Feasibility of Timed Door Opener project

Hi,

I would be most grateful to hear your thoughts on using an arduino board to extend the functionality of a gate opening system.

Background
I want to install an automatic door opening system on a Goose house. The system would automatically open the door to the house at a set time in the morning to leave the Geese out. The door would remain open until the push button is pressed. I want to automatically open the door and manually close it.
I purchased a solar powered gate opening kit which included the following items a 12v battery, a controller unit, an electric motor, an articulated arm bracket, a solar panel, a push button and a wireless remote.
The system works great as it is but there is no built-in functionality to automatically open the gate (door) at a set time.

I bought a 12v timer and wired that along with the push buttom into the button terminals on the board. This almost worked ! The button operated as normally (toggled the door open and closed when pressed) and the timer also worked insofar that it would switch on at the set time and caused the motor to operate. The problem with this setup is that the timer I have can only be programmed to turn on at a set time and off at set time with a minimal interval of 1min. This is the same effect as holding down the push button for 1 minute. What happens in this case is that the motor operates but it seems to override its ability to stop when resistance is sensed in the motor (ie an object blocking the door or door reaching the stop). I’m worried with this setup that the motor could burn out.

So Ideally I would need some method to replicate the signal sent from the push button to the board when pressed. Maybe a timer with a minimal interval of 1sec would work but I have been unable to source such 12v timer.

I was wondering if an arduino could be used in this scenario?
Maybe I could use the timer to power up the arduino and then the arduino would send the ‘pulse’ signal into the controller.

Many thanks for having a reading and I would very much appreciate hearing your thoughts.

Pat

I was wondering if an arduino could be used in this scenario?

Certainly. In a number of ways. The Arduino could be connected to the circuit that you have (perhaps with an opto-isolator) to emulate the manual switch press, or it could be used to drive a IR led (if that is what your wireless remote uses) to emulate the wireless remote (with no need to directly attach it to the circuit.

You could even go so far as to toss the controller unit that came with the system and have the Arduino do all the work. This presumes that current sensing is done using sensors, rather than built into the control circuit.

Having looked closer at the controller, replacing it won't be as easy as I first thought. Never mind that idea.

Hi PaulS,

Thanks for your guidance and options laid out below.

The idea of making use of the IR sensor is intriguing but I think the remote is RF. There is a short wire attached to the board on the J2 position on the bottom right which I believe is an antenna.

I'll go ahead and get an Arduino kit so, besides the opto-isolator is there any other accessories I'd need for this job?

Thanks a lot,
Pat

There is a short wire attached to the board on the J2 position on the bottom right which I believe is an antenna.

Probably is, then.

If all that the Arduino is doing is emulating pushing a switch, then an opto-isolator or small relay is all that is required, IF the Arduino knows what time it is. By default, they do not, so you need to add an RTC (real time clock), too.

Got it, thanks so much your help has been invaluable.

You could make an Arduino tell when it's morning and even if it's say, raining fiercely outside.
An led works as a cheap light sensor. Point a few up, eastwards, etc, so a full moon won't false one, make them all agree for some time period (10 minutes?) and test the setup thoroughly. Arduino can even monitor temperature and not let the geese out into deep freeze.

If you had a spring or counter-weight that actually provided the force to open the door (would be reset when you close the door) then you would only need to motorize a latch, which a solenoid can do. That might help if you automate more doors.

Possibly you could use a security sensor (Hall, latch type) to tell when the door opens and use that to cut power or shield the signal of the remote? But it would be cleaner to cut the remote out of the picture and trigger the door opener directly.