I had a tasty roller shutter garage door installed a few weeks ago. It’s something I’ve always wanted and I have to say that I’m nearly very happy with it. Ok, so it cost a lot of dough and “nearly” doesn’t really cut it. I’m sure for another wedge of cash I could have it do everything I want but I really don’t want to spend that wedge ๐Ÿ˜€

The problem is “light”. It comes with a nice looking control panel with a built in light:

Let there be light, just not very much of it...

Let there be light, just not very much of it…

The light is, well, pants. It’s like something you’d find in a fridge or an oven. What I would really like is for it to switch on the 4 x 15W LED bulbs I installed a while ago so I get proper light in the garage when I’m trying to squeeze my lardy old V8 in there.

I’ve been thinking about ways of doing this, mostly involving popping the lid of that nice, shiny, new control panel and soldering wires to stuff inside (like the bulb holder). That would let me switch a relay to control the main garage lights.

Problem. I don’t really want to faff about with this thing. It’s brand new, I’m ham-fisted, I can find ways to break plastic tabs on things that don’t even have any plastic tabs. And it’s under a long warranty, until I hammer my way in.


I think I may have a solution…

One of these:

HC-SR04 Ultrasonic Sensor

HC-SR04 Ultrasonic Sensor

I’ve got room to put one of these (hot-glued to that very box in fact) on the floor so I can tell if the garage door is there or not. Then that would need a microcontroller of some description – I wonder if I have anything like that ๐Ÿ™„

Yellow crap

Yellow crap

Yes, I bought this rip-off shite on Kickstarter. If I ever meet Mr Dimitri Albino in person I’ll make sure to shake him very warmly by the throat. At least I got nearly all of my stuff. Shame it’s shit though.

This is a Mega 328 on some kind of badly designed Arduino Uno shaped wannabe board. All I need is the Atmel chip so I’ll use up some of this yellow crap if I can. It seems to work and I’ll probably use it. I do have a couple of my own 328 based boards kicking around though so may use one of those instead, they were ones I made early on and the soldering is a bit clumsy. I guess I trust them more than I trust the yellow crap though ๐Ÿ™‚

I’ll need something to put the controller in:

It's a box!

It’s a box!

I was very pleased to find these at ยฃ2.49 + VAT in the Ciseco shop. Less pleased to spot that I can get them for 85p from Farnell ๐Ÿ™

Right, so I also need a switched live to drive the main lights. Ah, I have some of these…

Is it real, or is it a Fotek clone from China?

Is it real, or is it a Fotek clone from China?

Got these cheap from “Guess where?”. There are reports of lots of look alike stuff doing the rounds. Apparently the rip-offs get hot when you switch them quickly. I won’t be switching quickly ๐Ÿ˜‰

I’ll need to cover that up otherwise some 10 foot tall retard with a compulsion to touch live wires might walk into my garage and hurt themselves ๐Ÿ™„ Got that covered then…

A relay, in a box

A relay, in a box

Stick a lid on that, put it up nice and high (so the 10ft retard will also need a screwdriver to get the front plate off) and Job’s your uncle. Or whatever.

It looks like a really simple way to do this. A “state machine” running on the yellow crap should easily take care of controlling the relay and then I’ll have decent light when I open the garage door in the dark. And I’ll still have a warranty on my garage door control box.

I’ll be giving this a go in the next couple of days. It really does feel like a straightforward little project – not much pain and an awful lot of gain.

So, what have I missed… ๐Ÿ˜†

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