Oct 08, 2023

Swing Gate Motors Come To Help For Opening A Giant Servery Window

[Martin Roberts] wrote to us, telling us about a build that his company, [Ocean View Workshop], was tasked with. Creating a four meter wide window able to open vertically is no small feat, and it had to be custom-built because the local company building such windows wasn’t comfortable working with anything other than aluminum — insufficient for the window’s scale. With massive weight of the glass alone, structural requirements for supporting it, and the mechanical loads to be applied, some careful planning was in order.

To start with, this window had to be motorized, as an average person wouldn’t be capable of pulling it upwards. Not satisfied with the linear actuator choice available, they went to a hardware store and found some swing gate actuators that, in workshop tests, proved themselves to be more than capable of handling way over the weight required. In fact, they were capable of lifting [Martin] himself off the ground without much hassle.

From there, it was time to figure out the mechanical parts — building a strong enough frame for the window, welding the frame, figuring out the mounting and leverage intricacies, gauging the loads to be handled and adding gas struts. The nitty-gritty of the mechanical bit is covered quite well in the 14-minute video that [Ocean View Workshop] published, embedded below, so we won’t repeat it. Instead, our focus is on the swing gate-intended hardware reuse part that [Martin] shared with us in his letter.

The swing gate controller’s built-in features, like adjustable limit switch support, soft start/stop and configurable overload/stall protection, proved themselves to be instrumental for smoothness and safety of the window’s operation. As for the automation part of it, they interfaced the motor controller with one of the numerous Sonoff devices tied into a Home Assistant-based system, and then even integrated it with Amazon Alexa, adding a 2001: A Space Odyssey Easter egg while at it. In other words, the motorized swing gate hardware and this servery window build turned out to be a perfect match for each other.

We appreciate the ingenuity and hope that the spirit of this story can guide other hackers in similar situations, tasked with building things beyond the scope of what local companies have the toolkit for. [Martin] says he already can think of a few more unintended applications for these – an extra heavy-duty adjustable workbench or a height-adjustable king bed. Limiting availability of linear actuators is somewhat of a pain point, to the point where people build and even 3D print their own, for loads big and small.