Tag Archives: lights

Illuminated Dash Gauges, Part Deux

Mood lighting.

Mood lighting.

I wrote about illuminated dash gauges a while ago saying it’s rather dumb. I still think it’s dumb, but I realized it’s because the gauges sit farther in the dashboard so it is darker and harder to glance so there is somewhat of a reasoning behind it. Volkswagen seems to have an interesting solution in getting people to turn on their headlights. If the headlight switch is set to “Off” and it is dark, the cluster illumination is automatically turned off. If it is bright enough outside, the gauge is illuminated as normal even if the headlight switch is in the “Off” position. Now to accomplish this, there is a light sensor in the cluster to measure interior darkness even on models without automatic headlights. It seems like an over-engineered solution, but it works with what people are used to for ages: it’s too dark to read so turn on a light. No extra thinking required! Brilliant!

Synced traffic lights

Traffic is stopped

Traffic is stopped on opposite sides of the traffic light.

On my commute to work there are two traffic lights every mile for the side roads. The lights were not synchronized and a majority of the lights were on a timer and program loop. Traffic was pretty bad and I wished that the city would synchronize the lights. Construction for new lights started at the end of August last year and finally finished last week (so it took the city seven months to replace five lights). I was quite puzzled why they took so long to replace the lights. They could have gotten all of the equipment and replaced them all at once in the middle of the night instead of closing the intersection for an hour a week over the seven months, but I digress.

Well, when they finally made the switch to the new lights I thought “Finally! Maybe traffic won’t be so bad now!” Oh boy, was I wrong. The new lights are synchronized, but there were two lights in front of a grocery store that was not replaced. One of those lights is for a major intersection with another highway. Think of it like a pipe with valves every few feet. All the valves except for one open and close at the same time. That one valve that isn’t synced ends up being the one controlling most of the water and causes the most congestion.

So, basically all the traffic is controlled by this pair of traffic lights that operate independently of the other lights. Traffic backs up for a mile in both directions, which extended my commute by ten more minutes. You’d think they’d figure that replacing the light where two highways intersect would be the important one to be replaced! Well, it turns out they reverted the traffic light programming back to what it originally was after a week of terrible traffic. My commute has become a lot less of a rage-fest! Huzzah!