You’re looking at the web interface to my garage door opener. A lot of people have asked me about this over the years. I built it several years ago on a whim after some items were stolen from our garage. It is an embedded Linux box interfaced to the garage doors and the garage door opener. It automatically closes the doors after a programmed amount of time.

It is a small box mounted on the wall in the garage as shown at right. Unlike a full PC, it has no hard drives and draws very little power. There is no screen or keyboard. All interaction is via the net. Plug it in and it boots and starts doing its thing. You don’t need to think about it. I added LEDs to provide some indication that the device was running. This was helpful during the initial debugging period, but once all those initial bugs were worked out, the thing has just worked. I never think about whether it is running (the way we might if it were a typical Windows box); I just assume it is running fine, like it always is, the way an appliance like this should be.

It has run for several years now with no hardware failures, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, in the cold and heat extremes of my garage. I will be curious to see how long it will actually last. This kind of embedded hardware is designed to last for many years. There is no hard drive to fail and it is very low power and low heat, so we’ll see.

Although this example is a project I hacked together from scratch, we can imagine that such things will be common place in the future. Does it need to be connected to the net and have a web interface? No. But why not have a web interface? Since it has a net connection and full TCP/IP stack, I gave it APIs that allow it to be controlled and queried remotely over the net. When people wonder why we would want to connect devices and mundane things like garage doors to the net, an appliance like this shows the utility of doing so. My garage doors never stay open all night anymore.

Today I saw a wi-fi router on sale for $9.99, so the day is perhaps not that far off that we will see GarageBot kind of connectivity in mainstream household products.

5 comments for “GarageBot

  1. As the operator of the oldest gate and garage door opener site online (since 1997),, your comments are very compelling. We constantly get inquiries regarding this type of products. If you ever decide to bring those on the market, you will be the first in a very large market…

  2. I found the entire Skylink vs Chamberlain case in PDF format at they have it in text format too. If anyone is interested the case was finalized sept. 1st 2004

  3. U.S Door is in the final stages of building a unit that will have full connectivity to the net. Garage door openers will be controlled and secured over the net or cell phones. This secure system should have wide range of appeal. Look for it soon at

  4. As an employee of the Underwiter’s Laboratory (better known as UL), a garage door opener described by the dubious website US Door Control will never pass the testing phase. The garage opener as describe pauses a safety risk that is extremely high. US Door Control makes precarious claims as it is a federal regulation that garage door openers cannot be operated unless there is a clear line of sight, hence the reason for a limited remote range. The garage door is the largest moving object in your house, the most potentially dangerous, it would be an extreme hazzard if those could be "controlled over the net or cell phones" as so carelessly described in US Door Control’s article.

  5. I am new to this. I just started my own business selling automatic garage door locks. Do you think there is a market for this? I have a website The garagedoorLOCK works with any existing garage door opener and install in a little over a hour. It locks the door when you close it and unlocks the door when you open it, there is an option that will automatically close the door from 5-20 minutes in case you forget to close the door.

Comments are closed.