Control Electrical Stuff With Your Computer




Control lights (or any thing electrical appliance) with your keyboards lights. with no irritating micro controller!!!!

First I want to say that this is my first instructable and I didn't take many photos.
also I got the idea from: USB controlled mini lava lamps by jamesh

this is a device that turns lights (or what ever) on with the push of the caps num or scroll lock
if you want you can use an xbox DVD remote with your computer and turn on your lights with that. so you can walk in to the room and push a button on the remote and the lights turn on

Waning. this instructable involves working with high voltage mains power, I take no responsibility if things go wrong.

Teacher Notes

Teachers! Did you use this instructable in your classroom?
Add a Teacher Note to share how you incorporated it into your lesson.

Step 1: Get the Parts


3 transistor BD140
3 capacitors 10-60uf
3 resistors (so the LEDs don't burn out. unfortunately I forgot there value)
3 relays (the ones with 5 legs)
3 switches (single pole double throw) 240v (120 in the US)
1 (single pole single throw) switch 240v (120 in the US)
a box
4 grommets
A keyboard with num caps and scroll lock lights
3 LEDs
7 (or more) meter extension lead
2 power sockets (see picture)

xbox dvd remote
USB cable
small blank circuit board

Step 2: Opening (and Modding) the Keyboard

Crack open your keyboard and remove the circuit board (mine had a zillion screws holding it in)
then locate the lights and solder the wires to the legs of the LEDs (see picture)

when done put the keyboard back together. you may need to cut a hole for the new wire to get out

important note: not all keyboards work with this

Step 3: Prepare the Cord and Box

cut the extension lead into 4 equal parts
drill 4 holes into the side of the box
shove the grommets in to the holes
tread the cords trough the grommets (spit helps)
strip the wires (the end thats in the box)

Step 4: Put the Socets On

the extension lead should now be cut into 4 pieces and treaded trough the box

now its time to put the sockets on the cords that don't have any.

the sockets should have instructions on how to wire them

Step 5: Electronic Bits

now this is the most fiddley bit, putting the circuitry together.

I was too lazy to make a PCB so i soldered wires to the components

Step 6: Put Every Thing in the Box

you need to cut some holes for the switches, wires and lights

make sure all the wires in the box a insulated

Step 7: Plug It In

Once you have put every thing in the box and it looks like the picture above than you can now start to test it.
plug a lamp (or something) into one of the sockets and plug the keyboard into the computer
then plug the power in and turn on your computer if nothing explodes, good.

now the lamp should flash as the computer boot (this is normal)
when the computer is done push the caps num and scroll lock buttons, an led should light up for each button.

if it doesn't than open it (unplug it first) and check all connections.
if all the lights turn on when you only press one button, than check the connections if that doesn't help than it may be the keyboard, not all keyboards work with this

Step 8: Optinal Stuff

if you want you can use your xbox DVD remote, you will need a USB cable and a piece of circuit board and etch it (theres lots of instructables on how to do this) , then cut so it fits into the plug on the DVD remote sensor

its hard to explain so just look at the pics

Step 9: Software for the DVD Remote

you need software to run the xbox DVD remote:


once you have installed the software, plug the sensor into the USB port, it should say it found new hardware. if it says "USB device not recognizing" than try moving the connection.

once the hardware is installed run XBCDRC (should be in start menu)

then choose what buttons control num caps and scrol locks

(this picture was taken on an XP computer)

Step 10: How to Use It

if every thing works than you have completed it successfully

the switches on the front are wired in a double switch so you can manually turn on or off the lights

the single pole single throw switch is to disable the lights.



    • Indoor Lighting Contest

      Indoor Lighting Contest
    • Make It Fly Challenge

      Make It Fly Challenge
    • Growing Beyond Earth Maker Contest

      Growing Beyond Earth Maker Contest

    44 Discussions


    3 years ago on Introduction

    The USB keyboard gives 5v, and standard relays needs 6v, im using a bc558 transistor but it doesn´t haves enought power to switch the relay. any idea?



    Reply 7 years ago on Introduction

    Okay the answer to your question is not a simple one but here goes. The resistor is to prevent too much power going through the LED.
    Therefore, the value of the resistance is dependent on the wattage of your LED.
    Example - 1/4W LED. 5V - 330ohms 9V - 680ohms 12V - 1kohm 24V - 2k2ohm
    Look up Ohm's Law on Google if your voltage/wattage combination isn't listed.


    9 years ago on Introduction

    m realy new n fresh in des works . . .bt hopin fr d best . . .takin dis project as my first work . . .really hv no clue abt hw to go on . . .so plz leave ur comments fr help . . .peace . . .

    3 replies

    translated version: I'm really new and fresh in this sort of work, but i am hoping for the best as i take this on as my first project.I have no idea how to start, if anyone would be kind enough to lend a hand, please leave a comment, your help will be greatly appreciated.


    Reply 9 years ago on Introduction

    you left the "E" in in "lters", taking out the vouls only works if you do it right K-NiigT (i like the monty python reference) ;) and yeah shivangi_nig, your not making sense, sorry...


    10 years ago on Introduction

    What happens if you plug two keyboards? I mean, are two keyboards individually addressable on Linux? Can you keep keyboard#1 configured and working "normally" and then connect a "secondary" USB keyboard for this purpose?

    1 reply

    Reply 9 years ago on Introduction

     Well, the builtin keyboard on my lenovo x61 tablet doesn't turn on the caps light when I plug in my usb keyboard and hit caps, so I think you could. This instructable shows you how you could eliminate a lot more space.



    9 years ago on Introduction

    Another option for activating the caps lock, num lock, etc. if you are using a windows machine is to click start -> run -> then enter "osk" (without the quotations).  This opens an On Screen Keyboard where you can just use the mouse to click on the buttons you want.  This will activate the num lock, caps lock, etc. LED's without using the actual keyboard and turn on your remote accessories.  FYI..


    Reply 11 years ago on Introduction

    Well, I don't think you can get more basic than this... If you want to use the serial port, even if it's just the control line, not the data (which would probably require a microcontroller) you'd need significant programming on the PC side... I personnally used a parrallel port in the old day, It worked fine... But these days, not every computer has one... Shame really, that was quite diy friendly...


    Reply 10 years ago on Introduction

    true, i did this as a novelty and to show other ways of computer control, the computer i use during that also has a controller on its LPT port which i use for controlling pool pumps (i should probs wright an article about that, seeing as i made a heap of custom network control software for it) but really i use the LPT for serious stuff and this one for things like desk lamps id also like the parallel port stay for this sorta stuff. thankfully alot of motherboards still come with them if anyone would like too see some of my c++ apps for parallel port control, do ask, id be happy to post it for others


    11 years ago on Introduction

    This is way cool!!!

    By the way, can you do this without using a keyboard?

    I mean just controlling the power switch turn them on and off just using programs on the PC. No manual intervention needed... Via USB connection...

    Originally I plan to connect it to a main switch but dont know if it can be possible for very hign voltage...


    Reply 11 years ago on Introduction

    I used mechanical relays for 2 reasons 1 I had some at the time 2. the mecanical ones have the normally open and normally closed, so theres a double switch. so you can manual turn the lights on or off, and the computer can do the same

    wi-fi astronomerrelay

    Reply 11 years ago on Introduction

    When you use an old fashioned relay, you need a transistor first. Way easier to use a solid state relay that takes a control voltage of 5 volts. They also have the desired isolation of the house current from the printer fitting. See my comments above!

    relaywi-fi astronomer

    Reply 11 years ago on Introduction

    but it doesn't use a printer fitting, Iv got another controller for the printer plug but I think i Brock it (I put the power in the wrong way) the point of this instructable is to demonstrate that you don't have to use the printer port, and that one can use a USB keyboard. also i said above that the mechanical relays have a normally open and normally closed. hears a little GIF explaining the need for mechanical relays.