Monitoring and controlling your garage door from afar with an IP camera

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Last year, [Mark Simonelli’s] wife asked him if he could design something that would allow her to remotely check if their garage door had been left open. [Mark] jumped at the chance to tinker with electronics and designed a system around an old TrendNet IP camera. When remotely connected to the camera using IP Cam Viewer Pro for his Android phone, [Mark] could watch the video stream and also trigger the garage door opener via a small relay circuit he built.

His remote opener worked well, but his camera unfortunately lacked any sort of IR vision/low light capabilities. Since his camera wasn’t very useful in the dark, he decided that he needed to add some way to trigger a light when remotely monitoring his garage. He figured the best way to do this would be to control a power strip-connected light using a circuit similar to the one he built to open the garage door itself.

He stopped by the hardware store and picked up a cheap power strip, disassembling it and removing the power toggle once he got home. He fitted it with a small 5v relay, which he connected to the camera’s terminal block. While he admits that it might not be the absolute safest solution, he can easily control both the light and the garage door with a simple swipe of his phone’s screen.

Continue reading to see his remote controlled power strip in action, and be sure to swing by his site to see more details about his camera-controlled garage door opener.

[Read more...]

WiFi garage door opener makes forgotten keys a thing of the past

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[Tod’s] daughter has a habit of forgetting to take a house key along with her, so he was looking for a way to make accessing the house easier in a pinch. He had tried wireless garage door keypads in the past, but their performance was so-so at best. After scouring the market for commercial solutions and checking out the work of other hackers, he decided that he needed to craft a custom solution of his own.

He started shopping around for wireless-enabled microcontrollers and settled on a Roving Networks RN-XV module, which is designed as a drop-in replacement for an XBee. Paired with a 5v to 3.3v power adapter, the RN-XV is nearly all he needed to interface his iPhone with his garage door opener.

The microcontroller has enough GPIO pins to control the garage door, while also monitoring the door’s status using a simple magnet/reed switch combo. A web server in [Tod’s] house takes input from any phone connected to his wireless LAN and relays the open/close commands to the opener. The opener in turn returns status messages to him via the web interface.

We really like the system’s simple design, and as long as [Tod] has turned WPS off at home, he really shouldn’t have to worry too much about unauthorized entry.

Garage door monitoring and control using a dedicated Android phone

[Sean] happened to have an extra Android phone sitting around and wanted to see what type of home automation he could use it for. One simple hardware modification, and some apps from the Android Market let him monitor and control his garage door remotely.

The hardware modification is a hack we’ve already looked at. The BTmate uses a Bluetooth headset with an added transistor to short the connections on your garage door opener. The only issue is that you need to be within range for the Bluetooth to work. [Sean] adds a layer of abstraction by using two Android phones. One is permanently mounted in the garage and handles the Bluetooth connectivity, while the other uses VNC to tunnel in anywhere he has an Internet connection.

But why stop there? He knew that this one feature was overkill, and added a second which the phone was perfect for. Since it has its own camera, he used the tinyCam app to create a webcam server. This even allows him to turn the LED on and off for a better view in dim light conditions. See [Sean's] demonstration after the break.

Overkill? Maybe, but if you’ve got a phone with a broken LCD, this might be just the thing to give it a new purpose.

[Read more...]

Smartphone operated garage door is beginning of Arduino home automation system

[Tim] is showing off the first step in his home automation projected with this smart-phone garage door interface. In the video after the break you can see him open and close the garage door with the touch of a button. There’s also an open or closed indicator that he can check when away from home.

An Arduino takes care of a portion of the control for this project. Like the post we saw yesterday, he’s using PHP code on a webpage to manipulate the Arduino via its USB connection in order to open and close the door using a relay. The door status is also monitored by the Arduino and sent to the PC over the serial connection. The computer uses a Python script to monitor the incoming data and update a text file which is merged into the web interface using a PHP include. Future plans for the system include adding control for heating and air conditioning systems.

If you’re looking to do something like this but wirelessly here’s some advice on ditching the Arduino and using an XBee module instead.

[Read more...]

Doorbell combo lock can open your garage door

Sometimes I get enough away from writing about other people’s accomplishments long enough to actually do my own hacks. Most recently I developed a combination lock that opens the garage door. The idea isn’t original, it is based on [Alan Parekh's] button code project, but I did develop my own hardware and software. A four digit code is entered by pressing the button a number of times for the first digit, and waiting for a flash of an LED inside before moving on to the next digit. If the correct code is entered the door opens.

My version centers around an ATtiny13. I originally downloaded [Alan's] code in hopes that I could port the PIC firmware over pretty easily. Unfortunately it was written in BASIC so I just took what I knew about the interface and wrote my own program. I developed on an ATmega168 so that I would have no trouble running out of programming space, and was able to optimize my code down to 964 bytes to fit on the tiny13.

The hardware is quite simple. I purchased a lighted doorbell from Home Depot and swapped out the light bulb for an LED. I choose this because the doorbell mounts in a 5/8″ hole in the trim of the garage door and is easily overlooked. I’m quite happy with the results, and if you want to play around with the idea, you can easily build the circuit on a breadboard and use another LED for the load rather than including a relay. Hit the link at the top of this post for the schematic, code, and build images.

Wireless garage door indicator

[Sixerdoodle's] garage door indicator tells him if the door is open or closed. He was inspired by the hack from last September but wanted to make it wireless. The setup uses an RF transmitter/receiver pair from Sparkfun, each controlled by an ATtiny13 microcontroller. We found his battle with RF interference from other devices to be interesting. Working out those bugs made for a great learning experience.

Open garage door indicator

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How many times has this one happened to you? Just coming home from work, you walk in from the garage, settle down, and pick up the newspaper. But wait, did you remember to shut the garage door?

Presenting the open garage door indicator. [xjc2010] chose the simplest circuit possible, using only a switch to turn on and off the setup, an LED acting as the signal, and a transformer/resistor combo to drop the voltage to an acceptable LED friendly 2.8 volts. We don’t like how he strung wire all over his house to place the beacon, and would have preferred something wireless in one way or another, but for under 6 bucks this gets the job done quickly and cheaply. Now if only we could get it to remind us if we turned off the oven while on vacation.

[thanks Craig]

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