Introduction: Family / Coworker Status Indicator

My first Instructable, many projects have helped me out over the years, hopefully this will help someone else. The short story... We needed a way to show each other our status rather than interrupting calls, or staying away when we assume another is busy. We wanted to see the status at the door, we wanted to see the status before going through the house to look at the door. Finally we didn't want to HAVE to use an app. to control it. This was a pretty quick and easy solution that has been working well for us. (Longer story on last step).

Supplies Amazon List with all below. Puck Lights Controller Power Supplies

This gets you one controller, one power supply, and the RGB strip all together. Else use any 12V RGB Strip

Step 1: Get the Parts

The system consists of three RGB puck lights. They are connected to Wifi RGB light strip controllers with remotes powered with 12v wall cubes. The status can obviously be known by the light, or by looking at the Magic Home / Magic Hue app. The controllers come with an IR remote to control, as well as controlled through the app. Added benefits include control by Alexa/Home/IFTTT with the MagicHue integration. See links in 'Supplies' for exactly what I used.

BTW: We have these on the hinge side of the door in order to run the cable under the door.

Step 2: Customize or Don't Customize??

Step 1 is all that is really required, but I am a bit of a perfectionist... I didn't like having to use the app when in my office with the door closed to see what color my own light was (did I change it after the call??) so I added an internal LED to the controller. While I was at it, I thought the connection method was hinky, and I didn't like the IR receiver dangling out of the side of the controller.

Step 3: Of Course You Customize It!

I decided I would mount the controller in a project box with a proper connector and an indicator light. When I popped the back off of the controller (far too easily) I found that there was plenty of room in that box to do the modification. As I got to thinking about a normal RGB LED for an indicator, with it's dropping resistors, I thought 'why not just use a small section of RGB strip that is already 12V'. To my delight it was plenty bright through the box, cleaning it up even further. I ended up de-soldering all of the connections for the IR sensor and the LED connections. I added 2.5" leads to the two sections of RGB strip and soldered them directly to the board with the 4 conductors to the puck light. There is a common positive (marked +) on the puck and a negative for each color. I just hooked up 12v to each and noted the color. On the puck the markings are "+" for positive, "x" for green, solid line for red, and writing on the blue. They are in that order on both the puck and the strip. They are clearly marked on the board, but not in the same order. I wanted to shorten up the IR sensor and the wire was quite stiff to try and roll it all up inside the box, so I cut the end and carefully used an Xacto knife to take away the casing, then re-soldered. Lastly I routed the strip light around the outside and pushed the strain relief on the IR sensor into it's original slot. A zip tie keeps the puck wire from pulling on the solder connection. Jam the back on and plug it in.

NOTE: If I were to do these over again I would use a small round 4 conductor wire to replace from the puck to the control. I find the 3' or so puck wire being just a bit too short to see the controller if the door is all the way open. Probably a 6' headphone extension cable would work well if it had left right ground and a separate shield?? Maybe some USB cables if they were small enough in diameter?? The puck has solder pads that are easily accessible. I would also likely mount to the drywall next to the door and pop the cord through the wall out the back of the puck for a really clean look. We have these on the hinge side to run the cable under the door, but that could be changed with a through wall mount.

Step 4: Button It Up, Try It Out.

As seen in the video it can be controlled from the remote or the app.

Sliding down on the app refreshes the status.

Just slide the cable under the door, position the controller inside and plug the power adapter in.

I have created routines so I can use Siri to say "Status Green" and it turns on my room lights and displays, and sets the status light to green. Saying "Status Blue" does the opposite. Then "Status Red" and "Status Yellow" just adjusts the light color.

(The routines were done by following the directions on the controller to add to Google Home, then accessed with Google Assistant adding a 'routine', then added to Shortcuts to call the routine from Siri).

Step 5: The Long Story... Understanding Our Use Case.

For the 'long story'... Before COVID I worked at the office, our daughter went to school and activities, my wife had quiet time while we were gone and we were all engaged with each other when home together. Suddenly March 13th we were all home together 24/7. For a while it was just the crazy change that everyone was dealing with. But as school re-started, our daughter studied from home, and I became a permanent 'Teleworker', we needed more structure. I start at 5:30am most days and have a lot of 'calls' so my office is in the basement. Our daughter starts each morning with a Zoom church youth group at 6:30, then gets into remote learning from her room. Sometimes she is sleeping, sometimes on a call, sometimes just hanging out and we could never tell without 'peeking' in. My wife starts her morning with scripture study and meditation, so bursting in on her is a problem. She is also disabled and we have a stair lift to the basement which is a pain when finding out that I am on a call that is dragging on. We each have our doors closed often to contain noise. So the light/app works super well for our situation. I can see it working well in an office environment too, where you walk down the hall only to find out that the person is busy.

Step 6: Next Steps, Help Needed

The next step is to try and integrate the system with the Teams, Zoom, Meet, Slack... Presence status data. I have been inspired by Becky Stern's physical status switch and Brian Lough's slack status API. I am thinking of using an RGB ring light and a rotary encoder to set the status, but could also update dynamically as the apps change it.

*** If anyone has ideas how to get all these platforms to funnel into one status, that then update my light, please let me know. ***