Instructables

Easy DIY Home Automation (using servo switches)

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This Instructable is all about one of life's simple actions, flipping a light switch on and off.

At oomlout we do it many times a day, so many in fact it came to a point where we asked ourselves "Can't we get an Arduino to do this?". Of course we can, what follows is how we went about doing it.

With the help of some acrylic, nuts and bolts and a small hobby servo we have made a great little switcher (we're calling it our Servo Switcher - (SESW)).

Features:
  • No need to mess with any high voltage wiring.
  • Switch is still operable by hand.
  • Easy to make and assemble

Applications:
  • Simple light switching.
  • Can be paired with sensor to make for more complicated applications. (security lights, temperature control on ceiling fans, night lights, the possibilities are endless) (some sensing examples are in a video on step 3 ).
  • Wire up a switch to a socket and control anything that has a plug.

(shameless plug)
If you feel like skipping the building and getting straight to experimenting lovely kits are available from the oomlout.com shop

(a small video of it running a demo program (ie. light switch rave)

 
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Step 1: Parts & Tools

Picture of Parts & Tools
Two options here.

Option 1: Purchase a lovely kit from oomlout.com
  • kits with all the acrylic, bolts and servo motor are available from oomlout.com's web shop (here) ($20 or 3 for $40)

Option 2: Make your own.

Electronics
  • Mini Servo Motor - A small servo motor, these are available in many different power levels, but you will be requiring one of the stronger ones. We use (this one) (shipped from hong kong so can get quite pricey)

Nuts and Bolts: (available at home depot)
  • 3mm x 10mm bolt (x3)
  • 3mm nut (x2)
  • 3mm locknut (x1)
  • 3mm washer (x3)
  • 5mm washer (x4)
  • 6-32 x 1.25" machine screws (x2)

Acrylic - (several options)
  • Cut Your Own (Scroll Saw) -- Download the scroll saw pattern (03-(SESW)-Scrollsaw Pattern.pdf) glue it to a piece of 3mm Acrylic, cut and drill
  • Cut Your Own (Laser Cutter) -- Download (00-SESW-Parts File.eps or .cdr) and cut it on your laser cutter using 3mm acrylic
nh4x4Jeep4 months ago
I have to chime in with a vote IN SUPPORT of this project! Yes, X-10 etc, but not everyone wants to mess with mains voltage! Also, I think it's clever on it's OWN MERIT! Well done! I hope you're up to other clever endeavors these days!
pjamestx1 year ago
To all those commenting that this could be done with X-10, there's one application for which I've found X-10 falls short, and that's controlling ceiling fans. I have a ceiling fan above my bed, and I love having it on at night, but by the morning time the house has cooled and I'm freezing. The switch is just far enough away that I can't reach it from bed, and if I get out to flip it, I usually can't get back to sleep.



I tried installing an X-10 switch, but it caused the motor to become much louder (see this link for more info on the problem).  My house was built in the 50's, so I have no neutral wire available for a more advanced switch.  This is the kind of project that I need!  I'll probably wire it up to a couple of switches next to my bed, an on, an off, and an "add one hour" type of button that will turn the fan off after the elapsed time.



Does anyone in the US distribute these parts?
bremus pjamestx5 months ago
Remote controlled ceiling fans are not that expensive. You could just get one of those.
macmundi3 years ago
Well done!! Though it can be achieved in a cheaper way without too many things hanging off the switch.
its not hard its just silly way of doing it ever thought about looking on ebay?
static4 years ago
  your design of the parts to operate a standard light switch, are similar how people used a float and a standard light switch, in years gone by. There are switches that use a low voltage relay to switch a lighting load, remotely. Those should be easier to come by as maybe less expensive than servos. An interest approach to do what has been done before.
amdivoff static4 years ago
 hey static, could you point me to the switch your talking about?
static amdivoff4 years ago
I hope my answer doesn't read like a cop-out,, but I don't have the catalogs readily at hand. The low voltage relays and the switches I have in mind are often used to control lighting fixtures in gymnasiums or other large rooms. the low voltage relay is located at the light fixture with the low voltage wiring that operates the relay ran back to the switch location. Often one rotary switch can control multiple fixture or multiple banks of fixtures. Also they are used to control the lights in long hallways from multiple locations. Perhaps you can find a local electrician or electrical parts retailer to show you.
conrad24684 years ago
 mind posting the files on thingiverse???? maybe turn them into .stl files?
JakeTobak5 years ago
Would have been better if you hit a switch to make the server hit the other switch.
very ironic. Hit a switch to trigger another switch.
could you imagine? okay, hit this switch to switch on a switch a mile away to switch on a light here that will activate a switch that will turn off the switch.
static dagenius4 years ago
 There are many applications that use a switch to control another switch already in use. Often many layer of the technique. before the target gets switched.
acidhax5 years ago
How is this the hard way? Looks easy to me. The reason why he used motors is because this-> Servo < X10.
static acidhax4 years ago
 Not hard but overkill. There are devices that Arduino cold use to control the lights that would fit inside the switch box. 
fkuk4 years ago
use a plc
bumsugger4 years ago
Forgive me but I've yet to be "sold" on just what IS going on here,seems very much like using a "hammer to crack a nut !"
if  you add like a sensor or something to your door so when you open it it turns the light on

Nirjuana5 years ago
Sure you could do it this way but I'd go with the solid state relays.
They are called,TRANSISTORS! WOW
There is a big diffference between a transistor and a solid state relay.  Mainly transistors are not bidirectional.  SSR's use Triac's. 
oh...
bman22 Nirjuana5 years ago
i have been working on something similar. but instead of it being controlled with physical switches, it is controlled via internet. and my issue with solid state relay's, is that, because i wish to allow the user to turn the light on or off via both the switch and internet, i need to have a dual pole. Sadly, the solid state relays with dual throw are rare if existant
gooseflight5 years ago
Interesting solution but kinda ugly. I note that you want to steer clear of mains wiring but solid state relays is the way to go -- or X10.
I know this is prob'ly a stupid question, but wut is x-10?
 X10 is a really easy way to do what you're trying to accomplish. It's a home control standard that's really easy and cheap to use. 
www.thehomeautomationstore.com/x10-home-automation.html

Thanks for the Instructable! My wife keeps flipping the switch to the power outlet I use to charge my computer. I'm always too lazy to get up and flip it, so I'm going to use your instructable combined with an IObridge so I can log onto my website, hit a button, and it will turn the outlet on. It's a 4-way switch, so I don't really know how to wire that with a relay.

Some people are mentioning solid state relays, the problem with most solid state relays, is they tend to flash on and off. This is because most of them are designed to let a few volts through, but then once a certain voltage is reached, they will trigger, and shut off. So this causes them to flash, which is the reason I go with regular relays. If you want a solid state relay, get a Z240D10 from OPTO22. www.opto22.com/site/pr_details.aspx
Not my Instructable!
 Oh, right, I saw 3 of your comments, and kinda assumed..... no harm done.
dagenius4 years ago
You could also have rfid tag controll, of r/c, or a whole multitude of other options.
parkinsonr5 years ago
this will be great for me. I live in an apartment and can't install a store bought motion sensor switch, also with this being light activated I can turn on and off the light at night without getting out of bed and disturbing my wife!
Avianjar5 years ago
Have you considered using a relay with your arduino?? You could completely remove the light switch then! Cool project by the way.
froggyman5 years ago
or you could do this the "old fashion" way and just get a bunch of string and some hooks. Anyways that would be more green, lol. I love it! 5stars
Yeah, I've had fun doing that, it really confuses people when you use fishing string and clear tape.
yeah it does, and than you can also add in a trip line just above ankle level....
Like when Mr. Bean kept calling his home phone when he was away. Each time the phone would ring it would cause something to happen
bwpatton15 years ago
Thinking Out Loud- you could modify this to be "invisible" you could put this in the wall and drill a hole through the switch lever thingey:) and some how attach the servo. Hmmmmmmm..............
antoine645 years ago
that's great. a very interesting idea. of course you could have just used an automation switch like x-10 switches or wired in a relay. It seems like you did it the hard way. Good job though :)
FaqMan5 years ago
Great work hope to see this on the market soon.
NachoMahma5 years ago
. Great job! Rube Goldberg would be proud of this one. :) . Good luck with the business. This is the kind of "SPAM" I don't mind seeing.
jaybuff5 years ago
How are you powering the arduino in that video?
oomlout (author)  jaybuff5 years ago
Hey Jay Buff The little board the arduino is attached to has a 6 AA Battery box underneath.
jaybuff oomlout5 years ago
I'm working on building an arduino controlled servo that unlocks my dead bolt whenever it sees certain RFID tags. From what I've read I suspect that it would drain batteries fairly quick. I have a light switch near by; i was hoping to power it from that in combination with a wall wart. Thanks for the post, this is very helpful!
dosadi5 years ago
Sorry, I don't get the appeal of this. X10 home automation hardware is a lot more flexible and modules cost less than $10 each on eBay. A serial interface X10 controller can be easily interfaced to an Arduino.
oomlout (author)  dosadi5 years ago
Hey dosadi; For a fully home automation system with all the bells and whistles X10 is the way to go. This is more of a fun solution for someone who just wants to experiment with the potential home automation offers.
Truegod dosadi5 years ago
This project is a great way to learn how to interface servos with the Arduino and use it to do something practical.
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