Office Intelligence: The Arkalight

Posted by Nate Welch on September 29, 2016

12/13/2016 Update: After a brief hiatus and some new upgrades, the Arkalight is back! Enjoy!

Our past office projects have been more about collecting data, for example our
coffee maker and popcorn machine, but displaying data is just as important as collecting it. At Arkatechture we mainly use tableau for our visualizations, but interactive, real world visualizations are just more fun. So below is our newest in-house visualization tool. Currently hanging from one of our metal support beams is a retired traffic light with a raspberry pi running Nodejs, and of course we spray painted it with Arkatechture colors.

 Screen_Shot_2016-09-29_at_12.58.56_PM.png 


And YOU can control it!

The best part about our traffic light is that for now, it’s publically accessible. Just go to this webpage and read the instructions to control it and watch on the embedded dropcam feed.

We mainly use this for fun internally. It’s currently hooked up to our popcorn and coffee makers, doing a strobe effect when coffee is made or popcorn is popped. It’s also hooked up as an outgoing webhook on our slack, so you can post messages to control the light. (Read more about our coffee/popcorn slack integration here)

If you want to know how we made it, it’s really simple. We just used the following items:


  • A retired trafficlight (please don’t take one from an intersection!)
  • Raspberry pi with power supply (we used an RPi 3 and a standard RPi power supply)
  • A 4-channel relay module similar to this one (we only needed 3 of them, but it’s cheaper to buy a 4-channel instead of a 2 and a 1)
  • And a fire extinguisher, just in case

The traffic light runs on mains (120v in the United States), so you need to be careful when it’s plugged in, and do not try to work on the internals while it’s powered.

Running on the RPi is a NodeJS server that changes the state of the relay based on calls to a REST api on the server, the code you can find on my Github account here.

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