Introduction: Solar Powered: Automatically Open Window Drapes(curtains) in the Morning and Close at Night.
In this world, there is a need to make every task automated. The beauty of automatic things is that they can function without human intervention. Some people say automation is leading to laziness. Others say it eases lives. Either way, it will be fun to have a machine with can open the windows at the crack of dawn and closes them during evening.
How this will help:
--If you are like me, then you will agree that some of us need the glare of the sunlight against our skin to wake us up. Automatic drapes-opener could be a substitute of an alarm clock. Nothing can get you wide awake than the light streaming through an open window in the morning.
--Imagine you are not home and forgot the window drapes open. This will save you the hassle of worrying about them. The drapes(curtains) could close when it gets dark.
--Such a machine will give us more time to be lazy. Not in the mood to open or close drapes? You don't have to. A machine will do that for you. Isn't that awesome?
The automatic opening and closing of window drapes isn't really a difficult one. Most of the research I did showed me that current systems to perform this task use boards like arduino or raspberry pi or photosensors. I refrained from using any of these. I wanted to device a cheap machine which can be fabricated easily from parts salvaged from old electronics. Also, it is solar-powered, eliminating the need for any batteries.
Step 1: Materials
--A solar panel. (Can be bought from electronic stores, whether online or or otherwise. I was able to get mine from an old solar charger)
--A battery-operated electrical toy car. (Can be purchased from toy stores with a powerful motor. In my case, I used a lego toy car. You don't necessarily have to buy one. You can build one for yourself, as long as it has wheels and a motor. Check out this instructable to learn how to make one.)
--Long wires (This is optional and will be used in case the wires connected to your solar panel are not long enough)
--Two blocks of wood or any other hard material.
--A 2 inch+ nail.
--An elastic stretchy rope.(In my case, I got pieces of old rubber tire tubing and tied together. Basically, any rope material which can stretch will be apt. )
--A short rope.
Step 2: How It Works
Before we get started, I thought it wise to first of all explain how the device will operate. A picture above shows a simple drawing of the mechanisms behind it. The way it works is easy and can easily be divided into little steps:
1. Sunlight shines on a solar panel, hereby producing electricity.
2. The electricity drives the motor in a toy car which propagates the car forward on a fabricated track. This toy car is hooked to the edge of the drapes on the side and an elastic rope on the back.
3. The electric power should be sufficient to pull the car, along with the drapes attached to it. The elastic rope will be stretched and pulled too. With the drapes fully open, the car reaches a barrier. It doesn't stop working. It's motor keeps on working against the force of the elastic band throughout the entire course of the day.
4.When the sun goes down, there is no light to power the solar panel. Electric flow ceases. Electric motors stop running. With no force working against the elastic rope, it's stored-up elastic energy gets released.
5.The energy pulls the car back against the track. The drapes which are still attached to the car gets pulled back too, closing the drapes.
6. The next day, the cycle gets repeated all over again.
Step 3: Solar Panel and Motor
Get rid of the batteries connecting the motor to the batteries. Now, connect the wires of the solar panel to that of the motor. It's paramount that the wires be long enough. Since the car shall be moving freely, the wires should be long to give unrestrained movement.
Step 4: Tying and Nailing.
Grab the nail and hammer into one of the wooden blocks (or any other hard block). Shove only half the length if the nail, leaving half exposed. Get the elastic rope. This rope should be strong but stretchy. You wouldn't want a circumstance when it will break during action. Also, the elasticity will ensure the elastic energy eventually gets released. Tie one end of the elastic rope to this exposed part. The other end should be tied to the back of the car.
Step 5: Rope and Pin
A rope will have to attached from one edge of the car to the edge of the window drape.(The drape should be free to slide easily on whichever pole or rod it is attached to.) They should be firmly attached to prevent unharnessing during operation. To hold the drape in place, use a safety pin.
Step 6: Assembling
That's pretty much all there is to it. Easy, right?
There should be a track overhead or next to your window where the car will drive on. At the beginning, I mentioned to needed two wooden blocks. With one nailed and harnessed to the back to the car, the other should sit at one end of the track. Nail it down to ensure it doesn't move or fall off. On the other end of the track, nail down the other block of wood( the one attached to car) This way, it won't move when the car moves. Only the elastic rope will get stretched.
It's ready for use.
**Sorry the picture is dark. I had to take the photos with the curtain partly close for demonstration purposes. If you look very closely, you should be ale to see all the parts.