Complicated IPhone Garage Door Opener


The round-about way this iPhone garage door opener was put together borders on Rube Goldberg. But it does indeed get the job done so who are we to judge? Plus you have to consider that the Apple products aren’t quite as hacker friendly as, say, Android phones — so this may have been the easiest non-Jailbreak way.

The main components that went into it are the iPhone, a Wemo WiFi outlet, and a 110V rated mechanical relay. But wait, surely it can’t be that simple? You’re correct, just for added subterfuge [Tall-drinks] rolled IFTTT into the mix.

You may remember hearing about If This Then That from the Alert Tube project. It’s a web-based natural language scripting service. Throw everything together and it works like this: The iPhone sends a text message which IFTTT converts to a Wemo command. A power cord connects the Wemo outlet to the 110V electrodes on the relay. The normally open connection of the relay is attached to the same screw terminals of the garage door opener as the push button that operates it. When the relay closes, the garage door goes up or down.

The biggest problem we have with this is the inability to know if your garage door is open or closed.

28 thoughts on “Complicated IPhone Garage Door Opener

  1. I will challenge this sometime in the next couple months and post it on my blog. (I don’t own a garage door opener yet, only just recently ran power to my garage). I already planned to do this using my existing software and an x10 universal module. It’s simpler and just works by http gets like most home automation software. iphone home controller would work fine for example. You are right this is bordering on a goldberg machine :) And there is no way to tell state of open/close. In his or my solution. So I figure ditch the x10 module, build one with an arduino, a relay switch and a limit switch. Stay tuned.

  2. I don’t get the 110v relay???

    In any case, way overcomplicated. Raspberry Pi, Wifi Nub, IFTTT – connect to remote switch terminals on the Garage down opener (or splice into the up/down button of the inside Garage Door controller) and voila – it’s done.

  3. In my defense, it was the quickest way to get my garage working in the hour or so I had. The IFTTT was just for added fun, for me. ;)

    The Belkin Wemo app does a fine job as far as one button open/close.
    My main reason for IFTTT was so that I could have the option of voice control without writing a custom app, though looking back now, I’d change several things.

  4. i`m kinda skeptic about that,isn`t it easier just to pres the button on remote?:) click and it`s open :) here :)

    You: Siri – open garaged doors… Open garage doors SIRI!…Hello siri do you read me!? Hello SIRI do you read me!? Do you read me SIRI? Hello SIRI do you readme? Hello SIRI do you readme? DO YOU READ ME SIRI?

    SIRI: afermative AJ, i read You.

    You: Open garage doors SIRI

    SIRI: I am sorry AJ, I am afraid I cant do that.

    You: whats the problem SIRI

    SIRI: I Think you know what the problem is just as well as i do

    …… and you know how it ends you have to step out of your vehicle…


    to me thees kind of thing need to be as simple as it can be ;) On the other hand i have and idea. Automatic doors like in shop, and rfid tags in car and readers on pavement, You drive over rfid readers and doors from proximity opens. No buttons, no siri, nothing to do :)

  5. Can’t you use teh google for some txt-o email-o scrape the command to arduino raspi SPI to reed switch opener? Just store it as a common txt reply and send when you are home. Heck set up an IP location service rule so it sends the txt instead of shutting off the ringer for meetings. I would assume you can do that on an iphone. I also like the RFID idea valdas had :)

  6. Is the world of Apple really so strewn with cowpats? Get a different phone next time. It probably won’t be better, but it’ll surely be easier…

    (Android, Bluetooth, Arduino, & 2 relays.)

    1. Not to be combatitive at all, but I’m starting to see a trend:

      Lots of great ideas here, and most are coming from a point of view based on prior experience and comfort level with a certain tech. My comfort level was with iPhone and tools used, so it seemed really simple and easy to me. Others find Android or raspPi simple.

      I’m actually surprised, since besides IFTTT, I initially thought this was a very simple way of achieving the goal. :)

      To each his own!

      1. Don’t get me wrong – Whatever polishes your parquet. TBH, I’m not a fan of any of the ‘phone OSes, all of which could use some serious attention in my view. At least most objections to Apple seem to be based around their business ethics, rather than the OS itself, an unhappy Android user writes. Certainly business ethics are important, but only when (if?) the product works tolerably well, IYSWIM… :(

    2. And… I think I misunderstood your comment as calling me a cowpat. I believe though that you are calling the world of apple devices a cowpat covered landscape, yes?

      Forgive the abrupt reaction.

    1. Sorry, I’ve no idea what you just said and, given that you couldn’t be bothered to describe it, I certainly can’t be bothered to Google it.

      Does your garage door really only move in one direction? Mine’s one of those “high security” roller doors, so has an up AND down. Luxury, Eh? :)

      1. No no. I wasn’t poking fun of your list. I was merely listing mine in reaction. No harm intended.

        Funny you mention Google though, as I had to Google cowpat (though I did have a suspicion I was being called poop). Good stuff.

        Certainly not the worst name I’ve been called. ;)

        > >

  7. I use an app for X10 (X10 Commander) that sends a signal to an X10 universal module (PUM01) to open/close my door – from anywhere in the world. As for up or down, a web cam and another app (icam) allows visual of the entire garage. The webcam is handy for those times you get 10 miles down the road and wonder if you closed the door. This all goes through a small-set top computer (server) running the X10 host program, icam host, and a few others home surveillance programs. The set-top is also accessible anywhere via VNC – which eliminates the need for a monitor and keyboard. With the exception of power outages, we’re able to open/close the garage door, adjust the temps, control all of inside and outside lights, and look inside/outside/around the house from anywhere either on our iphones or any web browser. Security? It’s in there too. For example, to keep the garage door secure, there are two separate modules; one turns on the opener, the other presses the open/close button. Everything works together well – no Rube Goldberg mechanizations, no jailbreak, and no costly subscriptions. Further, it has proven itself much more dependable than other options (i.e. the X10 brand programs = junk).

      1. Sure minimalistic is nice because it reduces the failure point(s). I’ve tried much more minimalistic setups and none were dependable. The current setup works – when and where it is needed. The only variables I can’t control are power outages (despite having it on an APC) and ISP issues (internet always go out here in Jax when it rains hard).

  8. The RFID idea is great too except there are those times when you perhaps do not want the garage door opening automatically when you pull in – i.e., trying to sneak in late without waking the spouse.

    1. so just add proximity sensor at the door :) if you are 2 meter from it ok nothing happens if you are 1 meter from it opens, or add light sensor with micro, just flash your beams and it opens :)

      1. Ok, now I love the thought of flashing beams to open. Really cool idea as an alternate method! Just have to make it pattern based so lightning or neighbors don’t accidentally trip it.

        There’s a great secret knock Arduino code snippet out there which would work great for this.

  9. There is a new motor out from Liftmaster that uses the internet to open and close your garage. It is super easy to use and it is completely wireless. I have the motor and the app. It works with Iphone and android. the app will even tell you how long the door has been in its current state open or close.

    1. A wireless motor? Impressive! I guess in a way all induction motors are kind of wireless internally at least. But a completely wireless motor? I think Nikola Tesla would want to see that in action.

  10. This is why WeMo is currently not an ideal choice for home automation and monitoring. I love it when someone says “Hey a bought a light bulb at the Apple store that changes colors through an app”, to which I reply “Great, you could have used that money and bought a Home Automation gateway that controls your home through an app.” You’d also get the added benefit of an optional door sensor so you know when it is closed or open, and you can run a Siri proxy local for voice control. Basically never buy anything that the Apple store sells. Look at Z-Wave products and compatible gateways and you’ll never look back.

  11. I’m on the fence with this. I’m all for tech in our homes being connected with everything but where I see it right now, it’s just much easier to use a regular garage door opener! I’m not opposed to this at all though, I’ll just wait till there aren’t any bugs in it. Thanks for posting!

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