Introduction: Automatic Shutters by Riley Monaghan

This instructable was created in fulfillment of the project requirement of the Makecourse at the University of South Florida (

The project I created and am here to talk to you about today is my automatic shutter system, a system designed to, theoretically, be placed in front of your license plate. There are three main sections that make up my project, the control system, the actual shutter system, and a housing for part of the control system.

Step 1: Control System

The control system was based with a Arduino Uno programming board, and designed to have the input be a capacitive touchpad, which closes the shutter system using a servo motor. Simultaneously, an LCD display changes from “Shutter System Disengaged,” to “Shutter System Engaged.” A 9V battery being run through a voltage regulator powered everything. The circuit schematic can be seen in the image attached. The main Arduino code and description of each steop can be seen in the attached .ino file.

Step 2: Shutter System

The actual shutter system I designed was meant to be placed in front of a motorcycle license plate, which meant designing shutters that can block a 4 inch by 7 inch area. As part of the project requirements, we needed to include a box to hold the control system. To design the shutter system and make sure the box is utilized, I redesigned the box's cover to be 3d printed. The step file for the original cover can be found here.

As you can see in the first image, I included a rod attached to the cover, a drop through hole that allows another 'mounting' rod (Image 2) to be placed, as well as a hole that allows the servo to be contained but the arm to be in place. The walls next to the servo's hole were tall enough for the arm to rotate, and included notches to allow a cover (Image 4) to be placed on top of the hole. This cover is what the servo was screwed. It is important to make sure there is enough distance between the servo's hole and the rod, along with at least 7 inches between the rod and the drop through hole.

The connecting rod and the mounting rod were both 3d printed, and both need to be at least 4 inches from the box cover's surface. From there, I 3d printed the servo cover and a connecting rod (Image 3) that allowed the mounting rod to stay in place. All of these were ultimately screwed into place with 3/4 inch #6 screws to help hold everything in place.

The shutters were laser cut out of 1/4 inch acrylic. I laser cut 4 shutters with the dimensions of 2 inches by 6.8 inches, allowing them to be a little shorter than the distance between the two rods. I also painted only one side that was 6.8" x 2" black, so that when you look through the shutters when they're disengaged, you can still see the license plate. From there, I heated up 12 finishing nails until they were red hot, and pushed them into the side of the shutters, keeping them in place. 8 were used in the center of each short side of the shutter, allowing them to pivot. The other 4 were used to connect to the servo arm. This connection was done by another piece of acrylic I laser cut.

Step 3: Housing Unit

The housing unit was made to hold the touchpad and LCD. The holes were dimensionalized to fit my specific LCD and touchpad, and I designed it so it could be placed in a car's dash and be aesthetically pleasing. Once everything was placed, using screws for the LCD and hot glue for the touchpad, a back cover was laser cut and screwed into place.