Star Trek Inspired Pocket Doors

Do you have enough confidence in your hacking abilities to build a project into the walls of your home? [Marc] used his skills to build an air-powered sliding door for his bedroom. It is similar to the sliding door you’d find on the Enterprise, two sections that slide nicely into the wall to let you pass. Although the picture above shows the internals, he followed through and ended up with a fully finished room that looks fantastic. A compressor in the attic provides the pressure necessary to move the door sections. It is automated, but uses a button press or keypad combination to run instead of detecting motion. Of course, since he’s using a PIC microcontroller to drive the system there’s always room for future changes. Check out how great the finished look is in the video after the break.


60 thoughts on “Star Trek Inspired Pocket Doors

  1. but what if he suddenly needs to reroute some power conduits because of a radiation leak from a plasma fire might destabilize a collection of barrels containing explosive thruster fuel??

    that access hatch is quite small…

  2. Oh wow he INVENTED it! Wow!!!!

    To bad there has been commercial offerings for at least a decade of the exact same thing.

    I have installed pocket doors like that several times at homes where the limited mobility people live.

  3. If he put the button into a rigid floor mat, he’d have the same kind of system as the Enterprise (in TOS) — and the same kind of system that is built into the front of the cheap-o supermarkets that don’t want to spend on proper motion sensors. He could repurpose the button on the doorframe to be a doorbell, and use a single-user speech recognition unit (the dedicated hardware ones) to recognize the command “enter” to unlock the door and allow the button-press mat to function (like in TNG). It’s a damned good start, though, and kudos on the use of pneumatics (rather than the easier but less TOS-y solution of electromagnets or motors-and-pushbutton-switches).

  4. He hacked the door…in half and put it on sliders. Also known as a sliding door. The part I don’t understand is why he didn’t put a motion sensor for automatic open and closing functions (also to prevent crushing things). What really will suck is when a motor/slider/gear breaks. He’ll have to cut out his wall.

  5. This is pretty cool.

    I’m detecting a lot of jealousy from other commenters.

    Also people not detecting the word HACK in the name of this site. You can’t expect HACKS to be FINISHED PRODUCTS.

  6. Very cool.

    It’s not a safety lecture, but I also wonder what precautions he put in to prevent getting pinched in the door. Or, for that matter, stuck when his uC power dies. There’s nothing mentioned on his blog.

  7. Um… it’s a cool hack and all, but I have to wonder if this could be a hazard if you have to get out of the room quickly… if there’s a fire, for instance.

    How easy is it for a (panicked, fleeing) person to force the doors open?

  8. When you shoot the control panel with a phasor, does it permanently seal the door or does it open wide?

    I guess it depends on who’s firing the phasor and the context of that episode..

  9. I like the ideal of the door and how it’s air powered but I don’t understand why he didn’t think he needed a header above the door. Most people know that if you put a window where a window wasn’t before, or the window gets wider than you need a new header. I guess if the door stops working we will know why.

  10. I noticed people talking about the safety of getting caught between the doors but what about that fact that he cut out the header over the door,the 2 header support studs, and the 2 full run studs along the header supports. One way or another, be it directly or indirectly, that is a load bearing wall, supporting the weight of the frame/structure/floor above. If the house was built with a full header load support in place(like there was before he cut it out) it was required to support the structure(if the header was just nailed to studs on the side of opening for a place to nail door, chances are it wasn’t load bearing). Building code requires a header/double beams over doors and windows for a reason. Now that hes removed supports of the structure, if it hasn’t happened already, the area above/around that door will start to settle/sag. Along with this is going to come cracked drywall,un-level floors, and his sliding door(and window/door above it if there is one) to “pinch”, not open/close or jam up. Just another reason you need to be sure you know what your getting into, after all you wouldn’t run a 50A 230V circuit if you didn’t know what gauge wire to use/how to wire, so why would you rip out the supports of your house.

  11. Um, why not mount a PIR sensor in the vent over the door and make it automatic…

    Then when it doesn’t work, and you walk into the door, you can add it to your very own blooper-reel.

  12. I understand the need for security, but surely, this is the kind of thing you could make automatic with a sensor, and just turn on/off the automaticness with a web-ui or an auto-lock when you leave home, etc…

    The WHOLE FUCKING POINT of startrek doors are that they’re automatic, NOT that they go into the wall — going into the wall is just a safety measure (because if they automatically swung open, it could hit someone!)

    see: for more information.

  13. I do worry about the removal of the door header too. It was hard to tell in the picture posted here at HaD, but on his blog he clearly has a header in the “before” pictures and not after.
    That said though, I do really like his control diagram posted on the control door. Very clearly laid out and easy to understand.

  14. In support of mengineer: without headers to brace the studs, they will bow due to load, causing the mentioned settling and cracking.
    In addition, braces and headers act as timber drops. Lets say in a fire that the drywall goes pretty fast. Further suppose that one of the overhead beams burns loose (common. Its way hotter up there than at waist level.) If the timber drops over the doorframe sans header, it couldjam the door. Headers bear the load, allowing you to force the door. Braces between studs provide a safety pocket at about chest height, under which you could crawl in a collapse.

  15. Great stuff!
    He probably didn’t go for floor switches or motion sensors because he has pets or small children!
    One of my dogs ripped half a supermarket door off it’s track saving a very small child’s head from being crushed.

  16. @ mengineer and the other wannabe construction experts:

    You all need to visit a few job sites and learn what DOORWAY headers are really for. They are NOT load bearing, they do NOT keep floors from sagging, and they are NOT timber drops. In fact, residential doorway headers do nothing more than give you something to screw drywall to above the door and ensure even spacing to install the jamb. IN POCKET STYLE DOORS THEY ARE NOT NECESSARY! The steel track you see the doors running on usually contains a 1 1/4″ strip to screw your board to above the door. Spacing between studs is left empty. I have been framing for 9 years and have never seen a pocket door ‘fail’ in any of the fantastic ways imagined here.

    +1 for an awesome hack! I’m doing my house next! :)

  17. Awesome hack.
    The only thing I would be worry about is the cutting of support and lack of some safety features, that others pointed out already. But never the less, still kick ass.

  18. It’s great but I think the sound could get annoying after a few weeks..
    But about all the people talking about safety and small kids and pets.. you know it
    (1) closes really slowly so any intelligent pet would not be able to get caught between
    (2) works with air pressure and I would assume it doesn’t put much pressure on the doors so it shouldn’t burst a melon or a baby.
    And (3) are you all leaving your babys alone at home crawling from room to room?

  19. @bob nope, that’s why he added the control panel to shut off the air system. This will effectively unlock the door.

    @fartface congratulations on your commercial solution, you will maybe one day realise what this site is made for.

    A PIR sensor would have been great though.

  20. Another chime in for safety… those air pistons can generate hundreds of pounds of force.

    It needs something like those sensors on BMW windows that detect a finger in them and don’t close – or an IR sensor strip to “not close” if any object is in the way. Think elevator door.

  21. That scared the living hell outta me. Its 2:37 am so i have headphones in, That thing shrieks like a banshee Jumped straight out of my chair. I can only immagine what this guys wife said when he finally put the house back together and she heard it.

  22. another thought about the compressor: is it being drained regularly to get rid of condensation in the tank? it’s supposed to be done daily. as it’s always pressurized, there’s a good chance that a failure could be catastrophic.

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