I am not sure if this is the place for this. What I am looking for is a standard 110V light switch, with some sort of servo inbedded inside, to allow for the switch to be physically turned on or off. Basically, I would like to have a switch that I can manually turn on/off, or through a computer controlled circuit, turn on/off. This way, I can turn the light on/off as needed, or schedule it through the computer. It would also be nice to have a sensor to indicate if this is on/off, but I can do that through some addon circuits.
This is to be used as part of a home automation project I am working on.
I'd think that would be a typical function of home automation systems, but I don't know for sure since I don't do that.
If I were into home automation, I might solve the problem by using the physical wall switch as an input to the automation controller rather than to directly make or break the light circuit itself. The automation controller, not the physical switch, would activate the light (or whatever else I choose) according to rules programmed into it which could include a variety of actions on the wall switch in combination with other inputs such as timers, sensors, etc.
Although such things as remotely moveable toggle switches do exist, what you probably want for home automation is more like this:
There are some high-end audio mixing boards where all the controls are motor-driven, so you can save and restore settings. But those devices are expensive, unreliable, and won't fit in a standard switch electrical box.
If you want to see some switches that can physically be moved by remote control, see
These are MIL-spec aerospace qualified toggle switches used for things like "Engage Autopilot" in aircraft. They're expensive.
Another solution would be to wire your computer controlled relay as part of a 3-way switch. The only disadvantage of this, is that you would then need a relay that is in parallel with the light to let you know that the light is actually on.
The other way to know if the light is > I am not sure if this is the place for this.
Your recommendation sounds like a good option. The reason I was looking at the automation controlling the switch, and not the switch imputing to the system is that I would like to "The House" operational, with or without the computer. I would hate to have a PC failure, and my house crashes as a result.
Well if that's the only reason, you needn't worry. If you replace your light switch with (say) an X10 switch module, then it continues to work without any other computers online. The switch module simply sends a command onto the house wiring, and the lamp module (or whatever) responds by turning itself on or off. Your computer can ALSO send commands to turn it on or off, e.g. on a schedule you define or when you run some "leaving the house" program. But the computer's just another input (and output, if you wish) to the system; it's not a critical component.
Note that switches like these don't have a physical indicator of the current state. Usually they're just a long button, and you push it on one side for "on" and push it on the other end for "off." I like your idea of a physical switch that actually moves to indicate state, but it's probably not necessary -- most of us have 2-way (or 3-way) switches in our house, in which case the physical position of one switch doesn't reflect the state of whatever it controls anyway.
(Though it'd be cool if it did -- imagine flipping one switch, and the other switch on the same circuit moves accordingly! That'd be nifty, but doesn't seem high on the list of world's problems to solve.)
My wife (and myself to some extent) are compulsive about switch positions for 3-way switches. We like them configured so when they are all down, the light is off, and we only want one light switch up when the light is on (we have one string of 3-way and 4-way switches in the house that has 4 switches in it). So we tend to do things so we always turn the light off, with the same switch we turned it on with, so that the switches always end up in the all down position when the light is off.
For people like us, switches that moved on their own at all locations so we wouldn't have to run around and "fix" the switches all the time would be cool!
I think just having an indicator light showing the status of the circuit (on or off) and using momentary switches might be just as good (but not as fun).
Does it have to be physical? There are light switches (rocker style, illuminated) that light up when their load is off (so you can find them in the dark), and go dark when their load is on. Putting one of these in a three-way seutp with an X10 module might be one alternative.