Build a Remote Control Deadbolt




This instructable will show you how to build a remote-controlled door lock out of any number of 110V solenoids, solid steel dowel, some various odds and ends and an X10 remote appliance control. I built this for my garage door for less than $30.00, but your results may vary as I was able to score a couple of solenoids free from work.

Teacher Notes

Teachers! Did you use this instructable in your classroom?
Add a Teacher Note to share how you incorporated it into your lesson.

Step 1: Shopping List

Here is what you'll need to build your own remote control deadbolt:

I used two 110V solenoids out of an icemaker, but you may want to build your lock using DC solenoids. Some of them are very strong, and your options for powering the lock in the event of a power outage are greater. Just something to think about. IMPORTANT! -- Make sure you get a continuous duty solenoid, some solenoids are only meant to be energized momentarily, which will cause a problem if you leave them energized and walk away. Read up on the various types of solenoids here.

X10 Controller
I got my X10 controller (Keychain Remote type) on eBay for about $15.00 shipped. This is a simple kit that includes the receiver/appliance module and one remote. Search for "X10 Keychain Kit" or "RC6500" on eBay to find the one I bought.

In addition to the above, you'll need 2 return springs per solenoid used, 1/2" steel dowel rod (about $6.00 for 3'), an extension cable long enough to reach your outlet with enough to spare for some additional wiring, and possibly some bits of steel for reinforcement. Depending on what kind of connections your solenoids have, you'll probably want to get some crimp-on connectors. Solder and shrink tubing work better, but are harder to get apart if you should need to.

Optionally, you can buy a couple of magnets to mount inside the recessed mounting hole. This will help the bolt to stay extended, and make a great noise as the bolt closes.

Another improvement on my design would be to use a small hobby box as an enclosure for each solenoid. This would look a lot cleaner and keep the electrical contacts under wraps.

Step 2: Assess Your Situation

Figure out the best way to mount the lock on your door, it may end up looking drastically different from mine, as I have a funky 1/2 garage that barely fits my motorcycle. I'll use my end result as the example from here out, but use this guide as a loose how-to while building yours. I see great potential for a standard roll-up garage door with the solenoid mounted to the door frame, and the bolt going through the track and into the door itself.

For my door, I had to add a vertical support for the bolt to pass through. I used the left-over wood to make the horizontal mounting surface that the solenoids attach to. I reinforced the vertical pass-through with some framing hardware I found at Home Depot. The strike plates (the metal plates mounted to the door frame) are scrap steel I had laying around. Holes were drilled through the strike plates, steel reinforcements, and wood to accommodate the steel dowel.

IMPORTANT! --Make sure that you line up the holes well before drilling, and check your work after every step to make sure everything still lines up.

Step 3: Assembly

You'll need to drill a hole through the steel dowel big enough to fit the pivot pin. This is one of those steps that may be completely different for you, but the way my solenoids are built, I had to drill it as close to the end of the rod as possible. Once the hole is drilled, situate the dowel where it needs to be and insert the pivot pin.

Refer to the picture to see how I attached the return springs to the solenoid. You need to separate the legs of the retainer clip and thread the spring end through before inserting into the pivot pin, bending and clipping the ends off. The other end of the spring will be secured to the mounting surface, but wait until the very end to attach the other end. You may need to make adjustments, and the springs will get in your way.

With the pivot pin, dowel, spring and solenoid all attached now, you'll start to get a better idea how best to mount this up. Take your measurements and figure out the distance of throw on your solenoid. With this information you should now have an idea of how far away to mount the solenoid, and how long you need the steel dowel to be. Now would be a good time to measure, and cut your dowel. If you're planning to use more than one solenoid, you'll need to repeat the above process over again.

Step 4: Mount the Solenoids

Now that everything is fitted, you should be able to mount the solenoids to your surface. Test the action and make sure that there isn't too much resistance on the dowel to easily move it. At this point your springs should still be hanging freely. Extend the springs to test the return action on the dowel. If the springs have too much tension on them, they will bend and lose their 'springyness', so make sure they're not working too hard.

An idea that I wanted to try but ended up not using was to mount small magnets inside the holes that the dowel will slide into. The springs would barely have to work at all before the magnets took over. In the end though, I used some dowel from work which was non-ferrous and wouldn't be attracted by the magnet so I scrapped that step.

Step 5: Wiring

DISCLAIMER! -- I am not an electrician. I may be breaking some golden rule of electricity here, but this works for me. If anyone out there who is more qualified than me spots anything wrong with my wiring advice, please post a comment and I'll change the instructions (As soon as I change the wiring on my lock).

I used a very long PC Power cord for my lock. Any extension cord long enough to get you to your wall outlet should work great. It may be a good idea to route the cord, maybe even secure it along its route before beginning to wire the solenoids. My wiring is depicted (poorly) below. I went with a grounded 3-prong power cord, but haven't yet connected the ground to anything. Once everything is wired, plug the end into a spare power strip (turned off) and turn the strip on to test your wiring.

The image below looks like the white (gray) and black wires cross. They do not in real life. I apologize for the crappy MS-Paint picture, but follow the colors and not the wire paths and you should be good.

Step 6: Connect the X10 Module

Now that the wiring is done, make sure that there are no exposed high-voltage connectors. If everything looks good, plug your contraption into your X10 module and test it a few times. A very satisfying 'chunk' sound should result when you hit the button on the remote. Once everything looks good, move on to the final step.

Step 7: Connect the Springs!

If everything else is in place, it's time to connect the springs. By now, you probably know the correct distance to put them away from the solenoid so go for it. I used common drywall screws to secure the springs to the wood.

Since this is controlled by X10, you could easily integrate this into a home automation setup, and unlock your door using a remote, computer, or via a Windows Media or LinuxMCE home theater PC on your television!

Hopefully you're still with me, and this instructable works well for you. If you have any questions, please feel free to leave me a comment, and digg it if you dugg it!

Check out my other instructables!


The Instructables Book Contest

Participated in the
The Instructables Book Contest

Be the First to Share


    • Made with Math Contest

      Made with Math Contest
    • Multi-Discipline Contest

      Multi-Discipline Contest
    • Robotics Contest

      Robotics Contest

    96 Discussions


    4 years ago on Step 7

    can you tell me which side does the rod moves ,i mean does it moves to towards the selonoid or does it moves the other way um confused?


    5 years ago on Introduction

    how can I connect solenoid and other remote control circuit?


    5 years ago on Introduction

    Could you please send me your email? I have a lot of questions :)


    6 years ago on Introduction

    Hi, can I email you or something? I am interested in your ideals, I need help in my major project regarding the locking system. I really hoped you could teach me a few pointers.


    7 years ago on Introduction

    Dumb question. If you have a push pull selinoid, what are the purpose of the springs. It looks like they would have an opposite effect on it. Thanks in advance for anyone who answers my question!


    8 years ago on Introduction

    It might be possible to use a simple garage door remote. For example, I used the extra button on my garage door remote to power on my interior lights to my house. I was thinking that it just might be possible to activate a solenoid as well. This picture below is the model that I was referring to. I found one with the cover removed that might provide a better idea to what I'm talking about. Notice how the female connectors provide a good attachment to a solenoid. It would be much more secure than X10 and I only needed to order the control since I already had a remote that worked with it. You can buy it at Garage Door Remotes . It can be turned on or off with a key chain remote, regular car remote, or even a biometric fingerprint keypad if you felt like it.


    8 years ago on Introduction

    In my scenario, I have a large gate for my driveway. Currently it has a manual latch that must be used each time I drive in or out. It's mainly there to keep my dog in the yard, and other dogs out of my yard.

    There is AC 110 power out there, and I happen to have an old icemaker that is unused. What I'd like to do is make a gate latch "popper" so I can remotely pop the gate latch, and allow a spring and gravity to pull the gate open.

    This would save me one stop/trip each time I go through the gate in a vehicle, and the hundreds of dollars I would spend on a Mighty-Mule that would probably only last a few years at the most.

    Where to start? Should I take apart the ice maker to find the solenoid?


    8 years ago on Step 7

    Could you please provide information on the solenoid please, such as the manufacturer, model number, and where they are available?
    I've tried googling it but most all are valves and pool supply stuff.
    Thanks in advance.


    9 years ago on Step 5

    x10 is awesome, but I live in Europe, so I have 220-230V on my socket, which means I can't use it :(

    3 replies

    Reply 9 years ago on Step 5

    Couldn't you use a travel adapter of some sort? I'm sure that could work.


    9 years ago on Introduction

    Quick Question: If I wanted to use this on my bedroom door to keep out pesky siblings, could I use servo motors instead to "push" or "pull" the dowel?

    1 reply

    Reply 9 years ago on Introduction

    I would like to know this as well for the same application. I'm trying to make a lock for my lab and i am going to put a keypad on the other side. My only dilemma is, how do you reinforce the servo so it can move the bolt but doesn't have to be linked to it (making it a weak point).

    My thought right now is something along the lines of this:
    (\/) (Servo with gear w/ teeth)
    [^^^^^^^^^] (Bolt)
    and then the servo just spins the bolt... However, I doubt this is the best way.. Any other thoughts?


    9 years ago on Step 5

    just take it out, they are in parallel so if you take out one solenoid just ignore the wires that were going to it.
    here's how the "diagram" will look with only one

    1 reply

    Reply 9 years ago on Introduction

    that doesnt work parallel means that it will draw more amps but not volts i prettey sure u would hook the solenoids on series to draw 220V but only a few amp hope that helps ;)


    9 years ago on Introduction

    This is a very nice project and very nicely done.

    However, be aware that using X10 (especially wireless) for security this way is a bad idea.  X10 signals are simple, well-known, and published.  Someone would need to know only that you are using X10 to be able to quickly gain entry.  A brute force search of all 16 housecodes and the TM751's fixed unit code (1) can be completed in seconds.

    1 reply

    Reply 9 years ago on Introduction

    Absolutely, I agree that this is an easy system to defeat if you know what's behind the door running the whole thing.  Think of it as security through obscurity.  Who would think that X10 is being used to secure a structure?  We've since moved and this setup hasn't been replicated at our new house, but when it was in place it was never the only thing keeping people out.  This was used to supplement a hasp/padlock setup that was already in place.


    9 years ago on Introduction

    im not buliding it but im doing a report on it but thanks for your help