Here's a sensor-light that will let you know what temperature it is outside the moment you step out of bed... and prevent you from stubbing your toe in the process (well, I hope).

The Concept

The story begins with a tragedy. I got out of bed one morning, stubbed/broke my toe and suffered for a month because of it. I swore, no more!

The problem is that I'm lazy when I'm waking up. The effort of reaching over to the lamp is just too much. If only a light would come on the moment my foot hit the floor. Eureka!

Now, a rug that turns on a light sounded way too easy, so I thought of another annoying ritual of the morning: checking the temperature in order to decide what to wear. What if the light also told me roughly what temperature it was so I'd know weather [sic] to wear shorts and a t-shirt or a parka and snow pants? Sounds great to me.


I've broken the instructions into five chapters:

  • The rug sensor - The design for the rug sensor is pretty straight forward and follows what a lot of other DDR pads have done. I found this simple electronic button by gitterbug23 a great inspiration for materials.
  • The light - There are a lot of ways to make a light, and Instructables offers many options to explore. You can follow the instruction I offer, or choose your own. I chose a "rustic" approach, which probably ranks average in time and difficulty requirements (when compared to other solutions on this site). Since the electronics used don't generate much heat, the actual housing isn't much of a concern (as in, building a paper lamp is perfectly fine). If you chose a different lamp, make sure that it can house the electronics: 3.2"x4"x.7" for the SBC plus about 0.2" around for input and output clearance. Then have some sort of cover to house a small board with five RGB LEDs.
  • The temperature sensor - If you decide to use a temperature sensor, it has to be installed and protected from rain.
  • The program - I chose to use a PhidgetSBC to handle the processing. This is what's handling the sensors and setting the colour of the lights. I ended up doing two versions of the program. One grabs the temperature from a temperature sensor while the other pulls the temperature from the web.
  • Putting it all together! The exciting part

And here it is!

Step 1: The Rug Sensor

The design for the rug sensor is pretty straight forward and follows what a lot of other DDR pads have done. I found this simple electronic button by gitterbug23 a great inspiration for materials.


  • One smallish rug (I went with an Ikea Signe for $2.99)
  • 1/8” thick cork, two pieces the same area as the rug
  • 1/8” thick upholstery foam, one piece the same area as the rug
  • Heavy duty aluminum foil, as wide as you can get
  • Double sided tape (a 42’ roll of some indoor carpet tape seemed to do the job quite nicely without too much left over in the end)
  • Electrical tape
  • Two lengths of insulated wire to reach from rug to lamp (I used two 5’ pieces - 23AWG worked well)


  1. Cut your pieces of cork and foam so they fit under the rug. Prepare the foam by punching 0.5” diameter holes, each about 1” apart.
  2. Put double sided tape on the top of one piece of cork that'll fit the width of the aluminum foil. Make sure to put some extra strips along the centre so the foil doesn’t come loose. Secure the aluminum on the tape. Leave at least 1" of cork around the edges, except for one protrusion of aluminum foil to the edge, which you will use to attach the wire (see picture). I put electrical tape around the edge of the aluminum foil for extra fastening and to prevent an aluminum foil from accidentally coming loose.
  3. Strip 0.5" off the end of the one of the lengths of wire. Use electrical tape to secure the exposed end of the wire to the aluminum foil.
  4. Use more double sided tape just around the very perimeter of the foiled cork. Do not tape around the protrusion of aluminum foil! This will allow you to access it in the future (the attached wire is the most likely spot to break). Lay the holy foam (that is, the foam with holes in it) on top.
  5. Now, prepare the other piece of cork with aluminum foil in the same fashion that you prepared the other piece. Make sure the protrusion of aluminum foil will be in the same approximate spot as the other one when it's turned upside down. So, if both are foil side up, the aluminum foil protrusion will be mirrored. Attach the wire in the same fashion as the first.
  6. Put double sided tape on the perimeter of the newly prepared foiled cork (not taping the protrusion) and sandwich everything together.
  7. Now tape the rug on top of the cork in the same perimeter and criss-cross fashion that I've described. In the end you’ll have something like this (from top to bottom): rug, cork, foil, foam, foil, cork.
<p>I dig the idea of making the light differ in color based on temperature. I'm not sure if I'da ever thought of that. very cool.</p>
<p>What a nice way to wake up! Great idea!</p>
<p>Thanks... although this morning it was icy green, which means under 5˚C and that was not so nice :)</p>
<p>Wow, that's cold! brrrrr!</p>

About This Instructable


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Bio: Math lover. Engineering communicator. Mad-lib enthusiast. Total nerd. I work at TELUS Spark as a champion of engineering communications. I love to fill my brain ... More »
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