Monday, December 30, 2013

Garage Door Controller Tutorial - Step 9 - Smartphone app

Here we are - this is the last step, and it should be another easy one. You just need to download and install my free Android app now. (The icon for the app looks like the above image)

There are a few ways of doing this:
  1. You can just search for 'Garage door controller' in the Google Play (Google's app store) app. Download/install the app that has the above icon (there may be other garage door controller apps out there)
  2. Go straight to it from your Android smartphone using this Google Play link
  3. Scan the below QR code from your smartphone:

Once you have the app installed, then we just need to configure it, which should only take a few minutes. Go into the 'Settings' screen, by pressing the 'Menu' button on your Android smartphone. You'll see a screen that looks like:

Remember Step 3 - The microcontroller? Back in that step, we entered a few items into the Arduino sketch, then uploaded it to the Arduino. Well now we're going to need a few of those items. Namely, we need:
  1. IP address
  2. Server/port
  3. Password
Now here in the Android app, go through each option and enter the appropriate values (Note - there will probably be 'default' values in each option, so don't worry - just overwrite them). So for 'default IP/domain (url)', enter the IP address that you wrote down in Step 3. Then do the same for 'Default Port' (called 'server' back in Step 3), and then 'Password'.

The last option ('Milliseconds to pause') is a little different. Do you ever 'crack open' your garage door? What I mean is just open it a little bit (just a 'crack') - i.e. when your garage door is closed, you push the garage door opener button, then press it again a second or two right after, which partially opens it. Well that's what this option is for. You specify how many milliseconds between 'button presses'. So the larger the number (fyi: 1000 milliseconds = 1 second), the more the garage door will be 'cracked open'. So if you want a 2.5 second delay, you would enter 2500 milliseconds.

Now we can go back to the main screen, and it should have your information in there now:

Note - your information may be different - the above is just an example

Your IP address will almost surely be different than what you see above. The port will probably be the same though. Notice how it says 'Not Connected/Unknown' in red at the top. And it shows 'Disconnected' for the 'Connection status' below the 'Connect' button. This is because we have to connect to the garage door controller device before we can do anything, so go ahead and click on the 'Connect' button. After you do, you should get a screen that looks like this:

If your screen looks like this, then your garage door is closed

or maybe this:

If your screen looks like this, then your garage door is open

I think the app is pretty straightforward, but just to be thorough, I'll mention a couple of things.

  1. The 'Check here to 'crack' garage door' checkbox is grayed out (not clickable) when the garage door is open. When it's closed, you can check that box and click 'Open Garage Door' and it will 'crack open' your garage door for you.
  2. You need to click the 'Connect' button before you can do anything.
  3. If you did not perform Step 6 - Opened / closed sensor, the status will always show 'open'.
  4. You should click the disconnect button before exiting the app.

I would like to mention that if configuring the app to use the actual IP address of the garage door controller like we did here, you won't be able to connect to it from outside of your network (You won't be able to check the status of, or open/close the garage door outside the physical vicinity of your network). At least, not without some extra work. Please see my post titled 'Garage Door Controller Tutorial - 'Using the app away from home'.


Return to previous - Step 8 - mount and connect.

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