Voice-Controlled Shutters with Alexa & MySensors

  • 29 December 2016
  • Author: Dan Santee
  • Number of views: 781
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Voice-Controlled Shutters with Alexa & MySensors

My office desk faces a southern window which can be very bright and hard on my eyes while working, so I wanted to come up with a fun way to open and close the shutters.

I've covered the excellent MySensors project before - but it's really a lot more than sensors. This time, I used the servo actuator capabilities to make a motorized shutter controller. I started by creating a basic working MySensors node - keeping in mind that it has to be constantly powered in order to recieve messages. I typically use 1A USB chargers, but I found that every time the motor moved, it crashed the node, so I wound up going up to a 2A USB charger, which works very well. It can even power two servos, which is exactly what I needed in my case.

The servos I used are a high-torque variety of standard R/C car/plane/helicopter servos called the MG996R which has plenty of power to push and pull my shutter arms. The wiring is extremely simple: the motor has three wires, power, ground and signal - connect power and ground up directly to the same power source as the Arduino (DO NOT try to power it from the Arduino itself) and then connect up the signal wire to pin 3 on the Arduino. That's all there is to it!

From there, I just had to create the linkage to connect it to my shutters. Since my shutters are of the plantation variety, there's a connecting rod that runs up the middle which just slides up and down to open and close the shutters. I 3D printed a new servo horn (the bit that connects to the gear on the servo) and an arm which I connected to the rod on the shutter. At this point, it was just a matter of boxing and running wires.

All I did to finish up was add the device to my Control4 system (which talks to the VeraLite that MySensors is hosted on) and add it to the Alexa home automation skill. This will vary considerably from setup to setup, but be careful with what words you choose to use for Alexa. She's great with certain words and phrases, but has real trouble with things like Up vs On. I also found that if I tried to use "shutters up" she constantly turned off, which I assume was a misunderstanding with "shut up". I finally settled on "raise/lower office shutters" as being the most reliable. You can see the video of it working below. Also, I've attached to this article the Ardino sketch for the shutter control, and the OpenSCAD files I used to create the linkage and boxes.

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