Advice on building a periodic button-pressing device

Discussion in 'The Garage' started by configurationspace, Jan 19, 2012.

  1. configurationspace

    configurationspace delooper

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    Hi all,

    This isn't technically a motorcycle thread, but it is of sufficiently general interest to be motorcycle related.

    I work in a "green building" which among other things, this means after 7pm all the lights go out. And if I want to have the lights on in my office, I have to walk down the hall every 10 minutes and press a button to request that the lights stay on for another 10 minutes. This is annoying.

    I'd like to find a way to keep the lights on while I'm there that doesn't require actually changing the trigger mechanism. I'm thinking of a little device that I'd put on top of the switch, which would press the button every 10 seconds. Or if not time-sensitive, it would be light-sensitive, pressing the button every time the lights went out.

    Have any of you come across something like this?

    The main constraint I have is that if I "noticably" modify the button, the staff in the building will remove the modification. So perhaps I could modify the button in an almost unnoticable way -- like a magnet-activated switch (Reed switch) hidden away behind the button panel. So if someone sticks a magnet on the switch mechanism, it will automatically trigger the button... hmm there's an idea.

    -cs
    #1
  2. fishkens

    fishkens Long timer

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    Drinking bird?

    <iframe src="http://www.youtube.com/embed/Yk71GY02diY" allowfullscreen="" width="420" frameborder="0" height="315"></iframe>
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  3. RVDan

    RVDan Long timer

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  4. configurationspace

    configurationspace delooper

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    Yeah, I know how to do a Google search and if you read my description you'd see none of your suggestions are really appropriate.
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  5. Reryder

    Reryder Onward through the fog...

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    Go inside the switch and bridge the wires so the circuit is always complete, as if the button is constantly pushed. Lights will then stay on all the time.
    Or talk to your building maintenance people and have them reset the time delay from 10 minutes to one hour so you dont have to make the trek down the hall so often.
    Or look around the central hallways or plant room areas and look for a night setback override switch. I know a lotof air con systems that set the temp back at night to save power have this feature.
    #5
  6. configurationspace

    configurationspace delooper

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    Right, as I mention above I was thinking of something along these lines but just bridging the wires would be a bad idea, as that would be noticed and fixed more or less immediately. That's why I was thinking of maybe having the bridge triggered by a Reed switch or something like that -- so there's an unobtrusive way to turn it on and off, independent of the button.
    #6
  7. emti

    emti Been here awhile

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    I would expect that if the lighting remains on after the scheduled time OFF passes a alarm notification is sent to the lighting control panel. so bypassing the control without letting the controller know would result in a maintenance visit. Any device with enough ability to press a switch is not going to be unobtrusive.Call the maintenance dept and ask that the schedule be lengthend so you can get your work done, If not put a requisition for a pine pitch torch (carbon neutral), green is good but the job still has to get done. emti
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  8. josjor

    josjor Long timer

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    Um, get a floor lamp for your office?
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  9. Reryder

    Reryder Onward through the fog...

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    True, but unfortunately the Dr Strangeloves who design building control systems don't see it that way.
    I once worked maint in a new hospital building that automatically dropped building temp by 5 degrees between 9pm and 9am to cut heating costs, ignoring completely that hospital is a 24/7 operation. Patients and nurses were constantly complaining of cold at night (Montana, winter time, 20 below etc). So I went around each ward one night shift and jumpered the night set back for each area so it stayed in day mode 24/7. Problem solved.
    And the HVAC system won a governer's award for energy conservation. Pffff!
    #9
  10. KLboxeR

    KLboxeR Back in the game again

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  11. speedracertdi

    speedracertdi Been here awhile

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    +1
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  12. muddywater

    muddywater Been here awhile

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    go home @ 6:59, and mark it up to being green
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  13. bosco

    bosco Raybanned

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    +2
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  14. JamesG

    JamesG Rabid Poster

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    ^This +1.


    Getting fired for creating a fire hazard is one way of resolving the problem.

    Probably the most prudent course of action.
    #14
  15. dtysdalx2

    dtysdalx2 PITA but useful

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    What he said.

    Usually when the lights go out that mean go the F home. :D Unless they expect you to work in the dark, then I'd GTFO.
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  16. configurationspace

    configurationspace delooper

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    I don't know how sophisticated the button is (it certainly looks a little froofy) but I think as a first step I'll try taping a ruler across it, to keep is depressed. As long as it isn't very smart that might do the job. Might as well find out if the button is okay being held-down all the time.
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  17. muddywater

    muddywater Been here awhile

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    My guess is the switch is a momentary contact type setup. Worth a try though.
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  18. JR Greenhorn

    JR Greenhorn Been here awhile

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    We have occupancy sensors on just about every lighting circuit at my work, and they seem to work well.

    @configurationspace, this is the route to go. Maybe you could pitch it to them that it would save energy anytime the lights aren't needed all day long, and not just after 7PM. Perhaps they could also run with less duration than 10 minutes with this type of sensor as well. Seems like if "greenness" was the reason they went with the silly pushbutton, proposing something more "green" but that is also a benefit to you would be the avenue for change.




    Otherwise, I was thinking maybe there is a way to build a device that would use a small solar cell from a calculator to provide a signal to a relay, which would be wired to a solenoid. The signal would be set up so that the relay powered the solenoid on when it detected light, pushing against a spring. When the lights go out, the signal goes away, the relay opens and the solenoid relaxes, allowing the spring to actuate the button. As soon as the lights come on, the signal to the relay returns, so the solenoid compresses the spring again.

    I suppose the trick would be figuring out a way to mount it to the lights button on the wall, in a way that it could be easily placed and removed every night. Well, that and building such a Rube Goldberg-ish device in the first place.
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  19. Reryder

    Reryder Onward through the fog...

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    Or take a mop from the janitors closet and jam the mop handle against the button with the other end of the mop scrunched into the floor so it does not move away.
    #19
  20. Reryder

    Reryder Onward through the fog...

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    Or take a remote locking controller from a car, and one of the solenoids from inside the car door and set it up with a motorcycle battery in a framework, so that every time you hit the remote control, the solenoid shoots its rod out and hits the button. Of course, you need a way to mount it to the wall in the evenings and remove it after use.
    So maybe a couple of those large "spong" suction cups they use for lifting large sheets of glass with could be bolted to the unit to hold the unit against the wall as required. The whole thing could be made compact enough to fit in your office drawer during the day, hooked up to a battery charger.
    #20