Raspberry Pi Garage Door Opener

Published

Introduction: Raspberry Pi Garage Door Opener

Hello Everyone!

This instructable explains how I setup a Raspberry Pi to open my garage door using a smarthphone. While this has been done before, I thought I'd post my solution. This was my first hardware project and instructable ever and I'm sure I made some mistakes. So, when you find one let me know! 

Project Overview:
What we will be doing is turning the Raspberry Pi into a small web server. When you access the webserver from your browser of choice, you will have a big button that triggers the garage door via a relay. We will wire a very basic circuit to the Pi's GPIO pins and upload a website that triggers the circuit. When the relay is triggered, it closes the circuit hooked up to the garage motor and opens the garage.

Why would anyone want to do this?
Well, my garage door opener was broke and this was cheaper than replacing the other system. As an added plus though, you could wire up additional sensors and be able to make sure your garage is closed remotely if your were so inclined.

Shopping List:
I consider myself pretty cheap, and I tried to keep the costs minimal. All of the items are available on prime.

1.) Raspberry Pi - Model A - $32

2.) Wifi Adapter - $10

3.) PSU - $5

4.) 5v Relay - $6

Total: $53.00

You will also need an sdcard >= 2GB and some wires, but I had extra of each.




Step 1: Install and Optimize Rasbian (for Our Purposes)

This first step is to install an operating system to your rpi. I'm a bit of a debian fanboy, and had an extra 2GB sdcard, so I went with a shrunk version of Wheezy. The image I used can be found here:

http://raspberry.mythic-beasts.com/raspberry/images/raspbian/

For full instructions on installing an OS to your PI and other images, visit http://www.raspberrypi.org/downloads.

On Ubuntu, I used gparted to format to fat32, and dd to write the img.

After you install the OS, plug in a usb keyboard and hook up the raspberry pi to a monitor. Assuming you are using Wheezy, on the first boot rasp-config will automatically run. You should use this tool to stretch the parition and enable ssh (under the advanced menu on newer versions I believe).

After I installed my img, I also removed the GUI to free up some space. (If you have a large SD, you can skip this.) To do this type these commands:

$ sudo apt-get remove --purge x11-common
$ sudo apt-get autoremove

This removes all packages that depend on X11 which is pretty much all of the GUI.

Step 2: Setup Wifi Via the Command Line

The next step is to setup your wifi from the command line. This will allow us to control the pi remotely via ssh.

Here is a great guide for Wheezy:
http://www.howtogeek.com/167425/how-to-setup-wi-fi-on-your-raspberry-pi-via-the-command-line/

Since we are using the Model A with only one usb port, you will need to set up the configuration with your keyboard, shutdown the pi, insert the Wifi Dongle and then start it backup. This may take a little guess and check.

The command to shutdown the pi is: sudo shutdown -h 0

If all goes well, once you set it up and reboot, your pi will be given an IP address by your router. You can find this IP address by either hooking the pi up to an hdmi monitor and looking at the boot log, or logging in to your router and looking at the DHCP table.

Step 3: Install Software

Now that we have the wifi setup, we are going to download and install the necessary software to our pi. Since our usb port is now being used by the wifi dongle, we will do this via ssh.

If you are using Ubuntu, open up the terminal and type ssh pi@[Your Pi's Ip address]. If you are using Windows, you can download Putty. On OSX, you can also just ssh from the terminal. Again, the default password on Wheezy is raspberry.

Once your a logged in, download, compile, and install Wiring Pi. This software allows us to control the GPIO pins on the pi. Here is a step by step guide for that:
http://wiringpi.com/download-and-install/

Once Wiring Pi is installed, you will want to install Apache and PHP via these commands:

$ sudo apt-get update
$ sudo apt-get install apache2 php5 libapache2-mod-php5

Once this is done, you will have a working webserver! To verify that, just type in your pi's ip adress in a browser. You should see Apache's default website which says "It Works!".

Step 4: Upload the Garage Opener Website

Now that we have a working webserver, we are going to upload a website to it. I've created a very basic one that will trigger the relay we will wire in the next step.

Here are two ways to do that:

Ubuntu
Dowload the GarageOpener.zip to your desktop. Open up your terminal, and type the following commands:
$ ssh pi@[YOUR PI'S IP ADDRESS]
$ sudo rm /var/www/index.html
$ sudo chown pi:root /var/www
$ exit
$ cd ~/Desktop
$ scp GarageOpener.zip pi@[YOUR PI'S IP ADDRESS]:/var/www
$ ssh pi@[YOUR PI'S IP ADDRESS]
$ cd /var/www
$ unzip GarageOpener.zip
$ rm GarageOpener.zip

Any OS
Download Filezilla. Using Putty or another ssh terminal:
$ ssh pi@[YOUR PI'S IP ADDRESS]
$ sudo chown -R pi:root /var/www

Start filezilla. Log into the raspberry pi with these credentials:
Host: sftp://[YOUR PI'S IP ADDRESS]
Username: pi
Password: raspberry

Then upload all of the files from GarageOpener.zip to /var/www. Also, delete the existing index.html.



Some Technical Notes (for those interested):
The website uses jQuery to post to itself (via AJAX) when a user clicks on the big button. I did this so that if you refresh the page it doesn't trigger your garage to open.

If your using an iPhone (or the latest dev version of Chrome on Android) and add this website to your home screen, it should work like an app without the browser chrome. (It will still only work when your on your home wifi though :-P )

Step 5: Wire the Circuit to the Pi!

Now for the fun part - we wire the relay to the pi! For the code I provided (step 4 and 6) I used GPIO pin 7. You can use whichever one you want, but be sure to change the code.

Below is a diagram and my wired pi mounted on cardboard with zip ties. I used an old floppy disk ribbon cable for easy testing of ports and just left it connected.

Step 6: Create a Startup Service

This step is important.
Most relays including the one I purchased, operate like this - when the signal is ON the circuit stays off. When the signal is OFF then the circuit is on. So what happens if your pi looses power? Well most relays have a safety mechanism that keeps the circuit OFF when there is no power at all. The problem that occurs happens between when the pi (and subsequently the relay) gets its power back but before the pi has finished booting to turn the signal ON which is need to keep the circuit off. You could wake up in the morning with your garage open and potentially a few new friends!

After some experimenting, I found a simply work around. I found out that my relay doesn't actually initialize until the GPIO pin mode is set via this command: gpio mode 7 out. Furthermore, I found out that it you set the GPIO pin to ON (gpio write 7 1)before you set the GPIO mode, the relay will stay off once initialized.

To make this initialization run at boot, I created a start-up script.

$ ssh pi@[Your Pi's IP]
$ sudo nano /etc/init.d/garagerelay

Then paste this script:
#! /bin/bash
# /etc/init.d/garagerelay


# Carry out specific functions when asked to by the system
case "$1" in
start)
echo "Starting Relay"
# Turn 7 on which keeps relay off
/usr/local/bin/gpio write 7 1
#Start Gpio
/usr/local/bin/gpio mode 7 out
;;
stop)
echo "Stopping gpio"
;;
*)
echo "Usage: /etc/init.d/garagerelay {start|stop}"
exit 1
;;
esac

exit 0

Make the file executable:
$ sudo chmod 777 /etc/init.d/garagerelay

Now tell your pi to run this script at boot:
$ sudo update-rc.d -f garagerelay start 4
(Note: You can safely ignore the "missing LSB tags" warning.)

Voila!

Step 7: Attach Raspberry Pi to the Garage

This part is very easy. Just follow the wires of the button attached to your garage motor and attach the relay the same way. Since the relay isolates the circuit, the direction doesn't even matter.

And you're done! Let me know it works for you.

18 People Made This Project!

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user

We have a be nice policy.
Please be positive and constructive.

Tips

2 Questions

I tried to install wiringPi but when I was running the command: tar xfz wiringPi-8d188fa.tar.gz this error came up:

tar (child): wiringPi-8d188fa.tar.gz: Cannot open: No such file or directory

tar (child): Error is not recoverable: exiting now

tar: Child returned status 2

tar: Error is not recoverable: exiting now

I´m not quite sure what went wrong because I have that specific file downloaded. Iḿ kind of new to the pi...does anyone have a solution?

I would think maybe the file is in a different location than the working directory you are in maybe?

I followed the first set of instructions, not the plan B.
try SSH into your pi, or open terminal on your pi, then copy and paste each line in one line at a time:

sudo apt-get purge wiringpi
hash -r
sudo apt-get install git-core
sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get upgrade
cd
git clone git://git.drogon.net/wiringPi
cd ~/wiringPi
git pull origin
cd ~/wiringPi
./build

I done this 04/13/2018 and got wiringpi set up with no issues.

0

new to raspberry pi. thought this seemed like a useful and simple enough project to get my feet wet. using a Pi zero W btw.

I got the web server/page running, and the relay is getting 5v power. I can even make the relay fire by shorting the ground to either relay 1 or relay 2.

but for the life of me i can not get it to fire the relay by clicking the button. any ideas?

178 Comments

Thanks for the excellent documentation and instructions. I made this yesterday using a Raspberry Pi 3, but I am now thinking of modifying the set-up to use a Pi Zero W, since this set-up really doesn't require much horsepower. Has anyone else done that?

I also modified the overall set-up a little bit by setting up a static ip using port forwarding on my Google WiFi and the no-ip service so that I can access the opener from anywhere. I have a Smart Things hub at my house, so I can sense whether the garage is open or closed, then I can use this RasPi set-up to open or close it when I want to.

I do have three questions:

1. How can I modify the UI with a photo or some other more interesting graphic than just a plain gray box? I'm not well-versed in CSS, and I am guess that it is all in the awrap div. Can anyone lead me in the right direction?

2. I'd like to also modify the code (and the UI) to allow me to control two garage doors. I'm sure someone has done it, so I'd be interested in the code and UI mods.

3. Now that the Pi is essential an IoT device, has anyone modified the code to put a password or other security in the system? We don't want some script kiddie opening and closing our garage door after finding the Pi while looking for devices.

Thanks!

5 replies

Recently, I made a similar device. The biggest difference is that I programmed a python script that connects to an mqtt server. It listens for commands sent via mqtt. I have a button on my smart phone that can operate the device and it is also connected to my amazon echo so I can say "Alexa, ask garage Door to open." And it opens.

One benefit to using the mqtt method is that you don't have to worry about forwarding ports or opening the firewall. mqtt works in a sub/pub model. the pi subscribes to the server, the other devices publish to the server.

If anyone is interested I do have all this packaged in a .deb so you just install it, modfiy a couple lines in the .conf script and you are ready to go!

user

Hi! Can you please explain how you have this setup with Alexa? I have all the parts, and plan on building this asap, but I'm unsure about getting alexa to control it. I'd greatly appreciate your input! Thanks!

I would be extremely grateful to get my hands on your work! Is your app for android, or iOS?(and would you share the code for all this)

Definitely interested in this!

I am trying to make this with a Zero W right now but the website does not trigger the relay properly. I know the relay works because I tested it with a python script but for some reason nothing is happening with the web trigger. Did you come across this issue?

Most relays including the one I purchased, operate like this - when the signal is ON the circuit stays off. When the signal is OFF then the circuit is on.

I'm totally new to this and don't understand this part. I assume you have either NO or NC terminal connected to the garage door opener. If normally when the signal is ON, the circuit stays off and vice versa, can't you just switch the garage door connection from NO to NC or NC to NO?

2 replies

Here's the thing about GPIO ports on a pi, or an arduino, or just about anything that has a GPIO port. They [typically always] start up as INPUT, not OUTPUT, which means they are waiting for you to ask if they are "high" or "low" (3 volts or 0 volts, or 5 volts or 0 volts usually, this depends on what system. High and low can mean a lot of different things here, but low is almost always zero volts referenced to the other voltage.)

Let's say that for the purposes of explanation our system uses +3 to mean high and 0 volts to mean low. Since the pins are just sitting there waiting for you to ask if it's high or low, they don't have 0 volts on them and they don't have +3 volts on them either, they are what we call "floating". Now sometimes, it will be closer to high and sometimes it will be closer to low, but there are a lot of variables that can affect this (like static in the air even!) so if your relay knows to turn itself "on" when it sees 0 volts (low) and "off" when it sees +3 volts (high) and your pin is "somewhere between 0 and +3" then it might be close enough to one end to turn it on or close enough to the other end to turn it off.

So it doesn't matter if you use the NC or the NO, even if you reverse the logic in the software to make one way on and the other way off, you're still going to have this "I'm not in an output mode yet so I'm somewhere between high and low" problem and you're not really going to know for sure if the relay is going to be on or off. For our purposes though, we really should have it set up so that the relay is off *most* of the time, and just clicks on to "press the button" as it were.

The way we fix this, in electronics terms, is to "pull it down" or "pull it up" with a resistor. That's the fancy term, usually a "pull-up resistor". It sounds complicated, but the reality is, you just connect the pin over to 0 or to +3 with a resistor. Just about any resistor will do. The resistor will drag that pin "high" or "low" (depending on if you connected the other end to high (+3) or low(0) when the pin would otherwise be in a floating mode. A lot of relays have a pull-up resistor built in, a lot of systems with GPIO pins have a way to "turn on" a pull-up resistor built into the hardware so that you don't even have to physically wire one in. But what about if the resistor is pulling your output pin to +3 and you need it to go to 0? That's easy, when you "write" to the pin and tell it to go to 0, that 0 has a resistance that is much much less (like, about 0 ohms) than whatever resistor you've put in so your resistor basically does nothing. It's like you trying to whisper to someone at a rock concert. (your whisper is the pull up resistor and the concert is the near zero-resistance connection that the system made when you said to go LOW.) Then when you write to the pin and tell it to go to +3 that resistance is also much much less than whatever resistor you've put in so it ignores the resistor then too. So the only time your pull up resistor does anything really is when the pin is in a state where it isn't high and it isn't low (remember, when it's "floating?") so that resistor prevents the float.

In the author's case, it seems like most of the time (enough of the time) his float is in a certain direction so he's just counting on that to not change. But you really need a pull-up (or down) resistor (or a way to enable one built into the pi?) to make for sure you know if that pin is high (+3) or low (0).

On another note- if you're going to try this, you really need some basic security on the web server running on the pi. I guess if your home wifi is secured with something real (not WEP!) then that's a good start but you're basically giving access to your garage door to anyone with your home wifi password. Or anyone who plugs into your home wifi... which would probably be someone inside your house already... but this really should have an extra layer of security. I'm not a pi wiz or an apache wiz but since we're talking ethernet and mac addresses there's probably a not-too-complicated way to tell the pi not to talk to anyone except your known devices, by mac address. (mac addresses can be spoofed, but that takes more work than anyone who wants access to your garage is going to do unless you're keeping gold bars in there?)

If the pi uses 5 volts on it's GPIO (but I think it is 3) then change every +3 above to +5! :)

Thank you for your explanation. It feels a little complicated, I will try to digest it.

This worked great to get me started but like others I did have to tweak the code for two reasons:

1. My relay was closed by default so I had to reverse the scripts to leave to circuit open

2. I didn't have a full ribbon cable so I used GPIO 1 (pin 12) instead of 7.

Here are my resulting files in case they can help someone else get started

/var/www/html/index.php (note the corrected location):

<?php
if(isset($_GET['trigger']) && $_GET['trigger'] == 1) {
error_reporting(E_ALL);
exec('gpio write 1 1');
usleep(1000000);
exec('gpio write 1 0');
}
?>
<!DOCTYPE html>
<html>
<head>
<title>Garage Opener</title>
<link rel="apple-touch-icon" href="apple-touch-icon-iphone.png" /><link rel="apple-touch-icon" sizes="72x72" href="apple-touch-icon-ipad.png" />
<link rel="apple-touch-icon" sizes="114x114" href="apple-touch-icon-iphone-retina-display.png" />
<link rel="stylesheet" href="/css/style.css" type="text/css">
<meta name="apple-mobile-web-app-capable" content="yes">
<script type="text/javascript" src="/js/jquery-1.10.2.min.js"></script>
<script type="text/javascript" src="/js/script.js"></script>
</head>
<body>
<div class='awrap'>
<a href='/?trigger=1'></a>
</div>
</body>
</html>

/etc/init.d/garagerelay:

#! /bin/bash
# /etc/init.d/garagerelay
# Carry out specific functions when asked to by the system
case "$1" in
start)
echo "Starting Relay"
# Turn 1 on which keeps relay off
/usr/local/bin/gpio write 1 0
#Start Gpio
/usr/local/bin/gpio mode 1 output
;;
stop)
echo "Stopping gpio"
;;
*)
echo "Usage: /etc/init.d/garagerelay {start|stop}"
exit 1
;;
esac
exit 0

I checked my Pi's IP address after doing the apache part like mentioned and I saw the "It Works" screen. Before I brought it out and hooked up to my garage door I went to check again and am getting a Not Found error. Any ideas how to fix this?

3 replies

To update a little, I went on my laptop command prompt and did a ping 192.168.1.xxx and am not getting any packet loss at all so it can see that I am connected to the same wifi, but still get the 404 Not Found

I have not connected it to my garage door yet, but I am assuming that would not be the cause. I suppose I could connect it to test this theory out though.

I have a reply above about this in more detail but basically you want to check your apache error logs:

sudo tail /var/log/apache2/error.log

And it will tell you where it is looking for your site. Make sure that your site index.php file is in the folder that the error log lists as the location that was not found.

Ok, I'm farther down the path now. I've got a Rasbian jessie image changing the value of pin 7. It seems apache by default makes it's web root in /var/www/html

Place your files such that the index.php files is in that folder and you should make some headway.

Hi all. Didn't work for me. After I copied the files and opened the website all I got was a 404 Not Found msg. Can someone help out?

1 reply

I haven't tried this project yet but I am a
full stack web developer. You should be able to find error logs for
apache (your web server). By default they will be located in:

/var/log/apache2/error.log

You can look at the most recent errors with a text editor with something like:

sudo tail /var/log/apache2/error.log

Chances
are that it is looking in the wrong folder for your site as it is
saying that it can't find the files (404). The error log should have
some advice on what folder it is currently looking in. Once you know
where it is looking, move your stuff there (make sure that your index file is in the folder it is looking in) and it should either
find the site or give you a new error to work through :)

I have a problem. when I type in: sudo chown -R pi:root /var/www into the ssh, nothing happens. no folder is created or anything :( plz help

3 replies

Did you ever solve this, i am having the same issue

chown changes the ownership of a file or folder. In this case the command you are issuing is basically saying, change the /var/www folder (if it exists) and everything in it to be owned by the pi user and root group. If you don't have a /var/www folder, you can make it first by issuing:

mkdir -p /var/www

(make the /var/www directory and also make it's parent if they don't exist) if it complains about permissions put a sudo in front of it.

Once you have the folder, you can issue your chown command again and then you can check the results of your command by issuing:

cd /var

ls -l

Which translates to "move to the /var directory then list in long format the contents of that directory". You should see the files in and folders in the /var directory with the group and owner listed beside each item. You are hoping for the line for www to look something like this:

drwxr-xr-x 3 pi root 4096 Jan 28 2016 www