With Wings As Eagles: Craig P. Steffen's Blog

Chunky Master Switches and Electric Eyes

2017 May 09 00:14

So. This blog is mostly about computers and airplanes and cars and tech stuff, but now for a series of posts about the human side of the house. My wife and I started the process to adopt a kid from China in early 2015. We flew to China in May 2016, finalized the adoption and Visa paperwork (that whole process is a series of posts in itself), and flew home with him two weeks later, and he's been our son for about one year.

I may talk about the process of adoption at some point. In this post I want to put down something that I've been holding in my long-term memory since we took the trip. In brief, we flew over on a Thursday through Friday to Beijing. Saturday we touristed around, partially to get our internal clocks on China time, then slept one more night in Beijing. On Sunday we took a bullet train to Jinan to meet up with our son (again, we'd hosted him in the US the previous year). We finalized the adoption Monday, touristed around Jinan a couple of days. Then we flew to Guanzhou (near Hong Kong) and stayed there for almost a week until we could have our appointment at he US Consulate to get his entrance Visa to the US the following Monday. Then that Wednesday we flew home.

The shortest stay we had was in Beijing, and we were super-jet-lagged. We had so little time in the hotel in Beijing, and in this room, that I don't have that many photos. I did manage to get some of the light switches, which I found very interesting, and I want to discuss here. My records indicate that the hotel we stayed in in Beijing is the "Novotel Beijing Sanyuan".

Here's a rough diagram of the room, from memory.

As is characteristic of hotel rooms in China (and I've more recently been told, other places in the world too) There's a sensor near the door (rougly in position "A" in the room diagram above, at shoulder level) that turns on the electricity in the room when you insert a card (presumably your hotel door key card). Here's a photo, with the light switch for the light right by the door:

When you insert your key card, the electrica power in the rest of the room turns on:

My hand for scale here. The light switches are the big chunky grey things, as below the card sensor. The light that illuminated this area was the one thing not controlled by the card sensor (maybe; I don't remember that part well).

Here's the desk, with a couple of outlets above it:

The outlets and phone jacks, a little bit closer:

Which included an outlet right next to the phone that was the one thing in the room that was always on, so I used that to charge our laptop:

There were a fair number of receptacles in the room. This one is to the right of the desk on a little shelf (for charging appliances, I suppose). This one is fairly typical for receptacles for non-China devices. All the various pin patterns are there, including US, UK, European, Austrailian. I'm not sure a South African plug would work.

Here's a China-style receptacle. The bottom is the Chinese plug, the upper one fits a two-pin European one or an American/Japanese plug.

Then there's a triple-switch by the bathroom that controls the lights in and around it:

This is what drove me crazy about the room until I figured it out. Here is the group of switches next to the right (standing at the foot of the bed) side of the bed.

The top one is the "master" switch, which feeds all the others in the room (except the 24-hour outlet, I guess). It took us quite a while to figure out how this worked. It's clearly labelled, as you can see, but there's a delay when putting the card in the sensor by the door, and there may have been a delay when you turned on the master until everything turned on. Due to the delays, it took us a while to figure out the right combination so that everything would in fact turn on. We finally got it, but it was frustrating.

I loved the feel of the switches. They're big and chunky and had a nice heavy click to them.

I posted a video on youtube walking around the room. I also took a video of the timing of the card sensor turning the lights on and off.

So this was our hotel room in Beijing in China in May of 2016, and its interesting switches and its minor electrical mystery. I'm sure I'll talk more about this trip in a future post.