Light Dimming Robot Finger

The lights in the office have a mind of their own. Several times each day at seemingly random intervals and without warning the lights go to maximum brightness.

Myself and several of the other computer nerds I work with prefer the lighting be set at a level that’s easy on the eyes. However, the lights top out at a setting I’ll call “Surface of the Sun”.

Our Office Lights

        ^good        surface of sun^

Even after careful study of the lighting control panel, with it’s many DIP switch settings, and the accompanying operating manual, I have yet to uncover what is actually triggering the light increases that regularly sear our tired retinas.

The secondary problem is that the light switch is several feet from my desk. So I decided to solve the problem the way I try to solve most of my problems – with a custom designed remote controlled robot finger on wifi.

This particular thing was made with a Wemos D1 Mini – an Arduino compatible WIFI board that costs at most $10. These things are great, they are well supported and really easy to flash. I’ve used them on several projects and I’ve found them to be quite reliable.

All the parts were modeled in Fusion 360, except for the cartoon finger which I downloaded from a stock model site and imported into my Fusion project.

The D1 mini listens for UDP packets and I’ve configured an unrelated Slack bot to help send the packets whenever someone complains about the bright lights.

It’s a pretty silly/stupid thing, but it turned out as a big hit at the office. Something about how over-complicated yet rudimentary the solution is makes it fun and lovable.

Let me know if you’ve got any non-problems to solve. 🤖👉

Thomas Renck

I make things. Sometimes I un-make things. Most of the time I write code and teach on intentionality in design.