Anybody who has ever seen a video wall (and who hasn’t?) will be familiar with the idea of making large-scale illuminated images from individual coloured lights. But how many of us have gone the extra mile and fitted such a display in our own homes? [vcch] has done just that with his Deluxe Smart Curtain that can be controlled with a phone or laptop.
The display itself is made up of a series of Neopixel strips, hung in vertical lines in front of the window. There is a wide gap between each strip, lending a ghostly translucent look to the images and allowing the primary purpose of the window to remain intact.
The brains of the system are hosted on a low-cost M5stack atom ESP32 device. The data lines for the LEDs are wired in a zig-zag up and down pattern from left to right, which the driver software maps to the rectangular images. However, the 5V power is applied to the strips in parallel to avoid voltage drops along the chain.
If you’d like to build your own smart curtain, Arduino sketch files and PHP for the mobile interface are included on the project page. Be sure to check out the brief video of what the neighbors will enjoy at night after the break.
When [John Saunders] wanted an automatic door for his shop, rather than settle for a commercial unit, he designed and built a proximity-sensing opener to ease his passing. Sounds simple, right?
Fortunately for us, there are no half-measures at Saunders Machine Works, thanks to the multiple Tormach workcells and the people who know how to use them. The video below treats us to quite a build as a result; the first part is heavy on machining the many parts for the opener, so skip ahead to 8:33 if you’re more interested in the control electronics and programming.
The opener uses time-of-flight distance sensors and an Arduino to detect someone approaching, with a pneumatic cylinder to part a plastic strip curtain. [John] admits to more than a little scope creep with this one, which is understandable when you’ve got easy access to the tools needed to create specialized parts at will.
In the end, though, it works well for everyone but [Judd], the shop dog, and it certainly looks like it was a fun build to boot. [John]’s enthusiasm for mixing machining and electronics is infectious; check out his automated bowl feeder for assembly line use.
As one of the founders of Netscape and the Mozilla Project, [Jamie Zawinski] is no stranger to frustration elicited from syntax errors, terrible implementations, and things that don’t work even though they should. This familiarity of frustration is what makes [jwz]’s command line controlled curtains so great; it’s rare to see someone so technically proficient freaking out over the lack of DHCP on an Arduino Ethernet.
[Jamie]’s project begins as so many do – modifying an existing piece of hardware to connect to the Internet. This is easier said than done, as [Jamie] fried a USB hub, FTDI cable and an Arduino Ethernet all at the same time. Finally turned onto the seeed relay shield, [jwz] got busy writing scripts to power his curtain.
Of course, this level of automation is nothing without a good bit of integration. After [Jamie] realized his projector (a Panasonic PT-D5500U) and receiver (Denon AVR-2805) could talk to his computer, he got busy mashing them together with a Griffin PowerMate. Mashing the button on the PowerMate turns on the projector and closes the drapes. There’s also a cron job running so that [Jamie] is reminded of the glowing orange ball in the sky.
But now he’s decided to make some upgrades to the system because it’s going to be shown as an art display. He looked around for a motor upgrade but found that the best motor at the most reasonable price could be pulled from a Makita power drill. The track itself is modular, making the installation scalable up to ten meters in total length. He even built a clean-looking laptop dock that handles the video processing end of things. But there’s something here for you as well. He’s released all of his source code, schematics, board design, and even the SketchUp files for the motor mounts and other parts. Dig out that old power drill and build one of your own.
[Lenore] added a bit of customization to her office window hangings by fitting roller curtains with custom printed fabric. The treatment seen above is a $20 Enje roller blind from Ikea but that logo is all Evil Mad Science. The weight at the bottom of the fabric uses a friction-fit plastic insert that can be stapled onto new material. Some fusible tape was ironed onto the sides to finish those edges, and the roller at the top has strong adhesive that remains for a second use after peeling off the original material.
A fabric printer was used to produce this rendition of shades. But we’d like to see some conductive thread added for a fabric-based display that can be rolled up when not in use.
[Niklas Roy] built a motorized window curtain to screen out foot traffic in front of his window. When you hear “motorized curtain” you may think that this will move up and down but it doesn’t. Instead, the small curtain move horizontally to cover passersby as they travel down the sidewalk. This is accomplished using a camera in conjunction with some motion sensing software. In the video after the break you can see that the software also anticipates the movement, and ends up doing a good job of keeping the target covered. That’s thanks to the Processing sketch working in conjunction with a rotary encoder on the hardware setup. Details for both are available on the page linked above.