Smarter Blinds Log

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Smarter Blinds Log

Week of January 14

January 18: Met with Jim and TA's to discuss possible project ideas. 1 hour

Week of January 21

January 22: Met as a team and created first draft of project proposal. Decided on the Smarter Blinds idea basing it of off the previous Smart Blinds project. Further research allowed us to discover other similar smart blind projects. 1 hour

January 27: Created project wiki page and started logging our progress and updating our goals. Created our first draft of our budget and started thinking about our Gantt Chart. 1 hour

Week of January 28

January 28: Met as a team with Professor Feher and Michael to discuss progress. Learned how to create Gantt Chart. Discussed possibilities of using either Arduino with a Bluetooth chip or Feather. Received Arduino device. Briefly went over Night Light project. 30 minutes

January 29: Added tasks to Gantt Chart, basing them primarily off of the Gantt chart from the previous Smart Blinds project. Found and reviewed similar smart blinds projects from, such as smart blinds that responded to ambient light and heat as well as smart blinds controlled by Blynk. 1 hour

January 30:

  • Constructed a budget for the Night Light project using an Excel spreadsheet. 30 minutes
  • Met as a team and continued to work on budget for blinds and Gantt Chart. Finalized proposal and added our expected challenges and goals for our project. We will continue to research for our project and make sure we have finalized the budget and have included all of the necessary parts. Next we will work on the Nite Light Project as well. 1 hour.

January 31:

  • Finalized Budget by comparing to past projects and cross checking to make sure all of the correct parts were listed. Currently under the budget of $150 dollars. A decision we had to make was if we wanted to use the Arduino Uno and purchase the Adafruit Bluefruit LE UART Friend - Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) or use the Adafruit Feather 32u4 Bluefruit device. The Feather was priced at $29.95 while the Arduino Uno + Bluefruit Le UART Friend cost a total of $39.50 (22 +19.50 respectively). The Feather is an all in one device with no need for a bluetooth component. However, with our current access to an Arduino Uno and the wide breath of resources available related to the Arduino Uno and blinds, we decided to go with the combination of the UNO and bluetooth component. Both parts are able to connect to the Adafruit app. Further research of the bluetooth component resulted in finding resources on how to attach the bluetooth component to the breadboard by soldering.
  • In preparation for the Nite Light project more research was conducted on soldering and on how to connect items to a breadboard. Links on how to solder and research done on the bluetooth capabilities was added to the Resources section of the main project page.
  • Soldering is establishing good connections between components and in order to ensure good connections are made, it is important that we know how to solder correctly so that we do not ruin any parts. It is important to not touch the soldering iron for more than 2 seconds so that the part does not over heat. Once the tip is touching the connection then the solder touches the iron and the iron is pulled away leaving a cone like shape of metal on the connection. It is important to do it correctly to avoid a "cold-solder" that can occur. It is also important to have the iron on one side of the wire and then put the solder on the other side of the iron to make a good connection. At the end the solder should be shiny. 1 hour

February 3: Discussed plan for upcoming week and reviewed Gantt Chart (30 minutes)

Week of February 4

February 6: Got led to blink using Arduino. Followed along youtube video, Blinking LED. Code:

  1. define LED 13

void setup() {

 pinMode(LED, OUTPUT);

} void loop() {



Started working on Nite Light Project. Was able to start on breadboard and get both LED's to light up. Due to material mishaps the goal for the rest of the week is to finish the circuit on the breadboard and plan out how to put it on the perf board and get switch working. Also started learning how to use OnShape. Goal for next week is to print enclosure. 2.5 hours

February 8: Finalized breadboard, sketched perfboard plan with soldering lines. Waiting on new PNP transistor to begin soldering next week. Planning to order majority of Smarter Blinds materials on Monday.

Sketch of perfboard plan
Wrote input based code for blinking LED.

1.5 hours

Created presentation template and made outline for everything that presentation should include. 30 minutes

Added to first draft of presentation, planning to get presentation evaluated tomorrow at meeting with Professor Feher and Michael to see what edits we need to make. 1 hour

Week of February 11

February 11

  • Ordered light sensor and reserved Adafruit parts at micro center.
  • Goals for this week: Finish Night Light, spread out perf board, solder perf board, and build box
  • Next goal:start working with the photoresistor and Arduino Uno

(1 hour)

February 12

  • Went to Micro Center to pick up parts

(1 hour)

February 13

  • Spread out perf board sketch, soldered parts onto perf board, solder-bridged parts together correctly to have a functioning night light
  • Took measurements for 3d enclosure
  • Goal for the rest of this week: Use OnShape to design box, brainstorm code for Smarter Blinds

(2 hours)

Redesigned Perfboard
Flow Chart Sketch

February 15

  • Watched another OnShape tutorial and designed enclosure for night light. Goal is to have it 3D printed by Monday. Design process was more complicated than expected.
  • Presented Smarter Blinds pitch (hour of class not included in log)

(3 hours)

February 17

  • Created simple code to test for moving the stepper motor and receiving values from the photoresistor and temperature sensor
  • Researched more potential design ideas and brainstormed potential designs
  • Created a flow chart regarding the stages of the blinds being open, opening, closing and closed
  • Goals for the coming week are to test out the code and continue to build the code for each of the components

(1.5 hours)

Week of February 18

  • Tested code and was able to get the motor to move and read photo-resistor values
  • Working to build code that uses user input
  • Discussed design for the shield and output for the user

(2 hours)

February 22

  • Worked to read values from the temperature sensor
  • Brainstormed ideas regarding design and potential ideas for the shield
  • Designed a circuit where the LED will light when the photoresistor drops to a certain level and turn off when above a different level

(1 hour)

Goals for following week: Connect photoresistor and temperature sensor in the same circuit, use photoresistor and temperature sensor to move the motor, print connector from motor to blinds (if 3-D printer is functioning)

Reach goals for following week: Start developing formula for steps to angle, determine how blinds will set starting position

Week of February 25

  • Connected photoresistor and temperature sensor together in circuit
  • Wrote code to read values from photoresistor and temperature sensor simultaneously

const int photoresistor = A0;

  • Discussed the possibility of using a hall effect sensor to determine initial angle/position of blinds

int tempPin = A1; int tempReading; int value;

void setup() {



void loop() {

 tempReading = analogRead(tempPin);
 value = analogRead(photoresistor);
 Serial.print("Temp reading: ");
 float voltage = tempReading * aref_voltage;
 voltage /= 1024.0; 
 float temperatureC = (voltage - 0.5) * 100 ;  
 Serial.println(" degrees C");
 float temperatureF = (temperatureC * 9.0 / 5.0) + 32.0;
 Serial.println(" degrees F");
 value = analogRead(photoresistor);


  • Soldered the Feather and the Feather Shield onto the FeatherWing doubler

(2 hours)

February 27

(45 min)

March 1

  • Assembled hall effect sensor on breadboard and connected it to Arduino
  • Read hall effect sensor with Arduino, printing when the magnet is detected

const int hallPin = 12; int hallState = 0;

void setup() {



void loop() {

 hallState = digitalRead(hallPin);
 if (hallState == LOW) {
 else {


  • Designed connector from blinds to motor, sent to Michael for 3D printing

(3 hours)

March 1 Continued:

  • Wrote code that made the motor turning as a function so that it can be called in the main body of the code. It works so that there is a number of steps and once the code iterates that many times the motor stops turning
  • Wrote code and tested it so that when the photoresistor value drops below a certain number the motor turns i.e. acting to close blinds. Tested on bread board and was successful

(2.5 hours)

Goals for next week: Determine how code will save the current angle, transfer functions from Arduino to feather, develop formula for steps to angle

Week of March 4

March 4

  • Worked to connect stepper motor, photoresistor, and temperature sensor with Arduino
  • Faced issues with reading temperature values

(1 hour)

March 6

  • Made adjustments to night light case
  • Continued troubleshooting code that connects stepper motor, photoresistor, and temperature sensor
  • Researched how we can transfer Arduino code/setup to Feather
  • Researched how we can use Hall Effect sensor to detect current angle

(1 hour 45 min)

  • Worked on troubleshooting the temperature sensor

(45 min)

  • Researched Featherwing battery and ordered micro USB ($4.95)
  • Looked at blinds and tested out rotating with the motor
  • Brainstormed potential locations of where to put the motor
  • Calculated how many steps moving one degree on the blinds is (498.178 steps = 1 degree)
  • Current problems: How can we store the current angle position so we know how what angle the blinds are currently at? Considering using a proximity sensor instead of a hall effect sensor and developing a formula to convert distance detected by proximity sensor to angle which blinds are at
  • Wrote code synthesizing all components
  • Wrote a function that turns the motor amount needed to open blinds fully and close blinds fully

(2.5 hours)

Goals for Spring Break:

  • Function for position/angle for the motor to move
  • Research user input values
  • Write more code for blinds with user input and function

Week of March 11

Note: Week of Spring Break

Week of March 18

March 18

  • Discussed Hall Effect Sensor and possibly using a whisker sensor
  • Created Code that runs the motor as a function of user input

(1.5 hours) March 20

  • Tested out Hall Effect Sensor and have a base code
  • Ran into issues with Arduino board not connecting to port
  • Current goal is to write code with Hall Effect Sensor as the first step in code

(1 hour)

  • Created code where the motor will turn until the Hall Effect Sensor is detected

(45 minutes) March 22

  • Tried to run code through Feather to test LCD shield; however, ran into issues with installing Feather with Boards Manager
  • Worked on Hall Effect Sensor code to initialize blinds to close
  • Next steps is to work on the functions for the blinds once the position is initialized

(2 hours) March 24

  • Created content map for involving user input with stepper motor function
  • Edited initial project proposal to align with our current objectives/goals
  • Set up project page for final project

(1 hour)

  • Added to the Hall Effect Sensor initializing motor with coded functions for each portion of the set up

(1 hour)

Week of March 25

March 25

  • Continued to work on code putting all of the components together
  • Navigating how to use the Serial Monitor in Arduino for user input values

(2 hours) March 29

  • Added to code putting all components together
  • Still having issues with reading user input values from the serial monitor specifically when trying to read two values in
  • Created the blinds closing or opening depending on a formula. The formula correlates the number of steps needed to the percent over or under the actual brightness is

(2 hours) March 31

  • Purchased new blinds from Home Depot
  • Worked on tutorial page for stepper motor

(2 hours)

Goals for next week:

  • Finish writing code
  • Transfer from Arduino Uno to Feather
  • Design new connector for new blinds
  • Mount magnet onto blinds

Week of April 1

April 1

  • Resolved issue with the function
  • Fixed code to run according to whether or not the user would like to adjust the brightness or temperature aspect of the blinds
  • Worked on designing a new connector piece for the new blinds

(2 hours)

April 2

  • Finished first draft of stepper motor tutorial (linked to Smarter Blinds project page - I need to figure out how to put the tutorial on the tutorials page)
  • Worked on Design and Solutions portion of final report
  • Current questions: Should we have blinds rotate from 0 to 180 degrees? What type of battery should we get for Arduino?

(2 hours)

April 3

  • Worked on designing schematic of Arduino and breadboard using Fritzing
  • Added segments of code to the final report

(2 hours)

April 5

  • Worked on sketching and transferring the breadboard over to the perf board.
  • Tested the code for closing and opening the blinds

(1.5 hours) April 7

  • Added to code for functionality for temperature and brightness

(45 min)

Week of April 8

April 8

  • Continued Code and added functionality for blinds closing when lights are off in the room
  • Worked on transferring over to the feather
  • Started to design 3D enclosure
  • Created a diagram for transferring over from UNO to Feather so that the correct pins are used
  • Began soldering onto perfboard

(3 hours)

April 10

  • Made progress on 3D enclosure (had to start over due to dimension errors)
  • Finished soldering header pins onto perfboard and Feather (should be able to connect to Feather now)
  • Goals for the rest of the week: Finish designing enclosure (fillet edges), design and assemble mounting structure, test code with feather, test code for Adafruit app

(3 hours)

April 11

  • Continued to work on design for 3D enclosure
  • Finalized perf board and connections to feather
  • Tested code on the Feather, motor turns!
  • Started to test code and work through errors (code on Github labeled sketch_april11a is latest code)

(3 hours)

April 12

  • Research Bluefruit app, downloaded Bluetooth specific software
  • Worked on designs and solutions
  • Discussed possible mounting structures

(2 hours)

  • Worked on testing code
  • Researched how to use the shield component

(1 hour)

Week of April 15

April 15

  • Debugged temperature sensor errors with motor draining power from rest of circuit

(2 hours)

April 16

  • Redesigned enclosure
  • Worked on poster

(2 hours)

April 17

  • Used fritzing to design breadboard and schematic
  • Connected to Bluefruit app
  • Printed "Smarter Blinds" on FeatherWing

(3 hours)

April 19

  • Continued to debug code and fixed an issue with changing the brightness

(1 hour)

April 20

  • Worked on poster and final report

(1 hour)

April 21

  • Worked on finalizing code with testing using motor and bluefruit app

(4.5 hours)

Week of April 22

April 22

  • Worked to put together blinds in 3D enclosure
  • Repositioned hall effect sensor

(2 hours)

April 23

  • Finalized setup of blinds

(3 hours)

April 24

  • Continued testing blinds and put finishing touches on project
  • Completed the mounting structure

(6 hours)

Week of April 29

Link to Project page