So, I have been pushed past my available timeline by some thieves that have been cruising the area that I live in. Thought I had time to do some securing of my property but that has proven to be incorrect.
My original plan was to do an automated gate system from scratch. You can buy a gate package like the one that Mighty Mule sells that has all the controls, keypads, wiring, actuators and what not in a tidy little package. It is however ridiculously expensive for my application.They want MANY hundreds to do it and it doesn’t meet my failsafe needs. I have purchased the basic hardware for it and I am barely over a couple hundred including the gate. Not to mention all the registration of your equipment that has to happen with first responders and law enforcement for emergency access purposes if you do a fully automated gate setup. THAT is a totally non-automation conversation so I won’t go there. I am up to my neck in the equipment to make that happen but where I am failing is the programming for said gate system and maybe someone here on the forum can point me in the right direction for where I am trying to go. Let me give you the details and if you want to chime in, feel free. Any little bit of info (or moral support) is welcomed. I am NOT great in this part of the hobby yet.
So, what I have is a run of the mill panel gate. 12’ wide and tubular steel. I am not shooting for a totally automated open/close situation for one simple reason… If it fails, I want it to fail open so there is no issue with my wife being trapped in or out of the property. The gate will have a simple wrap spring on it, designed to either open or close, and will be installed in the open configuration. I have that. The latch I am planning on using is a “fail open” electric door latch… like the ones on secure doors that can be activated allowing the door to open without using the knob or latch. Have that. I am modifying the gate to have a compatible latch assy to work with the electric catch hardware so when you push the gate closed, it will latch just like a door would. When the catch is triggered (unpowered) the gate will open due to the spring opener on the fence. Hence the fail open, power goes out, the gate automatically opens. That is the simple part.
To operate this, I bought a 12 volt controller designed for the specific purpose of operating the electric catch. Really inexpensive on Amazon. I am running ALL the hardware for this on 12v as I intend at some point to run it on solar. I have the battery and charger to get it going for now. There will be an open button on the outside of the gate that you push to, well… open the gate. It is merely a momentary power disconnect to allow the gate catch to fail open. I am putting a dummy keypad on it as well just to make it look more professional and make dumb people think it requires a code to get in. On the inside of the gate, I am putting 2 buttons on it, one for open like the outside one and one to trigger a close function. The actuator is a 12v linear that will not be permanently coupled to the gate. It will simply push the gate closed with some sort of hardware that will retract and get out of the way of the gate operation once it’s job is complete. That is the safety element of the hardware and I have that figured out as well. The biggest issue with an automated gate is that if the power goes out, you have to pull a pin or do some sort of disconnect to get the gate to open. In this case, there is nothing preventing the gate from just opening as it returned “home” once it shoved the gate closed. The actuator will be relay controlled and will have an automotive grade auto-resetting circuit breaker to keep the actuator from going into low earth orbit if it runs aground before it’s power cycle is done.
I have a secure remote setup to add to it so the wife can just push a button to open the gate and push another to force a close once she is through. I got that figured out as far as the wiring/triggers go.
Here is where I need the help… I do not know what platform to use to get the “control” done. Do I program an arduino to trigger gate close, monitor time of operation for that close cycle, do a switch sense to trigger the gate open when the remote requests it? OR, can I use a RasPi and do some sort of node red thing using triggers and what not from that board? At some point I want to add state monitoring, like is the gate open or closed. I just need SOMETHING to do the remote open trigger, automate the gate close action and if possible to easily integrate at this point, a way to remote open the gate while connected to my home network. Mind you, none of my home network is web connected. I can’t use Sonoff hardware via the web to perform this function. I can do without remote trigger to keep it super simple for now. I own a couple RasPi’s and a handful of Uno’s. But I lack the programming knowledge (that was planned to happen once I got the house set up and could get my lab set up) to build the script. I am not looking for someone to “do the work for me” as I hate “that guy,” and I REALLY want to learn how to do it and how it works. I learn best from seeing it and deconstructing it. So, take that as it is and any guidance you can offer would be great, regardless of how small that may be. I can wire it and fabricate it and make it operate. I just don’t have the chops (yet) to program it.