SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder) is a mood disorder that normally occurs during the winter and in gloomier climates (Portland, I'm looking at you). It presents itself with fatigue, screwey sleep patterns and even depression, in some cases (more info HERE). SAD's onset and severity are generally affected by one's environment, and since it is primarily a physiological response, treatments and DIY "fixes" like mine are often geared towards eliminating the gloom of winter. Since most of the gloominess is light related, the first step is usually to gain control over the lighting of your environment, and to try to synthesize "normal" lighting.
One of the most popular treatments is the wake-up light, a device designed to replicate a sunrise and trigger the wake-up stage of our circadian rhythm. Created and made popular by companies like GE and Phillips, all of the (numerous) available models cost too much for what they can do. There must be better options for regulating your lighting, right?
There are indeed! With the speed of technological advances, mobile apps and their connected devices are shaping the way we control our environments. In this Instructable, I will show you how I set up a Wink Hub and GE Link light bulb to ramp up to full brightness over the course of an hour to replicate a sunrise. At a price tag of $50, it's cheaper than all but one of the models that I found on Amazon (and that one was pure garbage). This way, you get a wake-up lamp that brightens an entire room, with the added benefit of controlling it from anywhere via your smart phone.
The only downside is that the app we are going to use is still in it's infancy, so it is still missing a few crucial features. Luckily for you, this Instructable is a workaround to fake the features we need to make the wake-up light function. So let's get this started!
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Step 1: Materials
All the stuff you need for this can be found in one place; Home Depot. You'll need:
1 Wink Hub
1+ GE Link Light bulb
There are other, more sophisticated bulbs and hubs, but I chose the Wink/GE combo for two reasons. First, it's the cheapest initial investment to get a "smart" bulb up and running. Everything else costs at least $70-$100 to get started. At the time of writing, Home Depot is selling the hub and two bulbs for a total of $50.
The second reason is flexibility. You can run a whole bunch of other automation products via the Wink App, like other brands and styles of bulbs, door locks, AC units, and even garage door openers. Cool. Not to mention that the DIY home automation market is still in it's infancy, so why spend $100 on something that could possibly be obsolete very soon? Wink solves the problem very nicely, by supporting pretty much all the current wireless technologies. If a groundbreaking new automated toilet comes out tomorrow, chances are it will be supported by Wink in the next update.
This is probably a good place to note that you can use as many bulbs as you want in this setup. If your fixture needs 3 bulbs, add another. They're only $15 each at HD, and the app can handle as many as you can throw at it.
Step 2: Set Up the Wink Hub
Follow the instructions that come with the hub. It's pretty simple, and although I had to make two calls to customer service the first time I set it up, their firmware updates are making it less buggy all the time. It's always painful to be an early adopter, but Wink offsets this pain by having a wonderful, 24/7 help line.
Download the app, plug in the router, and the app will walk you through the rest.
You can set it up anywhere in the house, as long as you have a good wifi signal from your router in the spot you choose. Avoid placing it within 10 feet of the router, though, cause the wifi signals will compete with each other and things will get a little buggy. Essentially, you can set it up pretty much anywhere else in your house where you can plug it in.
Protip - Test wifi strength by activating the wifi setting on your phone, and use the signal strength in your notification bar as a guide.
Step 3: Install and Connect to Bulb
This is the bulb you are looking for. Just screw it in. Yeah, it's a little heavier than it looks.
Now boot up the Wink app, which you should already have installed from setting up the Wink Hub.
Tap "Add a Product," scroll down to "Lights" and select "GE Light Bulb."
Again, you'll be walked through a setup wizard. Do this once for each individual bulb in your setup.
Step 4: Program Dim-On Ramping
Now, I think I mentioned that this product is still in it's infancy. The app isn't nearly where it needs to be, i.e. there aren't any widgets yet. There also isn't any option to say, have your bulbs gradually ramp up to full brightness over the course of an hour or so.
I completely expect Wink to add such widgets and custom timers soon, but for now we kinda have to hack around this. Luckily, it's a pretty simple work-around.
Start out by selecting the "Lights" category. In the top right corner, there's a little menu button. Open it up. Scrolling down, you'll see a section labeled "Schedule." Click on "Today."
Basically, in order to ramp up over the course of an hour, we have to set several individual timers at different times and at increasing brightness over the course of said hour. So for your first event, set it at about 10% brightness at whatever time you want your hour to start. I also set mine to go off every day of the week. Even weekends, you sloths.
Repeat this process several times to fill up your hour. I just did a total of 5 increments over the course of an hour, since I sleep like a rock and won't notice much finer increments than that. You could do as many steps as you want, this is where you tailor it to your own individual needs.
Step 5: Done!
And that's it! Now you have an affordable wake-up light that can grow with the new technology that is coming down the pipe, and can be re-purposed at any time.
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