This Is An Inordinate Amount Of Switches

How do you start a good habit? As a blogger, someone who spends a spectacular amount of time on Twitter, and a Thought Leader Life Coach, I can tell you: the best way to start a good habit is by doing it every day. [Arduino Enigma] has just the solution to procrastination, laziness, or whatever else is stopping you from forming a good habit. It’s a good habit tracker, and far too many switches on a single PCB.

The inspiration for this build comes from the master of shitty robots, [Simone Giertz], who built something containing 365 switches and 12 LEDs. The idea is simple: every day, [Simone] would do 10 minutes of yoga and 10 minutes of meditation, then flip a switch. At the end of the month, an LED would light up. Do it every day for a year, and all the lights are on, hopefully beginning a new, good habit.

[Simone]’s version is rather large, and quite possibly used panel-mount switches. Where there’s a will, there’s someone able to make a PCB, so [Arduino Enigma] whipped up a board with 365 switches, 12 resistors, and 12 LEDs.

The circuit for this good habit tracker is extremely simple. It’s simply power going into 30, 31, or 28 switches in series, one after the other. At the end of the month, the LED lights up.

Is it complicated? No, but that’s not exactly the point. We’re hacking behavior here and not electrons, although this is a great example of how PCBs can be simultaneously far too complicated and far too simple.

28 thoughts on “This Is An Inordinate Amount Of Switches

  1. It’s a very attractive PCB, and I like the blue LEDs, but I wonder if it reinforces all-or-nothing thinking, a type of cognitive distortion which can actually prevent people from establishing good habits should they miss a day or two.

    1. Perhaps it could be broken down further into weeks. Each switch in the week connects a resistor in parallel. Then have the weeks in series. You need to do some each week to succeed and the more you do the brighter the LED will glow as the overall resistance drops. You have to do enough or the resistance is too high to light it up. Not an all or nothing solution and you can track your performance against other months by comparing how bright your LED is.

    2. “100% completion” can be a powerful and tempting reward as long as it doesn’t seem unattainable; whether it’s best to make the “now you get another chance” resets monthly like this does probably depends on the individual’s innate ability to keep to the schedule.

    3. Perhaps if each switch increased the brightness of the LED slightly? It wouldn’t be quite as elegant as the current design – you’d have to use either a microcontroller or something clever with a constant current supply.

          1. brightness also doesn’t scale linear with PWM! Yes I know this is confusing. BUt It mostly has to do with the way we experience brightness.
            If you double the current through an LED (which you can do with a resistor as easy as you could do with PWM, just a matter of choosing the correct value), then it doens’t mean that the observer with it’s human eyes experiences it as twice as bright.

            Some low-level info about this subject can be found here:

            Regarding the project… sure it’s simple, sure it’s not technological challenging. A bunch of LED’s on a board switched by many switches in series… yeahhhh… I could have made that too, nothing to it. But the fact is, that I (and all other readers) didn’t. We didn’t think of it or didn’t bother. Anyway, somebody else did and I’m sure that lot’s of people will be liking it. So in short, this project IS worthy of posting, despite of what some commenters here might say.
            The most fun part of this project will be that when the cycle completes all the switches have to be set back to the off position, I guess that’s the reward for completing the exercises.

            Though from a practical point of view, what’s wrong with a table on piece of paper and a magic marker?

  2. Because it’s a nice, pretty build, and it’s an intriguing approach to improving one’s own commitment to a long-term goal, and there’s something pleasantly absurd about using a huge number of switches to accomplish something that most hackers would do with three tact switches, an LCD display, and an AVR.

    Now, what made your post worthy?

  3. this is what happens when you have trouble sourcing small numbers of parts. i needed a couple switches for a build and somehow ended up with a hundred of them (asian markets are weird like that). sometimes you look for a project to use the parts you have on hand instead of the other way around. i think i would have matrixed them and added a usb interface so i could use it to control stuff, but thats just me.

  4. It is very very silly, but I kind of like it. For stuff like this I like to imagine the “what the fuck is this?” moment which must occur someday years from now when an unwitting third party finds this in a box in the attic, goes online, and tries in vain to figure out what it’s for.

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