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Automated Curtain Operator

Let a robot operate your curtains for you.

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It's really what it says. I want to strap a motor to a pulley and let it open and close my curtains. It might sound lazy, and it kind of is, but I think it would be nice to automate this daily chore. There's other reasons for it too:
1) When I pull the curtains from my height, they always get "jammed up" on the rod and won't close all the way unless I wiggle them to and fro. There's about a 1% chance that either the rod will fall down, or the mount will get pulled out of the wall. Obviously I'd like to remedy that. Having a rope pull them together on the rod would allow them to operate smoothly and avoid jamming up. If I'm going to do that I might as well add a motor.
2) I'll forget to close them and realize it once I'm in bed.
3) If it's on a schedule (it will be), I'd like to wake up to sunlight instead of to an alarm.

Automated Curtain Operator will have the following features:

  • Motor operated pulley system to open and close curtains
  • Sense when motor encounters obstacles (or completes task)
  • Battery operated, Solar charged
  • Remote controlled

  • Brainstorming

    Drew Yenzer07/18/2016 at 01:18 0 comments

    After a little brainstorming, I came up with the following block diagram:

    Power Source

    To avoid unsightly wires I'll make the thing battery powered, and since it's on a window I'll let it recharge via photovoltaics.

    Remote Control

    Controlling it remotely will require either RF or IR. I already have some nRF24L01's lying around, plus I have one attached to my Raspberry Pi. I'm thinking I can use the Pi to control a schedule for opening/closing the curtains and communicate that command through the nRF24. OR I can let the microcontroller handle things and set the schedule/current time through the Pi. I can also just build a standalone remote for the curtains, but that won't be able to set a schedule, just command it to open/close.

    Motor

    Motors and mechanics are not my strong suit. However, I think just a basic DC brushed motor will work for this project and not be too noisy. Plus they're cheap and easy to control. I've already picked out a couple candidates and might just order all of them to test out. I'll need to detect when the motor has stalled out, either from a completed move or it got caught on something. An encoder would be best, but they're more expensive. I think I can get away with just measuring the current used by the motor through a resistor. It'll take some experimenting to find the right cut-off threshold, while also recognizing start-up current, but shouldn't be too hard.

    Microcontroller

    Will be a PIC. I'm most familiar with those. They even have some with built in Op-Amps, which I would use for the current sense resistor, cutting down on parts and board space.

    Honestly, getting the mechanics set up, mounting the motor and pulleys to the wall, will probably be the hardest part of this project. Mechanics are really not my strong suit.

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