Thinking of a new project - motorized sliding office door

I might have mentioned it here before, but I've kind've put it to the wayside for other projects. Now, I'm sitting here revisiting the possibility that I could motorize my sliding office doors. Here's a photo of the victim of my next project.

Seriously, I'd like a way to be able to automatically open and close the doors, maybe with a button press or a rule, but i have to figure out a way to automate them that won't break the bank. They're free hanging, and I suppose I want to make sure that if someone pulled the handle, they'd open/close as well.

Any suggestions?

Following this as I would like to do this with some sliding doors as well. Unfortunately mine aren't barn doors, so they're not free hanging.

In terms of your setup though, I have seen some projects that use actuators to move windows, but don't know if they still work manually or not.

I want to try and get something similar for my blinds (automate or manual movement) that is seamless and not a hindrance to everyone if they manually do it

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I remember someone posting a picture of a linear actuator for a sliding glass window... Not sure about the manual operation...

I was wondering if some type of pulley would work? Maybe on a momentary switch? The doors roll pretty smoothly. See any cons to that? or something more practical?

I saw a project to control blinds with a stepper motor and a pulley system. I think the complaint in that video was the sound (which they somewhat helped by 3d printing an enclosure), but it was also a bulky device near the curtains. Luckily for them since it was a curtain project, they hid it behind the edge of the curtain

Yah, probably right on that one. I don't want it to sound like a little car racing around a radio racetrack either. :grin:
There has to be something that's quiet and slim.

Nah, go for the Star Trek "whoosh" sound.

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Many curtain motors can handle very heavy loads, probably even your doors. But they are not pretty and would need to be hidden away, normally behind the curtain. The benefit is that most can detect when you try to open the door and then start the motor. Just like when you pull on the curtain. If you get a good one they are not overly loud. I like the Aqara ones, they are ok in terms of noise level and motor strength. For the track you'd have to make something custom, not sure how easy that is with how these curtain motors are mounted.

EDIT: Maybe you could mount a curtain motor horizontally (and transfer the force using cogs) and do things like these sliding door openers (or just use these sliding door openers):

None of this is very pretty and your doors are beautiful, so probably need something much more creative.

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We were looking at powered doors for new home construction last year. We decided against them in the end, but the best we'd found were these folks:



Now I'm going to have to automate my patio door! Such a rabbit hole! I could see so many good benefits. Like announcing at 3am to let the dogs out. :rofl:

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I don't have everything thought out but I would use two devices, one per door.

I would use a cog belt to carry force from the motor to the door.
I would have the coupling from the belt to the door be a reasonably strong magnet. This would allow manual operation by breaking the magnetic coupling. Of course now the belt will have to "find" the door before it can be automatic again.

Else have an electric clutch at the motor and only energize it when it is being automatic. I would still have the magnetic coupling (maybe stronger now) to be something you can overpower if exiting quickly becomes important.

You could have a magnetic switch (Sensing the position of the magnetic coupling magnetic) at the ends for limit stops.

I thought of a long Acme screw but it would likely be too noisy.

Before you go too far, get a feel of how fast you want the doors to open and close.

I would think all these parts are available for the robot community.

Just a few thoughts.....


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Just wondering if anyone ever implemented any of these ideas? My wife likes to open the bedroom sliding door that goes out to the balcony about 2", when she goes to bed, to cool the room down. That's all well and good, but the thing needs to be closed later in the night (it gets cold here in Maine!). Seems like a perfect need for an automated solution, and the blind could even hide the contraption if it's top mounted. Just wondering if anyone ever tried this, and if anyone came up with a cost effective solution. $500-$1000 seems like a lot to slide a door 2" in one direction. Thanks.

Evohome products look really nice, but are priced to match:

I've never used one. I'm not sure if they can control a sliding door like a curtain motor, or just fully open/close.

Thanks, @marktheknife. I have brought the matter to the attention of the boss, who occupies the space beside me in bed each night, and she has grudgingly agreed that perhaps it is unwise to pump heat out of the house after converting everything to mini-splits, and living in a state that is about to see an 80% increase in the cost of electricity production (yep, that's the situation for Mainers come 2022). And, she thought of all the things she might do with that $645 (minimum). But mostly, it was the thought of a device mounted to the door. "That'd look terrible!" wins again!

But darn... I think that Star Trek "whoosh" would be cool. Sigh... I suppose I must be satisfied with a negotiated outcome that meets the end goal.


Just use automated window shades over the doors!!!


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