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.
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.
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.
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: 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).
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:
We’ve spent a lot of time thinking about blinds but we also want automated curtains in some of the rooms as they’ll be warmer in winter. As with automated blinds, one company seems to have the automated curtain market sewn up in this country: Silent Gliss. The Silent Gliss autoglide curtains are available from a number of sites including Simply Automate. The most basic Dawn and Dusk model is most suited to automation - you can replace the dawn and dusk sensor with an X10 curtain controller.
We came across one post that mentioned using a Somfy Centralis DC IB for controlling a Somfy DC blind motor. It seems to drive a motor in both directions based on up down and common inputs - seems to be just what we need. The manual didn’t have enough information for us to be confident about this unit, but since it wasn’t a hugely expensive component I decided to buy it and give it a go.
The motor arrived yesterday, it was just in a box with no further instructions. It has just two wires coming out of it. We know from the online manual that it runs at 12 or 24 vdc. After a bit of experimentation we get it to turn in one direction, but can’t get it to rotate the other way. We think you need to reverse the polarity of the supply to change the direction (which we are doing manually), but it will only go one way.
I’ve spent a few days looking at possibilities for automating window blinds. Here’s what I’d like to be able to do: Have all blinds in the house come down at dusk and go up after we’ve gone to work Have a blackout blind in our bedroom go up (behind curtains) in the summer to wake us up naturally (but not at 4:30 am as has been happening recently …), this needs the motor to be pretty quiet, don’t know if this is possible.