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What could go wrong in a standard garage door opener? Answered

Hello there,

I have been asked to try to repair a malfunctioning garage door opener. The man who handed them to me said all of the modules work for a few weeks, then suddenly stop working.

I opened them, looking for any burnt component, dry solder joints, tested relays in search of a stuck one, but could find nothing. I tested them at home, and they all reliably clicked their relay on and off, as expected.

So the question is, what would cause ordinary garage door openers to fail?

I thought about a bad powerline (circuits are 50's era in his building, and have never been redone), but have no means to check it.

In the same direction, I was looking for a different model garage door opener, and only found two alternatives: one is the run-of-the-mill SkyLink stuff, expensive, reasonably secure, the other is the dirt cheap Chinese-made remotes with no hint about security.

Since this is Instructables, I looked for garage door opener projects, but most are so-called "smart" and need a reliable Internet access, both on the smartphone and on the receiver module. Since this is a multi-tenant building and my country is known to be among the most expensive for internet access 1. there's no easily accessible Internet in the garage 2. drivers can't be assumed to have a smartphone and even if they do, 3. Internet access on a cell phone is extremely expensive.

The other question would then be: have any of the community members here saw a garage door opener that would:
1- only need easy-to-make RF remotes?
2- be at least as secure as the original SkyLink?
3- require no Internet access?

Discussions

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Toga_Dan

3 years ago

have you put a voltmeter on the motor? Does it get voltage when relays click? Some openers have force switches. If it "thinks" it is applying too much force, it will quit. Some have distance switches which shut it off when it has gone far enough. Either type can be out of calibration.

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CubytusToga_Dan

Reply 3 years ago

Motor voltage wasn't tested yet, but I would expect they have force switch since this is a legal requirement for door motors to lift the door if they encounter some force downwards like an object stuck underneath.

Again, this is intermittent, so it could work without issue during tests, and not afterwards...

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Toga_DanCubytus

Reply 3 years ago

temperature change can affect these. Perhaps grease gets thicker when cold, and it takes more force to move things. Force Guage then says "nope"

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Downunder35m

3 years ago

I don't really know where your problem is.
First you say the modules fail to work, then that you tested them all succesfully - which one is it?
If they do work then you most likely fight interference problems, maybe someone with a nice UHF radio or HAM radio near by?
The chinese remotes do a reasonable job and security is relative if you consider that you can legally buy scanners for those remotes.
If you want it reliable and without interference maybe the use of RF ID tags and a reader would be an option?
Sure you need to open the window and place the tag on the reader but much better than remotes that never work...

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CubytusDownunder35m

Reply 3 years ago

I was told the modules fail to work, but they all do, as far as I could test them. There's a second garage door opened by the same brand of modules that show no problem, so I doubt it would be an interference problem.

I wondered why he never used a standard key + lock to make the door open, but I guess it was easier to fit a remote module on an existing motor than dig a trench, lay cable conduit, make a hole in the wall. So RFID would require the same kind of heavy job. And he doesn't trust the tenants to handle anything electronic carefully, and RFID cards are prone to breaking.

The only logical conclusion would be the motor, or the cable fitted from the module to the motor. The modules already have a dim LED on them telling wether they received the signal. I could add a very bright LED wired to the outside to check the module is actually working.

But since this is an intermittent problem and therefore hard to debug, maybe something to log the state of the different device (receiver status, motor status, switch status) would help? How would this kind of circuit be called?