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I'm looking for a device I'm not sure if it easists.

I'd like a hardware button that I can press occasionally. I'd like to later be able to plug it into - say, a USB port and get a list of times/dates when the button has been pushed. (So, far example, if I have the button next to the kettle I could press it every time I make a coffee - and then at the end of the month plug it in and find out how many coffees I have.

Do we have anything like this on the market?

(Yes, paper and pen would kind of work - but I'd like it to be as low effort as possible for each time and I'd like electronic dataset to play with...)

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This would be crazy-easy to build with any tiny microcontroller, like a teensy etc. Arduino might be easier because they're ubiquitous, and a tinyduino or similar is about the same size. –  Dave Newton Oct 17 '12 at 1:49
    
If you have a smartphone, it should be fairly trivial to build an app like this, if you can get past the significant Hello World barrier. I can probably put together an Android one over a weekend if there's enough requests for it. –  Muz Oct 19 '12 at 16:20
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6 Answers

up vote 4 down vote accepted

The simple GPS logger I own has the feature to record a timestamp (along with the location) if you press a button. The downside of this for your use is the limited runtime of those devices (I guess around 8h per charge).

Do you own a smartphone? Then you could think of a number of setups which record timestamps a the press of a button.

If you are into programming a little bit, this sounds like a nice project for a microcontroller. I'm not very familiar with the Arduino, but those are usually very beginner friendly. It exists a extension PCB (those are called "shields" in the Arduino lingo) for datalogging with a real time clock and an SD slot. Writing a piece of code which records a timestamp when a button is pressed should be a piece of cake.

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Arduino is certainly coming up as a way to go (because it's also a nice weekend project to get into. SmartPhone is a few too many button presses for me (out of pocket, unlock, open app, press, close, back in pocket) –  Joe Oct 15 '12 at 9:29
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Your best resource for this is Electronic Counters. They have both electronic and mechanical counters that you increment by pushing a button.

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Those look cool - but I was kind of looking for something that took a timestamp as well... :s –  Joe Oct 15 '12 at 9:29
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This reminded me of this device that a friend got from public radio.

http://www.radiobookmark.com/

I don't know if you would be able to hack the device but I believe all it does is store a time stamp every time you click the button. They intended use is to be able to go back and stream the radio show you were listening to on public radio. But if you can hack the device and just get access to the time stamps then it would do what you want.

A smart phone application would be really easy. Wouldn't even need to build a true app, just a simple web page with the counter on it. Hit the bookmarks every time you get coffee.

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If you're trying to figure out how much time you spend on the computer...and where you are spending it...you could check out RescueTime. It only helps with computer usage though so you'd need the computer near your coffee.

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Hi Cynthia - welcome to the site. This question would be much improved by a description of the tool, and perhaps a link. –  Rory Alsop Oct 16 '12 at 8:13
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I am a programmer so I would use a html page with Google URL shortened links that lead to blank pages - that way Google does all the logging on their cloud. Especially good if you have a smartphone or a WiFi device. The links lead to a blank pages so that you almost won't lose any bandwidth opening them.

Advantages:

  • It's free.
  • They have a counter of how many people clicked on the link: Image

  • From where they clicked it (don't know if that is relevant for you): Image

  • When it was clicked (with a graph): Image

(Though unless you are looking at the current day or two hours it doesn't show the exact time)

According to the Google help page the links are irrevocable:

Irrevocable - once created, they do not expire. Note, however, that Google reserves the right to remove any goo.gl short URL, for example for spam, security or legal reasons

(I have links from 2011 that are still good)

A bit of a hack but it should work and it won't cost you anything.

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Tap Log is an android app that lets you configure buttons to quickly log events alongside timestamps, geocoordinates, etc. Have a look at it if you're an android user.

https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.waterbear.taglogdemo

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