Introduction: Build a Remote Control Deadbolt

Picture of Build a Remote Control Deadbolt
This instructable will show you how to build a remote-controlled door lock out of any number of 110V solenoids, solid steel dowel, some various odds and ends and an X10 remote appliance control. I built this for my garage door for less than $30.00, but your results may vary as I was able to score a couple of solenoids free from work.

Step 1: Shopping List

Here is what you'll need to build your own remote control deadbolt:

I used two 110V solenoids out of an icemaker, but you may want to build your lock using DC solenoids. Some of them are very strong, and your options for powering the lock in the event of a power outage are greater. Just something to think about. IMPORTANT! -- Make sure you get a continuous duty solenoid, some solenoids are only meant to be energized momentarily, which will cause a problem if you leave them energized and walk away. Read up on the various types of solenoids here.

X10 Controller
I got my X10 controller (Keychain Remote type) on eBay for about $15.00 shipped. This is a simple kit that includes the receiver/appliance module and one remote. Search for "X10 Keychain Kit" or "RC6500" on eBay to find the one I bought.

In addition to the above, you'll need 2 return springs per solenoid used, 1/2" steel dowel rod (about $6.00 for 3'), an extension cable long enough to reach your outlet with enough to spare for some additional wiring, and possibly some bits of steel for reinforcement. Depending on what kind of connections your solenoids have, you'll probably want to get some crimp-on connectors. Solder and shrink tubing work better, but are harder to get apart if you should need to.

Optionally, you can buy a couple of magnets to mount inside the recessed mounting hole. This will help the bolt to stay extended, and make a great noise as the bolt closes.

Another improvement on my design would be to use a small hobby box as an enclosure for each solenoid. This would look a lot cleaner and keep the electrical contacts under wraps.

Step 2: Assess Your Situation

Picture of Assess Your Situation

Figure out the best way to mount the lock on your door, it may end up looking drastically different from mine, as I have a funky 1/2 garage that barely fits my motorcycle. I'll use my end result as the example from here out, but use this guide as a loose how-to while building yours. I see great potential for a standard roll-up garage door with the solenoid mounted to the door frame, and the bolt going through the track and into the door itself.

For my door, I had to add a vertical support for the bolt to pass through. I used the left-over wood to make the horizontal mounting surface that the solenoids attach to. I reinforced the vertical pass-through with some framing hardware I found at Home Depot. The strike plates (the metal plates mounted to the door frame) are scrap steel I had laying around. Holes were drilled through the strike plates, steel reinforcements, and wood to accommodate the steel dowel.

IMPORTANT! --Make sure that you line up the holes well before drilling, and check your work after every step to make sure everything still lines up.

Step 3: Assembly

Picture of Assembly

You'll need to drill a hole through the steel dowel big enough to fit the pivot pin. This is one of those steps that may be completely different for you, but the way my solenoids are built, I had to drill it as close to the end of the rod as possible. Once the hole is drilled, situate the dowel where it needs to be and insert the pivot pin.

Refer to the picture to see how I attached the return springs to the solenoid. You need to separate the legs of the retainer clip and thread the spring end through before inserting into the pivot pin, bending and clipping the ends off. The other end of the spring will be secured to the mounting surface, but wait until the very end to attach the other end. You may need to make adjustments, and the springs will get in your way.

With the pivot pin, dowel, spring and solenoid all attached now, you'll start to get a better idea how best to mount this up. Take your measurements and figure out the distance of throw on your solenoid. With this information you should now have an idea of how far away to mount the solenoid, and how long you need the steel dowel to be. Now would be a good time to measure, and cut your dowel. If you're planning to use more than one solenoid, you'll need to repeat the above process over again.

Step 4: Mount the Solenoids

Picture of Mount the Solenoids

Now that everything is fitted, you should be able to mount the solenoids to your surface. Test the action and make sure that there isn't too much resistance on the dowel to easily move it. At this point your springs should still be hanging freely. Extend the springs to test the return action on the dowel. If the springs have too much tension on them, they will bend and lose their 'springyness', so make sure they're not working too hard.

An idea that I wanted to try but ended up not using was to mount small magnets inside the holes that the dowel will slide into. The springs would barely have to work at all before the magnets took over. In the end though, I used some dowel from work which was non-ferrous and wouldn't be attracted by the magnet so I scrapped that step.

Step 5: Wiring

Picture of Wiring

DISCLAIMER! -- I am not an electrician. I may be breaking some golden rule of electricity here, but this works for me. If anyone out there who is more qualified than me spots anything wrong with my wiring advice, please post a comment and I'll change the instructions (As soon as I change the wiring on my lock).

I used a very long PC Power cord for my lock. Any extension cord long enough to get you to your wall outlet should work great. It may be a good idea to route the cord, maybe even secure it along its route before beginning to wire the solenoids. My wiring is depicted (poorly) below. I went with a grounded 3-prong power cord, but haven't yet connected the ground to anything. Once everything is wired, plug the end into a spare power strip (turned off) and turn the strip on to test your wiring.

The image below looks like the white (gray) and black wires cross. They do not in real life. I apologize for the crappy MS-Paint picture, but follow the colors and not the wire paths and you should be good.

Step 6: Connect the X10 Module

Picture of Connect the X10 Module

Now that the wiring is done, make sure that there are no exposed high-voltage connectors. If everything looks good, plug your contraption into your X10 module and test it a few times. A very satisfying 'chunk' sound should result when you hit the button on the remote. Once everything looks good, move on to the final step.

Step 7: Connect the Springs!

Picture of Connect the Springs!

If everything else is in place, it's time to connect the springs. By now, you probably know the correct distance to put them away from the solenoid so go for it. I used common drywall screws to secure the springs to the wood.

Since this is controlled by X10, you could easily integrate this into a home automation setup, and unlock your door using a remote, computer, or via a Windows Media or LinuxMCE home theater PC on your television!

Hopefully you're still with me, and this instructable works well for you. If you have any questions, please feel free to leave me a comment, and digg it if you dugg it!

Check out my other instructables!



TiranA (author)2014-12-02

can you tell me which side does the rod moves ,i mean does it moves to towards the selonoid or does it moves the other way um confused?

Zamaan (author)2014-09-03

how can I connect solenoid and other remote control circuit?

termark (author)2013-12-27

Could you please send me your email? I have a lot of questions :)

Dric.s (author)2013-03-12

Hi, can I email you or something? I am interested in your ideals, I need help in my major project regarding the locking system. I really hoped you could teach me a few pointers.

EET1982 (author)2012-08-25

Dumb question. If you have a push pull selinoid, what are the purpose of the springs. It looks like they would have an opposite effect on it. Thanks in advance for anyone who answers my question!

Ricochet84 (author)2012-07-12

Peter Parker! Hell yeah!

jmmgmm (author)2011-10-01

It might be possible to use a simple garage door remote. For example, I used the extra button on my garage door remote to power on my interior lights to my house. I was thinking that it just might be possible to activate a solenoid as well. This picture below is the model that I was referring to. I found one with the cover removed that might provide a better idea to what I'm talking about. Notice how the female connectors provide a good attachment to a solenoid. It would be much more secure than X10 and I only needed to order the control since I already had a remote that worked with it. You can buy it at Garage Door Remotes . It can be turned on or off with a key chain remote, regular car remote, or even a biometric fingerprint keypad if you felt like it.

txoutback (author)2011-08-06

In my scenario, I have a large gate for my driveway. Currently it has a manual latch that must be used each time I drive in or out. It's mainly there to keep my dog in the yard, and other dogs out of my yard.

There is AC 110 power out there, and I happen to have an old icemaker that is unused. What I'd like to do is make a gate latch "popper" so I can remotely pop the gate latch, and allow a spring and gravity to pull the gate open.

This would save me one stop/trip each time I go through the gate in a vehicle, and the hundreds of dollars I would spend on a Mighty-Mule that would probably only last a few years at the most.

Where to start? Should I take apart the ice maker to find the solenoid?

hilldweller (author)2011-07-18

Could you please provide information on the solenoid please, such as the manufacturer, model number, and where they are available?
I've tried googling it but most all are valves and pool supply stuff.
Thanks in advance.

eemanuel (author)2009-11-22

x10 is awesome, but I live in Europe, so I have 220-230V on my socket, which means I can't use it :(

chamag1996 (author)eemanuel2010-08-04

Couldn't you use a travel adapter of some sort? I'm sure that could work.

dan_ce (author)chamag19962010-12-10

no, would need a transformer.

ruaidhriodj (author)dan_ce2011-06-01

you could always look at car lock solenoids, and just use a 12 volt system?

CodeKid1001 (author)2010-08-09

Quick Question: If I wanted to use this on my bedroom door to keep out pesky siblings, could I use servo motors instead to "push" or "pull" the dowel?

spider87 (author)CodeKid10012010-09-26

I would like to know this as well for the same application. I'm trying to make a lock for my lab and i am going to put a keypad on the other side. My only dilemma is, how do you reinforce the servo so it can move the bolt but doesn't have to be linked to it (making it a weak point).

My thought right now is something along the lines of this:
(\/) (Servo with gear w/ teeth)
[^^^^^^^^^] (Bolt)
and then the servo just spins the bolt... However, I doubt this is the best way.. Any other thoughts?

eemanuel (author)2009-11-21

just take it out, they are in parallel so if you take out one solenoid just ignore the wires that were going to it.
here's how the "diagram" will look with only one

coilsinamotor (author)eemanuel2010-07-19

that doesnt work parallel means that it will draw more amps but not volts i prettey sure u would hook the solenoids on series to draw 220V but only a few amp hope that helps ;)

Crucio (author)2010-01-19

This is a very nice project and very nicely done.

However, be aware that using X10 (especially wireless) for security this way is a bad idea.  X10 signals are simple, well-known, and published.  Someone would need to know only that you are using X10 to be able to quickly gain entry.  A brute force search of all 16 housecodes and the TM751's fixed unit code (1) can be completed in seconds.

stuffman (author)Crucio2010-01-20

Absolutely, I agree that this is an easy system to defeat if you know what's behind the door running the whole thing.  Think of it as security through obscurity.  Who would think that X10 is being used to secure a structure?  We've since moved and this setup hasn't been replicated at our new house, but when it was in place it was never the only thing keeping people out.  This was used to supplement a hasp/padlock setup that was already in place.

Ianmck12 (author)2009-11-15

im not buliding it but im doing a report on it but thanks for your help

Ianmck12 (author)2009-11-13

 im not much of a techy but i hope i do what i can do

stuffman (author)Ianmck122009-11-13

Okay, here's a very basic diagram of a single solenoid to X10 module setup.  If you need further explanation I recommend picking up a book at your local hardware store on 110V circuits.  I bought one at Lowe's published by Black & Decker that does a really good job explaining how everything works with high voltage current, switching , resistive vs inductive loads etc.  Without this knowledge I would strongly advise against starting this project.  Maybe I'm being overly cautious, but I'd hate to be the reason that you fried yourself. 

Ianmck12 (author)2009-11-13

 how should it look if i only use one solenoid.

reaver26 (author)2009-11-13

hello.. your guide is very helpful but the only problem is the "solenoid" its really hard to acquire one here in the philippines. but anyway thanks

Sn0wl3all (author)2009-11-11

I'm thinking of doing something like this for my school's Engineering Fair (if you don't mind, I can still cancel the topic)

Can anyone tell me exactly what type of solenoid is used here? Because I can't seem to find anything like it anywhere, including home depot and ebay.

stuffman (author)Sn0wl3all2009-11-12

You wont find what you need at Home Depot or Radio Shack, these components are used in industrial equipment and can really only be found through a specialty outlet.  I found what may be the exact solenoid I used through Grainger <link>.  I got mine used, but there should be something there that you can use.  Also, you may want to think about adapting this to DC instead of AC.  For practical purposes it's much better (much easier to supply power to the system in the event of a power outage, for example), and it's much safer to work with. 

If you decide to use high voltage in your project, be careful and make sure you understand what you're doing.  In the time since I made this instructable I've done a lot of stuff with 110/220V AC, mostly rewiring the house we bought.  I now know that it was through sheer luck that I didn't wire this wrong and cause some damage.  Just make sure you understand what you're working with before you even start the project.  If I could make a suggestion, find a cheapo car alarm with a keychain remote and use that to trigger as many DC solenoids as you need to.  You can also integrate a solar charging circuit and really impress some people.  If you do that, make sure you post it on this site so we can all see, and so I can copy your design. :0P Good luck, and let me know if I can help out.


stuffman (author)stuffman2009-11-12

For some reason my links aren't working.  go to and search for solenoids.  That should get you on the right track.

Ianmck12 (author)2009-11-12

 and are you sure its 110v becuz the sticker says 120 v

stuffman (author)Ianmck122009-11-12

110V is a loose rating, the actual voltage can fluctuate between 110 and 120 volts AC.  It's confusing, but 110V circuits and 120V circuits are actually the same thing, as long as you're talking about United States (or maybe North American) AC voltage standards.  You may want to think about adapting this instructable to DC if you're asking for a project that you will actually build.  Good Luck,


Ianmck12 (author)2009-11-12

 sizes and mabey the dimentions of the door the wood and springs

stuffman (author)Ianmck122009-11-12

I'm not exactly sure of the dimensions of everything, but if you compare the items to the wood they're mounted to you should be able to infer some scale.  For example, the block that the solenoid and springs are mounted to is a 2x4, which is 1.5"X3.5".  Hopefully this helps, I'm not sure of the exact dimensions.  Anyway, this instructable should be used as a loose guide to your project, no two could really be the same.  Good Luck!

Ianmck12 (author)2009-11-11

 can you be a little more specific im doing a report on this

stuffman (author)Ianmck122009-11-11

I'm not sure what needs clarification.  Please let me know what part you're having problems with and I'll be happy to explain it for you.


cokebottle tuque (author)2009-02-14

The key switch is just that, radio shack should have them same goes for the magnetic reed switch, connect the + & - lines to some metallic things that are accessible from both sides of the building and electrically insulated from each other, personally I like the upper hinge has positive and the lower as negative, nice and easy to remember. The idea is that in the event of power or x10 failure you put a magnet over some small mark on the door indicating the location of your reed switch on the other side, turn your keyed switch and then jump start the hinges of your door with some handy 12v power source, car, lawnmower, jump box, spare robot battery, or worst case a 12V wallwart on a extension cord(if you have power). The last thing is that if your not terribly worried about security you could omit the keyed switch and reed switch and just operate on the assumption that applying 12V across the hinges of a door is not a standard method of unlocking doors, or add more normally open switches("broken" light switch, lose 12V light bulb that you need to screw in, light sensor under a brick, 2 metal tool hooks you need to short together, you get the idea) in series to increase security. and in hindsight it would probably be a good idea to throw some sort of current limiting resistor in series with the relay as well just as a safety factor.

Excellent, thanks! We'll be moving soon if we get the house we're hoping to get, then I'll be updating this to include the garage sale car alarm (keyless entry) and a 12V battery charged by either a solar cell or a wall-wart battery minder. I'll have to switch to DC solenoids or worm drive system, but I'll probably integrate some sort of failsafe once we're dealing with low voltage DC instead of AC. Thanks for the ideas, and for all the time invested in the diagram! I love instructables, Shawn

Oh no problem diagrams like that take less time to make in muftisim than multisim takes to start up so really minimal effort, and I have been toying with a similar idea for an apartment/dorm lock and all the fail safes I would need to build in just in case. If you hit a road block let me know I may have some different prospective on it.

I'm planning to try and build one of these into a standard deadbolt, so that I can still use the key if necessary. Any idea what the security is like on those wireless keyfobs? I'd like to combine that, and a wireless video intercom/door chime, so that when I'm not home and my wife's in bed, she can admit friends or our home-maker from bed. ~adamvan2000

jammmie999 (author)2009-02-02

Wouldest it be easier to use elector magnet both sides press switch electromagnet activated locked or vice versa

stusatwork (author)2008-12-23

I keep coming back to this one looking for a reason to do it and I came up with what I think is a great backup.... Setup up 2 keyed backups on the door with pivot bars attached to the lock that will manually slide the pins out when you turn the lock. I would use round locks just to be obscure. Now juice the locks with current from any # of sources. That way if someone goes around randomly probing in the lock while there is power then they get a nice jolt. Just insulate your set of keys and if the power is out it won't matter anyway. If you get a marine type lock they are usually pretty well insulated already so that casual brushes against it shouldn't be an issue. If all else fails dip the face of it in liquid rubber. May even be possible to stick the electrodes in the lock in such a way that only something that isn't the key would set it off... take out a pin on the lock??use that area?

stuffman (author)2008-09-21

probably not. For one thing, it moves the wrong direction, though you can get solenoids which act as rams when voltage is applied. The one I've chosen however retracts and therefore would be unsuitable. Good luck, Shawn

Coffee bean (author)2008-09-19

do u think this moves enough to shoot a bb

killerjackalope (author)2008-04-11

All this worrying about backup power, have an inverter et. all inside the building with a pair of hidden jump leads to use the car battery, or if you use the inverter for stuff in the car just have an extension cord style attachment to inside, problemo solved, no worries of the battery just discharging over time either. Also for a backup switch system a good plan might be two contacts at the bottom of a hole in a brick of the wall, shole a potential burglar attempt to switch after observation their finger gets zapped, assuming they find the hole as a possible switch point. Also why not take a standard garage door and use solenoids to control that and leave the outer handle as a dummy mechanism?

Mr. Rig It (author)2008-03-23

Would love to see you add this to my new group.
Hope to see you there.
Home Repair, Refurbishment, and New Projects

stuffman (author)Mr. Rig It2008-03-24

Added! Thanks for your interest, your group has some cool stuff.

Mr. Rig It (author)stuffman2008-03-24

Thank You! I hope to see more stuff from you stuffman. I love the Remote Control Deadbolt, really cool.

CitizenX (author)2008-02-10

I use the extra button on my garage door remote to power on my house lights. You could use it to activate a solenoid as well. This is a picture of the model that I am talking about with the cover taken off. The connectors to the female outlet slide off giving you a good spot to attach a solenoid (or whatever). It would be much more secure than X10 and I only needed to order the control since I already had a remote that worked with it. You can buy it at TD Supplies. It can be turned on or off with a keychain remote, regular car remote, or even a biometric fingerprint keypad if you felt like it.

stuffman (author)CitizenX2008-03-24

I'm surprised I didn't see this sooner, this is a great alternative to the X10 hardware I'm using. I can't seem to find a small keychain remote for liftmaster openers, but this sort of answers all of the folks who nag me about security with the X10. Thanks for the suggestion!

Greenehouse (author)2008-03-23

Neat idea, I've been trying to come up with something like that for a hidden door (covered up by a movable bookcase.) Check out "Kenbob" in the Home section and the Group "House of Hidden Passages." I have alot of x10 stuff already from so this might work. I think I might secure the remote behind something that I could just reach around and press. Hummmm, thanks for the ideas!

Goodhart (author)2008-02-16

I guess the only comment I have is that, many homes have the line coming in from the street split into 2 seperate phases, and with that, the X-10 does not always work "across" from one phase to another, so make sure you are on the same side of the circuit breaker box with actuator and x-10 control box or it may get frustrating trying to figure out what is wrong.

Fatvod (author)2008-02-07

Whoa this is cool. But for a secondary switch (Might be hard) you could make a fake light or handle on the side that turns and activates it. Or you could create (EVEN HARDER) a sliding piece of panel on the outside. Ok im getting out of hand lol. I guess just something discreet.

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