What MacGyver would make if all he had was a light switch and some cardboard

Looking for something to make? Try choosing a random material to work with, it’s a great way to test your ingenuity, and a great excuse to watch MacGyver re-runs for inspiration!

This unusual project was the result of trying to make something using a rotary dimmer switch. It’s actually rather cool, it attaches to the front of the switch and makes turning on the light an interactive story.

How it works

With the lights fully-on, the dial displays a picturesque rural scene with the sun high in the sky. As the lights are dimmed the sun begins to set, revealing a resplendant night sky with moon and stars!

'Day Night' Dimmer Switch Dial
'Day Night' Dimmer Switch Dial
Lights on: Sun in the sky
'Day Night' Dimmer Switch Dial
Lights dimmed: Sun starting to set
'Day Night' Dimmer Switch Dial
Lights off: moon in the sky

Now you make one

If you’d like to make your own ‘dimmer dial’, download the artwork below and follow the instructions. Good luck!

Download dimmer dial artwork

'Day Night' dimmer switch dial: how-to illustration
Can't read the instructions?

What you'll need

To turn your dimmer switch into a cool ‘day and night’ dial you’ll need a rotary dimmer switch, thick and thin card, glue and a sharp craft knife.

Step 1

Cut two discs (98mm in diameter) from the thick card. In the centre of one of the discs (Disc 2) cut out a hole, it must be small enough to fit tightly over the dimmer switch knob.

Step 2

Take the other disc (Disc 1) and cut out a large 'hole', using the dimensions shown, using the craft knife.

Step 3

Now cut two long strips of card (320mm x 27mm) from the thin card (200gsm) - these are the sides.

Step 4

Glue along the edge of Disc 1 and attach the two strips, overlapping them as necessary.

step 5

Print out the Disc 1 artwork. Trim around the artwork and glue it onto the front of Disc 1.

Step 5

Print out the Disc 2 artwork. Cut it out (including the hole) and then glue or spray mount it onto Disc 2.

Step 6

Cut out two ‘tabs’ from the thin card, fold them in half and glue them to the top and bottom of the cover.

Step 7

Turn the light on and push Disc 2 onto the dimmer knob (sun at the top). Place the cover on top, attaching it to the wall using tape.

Go your own way

Not everyone reading this will have a dimmer switch, so try picking something else to transform. Remember, the weirder it is the more imaginative you will have to be - so don’t just choose a cardboard box!

Left illustration
Right illustration