Automated Dorm Room Door


[Chris] wrote in to tell us about this project he did while living in the dorms. He built a system to automate his dorm room door. It handles unlocking and opening/closing the door via iPhone, secret knock, and even the key.  The lock/knob portion is handled by a servo while the opening/closing action is hydraulic. After living with it for a year, he says that it never gets old, but there were a few bugs. Apparently it would randomly open in the middle of the night sometimes. If you’re interested in doing something like this, but not damaging the door, maybe you should check out the RFID dorm door lock project.

26 thoughts on “Automated Dorm Room Door

  1. Hmm driving a car instead of walking, a soloution to a problem that doesn’t exist!

    george obviously hasn’t tried opening a door whilst sitting in a wheelchair.

    attitudes like that would have never got man to the moon.

    I like this mod, it needs to be intergrated into the door, like intergrated door closers.

  2. Great hack, not sure about the secret knock though.

    “Apparently it would randomly open in the middle of the night sometimes”
    I detect the work of drunk, secret-knock-knowing, neighbours.

  3. @mark k

    looks pneumatic, but its not. you can see the water hoses connected to the piston and hear the sound of water moving while it was closing.
    definitely hydraulic, just not hydraulic oil like a back hoe.

  4. I am sure water hydraulics are not considered lightly, he probably knows that a oil leak would definitely not make an RA happy. Secret knock is fun sounding, but security on such a thing is non-existent. And the point of going to school now is to teach people how to solve problems four years from now that we do not even know exist, much less how to fix. Anything trivial to you is not trivial to an engineer. Our jobs are on the line if a bolt fails and a floor crashes to the ground, killing everyone underneath. Because of this, the reasons engineers think nothing is trivial, is the reason you have no problems.

  5. this is cool… and im guessing mr.A solution to a problem that doesn’t exist. has never tried to open a door with arms loaded with books and gear and unhelpful roommates…

  6. Maybe a solution to the secret knock staying secret would be a rotating algorithm based on the date. You would have to keep track of the date in order to know what todays knock would be but anyone overhearing the knock would not be able to use it to gain entry after it changed for the next day. Just a thought.

  7. “Apparently it would randomly open in the middle of the night sometimes.” … A very undesirable feature when you live in the dorms; unless you’re into surprises! =]

  8. Holy s***, I went to school with Chris, its awesome to see him getting recognized out there! I can’t wait to tell Mr. Hawley, the physics teacher, he’s gonna flip!

  9. @RenardHound “That might even be impressive to whoever he comes stumbling back to his room with.”

    My girlfriend agrees! (only needed that trick once).

    Also, the door has been bequeathed to a freshman, so she’ll have to make her own secret knock now!

  10. That is sweet – I was going to do this in my room, but we cannot mount anything on our walls unless we use blue masking tape. Otherwise we can get fined $200 for stripped paint lol.

  11. the computer/solenoids/servo is on a battery backup! So it shouldn’t be okay…when the water goes out though the door won’t open, but the servo will still open the handle, and there’s a bleed valve on the door so if you force it will slowly open. with the bleed valve closed the door can be pretty strong too!

  12. Most hackers don’t realize the poweful hydraulic system at their disposal. Wasteful of water, unless you cab redirect the water to a lawn or garden, rather than sending it to the sewer. While it may not be as messy as an oil leak, a water leak can be just as damaging.

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