Traffic Light Project #1: Getting my ideas straight...

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Blog entry by waters posted 01-27-2011 05:42 PM 2291 reads 0 times favorited 3 comments Add to Favorites Watch
no previous part Part 1 of Traffic Light Project series Part 2: Finally some progress.... »

Well, I’ve been busy at work on a new project over the last few weeks. It started after Christmas, while I was tinkering around with my new “no pressure” list and I came across a facebook post from my sister. “Does anyone know where to get a traffic light” she says. So she gets some very good responses, and even a link to a website that sells a nice looking plastic one…..for $75! And, being a Lumberjock, what do I say?....... “I can make that”. And off I went, googling pictures, clearing off my bench, daydreaming about how cool my traffic light would turn out, and how much my nephew would love it.

After talking with my Sister for a bit, I had a good starting point. It would be a wall hanging decoration, with working lights, and maybe 15-20” tall. But beyond that it was all left to me to decide. Just the way I like it :)

Like so many of the projects we start, things are getting bigger and bigger with every turn. Every new idea, and “how am I going to do that??” is creating a project that isn’t a whole lot like what we started with. And this is no different :) Right now it has become a table top lamp sort of decoration. One that will have a small microcontroller “computer” mounted inside of it and will have a built in alarm clock of sorts. I’m hoping to put several useful features, ones that are all kid friendly and parent approved.

For starters, I hope to make this have a push button that will toggle the lights from green to yellow to red. Then I’d like for it to shut itself off after a cycle or two. This way It only really cycles when he wants it to, and becomes a fun “toy”. I’d like it to read out the time, day of week, date, and room temperature. This will also tell him important days, such as birthdays and holidays. Maybe even a Christmas count down! Another feature that I’d like to add is one that will disable the button “light cycle” during the night time. So that button presses will not function the lights at bed time. And at night it will turn on the red light in a dim mode, to act as a night light. And have a “alarm” that you can set for the morning, one that will turn the night light to the green light. This way it will help give a visual clock indication of when it’s ok to get out of bed. Hopefully this will help teach the importance of not getting up at 4am and playing :)

SO, it’s been a long few weeks of learning the circuits, testing and soldering. But I have built the basic frame in oak a few days ago, and have a functioning light cycle circuit. Good things to come, and I’m very excited!!

-- Dale, Oregon

3 comments so far

View Sheila Landry (scrollgirl)'s profile

Sheila Landry (scrollgirl)

9239 posts in 4001 days

#1 posted 01-27-2011 05:48 PM

What a cool project! When my son was about 4-5, we got him a Little Tykes plastic traffic light that was about 4’ tall. He LOVED it! I can’t tell you how many hundreds of hours he played with it, setting up traffic stops on the sidewalk in front of our house (the neighbors loved that!) and playing with his friends and their bikes and cars. I am sure it will be appreciated.

It is great to see you doing all the circuitry yourself, too. It will mean so much to him and I am sure it will be a great keepsake.

Thanks for reminding me of those times in my own life (my son is now 27 and a police officer) and for showing us your project. I will look forward to seeing the finished light.

Sheila :)

-- Designer/Artist/Teacher. Owner of Sheila Landry Designs ( Scroll saw, wood working and painting patterns and surfaces. "Knowledge is Power"

View learnin2do's profile


891 posts in 3933 days

#2 posted 01-27-2011 09:54 PM

okay, yeah…you are hyper-focusing on this one, but it sounds like it is going to be SUPER-COOL!! Why do something halfway, when you can do something super-cool with it instead? If you have the know-how, then…why not? Or if you don’t, there is the best opportunity and most effective means of learning!
-but it looks like you just need a few hours in each day, and you’d be covered!

-- ~christine @ used2btrees

View HerbC's profile


1820 posts in 3941 days

#3 posted 01-27-2011 11:22 PM


Sounds like this is going to be a really cool project. Once you’re done, how about a copy of your schematic on how you put the electronics together for this?

In the meantime, have fun and…

Be Careful!

-- Herb, Florida - Here's why I close most messages with "Be Careful!"

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