First Blind

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Since we couldn't find suitable blind material being sold separately, we resorted to buying the cheapest Faber Blind with the material we wanted. Pulling the material off the blind and attaching it on our pole was a little daunting. (Not to mention the difficulty of finding a large clean space to work in.) We decided to use velcro rather than the usual double-side sticky tape, which I think made it even more difficult to make sure that the material was aligned properly. However, the end result looks pretty smart:

Automated Blind

I'm sure it will look even better when the cables (on the right) are attached properly. We can't really make those cables live until work has finished in the currently dusty node 0.

In case you are wondering, the velcro is to give us the potential to use blackout blinds during the summer.

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Computerised Curtains

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After quite a lot of effort, with my new Dremel, I've created a nice box for the VIOM. This means we have computer control of a set of curtains now - one relay does the open signal and one for the close signal. Once the cables are fitted to the board - which is quite fiddly - it should be a simple matter of cabling with RJ11 connectors.

VIOM Box Front VIOM Box Back VIOM Box Inside

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Curtain Contraptions

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The first thing we did with the Dawn and Dusk Autoglide Curtain Track was to open up the light sensor and the switch to see how they were wired up. The light sensor is just a light sensitive resistor and the switch was a simple momentary switch. (Too simple really. It's quite naff really but I suppose we've been spoilt by the better looking blind motor switches.)

Since our cheap Maplin crimp tool wasn't really doing a great job, we decided to sacrifice the dawn and dusk sensor. Snip! Ideally, it would be nice to work out a sensor/resistor-like control since you should then be able to force the blinds open or closed. However, that will wait, for now we wired it up like the switch to an X10 universal module.

So it worked with the bare motor. For a proper test we decided to put the track up in the dining room - that's still full of boxes.

It worked and it looks pretty good too. I'd be nice to have more control than just momentary open/close/stop but it'll do for now.

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Blind control from PC

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Yippee! The 24V power supply (from RS) arrived and it did the trick. It's a bit of a mess but we managed to control the blinds using a PC:

Blinds With VIOM

We tested a bit at a time, but ended up with simple Perl script talking to the VIOM via the serial port. The VIOM was set to allow control of two outputs via the serial port (rather than the default of control via the inputs). The outputs were connected to the VIOM relay module. Finally the common and open of each relay output connect to the Centralis DC IB.

The blinds are controlled by a momentary toggle of the up or down output. This starts the blind moving and the Centralis keeps it going for a minute or two - long enough for the blind motor to reach it's limits (if only we could figure out how to set them). It is also possible to stop the blind moving by sending a momentary signal on both outputs at once.

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Started testing the VIOM today. We tested it out with a door contact - which after a little effort worked fine - and used it to try the blind control/switch that Tracy mentioned in an earlier entry.

We tested the Centralis with a voltmeter and it appeared to be doing exactly what we'd hoped. The motor voltage can be controlled through the up, down and stop switches on the front of the unit:

Centralis Front

and through the two momentary electrical inputs on the back:

Centralis Back

Sadly we couldn't actually get the motor running through the Centralis because we were trying to get away with using a 12V supply and it really requires 24V. I've ordered a 24V supply and hopefully we can get it working as soon as that arrives.

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