Im planning on making something that pulls a fairly heavy "blackout" curtain at 5a and releases at 11p. This seems like a pretty simple project, but I'm intimidated by the Arduino ecosystem. Can anyone give a recommendation on models/accessories I'd need for this project? I'd like it to be battery powered and as small as possible. Thanks!
You could do that with any Arduino, and an Uno's the easy place to start since it's of a decent size to work with and the pins are all easy to use.
You could start by looking for a suitable motor, perhaps a sail winch servo.
Arduinos don't have clocks- not in the time of day sense, so you would probably want a Real Time Clock module such as one of these.
It would help if you define the requirements a little better. Can you take a fish scale and pull the drawstring to get an idea of the force required as a starting point? Then you have what you need to pick a motor and gearbox. Does the motor have to hold the curtain open (or closed)? Once you know which motor, then you can pick an H bridge motor driver to suit. Will there be limit switches at the ends of travel?
My limited experience of curtain drawstrings was that they require a quite powerful pull so measuring the force would be an excellent idea.