This Robot Finger Dims Bright Office Lights
Thomas Renck’s office lights have apparently been possessed by some gremlins. At random times throughout the day, the lighting system reverts back to its maximum brightness setting. Renck and his coworkers prefer to keep the lights at a dimmer setting that is less likely to cause permanent retina damage. So, Renck built this little robot finger to dim the lights when they get too bright.
Before Renck settled on this solution, he tried to determine why the lights would randomly set themselves to maximum brightness and to reconfigure them to act more obediently. Unfortunately, despite a thorough investigation of the operating manual and the DIP switch settings, he was unable to find an explanation for their odd behavior. The next-best approach was to build a robot to dim the lights, and this was the result.
The robot itself is very simple, and has just three major components: a WeMos D1 Mini, a small hobby servo, and a 3D-printed finger. The D1 Mini is Arduino-compatible and well-documented, so Renck was able to quickly write and flash the code for the robot. A Slack bot monitors the office chat, and waits to see if anyone complains about the lights being too bright. If they do, then the Slack bot sends a UDP packet that the D1 Mini picks up. When it receives that packet, it tells the servo to move and the finger pushes the light switch’s dimmer button. Problem solved!