A Raspberry Pi Garage Door Opener

We can never seem to get enough garage door hacks around here. [Tanner’s] project is the most recent entry into this category. He’s managed to hook up a Raspberry Pi to his garage door opener. This greatly extends his range to… well anywhere with an Internet connection.

His hack is relatively simple. He started with the garage door opener remote. He removed the momentary switch that was normally used to active the door. He bridged the electrical connection to create a circuit that was always closed. This meant that as long as the remote had power, the switch would be activated. Now all [Tanner] had to do was remove the battery and hook up the power connectors to his Raspberry Pi. Since the remote works on 3.3V and draws little current, he is able to power the remote directly from the Pi. The Pi just has to turn its pin high momentarily to activate the remote.

The ability to toggle the state of your garage door from anywhere in the world also comes with paranoia. [Tanner] wanted to be able to tell if the door is up, down, or stopped somewhere in the middle while he was away from home. He also wanted to use as little equipment as possible. Since he already had an IP camera in the garage, he decided to use computer vision to do the detection.

He printed off two large, black shapes onto ordinary white computer paper. One was taped to the top of the door and one to the bottom. A custom script runs on the Pi that grabs the latest image from the camera and uses OpenCV to detect the shapes. If both shapes are visible, then the script can assume the door is closed. Otherwise, it’s likely open. This makes it easier for [Tanner] to know if the door is opened or closed without having to check the camera himself.

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Secret Attic Library Door

We have a pretty good guess where [Krizbleen] hides away any seasonal presents for his family: behind his shiny new secret library door. An experienced woodworker, [Krizbleen] was in the process of finishing the attic in his home when he decided to take advantage of the chimney’s otherwise annoying placement in front of his soon-to-be office. He built a false wall in front of the central chimney obstacle and placed a TV in the middle of the wall (directly in front of the chimney) flanked on either side by a bookcase.

If you touch the secret book or knock out the secret sequence, however, the right-side bookcase slides gently out of the way to reveal [Krizbleen’s] home office. Behind the scenes, a heavy duty linear actuator pushes or pulls the door as necessary, onto which [Krizbleen] expertly mounted the bookcase with some 2″ caster wheels. The actuator expects +24V or -24V to send it moving in one of its two directions, so the Arduino Uno needed a couple of relays to handle the voltage difference.

The effort spent here was immense, but the result is seamless. After borrowing a knock-detection script and hooking up a secondary access button concealed in a book, [Krizbleen] had the secret door he’d always wanted: albeit maybe a bit slow to open and close. You can see a video of its operation below.

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Capacitive Garage Door Opener Hides Behind Your Dash

[Pyrow] wanted to upgrade his garage door opener remote. It worked just fine, but changing those tiny batteries out can be an inconvenience. Plus, the remote control was taking up valuable storage space and would always rattle around while driving. [Pyrow] decided to make use of an Omron E2K-F10MC2 capacitive touch sensor to fix these issues.

[Pyrow’s] circuit still makes use of the original remote control. He just added some of his own components to get it to do what he wanted. The circuit is powered by the car’s battery, so it never needs a battery replacement. The circuit is protected with a fuse and the power is regulated to prevent electrical spikes from burning up the original remote control. The actual circuit is pretty simple and uses mostly discrete components. It’s all soldered onto proto board to keep it together. He only had to solder to three places on the original remote control in order to provide power and simulate a button press.

Next, [Pyrow] took his dash apart. He used double-sided tape to attach the touch sensor to the back of the dash.  After securing the electronics in place with tape, he now has a working hidden garage door opener. Full schematics are available in the writeup linked above. Also, be sure to watch the demonstration video below.

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The PebblyPi: A Smart Doorbell


A Pebble smart watch, and a Raspberry Pi. They are a perfect match. This is probably what [Daniel] thought when he embarked upon his latest project, a smart doorbell called the PebblyPi (tip submitted by [Ben]).

The actual project is quite easy to implement. All you need really need is a Raspberry Pi, a switch, a resistor, and a Pebble Smart Watch (plus a smart phone). Using a simple Python script on the Raspberry Pi, button press notifications are sent to Pushover, which allows the notification to arrive on your smart phone (and thus your Pebble Smart Watch). Pushover is a very cool notification service for Android devices, iPhones, iPads, and your Desktop. The concept behind this project is great, and the fact that it is so simple to implement opens up many other possibilities for interfacing your home electronics with the Pebble Smart Watch (or even just your smart phone). The ability to create custom notifications on any of your devices using any internet connected system is amazing!

You could receive notifications from your absurdly accurate weather station, or even your soil moisture monitor. Have you used Pushover in any of your projects? The possibilities are endless!

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Halloween Doorknocker Decoration Hack


If you’re new to hacking, Halloween is a great excuse to get started, and [Chuck] has put together an inexpensive animated Halloween decoration that you can show off on your front door. After scoring a $5 plastic Halloween doorknocker from Wal-Mart, [Chuck] gathered together a small pile of components and then set about breathing some life (death?) into its scary but motionless face.

Though he opted to use a Digispark, you should be able to use any Arduino that is small enough to stuff inside the plastic head. [Chuck] cut some holes in the eyeballs and glued in two RGB LEDs, then cobbled together a quick-and-dirty mount in the mouth area to hold a small servo. The lights and the servo are wired to the Digispark, which turns the lights on and instructs the servo to slam the ring against the door. It’s is battery powered and currently has only two settings: on or off. This should be good enough to scare the kids for this year, but [Chuck] has plans to add a much-needed motion sensor and sound via a Bluetooth connection. 

As simple as this build is, it could be just the thing to get you in the holiday spirit, or to introduce the young hacker in your home to the world of electronics and coding. Check out the short video of the doorknocker after the break, then swing by [Chuck’s] website for detailed build instructions and his Github for the source code. If you’re having trouble finding this doorknocker at Wal-Mart, [Chuck] recommends a similar one on Amazon. Don’t stop now! Make some Flickering Pumpkins too, or if you want a challenge, hack together your very own Pepper’s Ghost illusion.

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No secret knocks required at [Steve’s] house – your subway pass will do


[Steve] is often host to all sorts of guests, and he was looking for an easy way to let his friends come and go as they please. After discovering that his front door came equipped with an electronic strike, he decided that an RFID reader would be a great means of controlling who was let in, and when.

Giving all your friends RFID cards and actually expecting that they carry them is a bit of a stretch, but lucky for [Steve] he lives near Boston, so the MBTA has him covered. Just about everyone in town has an RFID subway pass, which pretty much guarantees that [Steve’s] cohorts will be carrying one when they swing by.

He crafted a stylish set of wooden boxes to contain both the RFID reader and the Arduino that controls the system, matching them to the Victorian styling of his home. A single button can control the setup, allowing him to add and remove cards from access lists without much fuss. For more granular control however, [Steve] can always tweak settings from the Arduino serial console.

The card system is both stylish and useful – a combination that’s hard to beat.

Garage door opener now a bedroom door closer

[Roy] had an extra garage door opener on hand and decided to put it to use as a remote control closing mechanism for his bedroom door. We gather he has some noisy housemates as the inspiration for the project came from not wanting to get out of bed to close the door when the ruckus interrupts his TV watching.

The image above shows the hinged system which translates the linear motion from the garage opener track to the rotational force necessary to swing the door closed. We’d say he really nailed it because the system matches the angle of the door jamb perfectly, and when the door is fully open the angle bracket is almost flat against the wall. We certainly don’t have the same need for closing doors, but the mechanism is something to keep in mind.

The motor for the opener is hidden beneath his desk. You won’t be able to see it in the video after the break because he built a matching enclosure around it. Now he just needs to add some WiFi connectivity and he can ditch the uni-tasking RF remote for a smart phone app.

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