DIY Z-wave blinds project

All,
Long time lurker, first time poster. I just wanted to share my experience in creating a set of Z-wave controlled blinds from scratch. My goal was to be able to open/close a set of blinds via Vera/smartphone as well as have manual control of the blinds. I also wanted everything to be self contained so that I wouldn’t have to run a serial cable all over the house. And, finally, not break the bank in the process.

My solution was to grab a set of Home Depot 2" blinds and use an Arduino nano to drive a standard servo to perform the opening/closing of the blinds. To gain Z-wave connectivity, I used a Remotec ZFM-80 relay module. The relay also allows for manual operation via the momentary button on its face.

Some additional details about the project:
–I repurposed the standard gear from the little gearbox used to tilt the blinds to connect the servo to the rod that runs the length of the blinds.

–The servo was a run-of-the-mill 3003 analog servo

–I had to devise a small mount for the servo to get everything to line up properly, but everything fit well within the confines of the frame.

–Total cost: $100-$150

Of course, there are a couple caveats when compared to a production level setup. For one, this is only to open and close the blinds; it does not afford the ability to raise or lower them (fixed in Rev 2.0?). Also, because of the nature of the relay, there are really only two settings, open and closed. However, the Arduino does allow for a bit of tweaking in terms of the slant angle of the slats and how fast the blinds open and close.

I made a couple videos showing the operation of the blinds, the first is a bench test of the components - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AyqaovpJ0ZY

And the second is the actual operation of the blinds - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qdUauCjARk4

I’m happy to provide any additional information or answer any questions about the setup, just ask!

Congratulations! This looks great.

I just started to look into how to best build shapes that I can bring up or down via Vera/iPhone. I hope I’ll find that digestible information. So far, everything I found was endless talk, but nothing like a shopping list. Will keep looking…

Thanks for the feedback, please keep us posted on your progress!

Any way of getting pictures of inside the blinds? How are you powering the servo and arduino?

  • Garrett

Attached are a couple pics I took during the project. Apologies for their quality, I can try to get some better ones for you sometime this week.

The first picture shows the servo mounted inside the blinds frame with the gear from the tilt mechanism providing the interface between the control rod and the servo. Pic #2 is the PCB and Arduino board situated within the frame. Pic #3 is the mounting bracket I made for the servo and Pic #4 is the circuit schematic. The switch in the bottom right of the circuit diagram represents the relay.

As for power, I’m using a 120VAC --> 12VDC adapter to power the Arduino from the house current. The servo is being powered by the Arduino’s 5V supply.

wow this is really good.

i have built something similar, but its based on a photo cell. I’d really like to include z-wave as a means of controlling the blinds though. with this in mind, am i right in thinking i need something other than a z-wave relay? not really sure what i need!

Colin

Depends how much control you need. If your photo cell merely opens and closes the blinds, you’d be fine with just the relay. If you’re looking for graduated control of the blinds, it’s going to require something else or some creative programming of the Arduino.

Just what I want! :o

I have a million questions. Like what does the mount look like at the end of the shade, does it just slide in; if so Maybe I’ll just use some hardwood since I don’t have a CNC. How did you make the mounting bracket? Grinder and block of alumnium, CNC, magic??? For ease, I’ll buy one, if you have a paypal I’ll send you $20.

Heck, I’ll pay $100 for the whole kit to hook it up to a set of blinds from Home depot and ZFM-80 that I’ll buy. Let me know. If not, did you have to program the Arduino nano and could a noob do it?

Oh, what do you recommend? Did you route an electrical outlet up to the top of the window or route 12v from an outlet up through the wall to the top of the window or even inside of the window framing?

This seems like the cheapest and easiest way to do blinds I have found so far. I agree it’s just a lot of endless talk when I googled around but this is great.

Servo:

this one? http://www.amazon.com/Futaba-FUTM0031-S3003-Standard-Servo/dp/B0015H2V72/ref=sr_1_1?s=toys-and-games&ie=UTF8&qid=1384935858&sr=1-1&keywords=3003+servo

Arduino Nano v3.0 okay? http://www.amazon.com/Arduino-ARD-NANO30-Nano-v3-0/dp/B003YVL34O

I have a million questions. Like what does the mount look like at the end of the shade, does it just slide in; if so Maybe I'll just use some hardwood since I don't have a CNC. How did you make the mounting bracket? Grinder and block of alumnium, CNC, magic??? For ease, I'll buy one, if you have a paypal I'll send you $20.

Yes, the mount as I made it just slides into the end of the frame. I contemplated drilling holes and securing the mount with screws, but the rolled lip of the frame holds it securely and keeps it from rotating. I used a CNC to make the mount. I’m happy to provide the dimensions of the mount, as well.

Heck, I'll pay $100 for the whole kit to hook it up to a set of blinds from Home depot and ZFM-80 that I'll buy. Let me know. If not, did you have to program the Arduino nano and could a noob do it?

This was my first project utilizing the Nano and I found it to be pretty straightforward. I’d still like to modify the code to slow the speed of the opening/closing of the blinds slightly, but I haven’t put the time in to do so. If there was enough interest to bring the production costs down, I’d be happy to put together a kit. It would probably take a minimum of 10-20 units, though.

Oh, what do you recommend? Did you route an electrical outlet up to the top of the window or route 12v from an outlet up through the wall to the top of the window or even inside of the window framing?

At the moment, I have the power for the blinds simply plugged into an outlet next to the ZFM-80. However, my goal is to put everything together in one gang box and then run the wire through the wall, through the window frame and into the blinds.

This seems like the cheapest and easiest way to do blinds I have found so far. I agree it's just a lot of endless talk when I googled around but this is great.

Glad it was helpful!

Servo: http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss_1?url=search-alias%3Dtoys-and-games&field-keywords=3003%20servo

this one? http://www.amazon.com/Futaba-FUTM0031-S3003-Standard-Servo/dp/B0015H2V72/ref=sr_1_1?s=toys-and-games&ie=UTF8&qid=1384935858&sr=1-1&keywords=3003+servo

The servo I used specifically was a Spektrum A6050, as it was the only one in stock at a local hobby store, but the Futaba S3003 should work, too. Basically you’re looking for a non-continuous analog servo.

Arduino Nano v3.0 okay? http://www.amazon.com/Arduino-ARD-NANO30-Nano-v3-0/dp/B003YVL34O

No problem with using that Nano. The genuine version was sold out when I was putting things together, so this is the one I ended up using: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00761NDHI
http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00761NDHI

Hope that helps, let me know if I can give you any more info or clarify something!

If you want to make your solution wireless. Have a look at my plugin
http://code.mios.com/trac/mios_arduino-sensor/

Yesterday evening I created a example sketch controlling one of my servos from vera (not checked in yet though). The slider Open/Close works fine … but I have to figure out what Up/Down/Stop should do…

Would it be possible to apply this servo setup on roller blinds? Or would it be better to use a stepper motor and a stepper motor driver board for arduino?

Stepper motor is probably a better choice…

Thanks hek and btw, the solution described in this thread already is wireless since reallifeonhold also has a “Remotec ZFM-80” relay z-wave module connected to the arduino. But your solution would be allot cheaper :wink:

[quote=“hek, post:10, topic:177421”]If you want to make your solution wireless. Have a look at my plugin
http://code.mios.com/trac/mios_arduino-sensor/

Yesterday evening I created a example sketch controlling one of my servos from vera (not checked in yet though). The slider Open/Close works fine … but I have to figure out what Up/Down/Stop should do…[/quote]

This is very cool! This essentially gives us complete freedom to make Z-wave controllable sensors and controllers, correct? To clarify, this requires one Arduino to be connected to Vera at all times and then each sensor/controller would have its own Arduino as well?

Yes it gives complete freedom to make whatever we like but it is not using z-wave. And yes you need one dedicated “gateway” arduino connected to Vera at all times.

Right, I should have said, “Vera controllable.”

reallifeonhold - I’m sure after a bit you will be able to get 20 blinds from various people who pm you. I’m going to try and build it due to time and my impatience. Anyway, I’m going to look into the high torque servo, code, and other options and report so you have a dialed in system to make with your cnc lathe/ to sell to people who don’t want t spend days learning how programing a micro processor and building everything. Hope I can help though.

On a personal note/idea
I’m going to just put the relay on a sunset and sunrise timer. I only have one window in the kitchen to do at the moment and the rest are large 10’ to 12’ vertical blinds so I may try to see if this servo is strong enough to open and close the same type of setup for vertical blinds.

I’m going to make the mount from cutting and sanding down a chunk of hardwood or plastic. Any advise or measurements would be great to help line it up :frowning:

I like the original relay idea bc then the average Joe visiting can open and close the blinds. So for the double gang box you were going to have button on one side and electrical outlet on the other and then route the 12v wall charger/adapter up to the window shade. It is a perfect solution by the way, however I was wondering how to hide the power adapter, maybe there is a hard wired power adapter or usb adapter that can be wired inside the box. I’m not sure what the arduino needs overall power wise yet, you mentioned it.

Maybe just solder into the 5v supply in the back of this: http://www.homedepot.com/p/Leviton-15-Amp-Tamper-Resistant-Combo-Outlet-USB-Charger-White-R02-T5630-00W/203392187#.Uo9oIeKaO_I

Or, LED is 12v so get a hard wired LED adapter to go into the double gang box.
https://www.google.com/search?q=120+volts+to+12+volts+in+the+wall+&ie=utf-8&oe=utf-8&aq=t&rls=org.mozilla:en-US:official&client=firefox-a#q=hardwired+led+12+volt+adapter&rls=org.mozilla:en-US%3Aofficial

I assume the LM80 is a monetary switch that triggers the arduino and it just turns open and closed, I’d rather have a more normal looking light switch for this but either will work and the push button may be easier for people to spot as the control vs looking around the kitchen and thinking that it was just another light switch or the switch for the garbage disposal.

Oooooh, that’s a thought, garbage disposal on z wave as an “ghost app” device or alarm triggered device. I do have a spare outlet

just some thoughts. The parts are on the way :slight_smile:

I was doing a little servo research yesterday and found that the Futaba S3305 has the same dimensions as the 3003, but the torque values are more than double. The only concern is that it might draw a little more current than the Arduino’s on-board voltage regulator can handle. I think the Nano is good up to 500mA, but I couldn’t find a value for the servo. I’d probably install an external voltage regulator onto the stripboard and use that to perform the conversion.

Attached is a pic with the dimensions that I originally used to create the mount. Sorry it’s missing the hole locations, I just did those by eye. From memory, I used 1/2" 8-32 screws to secure the servo to the mount. Also, I ended up shaving about .030"-.050" off the bottom of the mount to get it to align with the tilt rod. And, finally, you’ll need to remove the set of mounting points at the far end of the servo to get it to fit in the rail.

I like the original relay idea bc then the average Joe visiting can open and close the blinds. So for the double gang box you were going to have button on one side and electrical outlet on the other and then route the 12v wall charger/adapter up to the window shade. It is a perfect solution by the way, however I was wondering how to hide the power adapter, maybe there is a hard wired power adapter or usb adapter that can be wired inside the box. I'm not sure what the arduino needs overall power wise yet, you mentioned it.

My plan was to have the relay next to a regular outlet in a double gang box as you described above and then hide the 120v-12v adapter behind the relay (it’s not very thick) and hardwire it to the outlet as safely as possible. A 12v transformer designed for 12v lighting may be another option to go from 120v-12v.

Further clarification on the switch behavior, the RFM-80 acts as a toggle switch when operated both manually and wirelessly, but it’s value can be overridden by Vera.

THANK YOU ;D ;D ;D ;D

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