I finally purchased a Switchbot yesterday. In case you’ve never heard of one, they are a wireless device that can be controlled over bluetooth/wifi by you or a digital assistant, and they serve one purpose: to flip a switch or push a button. There has been discussion in past forum threads about using them to start a Glowforge in another room, and that is an understandably divisive topic in regards to safety. This thread post doesn’t seek to condone or condemn either point of view, but to give examples of ways a Switchbot can be used with the GF magic button for reasons other than unattended printing. They are currently on sale for about $16 on Amazon, less than half their usual price. I’ll include details on that at the end of this post. If that’s not okay, I hope a mod lets me know and I’ll delete that part. I’m not associated with the company that makes them; I just like sharing good deals.
But yeah, anyway, I bought a Switchbot…and it has nothing to do with leaving my Glowforge unattended. In fact, it will make some of my operations safer. I hope you’ll indulge me while elaborate probably more than is necessary (it’s a thing I do; I have anxiety about being unclear).
Preface: I have spent my entire life coping with severe ADHD. I am often forgetful, multi-task constantly, and sometimes hyperfixate on Task A so heavily that I forget to stop and do something time-sensitive in concurrent Task B when I’m supposed to. However, In recent years, the increasing affordability and ubiquity of smart technology has completely changed my life. Smart watch reminders have cut my “oh crap” moments and apologies to my family in half, at least. Alexa, smart switches, and Ring have made lights left on all night and unarmed security systems a thing of the past. Smart plugs now turn off my hot glue gun and soldering iron exactly one hour after I turn them on so they don’t sit generating heat and being a fire risk for two straight days (actual thing that happened). My house is a much safer and more energy-efficient place than it ever was before.
Which brings me back to the Glowforge. Sometimes I make things where heat/soot spread must be kept to an absolute minimum. There are currently no viable workarounds for the air assist fan (at least, none that I’m willing to attempt while still under warranty) but, like many of you, I have an external exhaust fan that I control. So, when working on more sensitive projects, I will sometimes turn off my exhaust fan completely, and then run engravings incrementally. Say, engrave for 5 minutes, pause the Glowforge, allow 1 minute cool down, then fan on high for 2 minutes to clear smoke, and then resume engraving for five minutes. Sure, it greatly lengthens project times, but sometimes that’s worth it for flawless results.
Finally, here’s where the Switchbot comes in. To be clear, I never leave my running Glowforge unattended…but in my book, that means not leaving the room, as opposed to standing over it staring the whole time (though I do occasionally become transfixed watching it work and stand there longer than I need to). I am fortunate enough to have my GF running in my garage, as well as a never-ending stream of other projects I can work on in there while it runs. However, as with most things, I can get distracted from something I need to do because I become overly focused on something else. When employing my engrave time/fan time alternating method, this can sometimes mean leaving the GF paused longer than needed or, worse, letting it run without an exhaust fan for long enough to create greater-than-acceptable risk. With the Switchbot, I plan to create routines that handle all these steps for me: Push to start, wait X time, push to pause, wait Y time, turn on fan, wait Z time, turn off fan, loop back to first GF press, repeat until told to stop.
Does this make my method as safe as running the GF the way it was intended? No. But it definitely makes it safer than if I forget to initiate a fan break and it engraves for half an hour without any exhaust. And there are other uses I’m considering which improve safety overall. For example, I can set up the Switchbot in a routine with the multiple security system motion sensors in my garage (gotta protect that GF investment) so that they will pause the GF if they don’t detect movement in the room for, say, 10 minutes. While I would never intentionally leave the running GF unattended, I would not put it past me to actually forget it was running and leave the room…or the house. When my son was a baby, I once got drove halfway to the market before suddenly remembering that I had been home alone with him and he was napping. Thankfully, the market was only 6 blocks away and he was still asleep when I returned. (He’s 12 now, and I still have never told my wife.) I also plan to create a routine where, if one of my smart smoke detectors goes off, the Switchbot automatically pauses the GF. Sure, I could do that with a smart plug…but I don’t want to cut power to the GF just because somebody burned toast in the kitchen and I needed to leave the room to investigate. (Also, as a firefighter, I wouldn’t advise running a device with as much power draw as the GF through most commercial smart plugs.)
These are just a couple of the ways in which a Switchbot will help me operate the GF more safely with my relatively manageable medical condition. Now, imagine if you had epilepsy, severe narcolepsy, or any number of other medical conditions in which you generally live a normal life…except for those random moments when, unannounced, you slip into an unconscious or dissociative state for periods of time. Something like that might prevent you from knowing with certainty that you could operate a Glowforge safely. But what if you could couple it with a routine that requires you to tap a button on a smart watch notification every ten minutes and, if you fail to do so, it pauses the job in progress? I think I’d like that peace of mind if I lived with such a condition.
Anyway, that’s the extent of my meandering thoughts on the matter. I’d love to hear others’ as well.
And, as promised, details on the Amazon sale. Once again, I’m not associated with the company that makes Switchbot or Amazon, just wanting to share a good deal. I will certainly remove the information if it’s not okay.
- Visit the page for SwitchBot Smart Switch Button Pusher w/ App or Timer Control
- Clip 35% off coupon
- Add to your cart and proceed to checkout
- Apply promotion code 12GZ1N3F
- Your total will be $15.37 with free shipping.
Take care, all. Stay safe and 'forge on.
Oh, and don’t forget to check the batteries in your smoke detectors, and occasionally rotate your powder fire extinguishers so the contents don’t brick up on you. tips adorable yellow helmet