DIY SmartBlinds v2 – How to

Automation project for vertical and horizontal blinds

Following on the popularity of the DIY SmartBlinds v1 device found here, I attempted to update the design and make it a bit slimmer, easier to print and easier to assemble. This design uses all the same electronic components as v1 except for the power connector. In this version, I upgraded the power connector to micro usb and yes you can power this device from almost any USB power adapter. I have also updated the software to operate when mounted on the left or the right hand side of the window. So here it is:

DIY SmartBlinds v2 – 360 Render

The dimensions of this design are as follows. The body height is 125mm, width 47mm and depth 31mm. The distance from the wall to the face of the cog wheel is about 40mm, if you use the included wall mount then you should add another 3 mm.

This design has been extensively tested in my own home environment. The SmartBlinds device is mounted on the inside of the window frame in semi-direct sunlight. It has run on standby for over 226 days and has actual use over 450 hrs without the need for maintenance. Although I had very positive results yours may be different hence this is not a guarntee.

3D Printing

The printable components are made up of Top Lid, Bottom Lid with MCU mount, the Body and an optional Wall Mount. The assembly of the printed components is straight forward.

All components have been designed to be printed without supports. For printing I used my Prusa I3 MK3 printer. I use 0.2 layer height with 15% infill and PLA+. Even after months of usage in the Australian heat and semi-direct indoor sunlight, my prototype devices still work and operate perfectly.

Additional Components

You will require these additional components to complete the assembly. These are all easily obtainable online.

  • 1x Node MCU CP2102 ESP8266 (same as DIY SmartBlinds v1)
  • 1x Stepper motor 28BYJ-48 5v with ULN2003 driver (same as DIY SmartBlinds v1)
  • 8x M2.5 x 6mm self taping screws (MCU and driver board mount)
  • 8x M2.5 x 8mm Countersunk screws (top & bottom lid)
  • 2x M2.5 x 12mm Countersunk screws + 2x nuts (motor mount)
  • 1x M4 Steel Hex Head Cup Point Grub screw (same as DIY SmartBlinds v1)
  • 1x Micro USB Breakout Board – Green PCB!
  • 1x Micro USB Cord
  • 1x 5v USB Power Supply Arduino Sketch for the Node MDU, also attached to this post.

The connection of the electronics components is the same as DIY SmartBlands v1. Here the schematic for completeness. The only difference is that you are wiring up the power to a micro USB micro breakout board, pictured above. Its important you source the breakout board exactly as pictured i.e. the one with the Green PCB, as the mounting points have been designed for this micro USB board. You will also note that this PCB has additional power solder point next to the micro connector. These can be handy to connect power to either the NODE MCU or motor driver. There is another one readily available micro USB breakout board that has a blue PCB. NOTE: This design has not been tested with that PCB design.

Programming

The code for the NODE MCU can be downloaded from GitHub. You can upload the code using the Arduino IDE. There are plenty of tutorials online on the Arduino IDE and how to program the NODE MCU hence I am not repeating them here. I though it would be useful for troubleshooting to post the versions of the libraries that I used for my project. So here they are:

  • ArduinoJson 5.13.2
  • WiFiManager 0.14.0
  • Stepper 1.1.2
  • ESP_EEPROM 2.0.0
  • WiFi 1.2.7

Home Automation

For my purposes I wrote a Homebridge plugin because my home automation is mostly setup around HimeKit devices and I wanted to add my own devices to the mix. You can download the Homebridge plugin from GitHub

What’s next?

I am also testing a simple mod, for this design to make it suitable for Wand type blinds. Wand operated blinds (typically horizontal blinds) have a long wand / stick that when twisted adjust the position of the horizontal blinds.

Let me know in the comments if that type of adapter would interest you or if you have any questions about this new v2 design?

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4 Comments

  1. Good Morning.

    I want to carry out this project, but I have several doubts.

    Can you help me?.
    1-Could it be used for a blind?
    2-Could you put a battery or is it unfeasible?

    Thank you.

    1. Hi, to try to answer your questions. 1) if you are thinking about using this on a roller blind then it will depend on how heavy the roller blind is. I have designed this device to be used primarily on vertical and horizontal blinds for the tilt motion. 2) you could easily attach a battery pack to the micro USB. I have not done any test with a battery pack though.

  2. Hi Peter,

    I made this based on the v1 design and am having a little trouble with the power of the motor. It doesn’t seem to be strong enough to pull the cord and I’ve tried re-designing the wheel part so it’s smaller and grips the beads better but still wont pull the blind. Can you tell me if it is possible to get a motor that still fits but has more torque? I love the initial design btw, the nice curves on the box give it a very professional looking finish!

    Thanks,
    Eoin.

    1. Hi Eoin, glad you like the design. Those 5v motors I suggested in the components list have quite a bit of torque at low speeds, such that even when my blinds rotation sometimes gets blocked by something, the motor still turns to the point the needed dried slips. Having said that, the motor should be capable of pulling the beaded cord to rotate the blinds but it will not have enough power to pull the cord that slides the vertical blinds to one side. Have you made any changes to the code? I have not found any alternative motor that would be small enough with more torque. If you find any thing suitable let me know, I may be able to incorporate it in the design.

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