PLC and Linear Actuators Automate Double-Hung Windows

Very few residential architectural elements lend themselves to automation, with doors and windows being particularly thorny problems. You can buy powered doors and windows, true, but you’ll pay a pretty penny and have to go through an expensive remodeling project to install them. Solving this problem is why this double-hung window automation project caught our eye.

Another reason we took an interest in this project is that [deeewhite] chose to use a PLC to control his windows. We don’t see much love for industrial automation controllers around here, what with the space awash in cheap and easy to use microcontrollers. They have their place, though, and a project like this is a good application for a PLC. But the controller doesn’t matter at all if you can’t move the window, for which task [deeewhite] chose 12V linear actuators. The fact that the actuators are mounted in the center of the window is probably necessary given the tendency of sashes to rack in their frames and jam; unfortunately, this makes for a somewhat unsightly presentation. [deeewhite] also provides the ladder logic for his PLC and discusses how he interfaces his system with Alexa, a WeMo and IFTT.

We’d love to see this project carried forward a bit with actuators hidden under the window trim, or a rack and pinion system built into the window tracks themselves. This is a pretty good start and should inspire work on other styles of windows. While you’re at it, don’t forget to automate the window blinds.

[via r/DIY]

14 thoughts on “PLC and Linear Actuators Automate Double-Hung Windows

  1. I’ve used several different PLCs in various projects. The CLICK! PLCs are really inexpensive and easy to use. One of my first projects for one was a pneumatic can crusher I built for wife (the money from the cans goes to local animal shelters). To date, she’s crushed over 20,000 cans with it. Video: https://www.flickr.com/photos/jcwren/shares/643UuG

    I’ve bought most of my PLCs from AutomationDirect, partly because they’re local, but mostly because they’re inexpensive.

    1. Can “automation direct” compete with plc’s from Ali?
      Maybe, but not on price.
      For about USD 35 you have a pcb with an smps & stm32f103c8t6 8 relay outputs and a bunch of opto inputs.
      There are also versions with transistor outputs or more I/O.

      PS:
      I really don’t care about plc’s. I learned ladder diagrams at school after I learned C at home.
      What a hopeless way to program a computer…
      Luckily that arm processor is reprogrammable.

      Oh, before I forget. The magic keyword on ali is “fx2n”.
      https://www.aliexpress.com/wholesale?SearchText=fx2n

      1. Ladder work perfectly for the applications that they are designed for. Its easy to read visually and allows visual debugging in the software if there is an issue. For someone working on a piece of equipment down the road this is invaluable.

        1. I’ll second that! then you have kangaroo boxing gloves on and are trying to debug a paint system while sweat is filling your gloves there is no way in hell I want to be trying to squint through the haze of fogged up shields to read lines of code! Ladder is even simple enough to have the elec-chickens and more astute mechanical guys to give you valuable information when when it’s 3 AM and your 2 miles from their location at the same facility. Just don’t show them how to use force bits, LOL!

    2. Thanks for the link & nice implementation, I’m always curious re KW vs $
      I’ve looked at crushing cans re the practicality & economics & interested if you’d
      worked out if the overall energy to do the work was paid for by enough $ return as
      in how you generate the air pressure as thats not known for efficiency ?

      ie. Not as a measure of worth doing as a profit center but to defray costs as of
      course recycling is most helpful & I consider it a mature duty of sorts…

      Your project looks well built & a delight to see, I’m not fussed re efficiency overall,
      mainly curious. By way of example in terms of the philosophy, I hate the idea of
      driving to the gym when I can run or bike instead and shake my head at the
      chumpy people who drive around looking for parking nearest to gym front door – ffs !

      Seems ideal combining easy exercise with can crushing and came up with a mod to a
      fitness machine ie Lat pulldown so when dropping the weights it crushed the can &
      spat it out into a bucket. The next can was in line on an inclined pipe segment with
      a simple pawl lever, just had to stop each 20 or so cans to reload it – which was fine
      as I did stretches at the same time, pretty basic system but somewhat satisfying
      though sounded like an old steam engine with horrible big-end bearing noise ;-)

      Nice looking pic on the link but, it refused to play although I have all the necessary
      codecs & in Firefox latest version. Managed to get it through “Download helper”
      but, still doing it :/

      1. Nasty, but funny. One thing for sure, the wife cringes every time she has friends over and hate when they ask her on the phone if her husband has invented something since last. (Talking from personal experience)

  2. This is one application where an old house could win! I live in an older home and actually just replaced some sash weight cord. Since the sash weights are hidden in the window frame, that’d be an ideal place to hide these linear actuators. There might even be enough room for a motor setup as a winch on each side to bring the cost down. I’d love to know if using one motor with a weight on the other side could prevent racking/jamming.

    1. A thing in the 80s was renovating old homes and replacing wooden sash double hung windows with vinyl frame ones, cutting the sash cords or chains then blowing insulation into the weight compartments.

      Why? Because all the people pushing the new windows claimed it was “impossible” to insulate the weight compartments.

      Bah! Find some heavy wall PVC or ABS pipe that the weights will slide through easily. To install the pipes would require tearing into the walls, but if you’re ripping off cracked plaster and lath, you’re already in there.

      Put the pipes in the compartments and fill around them with low expansion urethane foam. You’d want to use chain instead of cord because there will be no way to fix it if a cord breaks. Some of those old window frames had removable access panels at the bottom which were used when the windows were installed.

      I like the sound and weighty feel of counter-weighted double hung, wood frame windows, especially when the upper sash hasn’t been painted shut so top and bottom can be opened for convection venting.

  3. This is something I’ve given SERIOUS thought about. I’ve wanted to implement an automated hvac solution that would monitor temperatures, and automatically select between AC, Heat, and Attic Fan based upon the internal and external temperatures and a set range of temperatures on a R-Pi that would act as a thermostat.

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