First some quick background, feel free to skip to the good parts below. We have a fairly long winding driveway with plants and low voltage lighting lining it (more to come one we fix the issues below). With my Nissan NV truck parked, there is nowhere to turn around, without making a 5 point turn. Delivery drivers/solicitors cannot make it back down without running over something. To help with deliveries we put a package box at the end of our driveway, but they drive right past it (last night the UPS guy walked past the package box and all the way to the house, over 100 feet, now I need motion lights on the box!). We needed a way to stop traffic from coming up the driveway and the manual “rope gate” was getting old fast as the weather turned colder.
I’ve been thinking about our problem and different solutions for a long time. We even had a “gate guy” scheduled to install a big metal gate, but he kept blowing us off (might have saved me some $$ in the end). I came up with the gate arm as one of many solutions. Then I came across this YouTube video using a linear actuator activated via a smart switch. I prefer ZigBee, so I used a smart outlet in place of the switch. In the video he does a good job explaining how the relay needs to be wired. Pay close attention to that part. I used all the same relay and DC power supply.
Introducing our Smart Gate House
Mission - prevent unwanted driveway traffic, and provide a place for additional security/convenience items to live.
Parts List (the big stuff)
Hanover Outdoor Wooden Storage Shed with Pitched Roof (was a steal at $199, but now it’s $499)
Linear actuator - $34
DC power supply - $11
Heat shrink wire spades - $20 but it’s a big kit for many projects. (optional, extra water proofing/neatness points)
AC wire from PC - I have tons of these!
Flag pole - had a few so I used it temporarily might be upgraded.
2x6 Pressure treated lumber for mounting (the structure cannot hold anything and would fall apart without reinforcement.
Setting up the smart arm.
Here is the crude wiring I did for testing. The close up shows the “crossover wire” that provides the negative voltage needed to change direction. I wanted my arm down when power was off, so the DC power input is wired one way, if you wanted it open when off you could wire the other way, both work. When AC power is applied to the relay it switches the voltage. The actuator stays at full open or full closed depending on +/- DC power.
Connection Details :
- Top binding - 120VAC input.
- 2nd binding - Liner actuator and DC-/+ crossover wire
- 3rd binding - 12VDC input
- Bottom binding - DC+/- crossover wire.
Building the Gate House.
the structure is basic so I’ll keep this brief. This reminded me of setting up a tent, it has no stability until it is put together. All and all it was well manufactured with pre-drilled holes for all screws.
Mount and wire
I mounted a flag pole using a screw, 2 washers, and a spacer for easy rotation. The pivot point was intentionally about 5 inches from the bottom of the flag pole. Given the 4 inch throw (push distance) of the actuator that gave me about 75 degrees of motion. Using the table saw I cut a grove in just a portion of the under side of each 2x6 used to mount the arm. This allowed me to run the wire in the grove under the blocks, with drip loops, preventing any water from getting inside. I mounted the outlet box, relay, and power strip inside using the mounting blocks needed for the arm.
The structure is fairly thin and light weight. A hard enough rain/wind would knock it over, or wash it away (our driveway creates a river during storms. We are working on better drainage as well). To prevent that I added 2 4x4 PT lumber braces mounted to 3/4 PT plywood, fastened to 2 cinder blocks. She aint going no where!
What’s on Tap for our little Smart Gate House? A LOT!! (chipping away, we’ve got most of it done!)
- A paint job! My wife hates the yellow and wants it to match the maroon shutters/lattice.
- Battery backup for arm circuit
- Bigger flag with better mounting/new arm
* Magnets (to help doors shut tighter for better rain protection, it’s “water proof” and not shorted with 2 storms so far)
* Driveway vehicle exit sensor to open/close contact.
* Unifi Mesh AP to get internet to the Gate House
* POE Switch for AP and Camera
* ROELINK PTZ POE Camera
* Low Voltage transformer
* Zooz outdoor motion sensor(use Hue)
* Zooz Zen16 dry contact for LV zone control as needed
* LV Lighting for Smart Gate House and adjacent package box with motion activation.
- Light strip with open/close contact
* Some sorta outdoor indicator to tell us if there’s a package in the adjacent box, color light maybe, thoughts?
EDIT: Updates see this post