About Me

I've been taking things to bits, and making things ever since I can remember, starting with dismantling knackered alarm clocks and watches and helping my dad fix the car. Now I have a well-equipped workshop and have aquired lots of new skills, so I can make better stuff. When they first appeared, I became involved with personal computers, and these and developments in electronics have increased the scope of the things that I can do. Just recently retired, so O yes, now I can make all sorts of stuff.....

Friday, 14 October 2011

Door lock indicators

The first project to be described here is my door lock indicators. I have the euro style door locks rather than the more standard Yale type, and these require you to either turn a key (from the outside) or a knob (inside) to lock the door. They don't slam lock like a Yale and can't lock you out if the door blows shut while you are outside. They work great, but its impossible to tell if the door is locked or not without trying the knob. When locking the house it is therefore necessary to physically check each door, a bit of a pain especially when all the lights are out. The garage is attached to the house and has a remote-controlled door, and again the only way to check if the door is closed is to go and look. I needed a way to easily check the status of the doors, so I ended up fitting a set of LED lights to each door, operated by a micro-switch hidden in the lock plate.

These are simple LEDs that light up red or green to show if the door is locked (green) or not (red). The lights let me see at a glance if the doors are locked before going out or going to bed.

The switch is a standard micro switch, mounted on to an aluminium plate which is screwed to the inside of the opening in the door frame where the lock tongue goes in. The plate has slots to allow the switch to be adjusted back and forth so that it engages properly with the lock tongue - too close and the tongue fouls on the switch and the door won't lock - too far away and the switch fails to operate. The wooden doors and frame expand and contract with the weather, and the lock mechanism is not very precise, so trial and error is the only way to get the adjustment right. I fitted a small piece of thin rubber over the switch operating button with super glue to cushion the switch a bit.

The switches have to be the type that have three connections, common (COM), normally open (NO) and normally closed (NC) and a single plastic button that operates it. Mine came from some of the many photocopiers and printers that I've cannibalized for parts over the years, but they are readily available and cheap to buy. There are all sorts of lever attachments for these switches which would make the adjustment less critical, but there isn't room inside the hole

The lights are fed from CAT5 which carries power from a central 12v power supply located in the central 'engine room' in the house where the server and network stuff lives. Although CAT5 has 8 wires, I only used 4 of them and stripped away the spares to save space. I wanted to be able to mimic the lights to some central point, so the connections that operate the LEDs at the door are also carried back to the engine room.

The CAT5 terminates on a wall plate close to the door, then the cable is run behind the skirting to the base of the door frame. I routed a slot in the frame of the door and fed the wires up through that, then glued a strip of wood back into the slot to conceal them. The LEDs are mounted to a small piece of aluminium angle, recessed into the door frame, this also conceals the screws that hold the switch and the hole that the wires come through. The LEDs are standard 5mm types, so I drilled 5 mm holes in the plate and super-glued the LEDs

into the holes, then fixed the plate into the frame using a couple of dabs of 'No More Nails'. There's very little space in the hole, so it was necessary to chisel out a bit of the frame to fit the switch and make room for the wires.

The switches and LEDs are wired as follows:-

· +12v connects to 'COM' on the switch

· Oone leg of the red LED connects to NC

· Oone leg of the green LED connects to NO

· Tthe remaining legs of both LEDs are connected together, then to a 150 ohm resistor, and then to the 0v wire

· TTo be able to mimic the lights elsewhere in the house, I also connected wires to the NO and NC connections

The switches will allow for push-on connectors, but there's not much space so I soldered them all. The LEDs will only work when wired one way round, if they don't light up, just reverse the connections. Because only one LED is live at any one time, only a single resistor is needed. The LEDs can be run from from 5v, but they will be less bright and harder to see in daylight, and I had a spare 12v power supply. You could use a bi-coloured single LED, but I used bits from my junk boxes and didn't have any of these.

The garage door has a similar arrangement, but because there's no need to conceal the switch its just mounted on an aluminium bracket screwed to the door frame. The door itself carries another bracket with a rod which engages with the switch, the rod is threaded to allow for adjustment

Conclusion - This is one of the most useful and least expensive features in the house. When going to bed, just walking through the house I can see instantly if the doors are locked and with all the house lights off the LEDs provide just enough light to navigate around without tripping over things. It was easy to do, cost nothing (already had the parts in my junk box) and works exceptionally well.

The next step is to connect the outputs from the door switches into my server where a small application will monitor them and display their status on a web page. The same web page will also display the image from the camera that covers the front door. A spare pocket PC mounted centrally in the house will view the web page over wi-fi. Watch this space for details

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