Controlling a linear actuator with Alexa

How can I make an actuator (has limit switches on actuator) work with Alexa? Would like to control it by voice to open and close. Will incorporate a limit controller with the actuator. Can’t find or don’t know if they make a smart on/off/on switch that I need to make this work.
I am not electrically knowledgeable got some help from a You Tube video. Any help or guidance would be much appreciated.
Thanks

A lot depends on the details, like the size of the actuator and the force required to move it.

There are several different ways depending on these details.

  1. push a button or a switch with up to about 3 pounds of force.

If it’s small, you can get a battery-operated “robot finger” which already has Alexa integration and just use that. I use several of these in my own home of the Switch-bot brand to push buttons on things like a blender, the DVD eject button, etc. if the force needed is light enough, this is a great solution even for regular rocker switches. It won’t void the warranty, it doesn’t require any wiring, end it already has the Alexa integration.

I wrote a review of this for this forum last year

2020 Switchbot Review ( robot button pusher), integration through IFTTT or SmartThings app

  1. automatic door openers

There are also some specialty devices of this type for use as door openers, even for quite heavy doors. they come in models for sliding patio doors, residential swing doors, gate openers, etc. Olide is a good brand. You have to look for the specific models that come with the Alexa integration built in.

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  1. mid range force, push rod actuator, like opening a cabinet

If this is a different kind of actuator, it depends on whether it’s a push rod or an electrical actuator. If it’s a push rod, you have to add an electrical motor to move it and then add something to give you the Alexa integration. This is usually similar to the deadbolt on a door, but larger. People might use this to make a cabinet open or something like that. There are some project reports in the forum on projects like that.

  1. Relay

Or if this is just a relay and what you really need is to actuate that relay, that’s a whole different kind of issue. You don’t need to provide a motor, you just need to turn the current on and off. If you are in the US, Zooz makes a good Z wave relay of this type, but of course you also need a hub. And then normally you would get your Alexa integration through that hub. So this is a very useful device for certain kinds of projects.

So it all comes down to the details of the project. This forum is for people who are using the Samsung SmartThings ™ Home Automation platform. So all of the questions and answers are assumed to be in that context. It is a very busy community, so it often comes up near the top on general home automation searches, but it is not a general forum. Do you already have a smartthings or Aeotec hub or are you starting completely from scratch?

Like JD says… It depends…

I have an MHCOZY Zigbee 2 channel relay doing what I think you are wanting to do.

The important details would be, whether the particular actuator has built-in limit switches, and if it is the 2-wire type, which allows for reverse polarity operation. Also, of course, if you are using a Smartthings Hub.

If those criteria are met, then what I’m using might be exactly what you need.

I’ll just offer a note on my setup, concerning Alexa, and there may be a workaround for it, but as it is… You have to name the two relays. One for open and one for close, for example. So, in my case, If i want to open, I say, “Alexa, turn on Open Door”, or for close, “Alexa turn on Close Door”.

There are a few other things to note, but if my case is what you are wanting, I’ll help you out further.

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Thanks for your input.

Thanks James. I think you have what i want to set up. I will explain what I’m trying to do.

I am trying to slide open and slide closed a 2-feet wide by 4-feet high, 3/4 inch thick plywood door, with same size 1/4 inch thick mirror glued to front of plywood door, mounted on wall.
The door is connected to wall with 24 inch in length heavy duty drawer slides which allow the door to slide horizontally on wall. I would like this door to automatically slide open and close by using a Smart on/off receptacle of some kind for power or if there is a Smart working actuator of some kind, which can open and close with Alexa voice commands.

Here is the actuator from Amazon I am needing to make this work, Firgelli High Speed Linear Actuator 22lbs Force - 22 Inch Stroke.

I don’t know if I need the Smarthome hub, or can I just use Smart switches like I have for my lights, do they make a relay that I can control from an app and then connect to Alexa? I am confused since I am starting this from scratch.

Thanks a lot for helping me out.

No worries…

I found the Amazon product you described, and It looks like it is more than capable.

So, most posters would assume you have a Smartthings hub, that is why JD asked the question, as I usually make the same assumption, also.

But, I’ll have a little more time later tonight or tomorrow, and I’ll do what I can to give you a few suggestions, with or without a Smartthings hub, as I think it will be useful info in general.

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Doors and Windows are a special challenge because of the safety issues. You don’t want to crush a finger or a pet when the door automatically closes. Also, mirrors represent additional challenges because too much force can crack the mirror. So calibration can be a little tricky.

For that reason, personally I always go for the specialty controls for these situations because they will have bump stops and other safety measures built in.

I realize that’s not always a popular answer with people who like to tinker, and choice is good, so if you’d rather build something yourself, go for it. I myself am quadriparetic, so I choose home automation because I need it to work and I need the installation to be pretty straightforward since I have to pay somebody else to do it.

You should check the specifications, but I think the following model would probably work for your use case and it’s all you need: you wouldn’t need an additional hub. It works with Alexa via the Smart Life app.

Olide is from a Chinese company (Chimentech) that specializes in automatic door and window closers. They sell to a lot of small businesses and warehouses as well as individual customers. They have a reputation for terrible documentation but really good US customer service by email. I have had a couple of friends get their products and been pleasantly surprised at the quality of support they received.

image

Anyway, just another possibility. :sunglasses:

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OK, so, first off… Safety is a real issue when dealing with motorized sliding doors/windows/panels etc, and I think any unattended use is probably a bad idea. And some additional safety features should be implemented. Although, admittedly, I’ve still not worked out exactly what my own safety features will be, and that is why I’m only using mine as a prototype, and while I’m there to observe.

But, the important part is how to make the actuator open and close, ultimately with Alexa, in your case.

This first link is to the Zigbee relay that I am using, and as for my personal experiece, a Smartthings hub would be required, or otherwise an Amazon Echo device that has Zigbee connectivity (although I have none, and can’t offer any insight on the Echo devices with Zigbee).

This second link is to the WiFi version, which from my understanding the eWelink WiFi version would be the easiest to have working without a Zigbee hub, although I think it would require the eWelink app initially, before subsequently configuring for Alexa.

I believe, in either case, the next important bit is how to hook up the relay to the actuator itself.

You will notice that the relay has a USB port on one end, and that is what I would use for your initial testing. That will be the power that keeps keeps the relay on, but not what provides power to the actuator. The actuator power will be provided by an additonal 12v power adapter and connected to the relay/switch end.

You will notice that in this image, there is the black and red wires, and also two blue.

The blue wires will connect individually each of the two wires of the actuator, and it doesn’t really matter which.

The black and red, although it might look a little confusing is just the positve and negative the 12v DC power adapter spliced into two additonal each and connected to the illustrated terminals.

You will notice that the image says “Interlock Mode” at the top. What that means is that if one of the relays is activated the other will deactivate.

Both versions, Zigbee and WiFi have three modes which are changed via one of the three buttons.

The other two modes are “Momentary” which will will activate the relay for a, usually, short period of time and then deactivate, and “Self Lock”, which as far as I understand means that both relays can be active at the same time, or indepedently on or off.

The “Interlcok Mode” wiring diagram will not work as intended in “Self Lock” mode, but will not cause a short if that mode is selected, while changing modes. Likewise, using “Momentary Mode” will not cause a short, either, when wired as illustrated in the Interlock Mode.

But “Interlock Mode” is most appropriate for the linear actuator.

So, I at least wanted to share some details on the relays. The instructions that come are a little thin. I imagine the eWelink Wifi version has some more details on connecting to the eWelink app, and maybe some info on getting the relay working with Alexa, afterwards.

Other than that, for now, I’ll just say the the relay is a little long to fit into a typical electrical box, so there’s that…

Also, since the linear actuators require twice their length, by the time you account for the opened dimension, you will need to figure out how and where to place it initially, so you can make use of the full “stroke”, as they call it.

There are also a few different linear actuator designs, which are more reasonably priced, but the one you are looking at seems to have good reviews.

You might also take into account what the total weight of your sliding panel will be, and if the actuator’s rating will be enough, though. But typically from what I’ve seen, the faster they open and close, the less powerful they are.

All and all, the ready-made options, don’t seem all that bad, such as the one JD posted. I enjoy the “tinkering”, though.

I may have missed something important…

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I forgot to mention that some Olide products are sold on Amazon via the prime program in which case the prime returns policy applies, and some are sold directly from Olide in which case they do have a .significant restocking fee unless it’s defective. So do read the product descriptions carefully so you know the conditions of the sale.

Thank You James

Awesome JD, I will research this.
Thanks a lot for your knowledge.

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James you rock, thanks a million for your help.

Mike Cain

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Look at this. GitHub - Valar-Systems/model-h

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I think there is quite a bit of interest in doing what you are working toward.

Quite a bit of info on the subject, both here and other forums, mostly related to “chicken coop” door automation. The options for working the actuator have improved, but the info, you might find helpful in other aspects of your project.

Let us know how you are getting along, and what you decide on… Or if you run into any snags etc…

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