Energy-Saving Light




About: My name is Randy and I am a Community Manager in these here parts. In a previous life I had founded and run the Instructables Design Studio (RIP) @ Autodesk's Pier 9 Technology Center. I'm also the author ...

In the spirit of Earth Day, I have created a revolutionary new energy-saving lighting solution that is only ever on when your eyes are open. This is remarkably more efficient than normal lighting that remains on, even when your eyes are shut. Using my device, you get light when you need it, and darkness when you don't. This is not only beneficial to you and your energy bill, but great for mother Earth.

This device was made as part of my ongoing effort to use less energy, reduce my footprint, and prevent climate change. I foresee similar technologies being implemented in televisions, computers, and electric cars. I am confident that future generations will thank me for this innovation.

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Step 1: Go Get Stuff

You will need:

(x1) 8" x 6" x 3" project enclosure
(x1) 3" x 2" x 1" project enclosure
(x3) AC power sockets
(x1) SmartFan AC-VX fan controller
(x1) Arduino
(x1) Arduino project board
(x2) 1/4" stereo sockets
(x1) 4-pin female header socket
(x2) 9V battery connectors
(x2) 9V battery clips
(x2) 9V batteries
(x1) EMG sensor board
(x1) set of electrode cables
(x3) adhesive electrodes
(x1) cable stress gland
(x1) European terminal strip
(x1) AC lamp cord (with plug)
(x1) 1/4" male-to-male stereo cable
(x10) 6-32 x 1" nuts and bolts
(x8) 4-40 x 1" nuts and bolts
(x2) 4-40 x 1/4" nuts and bolts
(x1) spool of 14AWG stranded wire
(x1) acrylic front panel (from attached template)
(x1) acrylic mounting base (from attached template)

Step 2: Wire the Sockets

Connect together the left side of all of the sockets with 14 gauge wire.

Repeat the process for the right side.

Be careful to keep the two sides separate.

Step 3: Mount

Mount the sockets into the acrylic panel using 6-32 nuts and bolts.

Step 4: Project Board

Build the Arduino project board as seen here (minus the 9V battery clip). Alternately, you can check out the Hackduino project for something similar.

Wire two 9V battery clips in series to create a +/-9V power supply.

Looking at the wires from the battery clips, connect the single red wire to the +V input on the Arduino project board. Next, connect the red and black wire junction to the ground input on the Arduino project board.

Solder a 6" green wire to one of the outer pins of the female socket. Solder a 6" black wire to the pin next to the green wire, and a 6" wire to the pin next to the black wire.

Solder the other end of the socket's green wire in line with the single black wire of the 9V socket supply. Solder the black wire in line with the center point of the two 9V sockets. Lastly, solder the red wire in line with the singular red wire (that is also connected to the voltage input on the project board)

Connect 6" green wires to pins D9 and A1. Also, connect two extra 6" black wires to ground.

Step 5: Mount

Using nuts and bolts of appropriate size, mount the fan controller, Arduino project board, EMG board, and two 9V battery clips to the acrylic mounting base.

Step 6: Drill

Drill a 1/8" hole in the center of one of the smaller sides of the 8" x 6" x 3" project enclosure (the 6" x 3" side). Repeat this on the other side.

Widen one of the holes to 3/8" and the other hole to 7/32"

Step 7: Wire the Project Board

If you have not done so already, plug the socket from the project board into the male power headers on the EMG board. Make certain that the green wire aligns with V-.

Next, plug the green wire from pin A1 into Vout socket and one of the black wires into the ground socket on the EMG board.

Finally, connect the green wire from pin D9 into the 5V socket on the fan controller, and the black wire into the common socket.

Step 8: Wires

Cut two 14AWG wires that are around 8" long. Respectively, connect each of these wires to FW and FB on the fan controller board.

Step 9: Insert

Insert the acrylic base into your project enclosure such that the Arduino is closer to the side with the 3/8" hole.

Step 10: Solder and Mount

Solder a different colored solid core wire to each of the 1/4" stereo jack terminals. Mount the jack into the case.

Plug the wires into the EMG socket. It is good practice to plug the ground terminal from the jack into the reference socket.

Write down which color wire is associated with which connection. This will be important later.

Step 11: Power Cord

Pass a foot or so of the lamp cord through the 7/32" hole and tie a knot.

Connect one of the cords wire to the W-terminal and the other to the B-terminal on the fan controller.

Step 12: Put It All Together

Connect the wire from FW on the fan controller board to the side of the panel's sockets with the long slot.

Conned the wire from FB on the fan controller board to the side of the panel's sockets with the shorter slot.

Step 13: Program

Program the Arduino with the following code:

Step 14: Transfer

After your Arduino is programmed, unplug it and transfer the ATMEGA chip from the Arduino to the project board inside the case.

Step 15: Power

Plug in your two 9V batteries and insert them into the enclosure.

Step 16: Case Closed

Place the panel atop the enclosure and fasten it into place with the enclosure's mounting screws.

Step 17: Drill

Drill through the center of one of the smaller sides of the 3" x 2" x 1" enclosure with an 1/8" drill bit (the 1" x 2" side). Repeat on the other side.

Widen one of the holes to 3/8". Widen the other hole to 1/2".

Step 18: Insert Wires

Pass the three electrode wires through the cable gland.

Mount the entire assembly inside the smaller project enclosure with the cable gland's mounting nut.

Step 19: Terminal Strip

Fasten each of the electrode plugs into one of the terminal strip's sockets. Fasten them firmly in place with the terminal strip's set nuts.

Step 20: Jack

Wire a second stereo jack with identical wiring to the one wired up earlier.

Connect the wire that corresponds with the reference socket to the black electrode wire.

Connect the wire that corresponds with the mid muscle socket to the red electrode wire.

Connect the wire that corresponds with the end muscle socket to the white electrode wire.

Step 21: Case Closed

Fasten shut the enclosure with its mounting screws.

Step 22: Connect

Connect the two enclosures together with a 1/4" male-to-male stereo cable.

Step 23: Plug

Plug in your lighting accessories and then plug the whole darned thing into the wall.

Step 24: Electrodes

To use it, you need to attach some electrodes to your face. Place one under your eye, one to the side of your eye, and one directly behind the ear.

Connect the red cable to the one under the eye, the white cable to the one next to the eye and the black cable to the one behind the ear.

Caution!!! Connecting your face to a DIY device that is plugged directly into the wall is a terrible idea. This Instructable was for entertainment purposes only. You should never replicate this.

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    44 Discussions


    2 years ago

    It's possible to make the project safer by using a lower voltage such as 12VDC and use low voltage halogen bulbs or LEDs. LEDs may be better because of faster response times. They're also more efficient.

    We can expect to save 10% assuming that's how long our eyes are closed for during our waking hours. This idea can increase the battery life of devices.


    5 years ago on Introduction

    Sadly for randofo, the singularity was reached while he was wearing this. Luckily, all it could make him do was wink at the book he was reading at that time.


    7 years ago on Introduction

    How do you get the code to scroll like it does? It would be very useful if I knew...

    Question: Don't you wreck fluorescent lights if you turn them on and off constantly?

    5 replies

    Reply 5 years ago on Introduction

    For all future generations who come across this comment thread, a scroll box tutorial can be found at .


    Reply 7 years ago on Introduction

    When looking at the rich editor (i.e. Instructables text editor), click the Source" button, copy and past the code in, and remove the extra characters (I had to stick them in to prevent the PM from reading it as HTML). Click the "Source" button again and you should be good to go. Let me know how that works out.


    7 years ago on Introduction

    Nice work ! But I remember a long time ago MythBusters were working on the on/off light when leaving the room and they discovered that incandescent lightbulbs use more power when they are turned on.If you really want to "save" energy i think you should use LED's.But the good part of you i'ble is that it can be used with whatever lightsource we want.except neon because that will suck :))

    7 replies

    Reply 7 years ago on Introduction

    Mythbusters didn't discover that... it's called inrush current and it's been a well known fact for a very long time... probably since the light bulb was invented.


    Reply 6 years ago on Introduction

    Thanks for that comment bircoe. I wish more folks would spend more time reflecting on the depth of history, giving credit where credit is due. The universe didn't spring into being with Hollywood, TV, and the Internet as its progenitors. To the contrary! ;^)


    Reply 7 years ago on Introduction

    There is always a slight increase in current at the initialization of any electronic circuit. It has to do with the principals of electronics and the requirement of additional power to be applied to the circuit to achieve stable current flow. Additionally, with the introduction of semi-conductors there is a requirement of increased initial current, or a surplus of electrons, as the potential difference from the source surpasses the barrier potential in the depletion region. There are no excess electrons present in this zone and it essentially acts as a good insulator, believe it or not. There are quite a few more aspects that influence the current consumption in a circuit, many of them being as simple as the biasing of the semi-conductors in use or even the temperature of the components and the air surrounding them. I'm gonna stop rambling now because this is getting out of hand but your essentially bang on with your assessment. =)


    Reply 7 years ago on Introduction

    Or more simply put the resistance of the filament is lower when the globe is cold, causing the current to be higher, as the filament heats up the resistance increases.

    Using ohms law you can calculate the inrush current, so for example a 120v 40w globe should have a typical resistance of 360ohms which equals .33 amps, when the filament is cold the resistance might be as low as 100ohms (or lower) which equals ~1.2 amps, 1.2amps at 120volt is 144watts... so the inrush current of a 40w globe is over 140w, thankfully this only lasts for 10-15ms however it still makes switching incandescent globes off and on incredibly inefficient, you may as well leave it on.


    Reply 7 years ago on Introduction

    Exactly, I'm preaching to the choir here so I'm just going to shut up. =)


    Reply 7 years ago on Introduction

    Thx for the info.I didn't know that,but also I'm not a big fan of the ordinary light bulb.And I agree with your proposal of using a LED lightsource to save energy.


    6 years ago on Introduction

    I'm rating most of your i'bles 5! Awesome stuff, affordable and compact.


    7 years ago on Introduction

    How about reversing it, and adding a slight delay, so when you open your eyes, you see the light go off.