Indicator For Forgetful-Minded Garage Door Users

[Gareth] had a friend who regularly forgot to close his garage door after parking his car and heading inside. Since [Gareth] was familiar with basic electronics and an overall good pal, he offered to make a device that would indicate whether the garage door was open or not.

The project starts off simple with an Arduino and ultrasonic distance sensor. Both are mounted to the ceiling of the garage with the ultrasonic sensor pointed down. When the garage door is open, the sensor outputs a shorter distance measurement than when the garage door is closed.

Now that the system knows when the door is open or closed, the next part was sending a signal inside the house. He could have run a wire up through the house walls to an LED indicator but decided to go wireless with a 433mhz transmitter. There is a second Arduino inside equipped with a 433mhz receiver. When the garage door is open, the Arduino inside the house flashes an LED reminding the forgetful occupant to close the door.

[Gareth] made all his code for both the sensor/transmitter and the receiver available on his site for anyone interested in making something similar.

23 thoughts on “Indicator For Forgetful-Minded Garage Door Users

  1. Ok, scoring for this hack:
    2 pts for two arduinos
    1 pt for wireless communication
    1 pt for helping a friend
    1 pt for open sourcing the project

    That’s for a total of 5 pts. Judges what has he won?!
    (And you thought I was going to moan about using arduinos.)

          1. Considering the comments are still filling up with increasingly complex ways to shoehorn more Arduinos in, I’d say you didn’t go far enough! Are we the only sane ones on this thread?

            I was going to just use a switch to detect whether my garage door was open. You know – just a simple switch that the door presses and it connects two wires. However I decided to piggyback off the ones that the opener itself has for detecting the end of travel and found some suitable pick up points inside the opener. It was old and worked at 30V so I used an optocoupler. I felt bad that this was over-engineering it. Now I don’t.

  2. Just working on one here. A cc3200 detects magswitch breaks. The results are sent every minute to a Rpi that’s doing other chores. After a grace period, a loud piezo alarm goes off.
    The cc3200 launchpad code is done, just the garage wiring remains.

      1. Dunno, for every 10 times it’s useful, one time it’ll end up closing the door when you didn’t want it to. Possibly crushing stuff or injuring people. It’s also encouraging a bad habit, relying on the circuit to keep the door closed.

  3. very popular project theme. I’m also working on something along these lines.

    my approach is to use tilt switches (the old tech little balls and metal contacts) on each of the 4 door sections (rolltop style door, not single one-piece door) and have each one send a signal as it tilts. if you watch those ‘pings’ over time, you’ll have an idea of what normal operation is and you can detect if the door sticks on anything or if any/all of those ball sensors did not trigger. it tells you a lot more and with more accuracy. I did consider rangers, IR break-beam stuff, magnet/hall sensors, strings on pulleys going to rot-encoders, etc. all had too many failure modes or could be fooled easily or just not be reliable enough (or even overly complicated).

    next thing is to work out how to power it. what I’m currently thinking of is an old handheld IR remote; tearing it down and wiring in the make/break ball tilt switches with keys on the remote. remotes last years on batteries, so that’s economical; and the ‘button presses’ only occur when the door is in motion or if its stuck in the up position. most of the time, no buttons (balls) will make contact and there is no current drain.

    since each ball/tilt switch will ‘press’ a different key on the ir remote, decoding it simply is a matter of running an ir decoder in the garage (using the ir decode library for arduino) and ‘watching’ the button pulses engage in the right sequence and that the right (rough) time. if you miss them, it could be that the battery is low (diag) or some other problem; in either case you need to go see what is going on.

    finally, going from garage to inside the house would be an xbee. I like xbees, they go quite far, they even can be encrypted/authenticated and are not all that expensive (but you do need 2, so that’s $30 each for the xbee and carrier board). still, not an expensive way to solve it and it should be more foolproof than the others I tend to see, nothing critical to align for installs, nothing to go OUT of alignment and it gives more status info than a single coarse ranger device.

    (I do plan to implement this; will post when its done; but its waiting behind many other things in my TODO list)

  4. Well done. I was about an inch away from doing this, but discovered that our particular brand of garage door opener already offered this feature (along with IoT type functionality) as part of a hardware upgrade. In my case, it’s one of those things I could have done, but by going off-the-shelf it means I have more time to hack something else.

  5. I am building something similar. My plan is to use a mercury switch to turn on the transmitter which will be attached to the door with velcro. When the door is down the transmitter is off. When the door is up the transmitter will send a coded message (433MHz is noisy) to a Digispark ATTiny85 connected to my always on server. It will beep while is is receiving the coded signal. Since the receiver is powered by my server it could send a message to my cell phone if the door is open for any length of time. The battery in the transmitter should last a long time since the circuit is completely off when the door is down.

    1. You know what’d be good? You know those 433MHz little boards, that cost like $5? (goes to Google) ESP8266? I know the micro on board can be programmed within certain limits… But wouldn’t it be good to port Arduino to it? The software side? Even if it doesn’t have the peripherals or pins for a full hardware-compatible equivalent. Maybe even some standard for mini-shields, or just a carrier to let it use existing shields with some limits, like only supporting the most common GPIOs and leaving the rest blank. Or parallelling some, ie GPIO 1 on the unit connects to several GPIOs on the shield connector.

      I wonder what the limits are, re not getting in the way of it’s main radio job. For $5 it hardly matters but… off to Search Engine again. My friend prefers other search engines actually, maybe I should.

  6. I got a commercial one of these at Home Depot for like $20 I think… It was a wireless tilt switch with velcro that took a CR2032 and a plug in house module that had a green light and a blinking red light.. This seems overly complicated for blinking a LED when there is already a low cost commercial solution available. I eventually dumped that system when I wired a garage mag switch into my alarm via a wired to wireless alarm module.

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