With all of the working from home that’s going on, and all of the kids not going to school, it can be tough to keep the latter out of the former. In my continuing practice of making things more complicated than they need to be, I came up with a way for my kids to know they should not go down into the basement.
Come on down. And…
You shall not pass!
I posted those pictures on Facebook and a few friends asked me what I was using. It’s not as complicated as I’d like it to be, but it’s a work in progress. I can control it with an IR remote, an app on my phone, and with my digital assistant, Alexa. When I’m at my desk I only need to bark out, “Alexa, set busy lights to Red!” and she does.
I cobbled my solution together with parts I already had in “that damned box.” Since some of you don’t have that box (I feel so bad for you), here’s a link to a comparable package, Nexlux LED Strip Lights. If you want to put your own package together you’ll need three pieces; a power supply, a controller, and an LED light strip. You’ll find a nearly endless supply of combinations of those on Amazon. I used double-sided tape to stick the light strip to the door frame. The light strip has adhesive on the back, but my experience has shown that the heat from the LEDs degrades that adhesive pretty quickly.
I mentioned above that I have a few ways to change the light colors based on the controller I have. There is the included IR remote, the included app, and Alexa integration. Right now I don’t have any automation set up where the lights change based on my presence in Office 365 or my calendar. That may come later.
I was telling a friend of mine about this. He’s less inclined to nerd out on things like this. His loss. He thought he might just connect a string of Christmas lights up to a smart plug and get the same result. That would work too and would have all the same integration points depending on which smart plug you get. I have a few Wemo smart plugs from Belkin and they’ve treated me pretty well. They also integrate with IFTTT so I can have them flash a lamp when the garage door opens, fun things like that.
If this article was interesting, let me know. I’ll post some of my other home automation projects.
I've seen a couple of blog posts of people that have done this better than I have. Check out April Dunham's post on it and also Elio Struyf's.