Voice Activated Motorized Curtains, Cheapest Solution, no Hub

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There are some very expensive solutions out there for motorized curtains, most come with a RF, Z-Wave or IR remote that would require an additional hub to bridge the connectivity between the Amazon Echo and the curtains. Some curtains even have networked add-ons so they can be controlled over wifi, but the costs add up to well over $800 in most cases, and I would rather not purchase a fixed length rod and add unnecessary hubs or highly specialized brand specific equipment if not absolutely necessary to preserve flexibility if I move to a new place.

If you already have devices that you want to control with RF or IR then you could pick up the Broadlink RM2 Pro. It will learn the specific codes required to manage your devices but it requires an extra Android device running an app called Broadlink Tasker to act as a bridge between your Amazon Echo and the Broadlink device. That’s really unfortunate as this would be an amazing device with direct integration to the Echo or through IFTTT. If you only want to control IR devices you have more options like the Logitech Harmony Hub that have direct integration with Alexa.

The Add-a-Motor D80 is the super simple mechanical device that makes opening and closing the curtains possible with something as simple as a Wemo switch. The D80 is basically a relay switch with an adjustable ring that determines how long the motor runs and at the end of the run it flips the switch for the motor direction and shuts the motor off. It makes some noise that you can hear in the video below but it’s not excessive.

The D80 does require curtains that have a string to open and close the curtains. These are called “traverse curtains”. I haven’t seen them since blinds were all the rage in the 80’s except at my grandma’s house, but they’re not terribly expensive at $30-50 depending on the size, and are far better for tall windows. The shorter length rods tend to have the strings fixed to one side or the other while the longer rods that have a center draw can usually be changed to a left or right draw, and the pull string can additionally be changed from one side to the other.

The Wemo switch needs to be set up with an “auto-off” of 1 minute. So you turn the Wemo switch on, and depending on the width of travel for your drapes, the D80 will run for 10-30 seconds before the mechanical switch is flipped and the motor stops. The Wemo switch remains on until the minute elapses and then turns itself off. The next time the Wemo switch is turned on, the motor runs in the opposite direction and the process repeats.

The caveat with this set up is that you have to turn on the switch to both open and close the curtains and saying “Echo turn on the curtains” to close the curtains is not as lexically satisfying as saying “Echo close the curtains” or “Echo turn off the curtains”. Setting this up with IFTTT you can say “Echo trigger curtains” which is better as there is nothing contrary in the statement.

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