Hackaday Prize Entry: A Mobile Electric Gate

Electric gates can be an excellent labor-saving device, allowing one to remain in a vehicle while the gate opens and closes by remote activation. However, it can become somewhat of a hassle juggling the various remotes and keyfobs required, so [bredman] devised an alternative solution – controlling an electric gate over the mobile network.

20 years ago, this might have been achieved by wiring a series of relays up to the ringer of a carphone. These days, it’s a little more sophisticated – a GSM/GPRS module is connected to an Arduino Nano. When an incoming call is detected, the gate is opened. After a 3 minute wait, the gate is once again closed.

[bredman] suffered some setbacks during the project, due to the vagaries of working with serial on the Arduino Nano and the reset line on the A6 GSM module. However, overall, the gate was a simple device to interface with, as like many such appliances, it has well-labelled and documented pins for sending the gate open and close signals.

[bredman] was careful to design the system to avoid unwanted operation. The system is designed to always automatically close the gate, so no matter how many times the controller is called, the gate will always end up in a closed state. Special attention was also paid to making sure the controller could gracefully handle losing connection to the mobile network. It’s choices like these that can make a project much more satisfying to use – a gate system that constantly requires attention and rebooting will likely not last long with its users.

Overall, it’s a great project that shows how accessible such projects are – with some carefully chosen modules and mastery of serial communications, it’s a cinch to put together a project to connect almost anything to the Internet or mobile networks these days.  For a different take, check out this garage door opener that logs to Google Drive.

Paper Circuit Does Binary Math with Compressed Air

Most of us can do simple math in our heads, but some people just can’t seem to add two numbers between 0 and 3 without using paper, like [Aliaksei Zholner] does with his fluidic adder circuit built completely of paper.

Pneumatic AND gate

There’s some good detail in [Aliaksei]’s translated post on the “Only Paper” forum, a Russian site devoted to incredibly detailed models created entirely from paper. [Aliaksei] starts with the basic building blocks of logic circuits, the AND and OR gates. Outputs are determined by the position of double-headed pistons in chambers, with output states indicated by pistons that raise a flag when pressurized. The adder looks complicated, but it really is just a half-adder and full-adder piped together in exactly the same way it would be wired up with CMOS or TTL gates. The video below shows it in action.

If [Aliaksei]’s name seems familiar, it’s because we’ve featured his paper creations before, including this working organ and a tiny working single cylinder engine. We’re pleased with his foray into the digital world, and we’re looking forward to whatever is next.

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Relay Computer Starts with an Adder that Makes a Racket

Computers built using discrete logic chips? Seen it. Computers from individual transistors? Impressive, but it’s been done. A computer built out of electromechanical relays? Bring on the ozone!

The aptly named [Clickity Clack]’s new YouTube channel promises to be very interesting if he can actually pull off a working computer using nothing but relays. But even if he doesn’t get beyond the three videos in the playlist already, the channel is definitely worth checking out. We’ve never seen a simpler, clearer explanation of binary logic, and [Clickity Clack]’s relay version of the basic logic gates is a great introduction to the concepts.

Using custom PCBs hosting banks of DPDT relays, he progresses from the basic AND and XOR gates to half adders and full adders, explaining how carry in and carry out works. Everything is modular, so four of his 4-bit adder cards eventually get together to form a 16-bit adder, which we assume will be used to build out a very noisy yet entertaining ALU. We’re looking forward to that and relay implementations of the flip-flops and other elements he’ll need for a full computer.

And pay no mind to our earlier dismissal of non-traditional computer projects. It’s worth checking out this discrete 7400 logic computer and this all-transistor build. They’re impressive too in their own way, if a bit quieter than [Clickety Clack]’s project.

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Remote-Operated Gate On A Budget

Sometimes, a simple fix is the best solution. Lacking extra funds for a proper remote-controlled gate-opener after the recent purchase of their farm, redditor [amaurer3210] built one as a birthday gift for his wife.

Supported on pillow block housings, a 10″ wheel is connected to the motor by via a 3D printed pulley and a timing belt turned inside-out to allow for slippage — in case of obstacles or manual opening of the gate. If you’ve ever worked with belts in your builds, [amaurer3210] adds that during sizing he uses a few layers of fiberglass tape as a stand-in for the belt to avoid frustration over final belt size and tension.
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A solar powered cattle crossing gate

solar-powered-cattle-crossing-gate

Anyone who’s traveled the grounds of a cattle ranch will tell you there’s a lot of stopping to open and close gates. But this project is aimed at letting you operate the gate from the comfort of your vehicle. It uses a spool of wire as the gate, lowering it for vehicle access with the use of a remote control.

The base station uses a solar panel to keep the battery topped off. But if you’re not frequently using the system it shouldn’t take much electricity at all. An Arduino board listens for the signal from the remote control. It then unspools the wire until it lays flat across the ground and can be driven over. Once the car has passed another click of the remote raises the gate back into position. There’s even a version that uses two gates which make up a cattle corridor.

We were thinking that it would be easy enough for the cows to push right through this. But after seeing the clip after the break it’s obvious they like to follow the rules.

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Arduino parking lot attendant

Here’s an automatic parking gate for toy cars. There’s no need to press a button, the electronics detect the presence of a vehicle on either side of the gate, raising it after verifying that the lot is not already full. It’s the same idea as counting how many people enter a room in order to switch the lights but the hardware is just a bit different.

The system is controlled by a pair of sensors in the paper which serves as the parking lot. There are three sheets of heavy stock, the top and bottom both have aluminum foil on them, with the center layer  as a separator. There are holes cut in the separator where the hash marks are seen above. By adding a little pressure to the car when you drive it up to the gate this completes a circuit instructing the Arduino that there’s a vehicle in position.

You can see a demonstration, as well as the guts of the build, in two videos after the break.

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Janus: The Gatekeeper

janus-001

[Piet] wrote in to tell us about his hack that allows for his front gate to be opened without a key. Unlike this hack that we featured in August, you don’t need a subway pass, just a good memory. As explained in his article (and the video after the break) if the proper sequence of doorbell rings is input, the gate unlocks itself.

For hardware a [mehduino] is used to take the doorbell input and decide whether or not the “secret knock” has been achieved. The door can be unlocked remotely via a button on the processor. Reprogramming the code is achieved by simply holding the program button while the code is entered on the “remote ringer” button.

Be sure to check out the video after the break to see this lock in action. The housing application may not be exactly what you expect. Also of interest, is that in true hacker fashion, the bare processor is hanging by a hook on his wall! Continue reading “Janus: The Gatekeeper”