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Smart motorized blinds

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Though there are many blinds on the market that come with motors, they are often very expensive and do not have automatic elements installed. It would be more cost-effective to install a custom motor attached to a circuit box able to control the tilt of manual blinds based on ambient settings. The goal of this project is to open the tilt of the blinds during the day and close them at night, allowing natural light to fill the house during the day and giving privacy in the evening. Additionally, these blinds will contain a temperature sensor to close the blinds if the interior becomes too warm.

Automatic motorized blinds should be put on the south windows in a North American household as the south facade has more sun exposure. This placement will ensure that the blinds operate at the right times and will be able to measure the temperature due to the sun exposure more accurately. With the motorized blinds installed, it will be much easier to decorate the interior of the test house with living plants, while also eliminating the need to manually open the blinds for daily demonstration purposes.

Smart Blind Design

The general design of the smart blind technology is based off of the schematic provided by a user on named biochemtronics. Many of the components used in the original schematic were substituted to slightly different specifications, and to reduce shipping costs. One of the best designs for motorized blinds would be to create a box containing the circuitry and motor and simply attach the motor to the blinds via a hook. This will allow the smart blinds to be used on any set of venetian blinds.

In order to control a motor based on light and temperature readings, a microcontroller is needed. The PICAXE controller was chosen to be the optimal microcontroller after assessing the required functionality and cost. Though the cheaper PICAXE-08m would be satisfactory for this project, the PICAXE-18m2 model was chosen just in case more inputs would be needed for future alterations of the project.

There were two options to power the blinds: either to plug them into an electrical outlet via a transformer or to power it using batteries. To reduce the amount of installation required and the amount of wires needed for the design, the battery method was used. The PICAXE-18m2 microcontroller cannot support a voltage much higher than 5V, so if the batteries used exceeded 5V, a voltage regulator would be required. Using 4 AA batteries running through a 5V LM7805T voltage regulator powered the PICAXE controller, its outputs and the temperature sensor.

To make testing of the blinds easier, a 3.5mm Serial Jack was incorporated into the schematic so that the PICAXE controller could be reprogrammed while inside the motorized blind box. This jack can be accessed without opening up the box. In addition, two buttons were put into the schematic as a manual override to open and close the blinds. Lastly, a master switch was installed to save battery life when the blinds are not in use.

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Parts List

The following table outlines the approximate cost to build one set of blinds. Shipping costs are based on shipping to Kingston, Ontario.

Item Cost/Unit Quantity Cost Distributor
PICAXE-18M Starter Pack 30.99 1 30.99 Solarbiotics
PICAXE-18M Microcontroller 5.45 1 5.45 Solarbiotics
ULN2003A Darlington Array 0.66 1 0.66 Digikey
3.5mm Stereo Jack 2.28 1 2.28 Digikey
P2 Relay V23079 (PB1059-ND) 2.42 1 2.42 Digikey
GM3 Gear Motor 5.75 1 5.75 Solarbiotics
4x1.5V AA Batter Holder (BH24AAW-ND) 1.22 1 1.22 Digikey
LM7805T Voltage Reg 5V 1.87 1 1.87 Digikey
Small Proto Board 0,92 1 0.92 Digikey
8 Pin Dip Socket 0.47 1 0.47 Digikey
16 Pin DIP Socket 0.71 2 1.42 Digikey
Photoresistor (PDV-P9008-ND) 1.66 1 1.66 Digikey
Temperature Sensor LM35 1.79 1 1.79 Digikey
SPST switch 0.60 2 1.20 Solarbiotics
Blinds 24.99 0 24.99 RONA
Subtotal 58.10
Shipping 20.54
Tax 10.22
Total 88.86

See Help:Tables and Help:Table examples for more.

There are many assumptions to this price list. Firstly, it assumes that this is the first time using a PICAXE microcontroller. The PICAXE-18M2 comes with the programmable USB cable (which accounts for most of the starter kit's cost) and a few other useful components. If the USB cable is already available then there is no need to buy a starter pack, putting the total cost of the blinds closer to $50. Additionally, it assumes that there are blinds already available, a few common resistors (two 10k resistors and a 22k), wiring, soldering equipment, and some sort of project box (or box that can hold the circuitry.).


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