Pet door project

Might take a look at some of the pictures for automatic door openers for people in wheelchairs. There is pretty good aesthetic acceptance when the actuator hardware is horizontal along the top edge of the door, either on the door or just above it. As long as it is vertically at the very top of the door, it tends to fade out of the picture. It’s hardware that’s right in the middle of the door that tends to seem jarring.

On a door would be a little harder to get power to, Though this particular actuator has about a 2 foot lead that is not very thick, you could get that over to the door frame and have some sort of plastic cable protector on it at the door jamb. And your controller is on the wall with an enclosure or something. All depends on what is where I guess.

We luck out because this is an in wall pet door, and that is the laundry/mud room so it doesn’t necessarily have to be the ultimate aesthetically. Right now there is some amount of Gorilla tape involved. If it were in the kitchen I don’t think mama would be as pleased with the development project.

Hard part will really be the RFID controller. Conceptually I get Arduino but have never worked with one. My programming skills are best with cut and paste so I am hoping I can make that work. The ST arduino shield is $35, so a $20 arduino and then another 20 or so for the RFID part, and then making it x2 (inside and outside) would keep this within acceptable budget.

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Many of the Arduino experts in the community hang out in the following topic. You might check it out. :sunglasses:

Yeah, you lucked out with an in wall dog door! To complicate matters for me . The dog door is on the most used door of the house which enters into the kitchen area. BAM! I got double screwed.

I am probably going to have to route cabling inside the door and over to the door jamb area and then figure out how to run power in the most elegant fashion.

I am still looking for extremely low profile long throw linear actuators. They are “unicorns” I tell ya.

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That is the linear actuator - the long part there is a about an inch thick. maybe an inch and a quarter. The piece with the motor on it though makes it thicker. Not terrible but maybe not as low profile as you are looking for.

What would be ideal I guess is if they could put the motor inline with the actuator shaft at the bottom.

@johnr has done a lot with actuators, he might have some other suggestions.

I do suggest thinking carefully about the closing option. If you don’t go with gravity on a dragline like the solo, there is a risk of closing the door on the dog. Or a kid who is trying to climb through.

Closing is always the biggest area of safety engineering for an automatic door.

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I have been reading that chicken coop thing for a while but seems to be overkill for what I want to do. But it was my inspiration for this. He is selling that on Amazon btw for $695 I think.

Continuing the discussion from Pet door project:

Point taken on the closing of the dog door on the dog.

(No children in the household so that’s less of a concern although if a kid is trying to climb through my dog door then closing it on them seems like a worthwhile endeavor * disclaimer -I do not advocate harm to children, yada yada yada… any social justice warriors reading this can feel free to find another cause to fight for.)

Closing the dog door on one of the dogs at 60 plus seconds (its not like a bear trap) to close is also highly unlikely as I cannot even step on my dogs they are so damned quick and intelligent. I am more concerned about one of my dogs reverse engineering the open/close mechanism to find a way to go out late at night and bark at the moon.

I could easily 3 D print a coupler that went from the end of the actuator shaft to the interface on the injection molded plastic sliding door piece that would “break away” before enough pressure was exerted on an animal or small child. This would make it much less like a very slow moving guillotine.

Oh, and yeah 6 hundred and 95 dollars is ridiculous for makers like us.

ugh. Sorry, sometimes one liners like that catch the system. It wasn’t bad form at all. Some of the admins just have to get to it to manually approve the message. :frowning: got here 2 hours too late. Sorry bud!

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You can pre-order a CoopBoss today for $335 without the actuator or with the actuator at $465. Here is the link to the store if your interested I would be happy to price out a solution that is just the CPU and ZigBee radio. I have been thinking about making a kit option for projects like this. I don’t think you need the weather-tight aluminum enclosure, temperature probes or the photo sensor. You will probably want to connect a NO push button so you can open it locally.

I haven’t officially launched yet but I have opened up the site to accept pre-orders. The goal is next month to have inventory and publicly announce that I’m open for business.

Yep I spent over 3 months on the object detection circuit for the door. Here is a video of my first round of testing with one of my early prototypes. I have to give special thanks to my engineering buddies at for the awesome help with the design, they have a great forum much like this one. Safety is a big deal to us. Even though you don’t have kids wouldn’t you hate it if your neighbors kids got hurt playing with your door. You know kids are going to crawl through it and once they figure out how to close it cant you see some kid trying to close it on their sister as she craws through. I know I would have done that to mine! If not my sister I would have sure closed it on her dang dog. :smiling_imp:

I’m using the ZigBee door cluster to control the door with several custom commands and attributes added. Everything is documented in coopboss manual and the custom device type is open source. In addition to the custom device type I have two smartapps one will alert you if your door tried to close and didn’t (Jammed) and the second one sets a Hue bulb’s color to match the state of your door. Green if closed, Blue if open, Red if Jammed and Pink if moving.

If you do use my actuator controller with your door you will need to make a couple of changes. My controller is designed to drive the door from the center not the side. The way your driving your door from the side like that is going to cause it to jam during travel. If its not now its going to over time. Second, I would like to see a 1" lip at the bottom of your door. This way it will have a nice wide area to bump up against your object and act less like a knife.

If you don’t go with my solution may I strongly suggest you put in some type of object detection because a linear actuator it is going to run until one of two things happens. 1) It runs to its limit switch and turns off like it should or B) it runs until it gets hot and burns up your power supply. At that point the motor will lock in place and all the pressure will continue to be held on the arm. So it will not only squash whatever is going through the door but also trap it and hold it there. It will be a bad seen to come home to.

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The side mount for the actuator is a compromise due to the layout - note that there is a window above the door and the length of the actuator puts the end above the window sill. Looking at some other approaches to mounting, Like I said, this is a POC.

The bottom lip is a half inch, but I have a piece of 2x3 with a groove cut in it to go over that lip. I have a large area there. The monoprice curtain controller supports a stop signal, so if I had some sort of bump switch there I could use that for obstruction stop.

I had not put that much thought into the safety aspect, but this thing pushes with 330 lbs of force so probably I should.

The CoopBoss looks like it has all or most of the intelligence built into the controller itself - I am looking at leveraging the ST hub for the controls.


Yep the CoopBoss was designed from the begging to operate without the SmartThings cloud. SmartThings is only used to setup and monitor the CoopBoss it has nothing to do with the object detection circuit or the auto open and close of the door. If the chicken coop door doesn’t close its a big deal so the CoopBoss is designed to be safe and reliable. You can pull the ZigBee radio out of the circuit and the unit will still boot up, close and open the door as well as detect objects.

When you say leverage the ST hub are you thinking your custom device type is going to run on the hub? From my understanding only ST developers (employees) can write code that runs on the hub. I think your going to be forced to create a cloud based custom device type like the rest of us and you should count on delays between a local event and reacting to it from cloud based custom device type or SmartApp.

I don’t want to be negative I want to help. My solution may not be right that is fine believe me I’m okay with it!!

If I can help I will be happy to. I think your bump switch is your best bet for keeping the cost down. The challenge your going to have with a simple switch is that it will stop your motor just fine (if rated correctly) but that will just stop it in place trapping whatever it bumped up against. I think you will want to reverse the motor so whatever it is pushing against can be released. That gets a little tricky with just a bump switch. I would stick some type of circuit there to reverse the door until it is all the way open. Maybe your curtain controller already has that built in. That would be great!!

Again sorry if I have come across as a negative Nancy here. I admire people who take things on like this!! Thanks for sharing your project and I encourage you to keep it up! Go go go!!!

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When I say that I want to leverage the ST, I mean that it will process the inputs from the sensors and control the motors.

So, for example, scheduling should come from the ST. And sensors are tied to the ST rather than to the door.

If I had an RFID reader, it would trigger an action to open the door just like a regular motion sensor can be used to trigger other events.

All I am looking for the curtain controller to do is respond to the commands from the ST and give it status.

Looking at this whole thing it would almost - ALMOST - be cheaper to get a garage door opener and harvest it for controls - my chamberlain garage door opener was only $150 and it connects to a gateway. It opens and closes and reverses on obstruction. The garage door opener has a single switch to control it - the curtain controller has 2 relays and will take a custom device to drive.

Yes, but think of the others in the community that could use a custom device type to control the Curtain controller and said relays . :wink: :wink:

Sorry - that was the forum software saying you were too new to post links :smile:

It does help a lot but sometimes it is overzealous.


Update: the monoprice curtain controller came in and it works differently than I thought. I thought that it would pass power in its circuits when triggered - but actually it only controls relays, so you need to have power to pass. So this is really built for a 4 wire motor - and the actuator only has 2 wires. No way to wire this without it blowing up.

I can maybe cobble something together out of the pieces I have - the eco-worthy controller handles reversing, I could control that controller with this controller - which is kind of hacky but that is where I am anyway on this.

Hey John, what’s the lead time from purchase to delivery for the complete system right now?

@Rigging65 Ryan, If your asking me (there are a couple of Johns in this tread) about the CoopBoss my goal is to be ready to ship by the end of this month. I will send you a PM with more details.

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I have a functioning SmartThings connected pet door!

It is kind of Frankenstein (it’s alive!) right now, and it doesn’t have any features other than you can open and close it from your iPhone, but it is there.

I did it using the parts I had collected (and then blew one up so I had to buy another, which did delay things.

The parts again:

The linear actuator:

When I purchased from this link, there was an 18 inch one, it cost $65. It has built in limit switches at the extreme ends of the travel.

Then there was a remote controller for the linear actuator.

This is it on Amazon, I picked one up from ebay for $20 and free shipping. Some important features of this controller - it takes a 12v power input, and has a manual switch as well as a remote controller, The controller passes power along, and it will reverse the polarity to control a 2 wire motor. The remote control has 4 buttons - one each for auto-up and auto-down, and one each for momentary up and down. For $20, this controller pretty much does everything needed except getting it connected to the SmartThings.

For that I am using the Monoprice Curtain module.

For $37 you can get connected by Zwave, and there are 3 relays that you could theoretically control. This module runs on 12v but does not pass power through those relays - all there is are normally open relays.

Also needed is a 12v power supply:

12v and 6a for $8.

That is the parts list (for now). Total at this point is $130,

The curtain module - I got it working, but I would say that at this point its usage is sub-optimal. First, if you try to use it as is, you can connect it to SmartThings as a Z-wave switch, but what happens if you turn it off or on is that it cycles through all 3 relays, closing them for 1 second each - you get 3 solid clicks out of the box, and one LED will light.

I used code for a somfy blind controller that was in another thread -

The code works as is with the controller, but only kind of sort of. You can reliably control the “Up” relay and the “Down” relay. The third relay is a “Stop” - which you can also control directly, but it also closes on its own on a logic I have not yet figured out. Most of the time, it will close the stop relay after either the Up or Down is triggered. So that means I have not figured out how to use the relay yet.

Elsewhere on the web, this controller (or a clone) is sold by Rollertrol as a way to integrate their blinds with Z-wave and Vera.

The concept there is that they hook the controller up to a wired wall switch. I would guess they have a working plugin or whatever the Vera programs are called. And they sell the controller for $90!

One interesting piece of information that is in the manual for the Curtain Module is that there is a parameter for the number of seconds that the relay will close, from 1-255. In the rollertrol site for the Vera, there is a place in the app to enter the number of seconds for each relay.

There is no doc on how to set that programatically, but while fiddling with the device code I was able to send the parameter to the stop relay so that it would stay closed for 60 seconds, and I did get the up relay to stay closed for 10 seconds, but then I fiddled with it some more, and somehow got it stuck with the 60 seconds on stop, and I couldn’t convince it to do anything else. I had to reset the device to get it back to all relays at 1 second.

The result is at this point, I can reliably control 2 of the relays to close for 1 second on command.