Project Overview  |  Proof of Concept  |  Final Design  |  Fabrication  |  Testing and Results  |  Meet the Team  |  Acknowledgements

Project Overview

Often light switches are not located in the most optimal places and could benefit from having a remote that toggles the switch from another location. Current solutions for suboptimal light switch placement have issues with high cost, connectivity, complexity, and not working universally for all switches. Lights Out is designing a light switch pair that includes a remote that can toggle a light switch with little modification to the original switch. During our design process, we’ve created a list of specifications that we will follow, taking into account the shortcomings of current solutions on the market.

The Pear, Lights Out’s two-part remote light switch, will be designed to be compatible with standard household light switches and quick and easy to install. The device will be designed to cost the consumer no more than $50, but we aim to have it priced at half of that. The device that pairs with the original light switch will also be designed to blend in order to stay as close to the original design as possible. Team Lights Out does not want their customers to have to deal with inconveniences for a product built for convenience, so the battery in the devices must last a month or longer and the whole device should last three to five years. Finally, for the customer’s safety, precautions will be taken to avoid electric shock, burns, or any other forms of injury.

Light’s Out belongs to the home improvement industry. There are other competitors within the home improvement industry that are similar to the Light’s Out appliance. The most similar, leading competitor is Switchmate. Switchmate is a light switch overlay that can be controlled from the overlay and from a smart device such as phone or a tablet. The difference is Lights Out’s can be controlled from an additional light switch that can be placed on any surface as well as using a RF signal rather than Bluetooth meaning it has a larger comparative range. Light switch appliances are typically purchased during the summer seasons due to the influx of people moving into new homes. Renovations are also more likely to happen during the warmer parts of the year increasing the demand for home improvement products during this time. We will most likely be using an OEM market strategy to sell our product, meaning this product will be purchased in bulk by a large, homes good distributor and then sold individually to the consumer.


Proof of Concept

The concept of Light’s Out is to mechanically control a light switch from a distance with the use of a remote. The SolidWorks drawing demonstrates that the required parts will fit onto a standard light switch faceplate with enough room to perform their required tasks.

Part 1.1.0 is the new faceplate that would be installed in place of the original faceplate. The new faceplate has the necessary holes for the switch to protrude out of and the screws to attach it to the interior switch. The exterior of the faceplate contain the bracket to control the light switch, part 1.2.0, the motor and power screw required to move the bracket back and fourth, part 1.3.0. Part 1.4.0 is the RF control board that will receive data from the remote.

When data is received from the remote, the RF board will read the signal and determine which way to power the motor. The motor will spin in different directions to power on and off the light switch. This will be done by a power screw with a bracket attachment that will encompass the switch. The bracket will act as nut and move forward or backwards depending on the rotation of the motor and power screw. Figure 1 shows the exterior of the face plate without the cover that will enclose parts 1.1.0, 1.2.0, 1.3.0, and 1.4.0 but has been left open to make it easy to view.


Final design

Lights Out is an easy to install and easy to operate light switch overlay that allows for control right from the source or from a provided remote. It is easy to install because the only prior knowledge to install is how to operate a handheld screwdriver. On the custom faceplate there are two holes for the faceplate to be screwed onto the light switch much light a traditional faceplate. This allows for the user to unscrew the old faceplate they wish to replace and easily attach the new, custom faceplate. These holes can be seen in Figure 3 and 4 on the expanded view of the SolidWorks model.  Lights Out is easy to use because the faceplate comes with a key fob to control the custom faceplate and manipulate the light switch. The key fob is already connected to the internal circuit board so there is no need for the user to get involved in any connection methods or issues. The power for Lights Out is from a replacmentable battery. The battery has been calculated to last for several years if used properly, but if the user ever needed to replace the battery it could done so by removing the casing of the faceplate and removing the dead battery from the holder and inserting a new battery. This feature elaborates on the ease of install and use by using a standard battery that the majority of Lights Out target customers are familiar with. The physical shape and size of Lights Out is the same size and color of a traditional light switch faceplate so it will be low profile. The only different is the size of the casing around the internal system. This casing will contain two bottoms, one for on and one for off to still allow for direct control of the light switch if it is convenient for the user.



The assembly and fabrication of this device starts with laser cutting the five pieces needed for the cover out of ⅛” acrylic as seen in fig. 1. These are then glued together using acrylic cement. Once the cement has hardened the power switch is then snapped in and the two faceplate buttons are screwed in the holes (fig. 2). From here battery is soldered to the power switch and to the arduino nano (fig. 3). The arduino is then connected to the RF board (fig. 4), faceplate buttons and the relay board (fig. 5). The 6v DC motor (fig. 6)  is then connected to the relay board. All these electrical components are compiled together and screwed into the acrylic case (fig. 7). The back of the case is a standard lightswitch faceplate that is screwed to the case (fig. 8). This is all controlled by the RF remote seen in fig. 9.


Testing and Results

Testing and Results


The prototype test plan included testing the range of the remote and if the mechanism could flip the switch to turn on and off the controlled lights. The test plan included testing that The Pear will operate from remote control and direct control. It will also include texting the remote from different distance intervals to ensure The Pear will operate in distances that can be found in typical homes. On the first test the program was not written correctly and did not fully flip the switch. It fix this problem the code was edited to adjust the motor run time to consistently toggle the switch. Once the code has been fixed The Pear worked with the control of the remote and the button on the front. The furthest range that The Pear worked over the radio frequency was 200 feet away, which was well over our goal of 150 feet. We found this number by measuring rooms in each of our homes and then tripling it, just to ensure that it will be able to function in larger homes.


From testing our prototype Team Lights Out learned that The Pear will solve the original problem statement of inconveniently placed light switches. The Pear allows customer to not only operate the light switch from an easy to use remote, but also still from the source on the outside of the light switch overlay. This will create an easy and simple solution to assist people in everyday life. There is no need to get up from bed to turn off your light or to walk into a dark home when The Pear can now easily solve this problem. After demoing The Pear to different customers, Team Lights Out has received positive feedback about the overall quality and functionality of The Pear.



Range Testing
Testing range Did it work
50 ft Yes
75 ft Yes
100 ft Yes
125 ft Yes
150 ft Yes
175 ft Yes
185 ft Yes
200 ft Yes
215 ft Sometimes
225 ft No




Meet the Team


Jesse Minjarez is from Stockton, California and is studying for his Bachelor’s in Mechanical Engineering and will graduate in Spring of 2018. He has taken part in redesigning Ultra-high-molecular-weight polyethylene gear couplings as well as hooks used in warehouse environments for his work and visited an elementary school to teach student about electricity using an electromagnet train built from batteries, rare earth magnets, and copper wire. Jesse currently owns and manages a mobile electronic repair company fixing cellphones and many other electronic devices.   He has many times taken phones that have been ran over, cycled through the washer, and once drilled through and restored them to working condition to save customers data. Jesse plans to expand on his repair company while pursuing many other product ideas he has thought of in order to gain financial freedom.



Paulo is a senior mechanical engineering student from Dublin, California whose accomplishments involve the creation of semi-autonomous hovercraft, NXT controlled robots, designing bridges and much more during his time at the University of Nevada, Reno. Being an avid car enthusiast his engineering knowledge and technical skills have allowed him to work on a project involving the design and fabrication of an exhaust system for a friend’s car. From the original design of the parts through Solidworks to the fabrication and welding together of the exhaust itself he was able to create a functioning catback system at a fraction of the price of a commercially available one. Paulo’s goals after graduation involve pursuing his masters in either business or mechanical engineering and ultimately going to law school to study patent law.



Sydney is from Truckee, California and is a senior at the University of Nevada, Reno majoring in mechanical engineering and minoring in renewable energy. Sydney’s major projects included her assigned coursework that have been an NXT controlled hovercraft and Lego robots, the design and development of parts for a simulation of finite element analysis through Solidworks, and creating and presenting a lesson plan that involved computer science and a related physical model to a classroom of AP computer science students. Outside of her coursework, Sydney assists her father at local constriction sites with the repair and construction of houses, such as installing a trench drains and ice melt cabling on driveways. She plans to graduate in the fall of 2018, her goals after graduation include traveling through Europe and then working for a company that is involved with geothermal heating and house design. She hopes to build a career around renewable energies, specific in the design and layout of homes that harness the sun’s energy through geothermal mass.





Ryan is a mechanical engineering student at the University of Nevada, Reno. During the past three years at UNR he has improved his mathematics and engineering design process. The biggest engineering project Ryan has been involved in was building autonomous robots for his Mechanical Engineering 151 class. Outside of school Ryan has used machining techniques learned in ME351 to build AR-15s. He has also utilized his knowledge from mechanics of solids to help his father with home improvements. Originally from Truckee, California and now living in Reno Ryan would like to get a job in the area after graduation. For now he is working on getting a Bachelor of Science for mechanical engineering with a minor in renewable energy.