Open Garage Door Indicator


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]

49 thoughts on “Open Garage Door Indicator

  1. When I get a house, these are definitely the kind of things I’d be doing to it. Except I’d make everything like garage door, oven, toaster, and lights web enabled. Not only could you check the status, but you could control them.

  2. Hmm – I did something similar (but way more complicated) – got an old Allen Bradley SLC-500 PLC and wired up a prox to detect the door’s position. I wired an output through a relay to the old button wires, and added two new buttons as inputs to the PLC (close and override). When the door opens, a 5 minute timer is started which automatically shuts the door when complete unless the override button is pressed. When the close button is pressed, a 5 second timer is started to give you time to clear the door before it closes. Complicated? Yes – but very handy and with plenty of room for future expansion (think lights that come on automatically, buzzers to give warning, Christmas displays, that sort of thing!)

  3. Alternative method:

    1) Have Sex (with a Girl).
    2) Repeat Step 1 until pregnant (the Girl not you).
    3) Have Child
    4) Wait (usually 4-5 years)
    5) Profit!

    Now when you get home and wonder if you left the garage door open you just holler for the kid to go check it. Completely wireless, and run’s with nothing more then organic food and lots of love. Plus it’s reprogrammable to do more tasks (until of course they turn 14ish, then they lose all programming and become basically useless for several years – if not longer).

    I realize this method is beyond most nerds (Step 1 being the deal breaker) but I thought I’d throw it out just so people know that not everything requires an Arduino and lots of wire.

  4. Re: Alan

    The nice thing about a wireless setup is that one does not have to go stringing wires everywhere.

    Not everyone wishes to delve into crawlspaces or attics to run a wire discretely. Not everyone can stomach having wires ran higgeldy piggeldy throughout the house. What if you haven’t decided on a permanent location for the beacon? or wish to add beacons to other locations? Adding more wireless receiver / indicators would be trivial. Running extra dedicated lines, dealing with increased power draw or a changed led network topology is not.

    For those applications where you don’t wish to (or cannot – landlords might get pissy) run a permanent wire, wireless is the way to go.

    Also this is hackaday. Many of us who would contemplate a setup similar to this may wish to implement it in a wireless manner just for the fun of it or to learn how to do a wireless setup.

  5. Pretty sure this is a US patent already. I came up with something similar years ago that was RF and told you in your car when you drove away if you left the door open or not. Still cool none the less.

  6. simple ways are always the best. I had a magnetic reed switch inserted in a hole drilled just behind the door jam so it couldn’t be seen from the outside, pass a magnet over the spot and the garage door opens, simple and effective.


  7. Speaking of magnetic reed switches, I’m guessing that one of those would be more reliable than a mechanical contact switch, and indeed, most alarm sensors are magnetic ‘no-touch’ switches, like I have on my garage doors.

    Of course, mine are on the door being *closed*, since really, this wouldn’t tell you if the garage door was fully closed or not, so it could be 1″ down the track from this switch, and you wouldn’t know it wasn’t closed.

    Still, nice execution of the concept.


  8. Its nice to see a simple switch used to perform a job requiring a simple switch.

    By today’s standards that actually is a pretty good hack.

    Showing people how to make a switch using only a switch is pretty revolutionary – standard thinking is that it usually requires at least one arduino, some xbees, a server farm, some beowulf clusters, a smartphone or two, and the internet to emulate a switch.
    Then you have to interpret the switches state and twitter the result to facebook.

    Developing the technology to prove a switch can actually work without twitter involved is pretty cutting edge stuff.

  9. why 24v? any low voltage wallwart with a smaller resistor would do.

    if power consumption is an issue one could drop the timer and the transformer all together and get a $2 solar garden light to power it.

  10. Yeah, this site is called “Hack a Day,” not “Overly complex solution to a simple problem a day.” Besides, making it wireless literally broadcasts to the world the fact that your garage door is open.

  11. Hm… This has me thinking. You could really have some practical applications similar to this, especially if web enabled. Is it just my house, or do women always think they forgot to turn off the curling iron/straightner thing or what have you, when in actuality, it’s still off? No more wasting time turning around to check. Whip out that phone and go to your appliance webpage. :D

  12. if this was wireless you could mount an indicator in your car and in your wherever-in-your-house, so you get OP’s idea and Face’s as well.

    just don’t tell anyone the frequen-

    wait. guys. we need a device that will scan wireless frequencies for signals and tell us what the frequency is usually used for. if it’s wifi or something known, it’ll pop up and hooray. you have your neighbor’s wifi in your bathroom.
    or it could be “other” and you can try and find something to decode it

  13. Instead of having the switch telling when the door is all the way open position it so it shows when the door is open at all. Like place it at the bottom of the track so when the door opens even half an inch the light comes on.

  14. I also think the switch should be mounted where it’s activated when the door is fully closed, and not when it’s fully open.

    With all the work he did, he could have ran 3 strand wire and used a lighted switch as the indicator, so when the door is open, he can close it from wherever he’s too lazy to move from.

  15. Couldent he of just tagged a wire off the back of the limit switch which will exist inside the door opener itself? He is stealing about 15 – 20ma, and would then be able to do away will all the master bodgery, a completely overkill transformer and mildly unsuitable switch…

    On a side note – where is the arduino? I must of missed it somewhere… And all you wireless loving people are the reason my wireless doorbell goes off randomly all the time, I hope you are happy ;-)

  16. Could I introduce the concept that a LED as a *CURRENT* driven device, not voltage driven; that the resistor is to limit the *current*, not the voltage?

    And never mind toy cars, where’s the webcam?

    The voice of experience. :))

  17. I suppose then I could submit a writeup (if I had pictures) of my old garage door opener which I **rewired** and consequently installed a (lit) key-switch outside the door because it didn’t have one when I moved in and was thought to be ‘broken’.

    Might be time to start calling this ‘Crap A Day’

  18. I did something similar many years ago because I couldn’t see the garage door from inside my house. I wanted the light to go off when the door was fully closed so the switch was mounted on the upper door frame where the last (top) panel would hit it as it closed. Dork’ed around with various long armed, flimsy, finicky microswitches for a couple years and then eventually replaced it with a spring actuator limit switch, similar to Way overkill, especially at Grainger’s price, but I had a spare laying around. No more problems with bent/failing switches. The one pictured in this hackaday doesn’t look like it would survive one winter where I live (upper midewest). I also used 4 wire phone wire and used the other pair to put a remote door open/close button next to the led so I could just shut it from the same spot.

  19. It says $30-$40, not $6.

    Also, what the hell is the point of the external doorbell transformer? Wouldn’t it be easier just to cannibalize a wall wart and use the second outlet next to the one your GDO plugs into? I know mine has an empty outlet sitting there, and if yours doesn’t you could always install a 2-plug outlet instead for much less than $30-40.

  20. Looks like he switches the DC to the LED. Why not switch the AC to the xformer to prevent the power supply from dissipating power 24/7? Or, better yet, use a cheap neon bulb that works on plain old 120VAC (All Electronics has them dirt cheap) and reduce your parts count?

    In my opinion, neon bulbs look cooler too.

  21. This cheap switch might not be rated mechanically for this kind of job. As a quick fix, it is OK. But in general I would look at dedicated limit switches like used by car alarm installers to indicate open bonnet etc. Of course, a magnetic reed switch is a lot more rugged by design.

  22. I did this about a year ago w/ my garage door, but with a tilt switch salvaged from an old thermostat. I had considered wireless, but the application of power at both ends of the equation wasn’t nearly as appealing as simply fishing a telephone wire thru existing holes.

    I often fall victim to overcomplicating the solution to a simple problem with a trip to the sparkfun site… I find it refreshing to see dead simple hacks and solutions like this.

  23. what i see here is an indicator switch showing the door is FULLY OPEN, in hot climates we leave our doors open 6-8 inches during the day for ventilation. This product does not tell me i am closed. Any position other than closed should be indicated as an open door.

  24. Yes! this jet train built for political prisoners to dump in vast wilderness of Siberia.swift and time kommissar directed to design bureau…,more and more jet engines to be fitted for smooth travel.genadi enraskoi of kommissar is responsible to see daily progress of the project.he was so keen to travel by this nasty time capsule.but he died in road accident before the project reached at testing stage.another prototype TURBOPROP,train was destroy after its first experimental run.unfortunatly they can`t perfectly aligned the pushing and pulling engines.soviets are planned new type of tracks for this train.but after some serious controlling and safety problems they abandoned this project.

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