Do you live in an area where you (or your car) are locked in by a gate? If so, you may know how [Alexander Else] feels about letting his guests in and out constantly with a remote control — it’s just not convenient. [Alexander] could have just purchased some extra remote controls and passed them out, but they aren’t exactly as cheap as party favors. Not to mention it wouldn’t make sense to hand one out to every single visitor anyway. Because the gate is a community gate, hacking the actual gate system was not an option. There was only one thing he could do — hack the remote control!
Like just about every other hacker, [Alexander] had a spare ESP8266-based board lying around. [Alexander] also had a couple of spare relays which he used to control the two buttons on his designated ‘sacrifice’ remote — one relay per button. After throwing these parts together with a couple of supporting bits of electronics, the hardware was done. Now [Alexander] can just set up HTTP Request Shortcuts on each trusted visitor’s smartphone. From there on out they can open/close the gates themselves!
Originally, he was using IFTTT to trigger the string of events that make it all happen, but there was a delay of about 8 seconds (from trigger to relay action). [Alexander] was not having this so he turned to the HTTP Request Shortcuts app. When he made this change, the delay disappeared.
That’s pretty impressive considering the near-dizzying amount of software components involved in this project. There is the firmware on the NodeMCU board of course, and there’s everything else: CloudMQTT, Python, Flask, AWS Lambda, Zappa, HTTP Request Shortcuts. If you want to see how all of this ties together to make his system work, check out his GitHub page for this project.
Looks like he’s not done yet. [Alexander] updated this project with a couple of improvements, which he put on a separate Hackaday.io page which we’ll have to keep our eye on. We have just one suggestion for this project — it could use some security. [Alexander] does mention adding some kind of authentication/security later, so that makes us feel a little better.