmware navigation. Using plain English ‘rules’, users will be able to create simple or complex schedules that provide a graphical feedback showing exactly how the schedule will operate. Multi-channel scheduling can also be compared to ensure sensors that are meant to work synchronously, either fully or in-part, will do so. A host of pre-made shedule options will also be available to choose from, making it as easy as a click of a few buttons to fully program your TimeLord. We will also provide users with ongoing support and tutorials through WILDLABS on how to source and add new sensors (including tutorials on how to hack into power and on/off controls of off-the-shelf devices), create 3D print files for housings and other guidance as requested. 

We are so grateful to WILDLABS and Arm for the opportunity to make TimeLord a reality and are looking really forward to working closely with the WILDLABS community as we develop and test boards, so we can maximise utility. On that front, we'd be grateful to hear about what sensors or devices might be of interest to community members for their particular projects, or what features TimeLord should have. For example, we are considering adding the ablity for boards to have additional, external controls such as PIR motion sensors or a reed switch so boards can be fully encapsulated. So please do let us know your thoughts and ideas. 

TimeLord concept image

Thanks everyone and thanks once again to WILDLABS and Arm for this amazing opportunity.

All the best,



Liz Ferguson
Ocean Science Analytics
Marine mammal ecologist and online technical trainer
Commenter level 1
Reactor level 1
Conversation starter level 1

Wow @Rob_Appleby what a useful and important contribution to the conservation tech community! Congrats on the award!


Lars Holst Hansen
Aarhus University
Biologist and Research Technician working with ecosystem monitoring and research at Zackenberg Research Station in Greenland
Conversation starter level 3
Popular level 3
Poster level 2
Reactor level 3
Involvement level 3

Congratulations on the grant! Looking much forward to hopefully follow along on your progress with this and in seeing the final thing!



So, so cool!!! As one of the non-electrical-engineering-phd folks, I am SO appreciative of this! lol

hey @Rob_Appleby this new preprint may be of interest!