I'm looking into building a timing project for my Finnex Fugeray light.
I'm using the http://www.amazon.com/Finnex-FugeRay-Aquarium-Moonlights-30-Inch/dp/B008K23JE4/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1370878888&sr=8-1.
This particular model has one power cord, and two switches (one on each side). One switch controls the white lights, the other switch controls the blue lights. Both can be powered at the same time.
I'm not an electrical engineer, but I have done a few projects in the past, and I'm a diligent computer programmer. So, what I want to accomplish, is cheap and efficient way to control the lights independent of each other.
My first thought was to build two circuits with some small timers, and DIP switches, to control each hour of the day. But this looked like a bit more work than I wanted to put in.
My second thought was to pull in a cheap microcontroller (PIC16F) to handle the dirty work. This would work well, but it raises the barrier of entry for those who aren't familiar with programming microcontrollers. Plus it raises the cost a bit.
I'm settling on the fact that I might use an Arduino, since they're a bit more ubiquitous now-a-days, even though they're more expensive.
Some of the thoughts that I'm sitting with, is if an Arduino is used, we could actually get past the hardware required to manually set the time (moving switches and such), and just use a web interface. That would give more granularity for times, and allow for better patterns, if you wanted to have your lights change to emulate seasons. Doing that further increases the price, as you'll have to get a wireless/ethernet shield for your Arduino.
That puts this, and the Raspberry Pi very close to one another pricewise (the common WiFi dongle for the Raspberry Pi is about $10 from NewEgg, EDIMAX EW-7811Un
The difference between the two, is now more a matter of getting things set up, and the initial programming that goes into it.
Does anyone have any thoughts on this? Has it been done before?
My preference, again, is to put more work in on the front-end, so that we can do more later on. I think it'd be neat to have "seasonal mode", where your lights begin to emulate photoperiods with minimal switching on your own.
And finally, I think another option I'd like to add, if I'm going to be modifying my lights, would be swapping out the switch from a toggle, to three-position switch. That way you could have an "On, Off, Auto" selection. And possibly an LED to indicate what position you're on.
Has anyone seen something like this? Is anyone interested in nerding out with me?
After I do this, I'll be releasing a tutorial, schematics and the code.