****PLEASE NOTE: While this system does nothing more than add an additional “button” to open/close the garage and does nothing to defeat the safety IR Beam on the door, I can’t say for sure whether the system is completely safe as the garage door can open or close via remote command from anywhere based on an internet connection.****
A WeMo is basically a WIFI/remote controlled switch. You plug it into the wall and then something else into the WeMo (e.g., Christmas tree lights). Then you get the WeMo joined up to your WIFI at home and install the App on your iPhone/Droid and you can then turn the WeMo on or off from your phone. Big deal, right?. Well, I bought one this past summer as I installed a small fountain on my porch that did not have a switch…so before the WeMo I had to crawl under the porch to plug/unplug it from the extension cord every time I wanted to enjoy the peaceful surrounds of my Zen porch. But putting a WeMo down there meant I could turn it off and on from my phone.
But the WeMo is a bit more interesting than that. It can also have a set of rules for each WeMo switch. I created a rule to always turn the fountain off at midnight if someone left it running. And I wrote another to run the fountain one hour a day in the morning to ensure the water did not get gross or become a mosquito estuary if no one ran it for enjoyment. Now you get how these things are kind of cool. right?
But WeMo is even cooler as you can hook a WeMo switch into IFTTT.com (If THIS then THAT). IFTTT is an internet automation system. So I have a rule on IFTTT to look for any picture someone posts to FaceBook which I am tagged in the image. If IFTTT finds an image I am tagged in on FB, it copies the image to a folder in my Dropbox account which allows me to keep an archive of Facebook images. You could use IFTT and a WeMo for a rule like “If I arrive home, turn ON the WeMo for the fountain” which will turn on the fountain when I get home.
I bought some more of these WeMo switches and started using them around the house for other things. By now I was really finding fun things to do with the WeMo. So I started thinking large. It has always annoyed me that we leave our garage door open all night, sometimes. What if I could use a WeMo to control the door and close it at 11pm every night? I started to think about how to do it and realized it would not be as simple as the a fountain. Why?
Well, the WeMo is not set-up all that well to work with a garage door as they work differently. The WeMo is more like a light switch - it is ON or OFF and it has a little light (blue LED) to reflect its state. But a garage door is different - it has a button that toggles the state of the door only. There is no ON or OFF switch for your garage door - just the ability to toggle its state. So how would you connect a device that is ON or OFF to a toggle device?
What’s worse is that the garage door system works by shorting two contacts on the motor for a second or so which tells the door to change states (that’s what happens when you press the button for your garage door). The WeMo device has no sense of “toggle”. The WeMo is just an ON or OFF device.
So how would you connect the two and make them work together? What I wanted was to tell the WeMo to change states from my iPhone and have that trigger the garage door. So I would need to program something in between the WeMo and the garage door to see that the WeMo changed states (from ON to OFF or the other way) and then tell a relay (or transistor) that is attached to the garage door motor to CLOSE for a second and then OPEN again. The CLOSING of the relay would short the contacts on the garage door which would cause it to move. There are simple electronic components that can do this (like a FLIP FLOP). So I could have the WeMo tell the Flip Flop to tell the relay to CLOSE for a second and then OPEN again which would work to get the door to move and change states.
A Flip Flop paired with a relay might have been a good first step...Read more »