Help: looking to make a small device that pulls the curtain.

Hi everyone!

I'm new to arduino's but done a decent amount of programming and trying to see if I can make this small, silly christmas present for my wife - automate the opening of one of our curtains - and need some help.

We have fabric curtains on a rod, that the dream, is to have an simple app on her phone that says 'open curtain'... and a piece of string attached to the middle of the curtain gets pulled in, drawing back the 1 side of our bedroom curtains. No need to close, as I do that every night when I go to bed.. (but it does need to let go as I pull it back i guess).

Is this something that can easily be done? I don't even know what to google to make this happen. A super small arduino, with a pulley/motor?

Any/all advice would be super helpful as I'd love to have a project that I could build, and do something small but nice for my wife.

Thanks in advance!!


That is absolutly doable. One solution can be a motor that turns the rod a specificate number of turns, up and down. The more demanding way is to use switches for top and bottom limits. Yes, most Arduinos would be handling this.

When you get the mechanical design done, then the Arduino part may be quite easy. The Arduino forum is not a custom mechanical design forum.


You may get some ideas from a site search of 'drapes'. It's a recurring theme.

... A super small arduino, with a pulley/motor?

Sure - considerations you'll need to make are how small it needs to be, how much torque does it take to pull the curtain along the track, how do you want to power the motor?

It seems like it wouldn't take much more engineering to make it close the curtain as well, by putting a pulley on the other end of a drive belt or chain, and reversing the motion of the motor. Add a Real Time Clock to automate opening and closing at exact times. To power it, there are batteries, plug in power supplies, and solar/battery combinations (among other power sources.) If you've got a plug handy, a 2.4 amp usb charger wall wart would be clean and easy.

For the motor, a stepper would be easy to design design and program, but a gear motor with end stop switches might be more efficient. Some steppers that run on less than 5 volts, and use less than an amp of current. They would be small, about the size of a golf ball, and should would work well with a low friction sliding mechanism.

If you use a wall wart, then consider a Nano or Micro, or perhaps a Trinket because they have have a 5 volt usb interface for power. All of the electronic parts could fit in an altoids tin. To get much smaller, bare chip construction would need to be used, and that's definitely not an early project.

Think about some sort of chain instead of a string. Expect your project to make a lot of noise. To get it absolutely silent would take some doing.
Perhaps even magic:

run silent run drapes - twin peaks: s3 e13 44:52

and a piece of string attached to the middle of the curtain gets pulled in, drawing back the 1 side of our bedroom curtains.

Make the string long enough and you can pull it while in bed. :slight_smile:

More seriously, just buy one of the kits for opening and closing curtains and then add a motor to kit - you will have open and close.

Whatever you choose to do you will need to measure the force needed to move the curtains, and I suspect it will be a lot higher than you think. Then you can choose a motor/gearbox combination that can provide the necessary torque.


??? It's not Christmas Eve..... why are to bothering to think about it now ?

The drape part might be the easiest part.
Just get a gear motor and connect it to your blinds.
may need to add a pulley on the blinds with a toothed belt.
and then cut the cord.

add your controls and add a switch next to the drapes.

A flick of the switch and it goes open, flick it the other way, and it goes closed.
the drapes will need an end stop, but that should not be too hard to add.

possibly monitor current and shut down when it gets to high, such as at the ends of the travel.

as for the wireless part...
if you are familiar with the Arduino, then you know what you need to do.
if not, it might be easier to just get a clicker remote.

to have open and close with a remote.
once you have the mechanics, the software can follow.

as with most things, the first 90% of project gets done in 90% of the time,
of the remaining, 10%, 90% of that gets done in another 90% of the time....
and that last 1% can take another 90% of the time.