Redesign The World
A Photography/Design Blog by Andrew Cichowski

Motor ControllerMotor Controller

About a year ago I realized a decent chunk of my life was dedicated to opening and closing my window blinds daily. There had to be a better way..

Automated systems exist, but are expensive, and I needed a custom setup. So, I drew up some plans, ordered some parts, and started to build. With my busy schedule and having to travel for extended periods of time while on certain hospital rotations over the past few months, this project sat on my desk, collecting dust.

Installed.No more sitting. It’s finally up and running. And it’s awesome.

But why custom?
Aside from being cool, the ability to drastically alter the design within a few minutes is really convenient. Having an exposed breadboard lets me add and remove components on a whim, and lets me reprogram my arduino microcontroller whenever I want. More importantly, I’m renting this beautiful apartment and therefore cannot modify it in any way. My motor bracket design leaves no marks on the walls or ceilings, is as easy to install as it is to remove, and works on nearly any window without having to alter the blinds. Not too shabby.

Motor BracketsMotor Brackets

What’s next?
Right now I have my button array housed in a little cardboard box (so I have easy access to swap out/add/remove buttons). When my budget allows, I’m going to CNC a nice metal container for both the controller and the button array. And even cooler yet, I’m adding WiFi connectivity to the board, allowing me to control the blinds from my phone (or any device), from anywhere I want, whenever I want. The other things I’m considering adding are a light sensor and a temperature sensor to automatically open and close the blinds based on the ambient conditions of the room. For now, the buttons are really satisfying to push, so I’m happy with the system as it stands.

Unrelated, I’m planning on developing more film later this week, and will likely post some shots here, maybe. 😉


PS: For those curious about how well the motors work, here’s a very quick shot of them opening and closing my blinds. (They are programmed to open each of the windows at slightly different speeds, and in different directions, but are also not 100% efficient at moving in sync..):

PPS: I should probably eventually spend some time consolidating the endless amount of online video accounts I have to one central repository… (I might forget this was ever uploaded..)

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