Awning Motorized And Automated To Avoid Wind Damage

Awnings can be architecturally beautiful, and they provide lovely shelter from the sun and even a bit of rain. They don’t always like taking a pounding from high winds though. [Steve Carey] installed some nice awnings, but wanted to avoid any potential issues, so he built an automated system to extend and retract them for him.Ā 

An ESP32 serves as the brains of the operation. It’s set up to open and close the blinds using a high-torque brushed motor run by a BTS7960 motor driver. The motor turns the awning’s rod via a hook, so it can be readily removed in the event [Steve] moves house. Reed switches are used as end stops to ensure the motor stops when the awning is fully open or closed. The ESP32 is hooked up to an accelerometer mounted on the awning. It’s set up to sum the accelerations detected in all three axes, and close the awning in the event conditions get too windy.

There’s a certain peace of mind that comes with having your awning hooked up with a preventative safety system. We don’t have a lot of awning posts on Hackaday, but we have seen a good number of automated blinds in the past. If you’ve been working on your own outdoor home automation gear, be sure to hit up the tipsline! Happy…awnings…ing? Anyway.


30 thoughts on “Awning Motorized And Automated To Avoid Wind Damage

  1. I note he used a desiccant pack to protect his accelerometer. That’s a good idea. I always put a desiccant pack in outdoor electronics enclosures even sealed enclosures because… condensation. Never had any corrosion.

  2. Crush hazard…What happens the first time some dumbass kid hangs from the front crossbar and the thing starts closing? Dumbass kid is as likely to hang on for the ride as let go.

    IIRC OSHA will frown.
    Moves automatically and motion is likely too strong to be pushed back by a weaker than average human. Requires safety shielding.

    1. OSHA doesn’t care at all what you do at home, which makes sense, as it stands for Occupational Safety and Health Administration (with “occupation” meaning similar to “career”, they see to on-the-job safety for workers, not spaces which may be “occupied”). Seeing as how a homeowner building something on their property isn’t in any way related to their “occupation”, or health and safety of any employees or workers, OSHA has no jurisdiction at your home. No need for fear-mongering- let people enjoy their freedom.

      I actually think it’s pretty cool, but wonder if an anemometer might be a valuable addition (to recognize when a steady wind is holding the awning at a consistent angle, but wind-speed may be high enough to cause damage if/when the wind shifts).

    2. Even if this is on a business, OSHA will not care. Think garage bay doors. And OSHA does not have the teeth people perceive. Even in civil suit, it would be 1 in many judges who would find issue. Probably as likely as suing for twisting your ankle when stepping off a curb.

  3. Motor should stop after a given time in case the endstop switch fails, to prevent stalling the motor and risking it becoming excessively hot. Probably thought about that:-)

    1. You’re right, the reed switches are critical. I plan to integrate a rotary encoder somehow so you can count the rotations and detect if something seems off. That would also let you know the exact position so you’d be able to say open it 75% which might be handy.

      1. Could glue a magnet to the shaft and have a hall effect sensor to count rotations. Probably the cheapest solution, and non-contact (you could have the hall effect sensor in its own enclosure).

        1. No, this is usually just a simple bi-metal switch to turn the motor off before it catches fire. You need to measure the current and switch off instantly to avoid tearing the fabric or breaking the gears.

          1. What about one of those push button circuit breakers? There are 3 and 5 amp ones. I could stress the motor and test the current and see how many amps should be considered too many.

          2. @Steve: Measuring the current and having a microcontroller react accordingly can also eliminate the need for end switches. That’s how most motors that go inside the tube do it.
            And be careful with breakers. Using an AC rated breaker with a DC motor usually results in arcing and a broken breaker.

          3. I was thinking of those resettable DC fuses they use for car audio and then I found these which say they’re good for up to 32V DC. Not sure if I can post links here:

            But thanks for the comments, I’ll look more into current sensing.

          4. I see what you’re saying about not needing the reed switch. If I can detect when the motor is working harder than normal I can all that closed or jammed and in either case I’d want to stop. I like it. I think I’d keep the open switch since I don’t want the fabric to completely un-spool in case it pops out of the track.

  4. My S-I-L in Florida has a commercial model. I know it monitors motion and will close itself if the motion gets too severe. Beyond that, I don’t know anything about it. I believe the company is named “Sunsetter”

    1. I’d be interested to check one of those out. Looks like they’re pricey though!

      What’s the price on a SunSetter?
      The SunSetter Motorized $3,000 to $6,000

      The average price on this awning is between $3,000 and $6,000 installed.

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