This is my first Instructable, so be easy on me! :-)
Although there are many garage door projects on Instructables using Arduinos, I needed/wanted something different. Last year, we had a warm summer and when I would come home after work, I would leave the garage door open about 1 foot so it could cool off. The trouble was that several nights I left the garage door open overnight :-( So I thought, I could use an Arduino with a real-time clock
(RTC) to automatically close the garage door at 9 pm. So I built the first version of a garage controller. I used two sensors, one for "door is closed" and the other for "door is fully open" and a relay. The controller worked quite well for the rest of the summer.
When winter came, I decided to unplug the garage controller since I would leave the garage door partially open. This year when it started getting warm again, I plugged in the garage controller again. The trouble was that the RTC was not very accurate and the time was off. The only way to correct the time was to plug my laptop via USB to the garage controller, a pain because I had installed the garage controller on top of the garage door opener. So I had to climb a ladder with my laptop, connect the USB port to the Arduino, upload a "new" sketch that had to correct time and then upload the regular sketch (that didn't set the RTC).
In the meantime, I had bought a factory refurbished Vera2 "Smart Home Controller" from Mi Casa Verde
on eBay. I had also found a Z-Wave home thermostat at Fry's
for $14 so I could automatically set schedules for the heating and air conditioning. The Vera also allows me to remotely control the thermostat from my cell phone using one of the many apps
that talk to the Vera.
Given that I had the Vera (that keeps accurate time) and the fact that you can write your own "plugins" for the Vera, I thought, I should connect my garage controller to the Vera. Once I connected my garage controller, I thought, Hey, I have an Arduino in the garage, what else can I control? So I decided to add more relays to control my irrigation system and replace the timer I have in the garage. Have you ever tried to manually turn on one zone with today's timers? Now, with my cell phone, I just tap a button!
The garage controller connects to the Vera2 via Ethernet. I'm using an Ethernet shield because they are less expensive than WiFi shields.
I could have used a Raspberry Pi but since its GPIO are 3.3V I decided to stick with the Arduino.