Configure a Remote Garage Door Opener on Smart Phone

Published April 5, 2020  ( 5 min read )
automation

Smart Phone, these days, is not just a telephone. It has become a very powerful and convenient tool to do several taks in our day-to-day life. It can help us pay over the counter, it can open the door of the house without a key, and many more. We can use the same smartphone as a remote controller for opening an automatic garage door.

In this blog, we will learn how we can install our smart device on your existing automatic garage door controller so that you can open or close the garage door using your smart phone. As we will be using the wifisecureaccess app, it is highly secure, and nobody else other than authorised users will be able to open the garage door. Lets get started :


Things we need


  1. WifiSecure Access Smart device
  2. A screw driver and connecting wires
WiFiSecureAccess smart device can be purchased from Amazon.

Fig 1: Smart Device




Step 1

Locate the automatic controller of your garage door. There are plenty of manufactures of the garage door and, therefore, the controller of the garage door can come in various designs. However, all garage doors will have a manual switch (push button) to open/close. This switch may either be located on the PCB of the garage door controller, or it may be mounted on the wall or elsewhere in the garage. On some garage door controllers, you may find two terminals on the box marked as 'Push Button'.

If you have loacted the manual push button, try pushing it. That should open/close the garage door. Then, open that push button and take a plier or any bare wire and try shorting both the terminals of that push button. That also should open or close the garage door. If so, your garage door is compatible and can be connected to our smart device.

In some cases when the push button is on the side wall. You may open its box and determine if it has any active electronics. If so, the incoming cables may not be going directly across the two terminals of the push button. Only when you short between the two terminals of the push button, it will open/close the garage door, and not necessarily when you short the incoming cables.

Once the push button is located and its two terminals are identified, and once it was found that you are able to open/close the garage door by shorting the two terminals of the push button, you can cable those two terminals of the push button to NO and COM of the smart device as shown in Fig 3. You can mount the smart device at any location where there is power and WiFi, and then run the two cables from it to the pushbutton terminals of the garage door controller.

Fig 2: Cabling Push Button to Smart device

Fig 3: Cabling Push Button to Smart device

Note: If you are unable to locate the manual push button or unable to connect the smart device across the oush button, there is another way by using one of your wireless remote controller. If you open the remote, you can either see a track onto which the push button makes contact, or, you may find the push button itself soldered directly on its PCB. You may solder two wires either across that track or to the terminals of the push button if it is sitting on the PCB. Then connect them to NO and COM of the J7 connector of the smart device. Refer to 3A and 3B with such cabling to a wireless remote controller. In fact, you can buy one Universal Remote controller and train it to your garage door. Then connect the push button of that remote controller as shown the Fog 3A and 3B so that you and the members of your family can use a smartphone to open/close the garage.
Fig 3A: Smart device connected to a wireless remote of the garage door

Fig 3B: Cabling of a wireless remote to the Smart device


Note: The smart device needs either 12VDC power or 240/110VAC power. If 12VDC power is available from any connector of the garage controller, that along with its GND can be cabled to J1 connector on the smart device. If not, external power has to be applied to the smart device. You can either apply 12V power to the J1 connector, or you can connect 240V/110V to connector J3 and J4 (as explained in section 2.2 of the documentation). If you are cabling to manual push button of the automatic controller of the garage door to the samrt device with external power to smartdevice, use Relay terminal's NO and COM of the smart device instead of P0.

In some of the garage door controllers, there may be a terminal block on its PCB with ports for connecting external push buttons. In such cases, that terminal block may also have 12V power. If 12VDc is available, you can use that as the power supply to the smart device by cabling it to J1 connector and avoid the need for 110/240VAC power.

Step 2

Once this cabling is completed, it is only a matter of configuring the device. If this is a new device that you just purchased, and you have not done the initial setting up yet, follow the steps given in Section 2.0 'Installation'. That section explains how to set up WiFi of this device. It is a requirement to have WiFi available at the garage door.

After completing the steps in section 2.0, create a group of those who will be allowed to use this garage door. The steps are as explained in Section 4.0 'Allowing Multiple Users' of this documentation. So, complete those steps. When creating a group, name that group with meaningful name such as 'My House' or 'My Garage' or anything that you like.

After completing the above steps in section 2.0 and 4.0, click 'Configure Device' under 'Device Admin' in the left menubar of the Dashboard. That will take you to a page similar to Fig.4.

Fig 4: Configure Device for Garage Door

On this page, give a name to this device. Give a meangful name such as 'My Garage' or something like that. Make sure to add the word "Garage" either in the name of the device or its port label of relay1. The device will operate normally as a garage door opener only if the name of the device or its port label contains the word Garage. Select the group name that you just created for device group. Select 'ENTRY/EXIT' for Use Type. You may set its timezone. Select D7 Type as 'TWO STATE ON/OFF'. If you have a sensor that can detect whether or not the garage door is open or closed, that sensor can be connected to D7 and GND (or D6 and GND) of the smart device. If a field 'Parking Lot' is seen on the above form, select '----' for it. Then press submit.

Note: If you are interested in knowing whether or not the garage door is closed or open, it is necessary to have a sensor (a magnetic sensor or a limit switch) to sense the current position of the garage door. Even if you do not use such a sensor, the app will show the current position, but can be reliable only if the garage is not operated either manually, by any remote other than the app. To be reliable, it is recommended to install a sensor on the garage door. You can buy a magnetic type sensor from ebay or amazon. Search for 'Wired magnetic switch' in ebay or Amazon. They are compatbile with our smart device. Shown below is picture of such a magnetic switch.
Fig 4A: Magnetic Sensor Switch

It is recommended to install the sensor such that the the sensor closes when the garage is closed. Fix the part with wires on the frame of the garage door and fix the other part of the magnetic switch on the moving door. Install such that both parts align with each other when the garage door is closed. Once installed, you need to cable the two terminals of the sensor to GND and D6 (or D7) terminal on the J6 connector of the smart device.

Fig 4B: Magnetic Sensor Switch on garage door

Now click on 'Configure Auto controls' under Device Admin in the Dashboard. You will see a form similar to Fig 5.
Fig 5: Configure Garage Door Portcontrol

As explained in section 6.1 of the documentation, these controls are autogenerated. You will find three rows of port controls on this page. In the first row, you have to select the port of the smart device that is connected to the garage door. As you have connected the manual push button COM and NO terminals of the relay, choose RELAY for Out Port. The duration field in this first row can be any non-zero number in seconds. The value that you enter (ther than 0) will have an effect only if AutoClose is set as explained below under the subheading 'Configuring Auto Close'. The second row and third row are two portcontrols for notifications and warningi, as well as to select to which input port the sensor is cabled. By default, these two portcontrols are disabled, as its 'Input Port' is None. These two controls can be configured only if you have connected a position sensor to either D6 or D7 inputs of the smart device. If sensor is connected, and if you want the BUZZER to be activated whenever the garage door remains open (after a delay duration), you can enable it by selecting either 'D6 ON/OFF' or 'D7 ON/OFF' in the 'Input Port' field of the second port control. If sensor is connected to D6, select 'D6 ON/OFF' and if sensor is connected to D7, select 'D7 ON/OFF'. Then choose the logical conditions of that portcontrol. If you have connected a sensor such that it closes when the garage door is closed, then select the logical condition field 'Put ON/OFF when' as 'GREATER THAN OR EQUAL TO'. You can also set delay as well as repeat time periods, if you want these notifications to be repeated if the garage door remain open.

The third port control is for sending email notifications. As done in the second port control, do the same for the third row of prtcontrols. You can enable both notifications, or either buzzer or email. If you select None for 'Input Port' in any of these two rows of port controls, that notification is disabled. Press Submit when you are satisfied with the values chosen, Normally, the default values are enough. You can change these any time by re-visiting this page. Periodic email as well beeping repeatedly are also possible to be configured by setting time_period in these two port controls.

These configurations are also explained in Section 6.1 of the documentation. Note: Selecting None for the 'Input Port' field of these port controls will disable that notification.

Note: If email alerts are enabled, email is sent to an email address set in the 'Alert Email' field of the 'Configure Device' setting of the device (under Device Admin in the Dashboard menu). You can change that email address to anything you like. Unless set, it defaults to the email address of the owner of the device.

Step 3

If you are interested in activating these doors using Google Home Assistant or Amazon alexa, follow the steps in section 2.10 and 2.11 of the documentation. That explains how to dis cover these devices in Google Home Assistant or Amazon Alexa. Note: If you want to use Google Home assistant or Alexa only and no plans to use NFC tag or QR Code, you need not fix those tag outside the door.

Step 4

You are now set to go. You have completed all the installation and configurations. Open wifisecureaccess app on your mobile phone (install it, if you have not yet done so as per step 2.1 of the documentation), and press 'Activate a Device'. You will see this device listed there. Press the device. It will open the garage door, if it is currently closed, close it if it is currently open. If you are using Google Home Assistant, open Google Home Assistant on your smart phone and say "Hey Google, Open *name of the device*". Do similarly for Amazon Alexa. If you paste the QRCode label or its NFC Tag anywhere near the garage door, you can open or close the garage door by pressing 'Scan QR Code' or 'Scan NFC Tag' on the app and scanning the QR Code or NFC Tag. You must have received the QR code lable when you purchased this device. You can also print additional QR labels by clicking 'Show QRCode Label' under Device admin in dashboard. Save that image and print it on your printer. If you want to use NFC tags, refer to section 2.7 and 2.9 of the documentation.

Configuring Auto Close:
With our smart device, it is also possible to configure auto-closing of the garage door. For example, say, you want the garage door automatically closed 2 minutes after it is opened. This can be one by adding a word AutoClose in the port label of the port of the smart device connected to garage door controller. Say, for example, you have connected Relay port of the smart device to the garage door controller. If so, click on 'Configure ports' under Device Admin in the left side bar menu of the dashboard. Then change the name of the relay1 Label to 'Garage Autoclose'. then press submit. Then, you need to set the duration for which the garage door should remain open before closing it automatically. Click on Configure Auto Controls under Device admin in the left sidebar menu in dashboard. Then select this device and change the value of 'Duration to stay activated (sec)' to whatever you prefer. If you want the garage door to remain open for 2 minutes before closing, then set this to 120. Press submit.

Note: The duration is the time since you press the button to open the garage and not the time since the garage door comes to a full open position. So, make sure not to set this duration lower than the time needed for the garage/date to come to a full open position.

With the above configuration with AutoClose, the garage will automatically get closed two minutes after it is opened. With this autoClose in place, suppose that you want to keep the garage remain open anytime after you open it, you can use either Google Home or alexa, and say 'Hey google, Open *name of the decvice* during the time the garage is open. So, if you try to do so during the period when the garage is open (whwn in autoclose mode), it will cancel autoclose and will stay open. Then, if you want to close the garage, you can say "Hey Google, Close *name of the device*". This is a special handy feature of our smart device that you can configure and use.

PS. It is assumed that the cabling of the smart device is to the push button terminal of the garage door controller. Therefore, the smart device applies a pulse to it for opening or closing. If you are using it for opening a gate where it needs anything other than a pulse, this AutoClose feature will not work. Please contact us for any help

Use Records:
If you are interested in knowing the use records of this garage door, you can press 'Device Use Records' under Device admin in Dashboard. The system keeps use records for 30 days. Use records can also be copied to your local computers by following the steps in section 10.1 of the documentation.