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I'd like to automate and schedule pressing of an "On" button on one of my appliances. (I can't do that by cutting power to it, it has to be powered on all the time, just on standby. I'd also prefer not to disassemble the appliance / button but really have it pressed mechanically.)

The schedule would be quite constant (for example turn it on at 11:00 and turn off at 12:00 every day) but I'd like to be able to change that from time to time without much effort.

How would you approach this problem?

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    What appliance is this? It might be better to get an appliance that has better support for this sort of control... – ThreePhaseEel Oct 10 '16 at 0:37
  • No, replacing it is not an option. – Dunda Dec 22 '16 at 12:29
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I've recently been experimenting with the Arduino microprocessor boards and have found them remarkably easy to work with.

I grabbed one from ebay for about $10AU along with a servo motor for less than $5AU. All software and coding was open source - free and easily accessible - communication is via a PC, once it is programmed you can set and forget. Altering the program would be quick and easy.

The arduino runs on 5V (a USB cable) so sourcing a power supply would not be difficult if you have a spare USB phone charger. The servo motors generally come with shaft attachments and all you would need to do is glue something the correct length onto the servo shaft attachment that would hit your appliance button. You would also need to fix the servo in place, if you didn't want to screw into the appliance you could construct a frame that sits under the appliance and holds the servo in place.

Alternatively, as someone else mentioned, an electromagnetic solenoid (a small unit that pokes a pin out when energised) could be simpler in terms of coding.

The arduino would need to be constantly powered to count time as it has no battery to power an internal clock. There is external clock modules that can be bought to provide for this.

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I think your best bet for a low cost mechanical solution would be to go to a good hobby shop that specializes in remote control cars, planes, boats, etc.

They should be able to hook you up with a servo and actuator that could press a button, you could control it with a plug-in appliance timer maybe, or maybe they could offer some other automated solution.

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    Or a simple door-chime-style solenoid with spring return, possibly with a padded tip to avoid damaging the appliance. Or... – keshlam Oct 10 '16 at 2:47
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It is not clear whether you are asking for a MECHANICAL (no modification) solution where some robot finger punches a button? Or do you have the option (and ability) to "hack" the appliance and gain access to the wiring to the button? There are many solutions for connecting external controllers (like Arduino as Joshyp00 suggests) to execute the electrical equivalent of pushing the button. This is probably a question more suitable for the "Electrical Engineering" forum.

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  • I'm looking for a mechanical solution. – Dunda Dec 22 '16 at 0:37
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There is a neat device that might be able to do exactly what you want. enter image description here This post talks more about it and includes some helpful pictures. I currently have a Smartthings Hub that handles many automated events including lights, doorlocks, doorbell, sensors, and notifications. I highly suggesting using a service like this to accomplish your task as you can schedule it virtually anyway you would like.

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