A key feature of the maker movement is a desire to share knowledge. Where once the ability to create something may have been a jealously-guarded secret, nowadays - helped in no small part by the ease of communication afford by the Internet - it's possible to jump from watching a master craftsman walk you through creating a dovetail joint to downloading the printed circuit board design files for an Arduino in mere seconds.
A new entry in the ever-growing library of publicly accessible projects is OpenGarage, the latest from Ray of US-based rayshobby.net. As the name suggests OpenGarage is an open hardware project designed to make a motorised garage door more user-friendly, providing everything from status notifications as to whether the door is open or closed to the ability to toggle the state from a smartphone or tablet.
Based on the ESP8266 microcontroller, much-loved for its low cost and built-in Wi-Fi networking capabilities, OpenGarage uses an HC-SR04 ultrasonic distance sensor to measure the gap between the ceiling-mounted device and the ground. When the door opens, the distance drops dramatically and the device knows the door's current status; once closed, the distance increases again. If the positioning of the sensor places it over where the car parks, it's even possible to detect whether or not the garage is occupied.
A relay is provided for connection to the door motor, which allows the user to open or close the door from a Blynk-powered smartphone interface. For more secure door systems that use a wireless remote based on a handshake algorithm, Ray has a workaround to integrate OpenGarage: using a spare remote and wiring the relay into its button to trigger the secure signal. The design even breaks out additional IO pins from the ESP8266, allowing for future expansion.
All Ray's design files and software are available now from the OpenGarage GitHub repository, while the first production run of circuit boards will be shipping from Ray's web shop in two weeks' time.
I am very excited to introduce you to OpenGarage — an open-source, universal garage door opener built using the ESP8266 Wi-Fi chip and the Blynk app. I’ve wanted to finish this project for a while, as there have been multiple occasions where I left the house in a hurry and forgot to close my garage door, or locked myself out of the house, or had to let a friend or handyman in while I was away. Having a WiFi-based garage door opener (which I can access remotely using my mobile phone) would be super convenient.