This video below shows all the parts and how I’ve connected the servo.
This is the pull string for “manual” control
Well the fun keeps on coming, and by now you should see that the running theme in my world is many competing projects. Which is why you’ll often see me post new cool stuff before I properly tie off the loose ends with existing stuff. So for that I apologize for not completing many tutorials and postings of source code. I also have a day job you know 😛
Annnyway stand back witness a very cool project that literally took me less than an hour to prototype. And the prototype isn’t that far from the complete project. For a long time now I wanted automated window blinds, because to me, blinds are pretty useless on their own. I don’t open them when it’s sunny, and if I do, I forget to close them for privacy when it’s dark. Can’t this just happen for me? Like come on.
There are solutions available but clearly the other theme to my blog is cheap. If I had to pay for premium home automation, I simply wouldn’t do it. I may be lazy but I’m even more so cheap.
I successfully converted existing blinds in my house to automated blinds with many features for about $35-40. The blinds themselves cost about $35-40. So all in all this is a cheap upgrade for what you get.
What my blinds do (aka what sensors does it have). My window blinds will:
- Open when it’s day light, and close when the sun goes down. This is accomplished EASILY with a $1 Light Dependent Resistor.
- Will close partially when it’s a very hot day. Accomplished by a $1 Thermal sensor model TMP36.
- Open or close blinds to any degree I wish using my logitech harmony remote (or any remote), accomplished by an IR Receiver for $1.
- Open “manually” by waving hand near top of blind using a IR motion sensor
I am operating the blinds using a servo, which is a type of geared electric motor. They are about $9.
I’m doing this all through an Arduino, it’s cheap, super easy to use and has great tutorials for all of the features I’ve mentioned above. All I can take credit for is combining the tutorials and adding some basic logic. If you know any programming/scripting language this will probably be a breeze.
The beauty of the Arduino is you don’t need to buy all the stuff I listed, you can just pick what you need and roll with it. IF you want what I want, it’s a few bucks more here or there.
Lastly (and I’ll add better details later), I was able to do this so easily because I had room to work within the header of my blinds. I’ve watched 6 examples of similar projects online, and not to knock them, they all look ugly. Many of them have components exposed and usually this is because they are retrofitting thin, half inch, cheap blinds. And I ask why put this kind of effort and money into $10 blinds, especially if it will look harsh on the eyes after? Go get yourself some nice blinds, 2″ faux or real wood. They look good and because of the size of the blinds there is plenty of room up top to hide all your gear.
You can find my Arduino source code AND diagrams on github:
Parts List: - 2" Venetian Blinds (Faux or Real Wood) - Arduino UNO or preferably an Arduino Mini - Servo (Any standard RC car servo should do) - Photocell / Light Dependent Resistor - 10k resistor - Some wires Optional: - 90 Degree Servo Mount - TMP36 - 38Khz IR detector
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