Introduction: DC Low Voltage LIght Sensor Switch
Need a concealed light sensor for a 12 volt circuit? Good luck finding a compact light sensor module to meet your needs in any store or online. They are few and far between to be found. Not sure why that is, but it would be awesome if a few options were on the market to purchase.
Here is a "hackish" modification to help meet your needs.
I will show how to modify an eyesore of a sensor module that you can hide inside one of your projects and better conceal the light sensor.
UPDATE: My intention was to use this sensor switch in a new project. I have come up with an alternative solution that fits my needs a little better. While this sensor would work great and might be helpful to you, please find the sensor circuit write up in my Shotgun Clock with LED and Sensor project.
Step 1: Market 12 Volt DC Light Sensor Module
Understand that this is a 12v module. The 9 volt battery is there simply to reference size. So, you will need a 12 volt source to drive this unit.
Search online for a DC light sensor and you will repeatedly come across this module. It is very common on Ebay and Amazon by different sellers.
I purchased 2 of these on Amazon for $9.99 with free shipping.
Step 2: Tools Time and Materials
Minimal tools needed for this 30 minute project.
- Mini wire cutters
- Mini needle nose pliers.
- Soldering Iron.
- Female to Female jumper wires.
Step 3: Tear Down
When I first received this module, the first thing I did was tear it down to see what was hidden inside the plastic enclosure.
- Remove Screw
- Detach Mounting Bracket
- Separate Blue Cap from Enclosure
- Pull Out Circuit Board
Step 4: Analyze Module
Wow! I was surprised to find what I did mounted to the circuit board. A big blocky and obnoxious 12v relay!
As designed, this will not meet my needs. There is no way to expose the sensor and hide the rest of the board.
Nowhere in the product description did it mention a relay control. I was hoping for a simple PCB that I could pull out and install into a project. I was hoping it would be similar to many of the PIR sensor modules on the market. No relays, just circuitry of sensor resistors, chips, and capacitors. Not this big and bulky relay.
Well, as you can see this would be very difficult to actually use and hide.
We need to make a simple modification.
Step 5: Decapitate the Sensor From Legs
What we need to due is extend the reach of that sensor so that we have more flexibility on where we can hide the circuit board and still conceal the sensor.
Note in the first picture is the LDR light sensor. We will need to eventually embed and conceal the sensor into our project and expose to light and dark while hiding the rest of the module somewhere inside the project.
You will need a small pair of cutters to cut the sensor legs about half way down. We need some legs left on the sensor and legs remaining soldered to the board. We need about a 1/4 inch on each.
After you make your cut and separate the sensor from the board look for insulation on one of the legs. Or, perhaps yours will have insulation on both. This insulation is in place to prevent shorting the circuit if the legs touch.
We need to REMOVE the insulation.
- I used a soldering iron and applied heat directly to the leg with insulation to soften it up a bit.
- Then I used a small pair of needle nose pliers to pull the insulation from the legs.
- Work carefully and slowly as you do not want to break the legs once cut.
Don't worry about not having the insulation as the jumper wires we install in the next steps will cover and insulation preventing shorts.
Step 6: Build Sensor Extension
If you were careful to leave about a 1/4 inch of legs on the sensor and module when you cut the sensor this next part will be easy.
Now you need your prototype jumper wires.
- Insert each leg for the sensor into separate wires.
- Connect the other end of the wire to the legs extending from the PCB.
You are ready to connect your power and load (light) and test it out.
Step 7: Connect Power
Let's connect power and get ready to test.
Remember, you need a 12v power source for this to work. Anything less will not work as the relay on the PCB needs 12 volts to open and close.
- Connect 12v positive to black wire on module.
- Connect red wire of module to positive wire of load. In our case here we have a 12v LED prewired with a resistor.
- Connect 12v negative to white wire on module and negative load. (light)
All connected! Ready to test.
Step 8: Test It
A note about this light sensor switch. Due to the circuitry expect about a 5 second delay for On and Off to occur.
With sensor exposed to light the LED is OFF
Conceal the LED or turn the lights off and LED is ON.
You now have a 12v DC light sensor switch ready to install in your next project. The jumper wires I used give me 6 inches to work with for locating and concealing my sensor and hiding the PCB board.
Hope this helps with your next project.
If there is anybody out there willing to fabricate a light sensor module that can be power with a 9 volt battery without a bulky relay, let me know. I am willing to purchase a well made module.
Follow me to see how I integrate this in an upcoming woodworking project. Should be pretty cool when done.
Can't Make It? Modify It!
The Water Dog
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Participated in the
Sensors Contest 2017