Circadian lighting

Jet lag has broken my brain. I spent the night in a special extended edition of one of those paralysed 3am panics about things left undone, slept through the alarm, and only woke up eight hours later, at 4.30pm. Please don’t talk to me. Sounds hurt.

I was planning a nice long post about robots today, but the screen is strobing at me and my eyes are watering. So instead, I’m going to embed a video and give you a link to this really excellent project from Rasathus, which has a special significance for anybody feeling the way I do today. Rasathus has made a Raspberry Pi version of NASA’s circadian lighting setup, used in the International Space Station. Astronauts on the ISS do not have access to the sleep-promoting tools that we here on earth do (hot baths, warm cats, fluffy pyjamas, too much email), so NASA and Boeing spent $11.2m on making the lights on the ISS cycle through red and blue. Rasathus has done much the same thing with a $35 Pi and some $40 LEDs. Suggestions for what NASA might have done with the savings in the comments, please.

In short, this project will allow you to fake up sunrises and sunsets, bright noontime light and all that good stuff. I plan to build one myself to avoid a repeat of today’s total failure of body clock for the next time I have to travel. You’ll need some bits and pieces you can get from Adafruit (there’s a hardware list on Rasathus’s website), and the code is all available on Github.

I’m going to have a nice soothing bath in my pyjamas with Mooncake. Thank you, Rasathus, for the clever.


Jim Manley avatar

Oh, Circadian rhythm … I thought you were talking about cicadaian rhythms, where cicadas hatch after hibernation for up to 11 years in locust-like numbers in the millions. I couldn’t figure out why you would want to sit in a bathtub full of bugs … in your pajamas or otherwise, and why Mooncake would be interested was really beyond me! :D

It is a very interesting project and I may need to build something like that since I’ve been collapsing in a heap after dinner following each day of dealing with sixth-grade students who may or may not be all that excited about STEM classwork and homework problems. :(

psergiu avatar

“I’m going to have a nice soothing bath in my pyjamas with Mooncake.

At least the pyjamas will make for less deeper claw cuts. Unless Mooncake is one of those rare cats that like taking unexpected baths.

Andrew Scheller avatar

I’m not sure how relaxing having soggy pyjamas would be after the bath though… :-/

Psycho_Moggie avatar

With the money they would have saved, they could have given the astronauts cats, as well.

Jim Manley avatar

Well, the Muppets brought us “Pigs in Space!”, so why not “Puddytats in Space”? I’ll tell you why in five words and a letter – zero G with no cat litter! If you thought the constant stench of borscht and its byproducts was bad on the ISS, just wait until you see what life is like with cats in the mix. Plus, where do you suppose the hairballs are going to wind up? They have enough challenges keeping the air purification systems running with just carbon dioxide coming in the intakes … :(

liz avatar

That gravity problem also precludes hot baths. And mugs of warm milk. Being an astronaut must suck. (If you’re an insomniac, that is.)

Psycho_Moggie avatar

This is all very disappointing, I was rather hoping for videos of cats on space scooters.

HakitoCZ avatar

That’s sweet, dude! Keep doing stuff like that and let us know, it’s really nice!

Davis N avatar

Waoo, that looks amazing, want to try it.

The Other Peter Green avatar

Re NASA’s budget – it’s the 21st century and I’m STILL waiting for my jet pack.

Captain-of=Spray avatar

Tip from “New Scientist” on dealing with jet lag. Make sure you arrive in daylight and get some time outdoors on first day (sunlight resets your body clock). Do not go to bed till local bedtime, no matter how you feel. Do not get up in the night no matter how you feel. Get more outdoors time on second day. Should be OK after that. Note for IgNobel Awards: some twisted researcher even showed that 20 minutes intense light on the back of your knees resets body clock (why would you check something so strange?).

liz avatar

Does the New Scientist have any tips on how to avoid falling asleep at normal bedtime and then not waking up for 18 hours?

Andrew Joy avatar

They should do everything with the PI and then use all that money they saved to sent me to mars

Jeff avatar

How did Rasathus protect the Rasberry pi from cosmic rays upsetting the bits? How did he test it! All kidding aside I am not defending NASA but I know a rasberry pi could have limited reliabilty in orbit. Off the shelf micros do make it into space, just wondering how you protect them.

TankSlappa avatar

Off the shelf parts certainly do make it into space. IIRC standard Nikon DSLR cameras go up and are used without issue on the ISS, and a little voice in my head keeps muttering something about Thinkpads being used in the past.

Having said all that, I’m sure the inside of the ISS is pretty well screened and protected from nasty things, those meat-bag humans don’t take kindly to cosmic radiation either.

SaveMoneyThinkBIG avatar

Thinking of the money NASA could have saved, AND thinking of the power or the RPi, got me to thinking about the Apollo missions and the infant computing power that made those missions possible. After doing a few searches on-line I found this as a comparison…

With that said, think of the nearly limitless possibilities that could be done with the power of the RPi with its 512MB of memory and 700MHz processor FOR ONLY $35! I’m sure NASA spent way more than $35 for their Apollo Guidance Computer (AGC) but it definitely shows what can be done with very limited hardware. May it inspire us think BIG.

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