Here in the U.S., Labor Day brings with it the last hurrah of summer, the seasonal retirement of white pants, and hopefully, an appreciation for the history behind the holiday.
Labor Day is dedicated to American workers and the strides that the labor movement has made for worker’s rights. In order to celebrate the fact that the working class no longer has to work for 18 hours a day, six days a week, we take an extra day off from work. It’s a pretty sweet deal.
Today, less hours at work mean more free hours for making, especially during those precious three day weekends. But here’s the problem I always encounter on three day weekends: As much as I’d like to kick back and relax, there are so many non-work-related chores that still need to be done! I often use the extra day in a three day weekend to play catch up.
So this Labor Day, in the spirit of leisure, try your hand at one (or two or three) of the below projects. They’ll help automate your daily life so you won’t have to think about those pesky, mundane tasks so much, and you can focus more on what really matters.
Take Care of Your Pets
1. Automatic Pet Feeder
This automatic pet feeder will take care of the daily chore of filling the food bowl. In the event that you take a day trip without your furry friend, you can rest assured that Fido will still have a full tummy by the time you return.
2. Automated Doggy Door
In addition to letting your pooch access the backyard, this project also waters and feeds your fuzzy beneficiary. The system communicates with your dog’s collar, so don’t worry about the access being hijacked by your neighborhood raccoons.
3. Automatic Fish Feeder
Does your non-human friend have more scales than hair? Not to worry, you can still build an automated system to keep them satiated. This aquarium enthusiast from Belgium decided to program an Arduino Nano to deliver daily meals to his fish over the course of a week. If you’re taking off for a three day weekend, you’ll want to be sure you set this up first.
Take Care of Your Home & Garden
If you already have fish and/or a garden, aquaponics is a worthy project for you to tackle. This symbiotic system allows the plants and animals to work in tandem, cleaning and recycling each other’s byproducts so that they can thrive efficiently.
5. Arduino-Automated Garden Watering
Just like the automated pet feeders above, this is a great project for making sure that all the living things on your property are properly nourished, even on days when you are too busy to do so manually. Follow along with this video walkthrough as Grady Hillhouse explains how he set up an automatic watering system for his herb garden using Arduino.
6. Automated Window Shades
Blinds are great for alternately letting in and keeping out the sun, but it can be hard to gauge which position in which to leave your blinds if you are leaving for the day. This project uses an Arduino and a temperature sensor to automatically close your blinds for you when it gets too hot, and then twist them back open to let warm sunrays back in.
7. Apple Watch Door Unlocker
Have you ever come back from a weekend trip such as camping, and everything got so jumbled around in the car that finding your keys has suddenly become a near-impossible quest? Keys are such a hassle. Instead, open your front door with a tap on your wrist. This project walks you through the simple steps necessary to turn your Apple Watch into a wrist-bound house key.
Take Care of Yourself
8. Auto Timer for Your Tea
Going to the effort to make a cup of tea, only to take that first bitter sip and realize that you’ve steeped the tea bag for too long, is a huge bummer. Ensure that you always have a perfectly brewed cup of tea with this simple project.
9. Semi-Automatic Coffee Roaster
Okay, this one is only semi automatic. But if you’re preparing to take a “staycation,” you’ll appreciate the opportunity to take a more DIY approach to your morning beverage ritual.
10. Automatic Photography Rig for Panorama Photos
And finally, if you are venturing out into the great big world during this three day weekend, you’ll want to be sure to record some memories to bring back with you. The problem with acting as the vacation photographer, however, is that this can often make it difficult to properly enjoy the actual vacation. Set up an automatic system so that you can show off a beautiful panorama of a scene you were present enough to enjoy first hand.