How to use your Android Phone to open your garage door:
I had heard of a few different ways of remotely monitoring and controlling your garage door, but most required extensive hardware and programming. I wanted something easy and not too expensive. I found and tested several apps to do different things, and was able to combine all of them together to give me the final solution I was looking for. It started as a camera to be able to see if the garage door was open or closed, then I wanted to be able to close the door if I realized I left it open. Below are the steps I took to make it all work.
There are a few ways of doing this. Below is the simplest solution, but I added steps to take it a little further.
Bluetooth Method to open and close – Hardware needed:
- Android Phone
- Samsung HM1100 Bluetooth device – about $13 from Amazon
- Transistor from Radio Shack – #276-2009 $1
- On your phone download GD Mate from the Market – 1st 30 clicks are free.
Steps to connect the Bluetooth device to your garage door:
http://btmate.com/gdmate.php (Credit to Lou Prado of GD Mate for this creation)
Once the app is installed and the above steps have been completed, launch the app and use the garage door app to open and close the door.
The above steps will get your phone connected to your garage door via Bluetooth and you will be able to open and close your door with the GD Mate App. The range is anywhere from 10 – 30 ft.
This is where I wanted to take this a step further. If you want to be able to control your door from a remote location, from another Android phone, see the steps below using 2 Android phones, and a total of 5 apps.
In order to do this, you will need to have an Android phone running the GD Mate app, connected per above, permanently located in your garage, and it will need to be rooted for reasons I will explain below. In my case, I am using an old Android phone utilizing it as a WiFi only device.
- This phone will need to be rooted so that you can remote into it and use the GD Mate app, from outside your network. Essentially, the phone will become a web server. Rooting will allow you to access and then control the device without physically being in front of it.
Easy root steps I found, but there are several ways out there:
- Have your phone connected to your WiFi.
- Place the GD Mate App on the main screen of your phone.
- On your router, allow port forwarding for the internal IP address that is assigned to the phone. Port will be 5900.
- Download VNC Server from the Market to your rooted phone.
- Open the app and hit “Start Server”.
- In the settings, check the “Start Server on Boot” and “Don’t let screen turn off”.
- Download Pocket Cloud from the Market to your “active” phone that will be with you.
- Open Pocket Cloud and input the external IP address of your router, and use port 5900. Create a name and password for this connection. This will allow your active Android to access the rooted Android phone from outside your network, using port forwarding through your router.
- From outside your network on your active Android phone, test the connection by opening Pocket Cloud.
- Click on the connection you created, input the password, and it will attempt to connect. You should now be able to see your rooted Android phone and control it remotely. Notice the two banners. The top banner is the main phone’s banner, and the bottom banner is the banner of the rooted phone located in the garage. (see image 1A below)
- To open and close the garage door, simply click on the GD Mate app as if you had the phone in your hand. This will launch the app and you can click the button as shown below and the door will open. (See image 1B below)
For the final steps, the steps to remotely open and close your door are beneficial if you have the ability to see the door open or closed. I put this together so that I had the ability to see that I left the garage open, and then use the steps to be able to close it, and finally confirm that the door closed. Here is how to add in an app to also make the rooted phone a webcam as well.
- Download IP Webcam to the rooted phone from the Market and install so it’s pointing at the inside of your garage door.
- Configure the IP Webcam settings and note the port. Default is 8080.
- On your router allow port forwarding for this port so you can access the video remotely.
On your active phone:
- Download tinyCam from the Market
- Configure the tinyCam settings
- Name the camera
- Camera vendor will be IP Webcam for Android
- Camera model will be Generic
- Hostname will be the external IP address of your router
- Port will be what you set up on the IP Webcam settings. Default is 8080.
- On the rooted phone, launch IP Webcam – place app on the main screen so you can open this remotely
- Click on “Start Server”. (You can also create a shortcut to the activity labeled “com.pas.webcam.Configuration” under IP Webcam and label it “Start Session”).
- From your active phone, launch tinyCam, choose Live View, choose the webcam you set up above, and you should be able to see the video feed. (See image 1C below)
- Note that if the room is dark, you can turn on the LED on the phone, as shown in the above photo of the view to the inside of the garage door.
- To turn on the LED, once camera loads, in the bottom left, tap the dots 2 times and click the “up arrow” relay button.
- To turn off, tap the “down arrow” relay button.
- You can also retrieve the video feed from the web by typing in the external IP address and port number from a browser
- I.E http://12.345.678.912:8080
**Please note that you cannot have the IP Webcam running and be able to navigate the menu on the rooted phone at the same time. With the IP Webcam running, this takes up the entire screen to allow the video feed. If you navigate away from this, the camera turns off and you will be brought back to the main screen of the phone. So for the whole process to work, you can turn on IP Webcam, open tinyCam and view that the door is open. Go back to the main screen, which will kill the IP Webcam feed, re-open Pocket Cloud on the active phone to re-connect with the rooted phone. Click on the GD Mate app to launch the button, then hit the button. This will send the command to close the door. Re-open IP Webcam and “Start Server”. Hit the Home button on your phone in hand, launch tinyCam and confirm that the door has closed.
All of this sounds tedious to flip back and forth, but if you had TWO spare phones, like I intend to do, you can keep the IP Camera app always running on that phone. On the other phone (rooted), use this as the phone where you connect to the GD Mate garage door app. This way you can have the video feed up, remote into the rooted phone and hit the garage door button, then quickly flip back to see the garage door going up/down. But this works for now as a nice combination of tools to allow you to always have the ability to check the status of your door with the webcam functionality, and then have the ability to open or close the door while away from home with the combination of all the apps working together.
For further explanation, please see the video I created to see how the system works when using all the apps and devices together.
Images 1A, 1B, 1C, and 1D