Automated Doors For Theatre Effect

Door Actuator

For a theatre production, [Jason] needed a way to automatically open and close doors as a special effect. His solution, hosted on Github, lets him remotely control the doors, and put them into a ‘freak out’ mode for one scene in the play.

Two Victor 884 motor controllers are attached to an Arduino that controls the system. A custom controller lets [Jason] actuate the doors remotely, and LEDs are used to display the state of the system.

On the mechanical side, two wind shield wiper motors are used. These are connected to custom arms that were printed using a Lulzbot AO-100. The arms allow for the door to be automatically actuated, but also allow for actors to open the door manually.

The result is a neat special effect, and the 3D models that are included in the repository could be useful for other people looking to build automated doors. In the video after the break, [Jason] walks us through the system’s design and demonstrates it in action.

15 thoughts on “Automated Doors For Theatre Effect

    1. I think it’s more that we mentor a nearby FIRST robotics team or something like that (I’m not super involved with robotics here, so I’m not quite sure). But yeah, I did borrow the motor drivers from our robotics lab. The motors themselves came out of a friend’s old battlebot so I’m not sure where they came from originally but I wouldn’t be surprised if it came from a FIRST kit.

  1. The UI is awful.
    He desires three functions: open, close, and freak-out.
    There are weird button combinations and a requirement to reset. Why not just have the two switches map to the two doors. Flip them both forward, the doors close. Backwards, they open. Switch them independently for fine control, or freak-out mode. Have the big button activate auto-freak-out mode.

      1. The requirement to reset is mainly to prevent accidentally shifting something during a show, or doing something I didn’t mean to do. I also didn’t ever want the doors to move without me pressing the button, for basically the reasons John said above.
        I’m not saying the UI couldn’t have been better, but imo it did what I needed it to and seemed to make sense when I was progrmaming it at 3am hahah

  2. while a cool solution, it strikes me that a stage hand with a lever backstage would accomplish the same thing with much less time (even if all of the parts are free)

    unless i’m misunderstanding things, if an actor opens the door and leaves it, there’s no way for the automation to close the doors, and it looks like the door will swing shut when manually opened, rather than staying open as one would expect.

    i’d have opted for an always connected version that could accommodate one or both doors being in the wrong position when triggered with several buttons: trigger open both, trigger close both, toggle freakout. much easier to operate.

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