Proposed Project - Powered Window Shades for FabLab

With New Windows in the FabLab our evening sun problems are going to be even worse.

No shade thrown on the excellent cardboard screens we previously had, but I’m wondering if a maker space might able to make something better.

The cost of manual shades for Windows with a glass width of 60" and height of 80" is in the $80 per blind range. We need two of those and two shades 60" wide by 42" wide

I say Hive13 can do better. Should do better. This is a wide open potluck challenge to collaborate. Everyone can contribute.

How about using some of our spare 1.8 degree steppers and PETG gears to power some motorized shades.

The driver boards should be simple. There must be at least one useful power supply in our collective piles of wall warts. We have a bunch of three button up/down/stop switches.

Dowel rods or conduit for a roller. Sun block fabric on close out sale would run under $40.

Design and print a 3D gear drive. Here is one from Thingiverse that could be modified. PowerPac by Deepsiks - Thingiverse

Cobble up a four stepper motor control that accepts separate push button up/down/stop signals for each motor.

  • Bonus points for seasonably adjustable time/light level and or temperature sensitive controller.

Find and cut to size the lowest cost sun shade awning material.

Climb the ladder to install this project.

The potential to contribute your design talents, or spare parts are wide open.

Who is up to take a part of this challenge?

I’ll happily contribute coding effort. Anything to expand Hive13’s list of Odd Things Connected to the Network.

Though I’ve just started working with them, I’d recommend the Trinamic SilentStepStick TMC2130 driver board with stall guard feature which eliminates the need for limit switches at the upper end.

Just drive the blind up until the end binds at the top, that detects the up position. Reverse and count steps until the blind is in the down position.


Steppers? Pfff. We need one of those air cylinders like what Ryan Hershey was using for the autocrusher. that would be bad ass. Or some of the crazy servos that just showed up in the massive pile of shit from Kevin’s work.

We could have swinging shutters that are unnecessarily complicated. :stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye:

Or LCD film that can be darkened programmatically. Use solar panels to drive them so the brighter it is outside the darker the film is. :sunglasses:

I think we should put the entire building on a turntable and rotate it so the fablab windows never face the sun.

Those cardboard blinds are looking better and better with every post, aren't they?

Found this instructable on powered blinds.


I‘Ve got similar windows facing the sunset, so I’ve got high personal motivation to contribute.

I also have significant at-home reason to be interested in this project, haha

Hi All:

FYI - DaveV and I found the round "toit" to re-start a discussion towards making positive baby steps on this project.

The original spec for the fab lab calls for four motorized window shades; two at 60" wide x 80" tall, and two at 60" wide x 40" tall.

Wih appropriate consideration for the many cold-fusion powered concepts proposed in the initial discussion, our current limited vision for the first baby steps starts as follows:

(1) Make four rollers - Use 1" diameter EMT conduit [] and cut four lengths to be a bit more than the nominal 60" shade width. Deburr and chamfer the roller ends to be square. We would then lathe eight plug/bushings to have an OD press/weld/bond fit into the ID ends of each conduit . Each plug/bushing ID would have a similar press/weld/bond fit for a nominal 1/4"-3/8" or metric steel shaft extension. The right-side drive shaft extension would be a bit longer than the left-side idler shaft extension.

(2) Make eight support brackets - There would be four left idler-side and four right drive-side brackets. The brackets would mount rigidly on the wall or window sills at the top left and right corners of each of the four windows. Each bracket would mount a spherical bearing/bushing (or have an oversized hole) for the roller shaft extensions. Bonus points for bracket design considerations to facilitate insertion, removal, aligning and leveling the 60" long roller to spin supported by the brackets on each end. Band saw cut brackets from 2x4 wood or devise something fancier.

(3) Source and procure the roller shade material - Again, this would be four pieces, two at 60" wide x 80" tall, and two at 60" wide x 40" tall. We are not going for full black-out shades, but rather something that would still let in some light, but block the UV afternoon heat. This site has some interesting options available fro internet sources.

(4) Attach and hang the procured shade material on the rollers - Design the shade attachment to the roller. Use a center-attach "crowned" roller concept with the roller perfectly level to the horizon so that the shade rolls up square on the roll and does not spiral off to jam into either the left or right support during the 80" of roll-up travel (something like 20-25 turns depending upon shade material thickness). Include a bottom shade rail/bar with some weight for smooth and consistent gravity rolling/unrolling spooling action.

(5) Functional Validation - This could be any one of several (even manua)l means to roll-up, and unroll the shades multiple times to confirm 100% motion travel reliability. This functional validation would enable determining the motorization design parameters for speed, torque, and duty-cycle.

(5) Motorization - The fun part.

This was originally proposed as a collaborative project.

The numbered steps are how I will proceed assuming no strong dissent and I do the work myself on my availability schedule. Others are welcome to agree and step in to follow-along with this general approach and help to get it done faster with more collaboration. Others are also welcome to verbalize any of the other million ways to skin this cat, with the expectation they will follow up with positive actions to actually implement their alternate approach and get it done.


Jim/Dave -

Sorry for not following up until now.

They do not have any 5x11 shades, so we’ll have to live with smaller ones. I am able to get (4) 6Lx5W shades.This would have 2 shades per window and could be beneficial to allowing light it from upper half without blinding the hive members… Ideally, these will be similar fabrics but this is not likely as we are getting returns from their customers…

For about $40, we can buy adapters to make these ready for manual use (brackets, chains, and gearboxes). I already have STLs to attach a motor to the gears…

Let me know if this is an option we’d like to consider.

I have not really been following the discussions surrounding this, but it strikes me that we can just order custom fit curtains that come 100% functional and match for a very reasonable price… less than $400 for the fablab windows (which is really not bad for that size windows)

not motorized, but the hanging loop could easily be made motorized later for free with parts currently in the hive…

So, October 1st these are supposed to be released in the US.

They are going to be priced between $129 and $179 each. If the goal is motorized blinds that work quickly, i’d Propose those. If the goal is blinds quickly, I’d propose kevin’s Idea of just going to HD. If the goal is cheap blinds that we make, Roman shades are an easy and inexpensive sewing project we can do. And if the goal is an in-house made automatic mechanized project, we can go the custom build route.

I think the biggest question is what is most important to us? And each one is a perfectly valid option for a desired end result.

I will say I am highly amused about the idea of the off the self blings, that have a cord all the way to the floor where a motorized winch sits that pulls the cord they are attached to.

I personally just want blinds installed ASAP, it’s miserable in that room when the sun is shining in… Automation is cool, but certainly seems secondary.


Not trying to spoil anyone’s fun but… ^^^ this (says they guy that made cardboard blackout blinds that got taken down seriously like a week after they went up)

Seriously? There was a missing reference to an event at that time. The windows were replaced. The cardboard went away. And if you hadn’t noticed, a paper blind was put up as a temporary cover on the lower window.

Feel free to put up another paper blind.