I thought I would share my latest project. We have looked all over for a RF/Smart dog door for our Great Dane. We were going to do a simple traditional door but it would have to be big enough for a human to enter and it was $2500. So, after a few beers, I had an idea. Why not just use an automatic door opener for a full sized door? There were a few challenges:
- How do we connect the automatic door to Smartthings?
- How do we utilize RF or another unique identifier, to allow outside to inside access?
- What RF reader has the distance capabilities so that the dog doesn’t have to learn to enter a code on a keypad?
- How do we keep him from opening the door every 5 seconds?
We had to get creative. I decided to do this in steps especially since I don’t know anything about automatic door technology. I started by purchasing and installing this door opener from Amazon. It came with an exit no-touch sensor and a keypad to enter.
Then I used a Mimolite to control the door via Smartthings. I wired it in as a normally open circuit with the no-touch sensor and the keypad.
Finally, and the most difficult part was finding something RF that could identify Duke and let him in our out. We could have used a motion sensor inside I suppose, but, there are many times we walk past the door and did not want it to open all of the time. Besides humans could use the no-touch sensor to exit.
Also, finding an RF receiver that doesn’t require very close proximity to activate was difficult. I looked at some long range receivers for parking lots etc but they either required a very large RF tag or something that I could not attach to his collar easily.
I ended up deciding to try a car alarm system with RF key fobs. It is designed to unlock the doors of a vehicle when someone gets within 6-10 feet of the vehicle.
I wired the car alarm to the mimolite in parallel with the normally open circuit that I used earlier to connect the mimolite to the door opener. My goal was for him to get very close to the door and in order for the RF key fob to kick off the door opening command. So I put the RF sensor up high above the door, but it would still open when he was 10 plus feet away from the door. It worked perfectly from the outside because it was shielded by a wall. I ended up putting the receiver on top of the door opening shroud, and shielded it further with a block of wood and it works great. I am going to shield it in a different fashion so it is aesthetically pleasing, the pictures are just me testing and figuring out what works.
While the door opener itself came with a couple of key fobs, the alarm system key fobs have much better range, which is beneficial too.
I have some clean-up to do, wiring etc, but it works great.!