Finnish software engineer [Toni] is on a quest to modernize his 1991 house, and his latest project was to automate the window blinds and control them using Home Assistant. Unless your blinds have built-in motors, most of the effort of such a project centers around how to integrate and attach the motor — and as [Toni] points out, there are tons of different blinds with all kinds of operating mechanisms. But once you solve that issue, half the battle is over.
These particular blinds require less than one turn of the control rod to go from fully open to fully closed, and [Toni] selects a 270-degree range-of-motion, 20 kg*cm torque servo motor to drive them. He really wanted to install the motor inside the window, but it just wouldn’t fit. Instead, each servo motor is mounted in a custom 3D-printed case installed on the window frame just below the operating rod. An ESP8266-based controller box is installed above the window, hidden behind curtains, and operates all three servos.
On the software side of things, the project is coded in C++ and uploaded using the Ardiono IDE. The blinds communicate to [Toni]’s Home Assistant network using MQTT. All the software is available on the project’s GitHub repository, and the 3D-printed case design is posted on Thingiverse. Even though your blinds may be of a completely different design, we think many parts of [Toni]’s project are still useful — do check out this project if you’re thinking about doing something similar. The notion of motorized window blinds has been around for a some time — we covered one project way back in 2013 and another in 2016. If you have added automation to your window blinds, let us know how it went down in the comments section.
Continue reading “Automated Window Blinds Using MQTT And Home Assistant”
Commercially available motorized window blinds are a nice high-end touch for today’s automated home, but they tend to command a premium price. Seems silly to charge so much for what amounts to a gear motor and controller, which is why [James Wilcox] took matters into his own hands and came up with this simple and cheap wireless blind control.
[James] started his project the sensible way, with a thorough analysis of the problem. Once COTS alternatives were eliminated – six windows would have been $1200 – he came up with a list of deliverables, including tilting to pre-determined positions, tilt-syncing across multiple windows, and long battery life. The hardware in the head rail of each blind ended up being a Moteino on a custom PCB for the drivers, a $2 stepper motor, and a four-AA battery pack. The Moteino in one blind talks to a BeagleBone Black over USB and wirelessly to the other windows for coordinated control. As for battery life, [James] capitalized on the Moteino’s low-power Listen Mode to reduce the current draw by about three orders of magnitude, which should equate to a few years between battery changes. And he did it all for only about $40 a window.
Window blinds seem to be a tempting target for hacking, whether it’s motorizing regular blinds or interfacing commercial motorized units into a home automation system. We like how compact this build is, and wonder if it could be offered as an aftermarket add-on for manual blinds.
Continue reading “Compact Controllers Automate Window Blinds”
[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.
Continue reading “Automated Blinds Open The Window To Our Heart”
Any opportunity to shave a few bucks off your power bill is probably worth considering, especially if it’s a device like [Steve Hoefer’s] Mini Blind Minder. This little guy staves off (or welcomes) the sun by monitoring the room with a temperature sensor and checking against a setpoint. If the room is too warm or too cool, the top-mounted servo will spin the wand and close or open the blinds, respectively.
[Steve] started by building a homemade Arduino shield from some perfboard to which he added a handful of discrete components: some current-limiting resistors for the RGB LED indicator light and a 10k trim pot for fine-tuning the temp sensor. Although this build forgoes an LCD readout to display precise information, it does provide feedback by stepping the RGB LED’s color through a spectrum of blue to red to indicate how the current room temperature compares to your setpoint. The two momentary pushbuttons beneath the light allow the user to adjust the setpoint up or down.
See the video below for a detailed guide to building your own, and take a look at a similar automatic blinds build from earlier this year that opens and closes in response to ambient light.
Continue reading “Temp-Sensitive Automatic Blinds”
The only thing he needs now is a micro and RTC
For [Dino]’s 44th Hack A Week extravaganza, he made powered window blinds in five minutes. It’s a simple build with a small gear motor and a bit of tubing to adapt the shaft to the control rod of the blinds. Good job [Dino].
The wonderful [Lizzie] over at LUSTlab realized that typing meta keys really slows down the development process. The result? Foot pedals for the Shift and Command keys. No build log for this one, but it’s just a set of old racing pedals and a disused keyboard.
So much cooler than a potato
[mdevaev] out of Russia built a fully articulated GLaDOS replica. Here’s the build album and the relevant MLP forum post. This GLaDOS is tiny – probably less than a foot long, but it moves around and speaks (Russian, which is weird). Somebody get us a couple of motorcycle fenders so we can build the 1:1 scale version.
Visualizing a plane of fog
[greg] was looking for a way to visualize the chaotic turbulence of air. He mounted a laser on a computer fan and held some dry ice above the beam. The result looks like it could make for an interesting photography project, but check out the video if you don’t believe us.
We were asking for it
We asked for battery charging circuits that don’t use specialized parts. [Petr] found this one that only uses few transistors, a MOSFET and a voltage regulator. In one of the Hackaday comments, [atomsoft] had the idea of putting a USB plug on the traces to save a bit in component costs. [mohonri] said he designed one, but we have yet to see it. Perhaps next links post…