In a technological world that continues to advance exponentially, the safety, convenience, and comfort of our homes and workplaces must increase with it as well. Proudly sponsored by Progressive Automations, the AutoWindows team is on a journey to create aesthetically pleasing automatic window systems for all. By combining some of the world's top linear actuators with windows, AutoWindows goal is to have their system installed into homes across the United States at an affordable price. The AutoWindows Prototype 1 specifically aims to visualize what an automatic window system would look like in a home or business setting. As we will see, it has been designed for easy use with a simple rocker switch while still being 'smart' with WiFi feature.
Main Components Used
To create their final prototype design, the team at AutoWindows used a number of our products. We will take you through each product used, with their exact specifications and purpose.
PA-04: Linear Actuator
For raising and lowering one window, the ideal actuator should have a sufficient force rating to handle the window’s weight while still providing a fast travel speed to meet the demands of various operators. The PA-04 linear actuator fits this requirement very well as it has options for gear ratios that come with a good balance of force and speed. Our PA-04-14-100, the exact actuator chosen by AutoWindows for their design, can push, pull, and hold a load of 100 lbs while still offering a full load travel speed of 2.16 inches per second.
RC-03: Momentary Rocker Switch
Double-Pole-Double-Throw rocker switches are commonly used for simple operation of an actuator. The momentary types are spring-loaded versions which springs back to neutral for shutting off power when the switch is released from the operator’s grip. This momentary style of switch is ideal for making adjustments on how far an actuator moves. With the RC-03 Momentary Rocker Switch, an operator has the option to lightly tap on the switch and quickly let go to make their actuator travel a short distance if they needed their window partially opened.
PA-35: WiFi Control Box
Most actuators are traditionally controlled with stand alone switches or control boxes with wireless remotes. However, being able to operate actuators using smartphones will provide many operators the comfort and convenience of wireless operation with something they regularly carry. Our PA-35 WiFi Control Box allows the operator to use their smartphone to control the actuators that raise and lower their windows. By emitting a WiFi signal, the PA-35 acts like a router which allows iOS and Android devices to connect to it.
How Was it Built?
1. Create the casing and frame
The AutoWindows prototype 1 required materials for its casing and frame to ensure sturdiness for longevity of the product, while still being affordable for the mass market. This was accomplished using drywall and wood as the materials for encasing the electrical components mounted inside.
2. Attach the actuator to the window
Movement of the window was made possible with the use of a bar attached to both the PA-04-14-100 linear actuator and the window. This bar was secure and reliable, ensuring the actuator was mounted properly to the window for seamless movement.
3. Connect the control modules
The AC-28-30-12 DPDT Relay combined the output from the PA-35 WiFi Control Box and the output from the RC-03 Momentary Rocker Switch to safely control the actuator’s travel direction. Quick Disconnect Molex connectors were also used in the wiring for the AC-28-30-12 relay to ensure secure tight connections.
4. Prevent any short circuits
For convenience, the PA-35 WiFi control box allows iOS and Android devices the ability to control actuator movements. Being able to add the RC-03 switch to the system allows the option for basic wired control of the automatic window in case the operator has their smartphone charging or unavailable at the time. To prevent a short circuit if both the switch and smartphone was accidentally activated at the same time, an intermediate relay device in between the actuator and control modules was needed.
5. Ensure all wiring is correct
The AutoWindows Prototype 1 uses a circuit that is similar in functionality to the Single Channel Control Box wiring diagram from Progressive Automations.
Issues & Solutions
Stroke Length Offset
The benefits of a stocked actuator like the PA-04-14-100 is that there is no lead time for custom manufacturing, and it is more cost-effective. An obstacle that may sometimes occur with stocked units is they may have a slightly different stroke length than what’s required. A stroke length that is too short will not travel far enough to reach the desired position, while longer stroke lengths may result in the actuator not shutting off at the correct position. For most model actuators, internal limit switches only get tripped when the actuator has reached the fully extended position.
In order to resolve this issue, the AC-24 external limit switch was integrated into the system to help prevent:
- The actuator from overextending and damaging/cracking the window from force.
- Excessive electrical power consumption.
- Burning out the actuator’s motor due to continuous current draw.
From the AutoWindows Team
"Until we came across Progressive Automations, our team at AutoWindows kept running into quality issues with cheap electrical parts and low-grade linear actuators from other engineering companies. Combined with an excellent staff, Progressive Automations really set itself aside with quality and easy to use parts that we are proud to use in our first prototype."Connor Paine – AutoWindows Electrical Engineer
Their current progress
“Right now, we are in the early engineering stages of developing our second prototype. Our team is preparing to patent this second prototype, so we are in contact with a patent attorney to make this happen. We plan to showcase this second prototype with the proper patent to many large and small window and door manufacturers when the time comes.”
AutoWindows Prototype 1 front view
The AutoWindows team, together with Progressive Automations, have successfully completed the AutoWindows Prototype 1. This prototype is to help begin the path of introducing affordable automatic window systems for homes and workplaces across the United States. The combination of a simple rocker switch and WiFi control option (using our PA-35 WiFi feature) demonstrates that the AutoWindows system can be suitable for many different operators and scenarios. Using the PA-04-14-100 actuator, the automatic window system also provides sufficient lift force while being able to travel a fast speed to meet our demands. Well done to the AutoWindows team – we are delighted to sponsor such an innovative product!