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Production: Think Before You Flush

Updated: Jan 16, 2020

The Basics

Below is the basic setup of an LED light with no switch involved. Power goes directly to the

light source. That is because the LED is directly connected to the power and ground (the

positive and negative columns). But the goal of the lab is to create a switch and not a conventional one that operates with the touch of someone’s hand.

Adding the Switch

Now comes incorporating the switch.

The short leg of the LED remains staked in the (negative) ground column while the long leg is inserted in any arbitrary row of the middle panel. At this point the LED is connected to the ground but has no power.

The switch will bring the power to the LED. With two new wires, one (blue wire in this case) is plugged into the same row as the long leg of the LED. The other wire (yellow wire) is plugged into the power (positive) column; this is where the LED’s power will come from. Now then, it makes sense that when these two new wires (blue and yellow) connect the power can be transferred to the LED bulb.

Short Circuit

Before I could light the LED, however, I ran into the short circuit a couple times. One of those

being because the resistor was not in the same row as the long leg of the LED. Therefore, the power had no way of reaching the LED. The LED was only connected to the ground. When the wires are situated like shown in the picture, the switch will fail to power on the LED.

Removing the Resistor

While we were instructed to insert a resistor into our circuit, I wanted to explore more and see how the resistor physically affected the light.

I removed the resistor from the equation. So I now had to reconnect the LED to the power since the resistor had done that before. Therefore, I put on the blue switch wire in the same row as the long leg of the LED.

The result: the light of the LED shone brighter. This helped to contribute to my knowledge of resistors and gave me a better understanding of how the electrons traveled. Sparkfun defines resistors as, “passive components, meaning they only consume power. Therefore, they give the energetic electrons a “useless” job so they don’t overpower the circuit. When removing the resistor, I removed this useless job, so the electrons were more energetic resulting in a brighter light.

Idea for the “Fun Switch”

The goal was to create an unconventional switch for the LED. One of the first ideas that

popped into my mind is using a toilet seat. It sounds gross, but I was reminded how much it bothers me when people leave the toilet seat up. So, my idea was that the light would become a sensor and alert a patron to use the restroom, whether or not the seat was still up.

Creating the Switch

I taped one of the long wires to the toilet bowl and the other to the bottom of the toilet seat. That way, when the seat was down, the wires would touch and allow for the energy to flow through. It worked as planned as shown below, but when I thought about it, my switch seems backwards: shouldn’t the light turn on when the seat was up to alert people? A reverse solution for turning my

unconventional switch into a conventional idea might be connecting one wire to the top of the seat so that it means the other wire on the side of the water tank. But would anyone really want their butt to touch an open wire?

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