DIY Smart Gate House

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)

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


NICE. I just want to mention that UPS and FEDWrex have what are called white boards if you set up a personal account with them. I’ve done it for both and they have the code to my garage for package drop off. The instructions pop up automatically. I also have a friend that is a UPS driver that has confirmed this. Since I’ve set this up, I’ve had no packages left where they shouldn’t be. I would suggest setting that up with them as an added measure. It’ll direct them exactly where to leave the packages. Don’t forget to release your signature to them and they will be able to leave things without a signature.
Now to your idea. I love it! Way cool! I’ll be watching this even though I don’t have this same problem. I love to read about the challenges people have and how they hopped outside of the box to resolve it. Exciting things to come. Definitely.


Great advice I’ll do that today! Too bad Amazon doesn’t have the same. Not that it matters, we had one of their drivers hit our “rope gate” with enough force to pull my wife’s flag holder (one side of the rope) out of the ground and toss it across the driveway bending it all up. Thankfully we have a camera there and Amazon compensate us $75 for time and trouble.

The price tag just went up! :laughing:


Are you sure? They have the “Delivery box” option. You know? With the lock thing? I … thoooought … they had something like that? ?Seems they change their policies every other week. I never knew that two day shipping actually meant 5 in the Amazon world. Depending on where you are, it’s either straight days or business days. Take your pick. If it’s late … probably business days. :grin:

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Quick Gate House update. The GH took a hit when 30mph winds ripped the arm off it’s mount, flung it backwards, and tip the entire GH over. Minor damage to the frame and the ridge cap was busted, but that was repaired and Gate House 2.0 has been installed (and the flag will be removed with wind over 25mph which is why it is off now)

Most importantly the gate arm now has a standard flag pole mount. I drilled two holes in the mount, then screwed through those holes into the flag pole itself. The mount has a screw for positioning, which I used with a long screw to act as my new pivot point. This is stronger, and makes the arm go further up (nearly vertical).

GH 2.0 upgrades - We installed a Unifi POE switch with a wireless access point meshed at 450Mps, which is plenty for the camera. A 200 watt low voltage transformer, with Zooz Zen16 to control the outdoor lighting.

Awareness/notification - we have spot lights on the package box, so drivers can see it as nights get earlier. There is a ‘rule’ that if we come home and a package is in the box, flash the lights for 3 minutes, letting us know to stop. No flashing keep on rolling!

Form/Function - Since we think this will keep folks off the driveway sides, we installed the remaining “runway” lighting on the right side, and drainage under with the white rock over it on the left. While I had the ground open for the drainage we run the LV wire and another Cat6 for a future camera at the top of the hill.

Entry/Exit - There is a vehicle sensor at the top of our driveway that senses any large metal object passing by it. The senors is wired to an open close contact in HE. When a car passes by the contact closes and kicks off another ‘rule’ to open the gate, then close it after a delay. I’ll post details on the vehicle exit sensor setup in another thread.

A little closer view showing the ReoLink camera, LV lighting, and new mount. (sun ray bonus)

Lastly a quick update for @april.brandt, even after two phone calls to UPS the driver refuses to use the package box. I’ve included a picture of it, so you can see it’s not like it is some small thing they cannot see. My wife has signs she is making, but really you’d think the stepping stones to a big ass box would be enough! Not to mention the the first 4 LV lights (two not shown), and those spot lights turn on with that Hue motion sensor/Lux, so they can see it.


the UPS guys here prefer to do that so they don’t have to carry packages around until they can catch you at home for a signature. I have UPS my choice here. It rocks, and Ron (my driver) loves it too. I’m sorry they didn’t work well for you. It’s surprising. It’s the preferred carrier here for packages.

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Yeah we have that too, but they only have predefined options like garage, deck, porch, etc. There is no where to type “package box” :laughing:

Our problem is it seems to be a new driver every other day where we are at. Oh well, that camera is 5MP 24/7, so they should be on their toes now, or very soon.


Video is marked private.

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move to new thread and updated links thanks for the heads up!