I work in one of these newfangled "green buildings". One of the features of this building is that after regular hours, all the lights in the building go out automatically. You can turn the lights on for ten minutes at a time, but only if you walk down the hall and press a button. Seeing as I frequently work late and find these ten-minute distractions annoying, I was thinking about building a device that I could stick on top of the button that would automatically press the button every nine minutes or so.
But then I thought, other people out there probably have the same problem, why not just get somebody else's design.
Have any of you fine XKCD admirers made such a device? Are there suitable commercial products out there or will I have to build one on my own? I think I could make one out of an electronic timer, a suitable battery and a servo...
Or maybe I should just shortcircuit the switch as it appears easy-enough to open. But that requires tampering with the switch, which if the wrong people were in the building would be perceived as a no-no. I suppose it would be okay to tamper with the switch as long as it wasn't apparent externally. For example, maybe installing a "Reed switch" (magnetic field activated switch) behind the button's panel. So the button would work and look normally, but if you put a magnet on the button panel it would trigger the Reed switch, and effectively keep the button depressed until you removed the magnet. This would have the advantage that anyone could start this mechanism with something as simple as a kitchen magnet.
Curious for your insights!