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Installing a Garage Door Opener Wired to Motorcycle Hi-Beam

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Picture of Installing a Garage Door Opener Wired to Motorcycle Hi-Beam
I was tired of having to get on and off my bike to open and close the garage door each time I headed out.  While my wife and I were out of town we found a project at a dealer that allowed you to operate the garage door via the hi-beam switch.  It was $120 and more than we wanted to spend at the time (times two since we'd each want one on our bike).  Recently, however, I decided, "how hard could it be to come up with a simple circuit to trip the garage door opener from an existing circuit on the bike"?  The first one took a few hours of research, building, and a bit of trial and error.  This instructable includes the step-by-step instructions I used for our second bike to put it together in under an hour for $15 plus a garage door opener.
 
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Step 1: Parts Needed

Here are the parts needed (Radio Shack mode # in parentheses):

 - 12VDC/125VAC 10A SPDT Mini Relay (275-248)
 - 1000 microfarad 35V 20% Radial-lead Electrolytic Capacitor (272-1032)
 - 10K ohm 1/2W 5% Carbon Film Resistor pk/5 (271-1126)
 - Project Enclosure - 4x2x1" (270-1802)

In addition, you'll need a garage door opener.  I used a Chamberlain Universal Garage Door Opener that I found at Lowes. 

For a nice, clean installation, I'd pick up some 18g hook-up wire, heat shrink tubing, and some wire-tap-in's.  You'll also need a soldering iron and solder for making the connections.

Step 2: Wire Up The Relay

Picture of Wire Up The Relay
I originally bought this particular relay so I could mount it to a circuit board, but the board did not fit into the project box along with everything else, so I opted to run the wire directly to the relay.  This relay is fairly compact, which helps to fit everything in, so I'd still suggest using it.

To make it easy to keep track of what was what, I used green hookup wire to run leads that would be attached to button on the garage door opener.  These are attached to pins #87 and #30 and are about 3" long.  The black wire is going to go to the capacitor and resistors (and then on to the headlight common wire).  It is attached to pin #85 and is about 3" long.  The red wire will run all the way outside of the project box into the hi-beam circuit, so it's about 12" long and it is attached to pin #86.  All connections have been soldered and then heat shrink tubing applied.

Step 3: Wire Up the Capacitor and Resistors

Picture of Wire Up the Capacitor and Resistors
opener-3.jpg
The capacitor and resistors are the key to converting the constant power of the hi-beam into a momentary pulse (to simulate a "push" of the button instead of "holding" it down).  You will need 3 of the resistors from the 5-pack.  Wire the three resistors together in parallel and then add the capacitor to the bundle.  I soldered them all together and wrapped it all in heat shrink tubing to keep it clean.

NOTE: Be sure to keep track of which side of the capacitor is positive/negative (the negative side is marked).  This is important for the next step as the negative side is to be connected to the relay.

Step 4: Connect Capacitor / Resistor Pack to Relay

Picture of Connect Capacitor / Resistor Pack to Relay
Taking care to make sure you have the right end, connect the capacitor / resistor pack to the black wire coming from pin # 85 of the relay.  Then, cut another length of wire about 8" long and connect it to the positive side of the pack.  This will be the wire that connects to the headlight common wire.

Step 5: Connect Relay to Garage Door Opener

Picture of Connect Relay to Garage Door Opener
opener-6.jpg
For this project, I used a Chamberlin Universal Garage Door Opener that I had originally picked up from Lowes.  I dismantled the opener and discarded everything except the circuit board.  Since I was going to install this in the enclosure for the headlight, I installed a new battery to make sure it would be a while before I needed to mess with it again.

On the back of the circuit board, I located the two contacts on the backside of the button that would trigger the opener.  You can figure it out by using a short piece of wire to connect the two points.  If it's the right pair, the garage door opener will trigger.  Make sure you test this before soldering it - as you can see from my image below, I attached to the wrong contact point at first and had to come back and fix it later.

Step 6: Install Into Project Box

Picture of Install Into Project Box
opener-8.jpg
opener-9.jpg
Drill a small hole in the end of the project box so that you can run the wires out.  After that, *carefully* run the red and black wires through the hole and add the opener, wires, relay, and capacitor / resistor pack to the box.  It's a tight fit, but I was able to get it all in there snugly.  Be careful not to break any of the wires or solder joints during this step (especially easy to do if using solid-core wire).

When done, add the cover to the project box and you are ready for installation in the motorcycle.

Step 7: Installing the Project into the Motorcycle

Picture of Installing the Project into the Motorcycle
opener-11.jpg
Feel free to wire it up wherever you like, but I chose to go with the hi-beam on mine.  You want to find something that has a 12v switched circuit to tap into.

If you go to the hi-beam on the lite, you will need to determine where you want to tap into the circuit.  On my Harley Fatboy Lo, the wires run directly from the switch on the handlebar through the forks, right into the headlight enclosure.  I found the best place to tap in, was right in the housing, directly behind the light enclosure.  I took out the headlight enclosure and accessed the wires the same way you would if you were changing the bulb.

Next you will need to determine which wires you need to tap into.  I have an H4 bulb, so the two outside contacts provided me the "common" wire and the "hi-beam" wire.  Figure out what kind of bulb you have and head to Google for some help with the wiring diagrams for your particular bulb type.

Using the wire tap-ins, splice the black wire from the project box into the common (white wire in my bike) and the red wire from the project box into the hi-beam (black wire on mine).  I had two black wires going into mine, but opening the connector I found they both went to the same contact point, so it did not matter which one I tapped into.

After that, turn on the bike and give it a test.  I found that mine would only work if there was a bulb installed.  Turn your lights on normal and then flip your hi-beam on and then back off to trigger the garage door opener.  You should hear the relay click and ideally the garage door should open.

Once you have everything tested, place the project box into the housing behind the headlight fixture and put it all back together.  I'd include photos of the finished product, but the beauty of it is - there is nothing to see  :)

NOTE:  I was initially wondering how hot it got in there and if that would be a problem, but after careful inspection of the other plastic and wiring exposed in there, I did not see any damage from heat so decided to give it a try.  After returning from a 280 mile trip where we used the hi-beam extensively, I'm happy to report that there was no sign of any overheating with the project box or components.
I love this idea! However, since I am experienced at programming microcontrollers, I am going to use an AtTiny85 and a LM2937 3.3v regulator. This will allow me to adjust the button press time with code and power the remote of the same 3.3v related supply. I haven't decided if I want to use a relay for tapping the signal from the high beam though.

I like the adafruit Trinket at $6.95. It can tolerate 12V battery input (plus a TVS for safety in a harsh environment) and if you went so far to barnacle two or three components on it (a cap, zener, diode, and two resistors), it could stay alive long enough to look for pulse sequence inputs.

Not sure if the on-board 3.3V regulator has enough juice to power the opener.

Actually, I can code the setup() function to "close" an IO pin (I haven't yet checked to see if it needs to be HIGH or LOW), wait for 3 seconds, then "open" it. The loop() function can just sleep forever. You don't need a relay or a transistor. Just sending power to the microcontroller is the signal.

astronutski6 months ago

Hi, I realize this is 2 years old, but I noticed one of the resistors is turned opposite of the other two. Was this a mistake?

I'm not too smart with this stuff but I can follow directions :-) Just checking to see if direction matters (I thought it did).

Thanks

bkrabach (author)  astronutski6 months ago

Good catch, I never noticed that before. Had I been paying better attention, I'd have wired them facing the same direction. Ultimately, however, it works either way. When you build yours, point them all the same direction and make it look cleaner than mine ;)

DraakUSA bkrabach2 months ago

It doesn't matter which direction resistors are oriented, they are polarity independent.

Sidecar Bob3 years ago
The circuit at http://www.the12volt.com/relays/page5.asp#ctm shows a diode between 85 and 86. Is there a reason you left it out?

I found the same setup on a forum (not as well presented as yours) and someone there mentioned that the remote activated when they switched to the high beam on and again when they switched back to the low. IIRC, someone else replied that theirs did that too until they added the diode.

Also, is there a reason for using 3 x 1K resistor in parallel instead of the single 1K resistor in the original circuit? And why did you use 3 x 1K instead of a 330 ohm resisistor?

BTW: I am intending to build one of these myself tomorrow. I have a Genie opener and the remote runs on a 12V battery so I will be able to power mine from the bike. As a bonus, I think I can fit the relay & other components in the space where the battery used to go so I won't need a project box.

Thanks in advance,
Bob
Tomko Sidecar Bob7 months ago

I plan to replace the 12V battery in the remote with a wired connection to the motorcycle battery (it gets cold here, and I figure the small remote battery would not last past winter). Is there a concern with wiring it directly to bike batter, or is a fuse and direct connection sufficient?

Also, would a 50 Volt 10 Amp Schottky Diode be sufficient to use here?

Sidecar Bob Tomko7 months ago

I know what you mean about cold. My sidecar outfit is my only transportation and it gets down to at least -30c here in winter.

I powered my high beam circuit from the bike but a vehicle's charging system runs at 14V, not the 12V (it has to be higher in order to charge the battery) so I put a green LED in series with the opener to compensate. I have attached the circuit I built (very similar to what is presented in this Instructable).

As I said elsewhere in these comments, I found it to be less reliable than I liked so I changed to a hard wired button. I also got a newer remote that runs on a 3V coin battery, which has lasted over a year so far.

The diode does not need to be very high spec. An ordinary 1N4001 will do and you can get 100 of them for under $1.50 on eBay.

High Beam Opener.jpg
bkrabach (author)  Sidecar Bob3 years ago
Bob,

I'm not familiar with that particular circuit - mine was from a collection of notes I made while researching the general concept of building momentary switches from a constant feed gathered from a handful of different sources. So, could the diode be added, could you use a single resistor? Most likely - this is just how I chose to build mine. Feel free to try something different and if you find something that works better, please add it to the comments for the benefit of any others who browse this project.

As for the remote activating when switching on and off - yes, the diode should resolve that issue. The other resolution, I found, is to simply swap the wires when attaching to the hi-beam circuit. I performed this upgrade on two bikes and on one of them, I accidentally had them backwards and this is exactly what happened. When I performed the second one (the one documented here), it works perfectly as desired. I went back and switched the wires on the first one I did and now it works great as well.

My opener uses a 3V supply, so I did not wire it into the battery (yet). I was thinking of coming back to build a circuit to step down to 3V, but for as infrequently as I'll need to change it, I probably won't ever get around to it. If I'd have had one that used a 12V supply, I definitely would have wired it in though.

We recently upgraded our headlights to LED and our project box no longer fit behind. As a work around, I pulled them out, wrapped them with a protective foam sheet and sealed the open end with tape. It's not as pretty as the above design, but it now fits again and still works great.
I did some experimentation and some more research.

When voltage is applied current flows through the relay's coil and the capacitor, charging the capacitor. When the capacitor is fully charged no more current flows so the relay turns off. When the voltage is removed the capacitor discharges through the resistor so that when voltage is applied again the capacitor will charge again.

The value of the resistor determines how fast the capacitor discharges when you turn the high beam off, and thus the the time you need to wait if you want to activate the remote again. From my experimentation, 3.3K ohms (the same as 3 x 10K in parallel)(330 ohms as I originally said was a typo) turns out to be just about optimum, allowing the circuit to be triggered again in a couple of seconds while 10K takes almost 10 seconds and if the value is reduced much below 3.3K enough current flows through it to activate the relay whether the capacitor is charging or not.

I have a feeling that we both found this circuit at the same place (I still say your presentation is easier to follow) and the person who posted it bought the same back of 5 resistors that you did and then did the same experiment I did but with parallel combinations of 10K resistors instead of various values of single resistors. The end result is the same.

The diode is there to protect the relay and other electronics from reverse polarity spikes which occur when the voltage is removed and the magnetic field in the relay's coil collapses. It does not have any effect on how the circuit works (I did not experience the remote activation when the high beam was switched off), but I think I will include it in my build.
Hey Sidecar Bob. I'm hoping you can help.
I currently have this setup using the 3x10K resistors and I find it's just not quite long enough of a press for my system. It's about 1 second or so and I've rather have around 2-3 seconds.
Any ideas what configuration of resistors I would need?
Thanks for any help you can provide
By "not quite long enough of a press" do you mean that the trigger duration (how long the remote is turned on) is too short?

As I explained before, the resistor is only there to allow the capacitor to discharge when the power is removed from the circuit. Changing it will only affect how soon you can trigger the circuit a second time.

To increase the trigger duration you need to increase the value of the capacitor (a larger value capacitor will take longer to fully charge so the relay will be turned on longer). I didn't experiment with that when I was building mine but If I wanted to make the remote stay on that long I would start by trying a 5000Mf capacitor and see if that helps.

BTW: I found this setup to be less reliable than I would have liked. For various reasons I decided to replace the handlebar switches on my 30 year old Honda with modern Royal Enfield ones. The Enfield switches have a button to flash the high beam while passing (not required in North America and I find it easier to use the high beam switch for that anyway) so I wired that switch directly to the remote. This is even easier to use and extremely reliable.
Ah, gotcha. Thanks for the explanation. Clears up my confusion.
I might just end up switching this to an independent button and not worry about the capacitor/resistors anymore, if I can find a button that will mount up on the handlebars.
Thanks for the help :)

I cannot find this relay. Radio shack no longer carries it. Are there any other variations or relay sizes that would work?

bkrabach (author)  nathan.hemenway11 months ago
If you do a Google search for "12v 10a spdt relay" there are a number of options under the "shopping" category at the top of the results page. Looks like a lot of options on eBay for just a few bucks. If you end up buying one at an online store, please post back to this thread and help out the next guy looking for one.

Thanks!
Daedalus623 years ago
Hi bkrabach, Nice work and good instructable, congratulations.

So, if I understood correctly, you're using the momentary hi-beam switch to activate the opener, right?

I did the same install in my bike but, as I was using an independent button/switch in my DIY dash, I just run the switched power directly to the opener (no capacitor, resistor, relay) and a couple of wires from the opener activate contacts to said button/switch. Done.

Your solution is great, because it avoids the use of extra switches, other than the ones already in the bike... Nice work.

Cheers
bkrabach (author)  Daedalus623 years ago
Daedalus62 > The hi-beam switch itself is momentary, but the circuit that it turns on (and that I've attached to) is a constant feed. That is what the capacitor and resistors take care of (See: http://www.the12volt.com/relays/page5.asp#ctm).

Without that element, the remote button is constantly "pushed", draining the battery on the remote non-stop whenever the hi-beam is on.

With this solution, there is no power being supplied to the remote, it's simply closing the contact points on the button (via the relay). This way, it does not matter that the bike circuit is supplying 12-volts and the remote operates at 3-volts.

Thanks for the feedback!
antennas3 years ago
What a great idea. The simplest ones are often the best!!
Mr Jaderman3 years ago
I believe you hooked the resistors up in parallel and not in series. Nice instructable!
bkrabach (author)  Mr Jaderman3 years ago
Mr. Jaderman > Thank you for catching that - yes, I meant that they were wired in parallel (per the picture).