Tom's Drapery Automation Ideas 
Updated: 09/10/03

List of Parts Design Text Pictures/Diagrams Other Notes
List of Parts | Design Text | Pictures/Diagrams | Other Notes

    Below (in Design Text section) is a copy of an email I had sent to another HA enthuisists in regards to building your own drapery control system.  So far, I have built 6 of these units are these have been successfully been controlling some rather large vertical blinds I have in my solarium.  Hopefully in the next month or two, I'll attempt to take more detailed pictures and include more detailed information in designing these ball chain control units.





This is a great idea. I'm off to Sears tomorrow in search of these things... to me the "cordless screwdriver" method seemed a little tacky and overengineered.

Newsgroups: comp.home.automation
Date: Sunday, April 27, 1997 3:19 AM
Subject: Re: Automating Louvered blinds?

L. M. Rappaport wrote:
> TWarnock@Mindspring.Com (Todd Warnock) wrote (with possible editing):
> >I've seen somewhere plans for a homebuilt solution that uses a
> >cordless screwdriver, in a wallmounted charger. Since the screw
> >driver is reversible, all you need is to wire the switch to some sort
> >of X-10 low voltage switch, add some sort of limit circuit (or a timer
> >circuit on the backend via something like JDS, StarGate, HomeVision,
> >etc.) and voila !
> A cordless screwdriver!!! Now THAT is really slick!
> I have a similar problem only with vertical blinds. There are two
> continuous loops - one to vary the angle of the blinds and the other
> to open and close them. For the blinds to work easily (these are
> large), they should be perpendicular to the window when they are
> opened or closed.
> I've seen some drapery controllers, but they appear to have one motor
> only and are ridiculously expensive.

 > I can handle all the electronics easily, what I really need help on is
> the mechanical, motorized part.

 Any ideas? Thanks

> --


Another alternative to these *expensive* controllers is to use one of those $20 rotisseirie (sp?) motor kits for a barbecue grill. (I beleive Sears sells one ...I purchased 12 of them at a close-out place years ago and paid under $100 for all 12). I have disassembled them and used the gear assembly "AS-IS". I beleive they rotated at 30 RPM, just right to control my blinds. I have 5 sets of PVC (heavy!) 12 foot long blinds in my solarium and each set has 2 of these modified motor assemblies. My modification was to yank the gear assembly out of the black metal box it was in and install it in a new wooden box which matched the wooden siding on the walls. I also called Levelour (sp?), the maker of the blinds, and requested extra ball-chain gears. These are identical to the gear which allows the ball-chain type rope to control the movement (tilt) of the blinds. I adapted this gear to the reduction gear assembly output and simply slid the blind's ball-chain onto the gear which I had mounted to the motor assembly. I them adjusted the gear assembly box such that it provided enough tension on the ball-chain control and then permanently mounted the box to the wall. WOW! It works great! (No slipping at all!) As for the control to open/close the blinds, It was a bit tricky because this uses a nylon type rope for control. Well, after a lil' pondering, I figured since the chain-rope hookup worked so well, I only wished that the open/close control was ALSO a chain-rope. WELL! Guess what I did? I spliced in a peice of the chain-rope stuff into the nylon rope where needed and performed the same mod to the motor assembly as ... WOW! It works great also! Anyway, hope this (as long as it is) helps!

 Tom L.

p.s. I also had to use limit switches to stop the blinds in either direction. My system uses mini limit (micro) switches for this sensing. As for the thing to sense, I simply used extra large ball-chain "links" (you know those little thingys used to connect one ball-chain to another ??) Anyway, since these LINKs are larger that the ball-chain itself, I have a setup such that the ball-chain passes through an area just large enough for the ball-chain but NOT for the LINK. When the assembly senses the LINK, it triggers a micro switch. I hope this isn't too confusing ... if so, Email!) Of course, these are controlled via X-10 utilzing one of those X-10 beeper/contact-closure modules which provide for a relay output.

 Tom L.

Older Pictures/Diagrams

Unit Purchased | Gear Assembly | Disassembled Unit | Outfitted Unit
Closeup Pic | Another Gear Motor being tested | Ball Chain Gear

Recent Project Pictures
Partial Assembly of Motors | Closeup#1 of Limit Switches | Closeup#2 of Limit Switches

Completed Project Pictures
1|2|3|4|5|6|Open Blinds|Closed Blinds

Drapery Control Schematic!
Drapery Control Schematic! (smaller)

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