Automated Blinds Open The Window To Our Heart

[Brian Harms] made his living room window blinds open and close automatically using servos, an Arduino, and a SmartThings Arduino shield. Best of all, it’s connected to his Amazon Echo so that merely saying “Alexa, turn on/off the blinds” will open and close them.

To accomplish the feat [Brian] used two laser cut acrylic gears; one of which was attached to the servo horn, and the other to the long square rod running the length of the blinds. Despite using the bulky Arduino and shield, the finished product is inconspicuous and streamlined, and the single Arduino controls all three of the blinds in the living room. [Brian] answered a bunch of questions on a Reddit thread.

Blinds are a common connected home hack, and while none of the hacks we’ve covered in the past were voice activated, we have seen temp-sensitive blinds and a Raspberry Pi-based solution.

17 thoughts on “Automated Blinds Open The Window To Our Heart

  1. And speaking of grammar, the commands used don’t make any sense to me. If a blind is being used to admit or reject outside light, then does ‘on’ mean that light is allowed through? This would be the logical sense, if you had to be restricted to ‘on’ and ‘off’. Do we say “turn the water faucet on” when we close a valve? Because that’s the sense he’s using in the video. I would suggest ‘open’ and ‘close’ instead.

    1. But the purpose of blinds is only to reject light, if you wanted to let the light in you would remove the blinds. Thus turning them off has the same effect as removing them-it lets the light in

  2. Nice, easier to fit motorised blinds with the motor incorporated right in the mechanism and throw away the proprietory bits, but who does easy round here + its more expensive as you have to throw away your old blinds that way.
    .Surprised nobody has mentioned the old x10 automated blind opener, which due to x10’s crappyness added a whole new element of uncertainty if they would work or not. In retrospect it was even amusing because your house blinds would randomly mostly work but the window it didnt work on would change every day. Maybe it was a “security feature” to keep randomness so it looked like you was home.
    The winder itself was ok though, it had a flip flop mechanical switch to flick direction on fully open and mine was reliable.
    With a arduino, there’s a chance this won’t be quite as much of a lottery however!
    Have to do this myself again one day, I’ve just ran cat5 back to the house root panel and power to hidden boxes near the blinds for now.

  3. Hey, Brian here. Regarding the voice commands (I agree on/off is weird), Alexa is very limited with what keywords can be used with certain Alexa “skills.” Fortunately, one reddit user pointed out that alexa recognizes “open” and “close” just like “on” and “off.” I was simply unaware. Anyways, now I always say “Alexa, open/close the blinds”. Other users suggested even more creative device naming conventions. Like, “Alexa, turn on privacy mode,” or “Alexa, turn off the outside world.”

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