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Thread: DIY gate opener

  1. #1
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    I am finishing a 19' wide metal gate for my driveway and would like to electrify that sucker.
    Now about $1000 buys me an out of the box working contraption for larger gates but I wonder if anybody here ever put one of those things together themselves.
    It wouldn't be too hard if the right linear actuator could be found.
    I even thought of using a compressed air cylinder and having a nice hissing opening and closing sound.

    Any experienced member around??

    Uwe

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    A rodless cylinder would be cool but it would be a bit fragile not to mention expensive to buy. A regular cylinder with a chain drive would work, but anything is going to have to have some sort of clutch of safety reasons I would think. I would stick with a standard unit.

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    I know, that's what my mother would recommend too.

    I live remotely and the chances that anybody would get into that gate are next to zero.

    Also I would start with an arrangement where I would "push to close" and watch the thing, I can always upgrade to automatic mode later and maybe I'll catch a deer in it.

    Uwe

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    Does the gate swing on hinges or slide on rollers? I think the sliding type is better suited to power operation.

    You might adapt a $150 garage door opener to operate the gate. They are meant to be indoors, so winter snow and ice might be a problem.

    Larry

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    It is one 19' swinging gate on ball bearings. The weight should be around 400 lb.

    The hard part is to figure out what size motor (for any drive configuration) one needs.

    And that is really one of my reasons for thinking of making one, commercial units, unless you go to really high end units, could end up to be these 'just barely strong enough' plastic contraptions I would hate to own.

    If I built it I presumably can also fix it.

    Uwe

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    snow and wind would be a problem with a light duty unit with a swinger. My warehouse gate can be a chore on a winter day pushing thru a foot of snow and wind in the wrong direction. A stiff wind puts a surprizing amount of load on a chain link fence.

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    How about steam operated? then you could have it open regardless of the load generated by high winds/snow... And talk about FAST... kinda like how they launch aircraft on those carriers... Using compresed air is a neat idea but it too has some drawbacks-moisture can be a devil if it gets in the cylinder and freezes (no matter how it gets there either by long transmission line or a compressor right there) of course using some kind of heater to heat the lines/cylinder would offset that but then it might start getting into more money than just using a commercial opener.

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    Not sure I'd use pneumatic for safety reasons, imagine actuating your gate and nothing happens so you walk over to check it out and what ever snagged your gate lets go. I would probably have a better swing than Albert Puhols.

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    The unit is high enough that not every snow fall would block it and I do not intend tho use the gate to 'plow' anyways. With high snow I would have to shovel.

    The freezing considerations for pneumatic cylinders are a real concern and for that reason that idea has not the highest priority.

    A chain drive seems easy enough, but would require very high torques right at the pivot point.
    I really would prefer a linear drive with a long travel so that the attachment point on the gate could be a bit out, say 2', otherwise I fear the high forces.

    Uwe

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    HF sells an automatic gate opener with two remote controls, a warning light and key pad for about $359. I've had one for over two years and am very happy with it. It comes with 2 actuators and you could hook them both up to one gate for more power. It says it's for 8' or less gates but I am using it on two 12' cattle gates with no problem. Has auto reverse for obstructions too.

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    Hello,
    Here's my take on it. Unless your somebody thats disabled, just get out of your vehicle and open it!!! This might be over simplifying it for some, but I've lived in places where there was a gate or visited someplace(like a farm) where you always had to get out and open the gate yourself. Never had a problem with getting them opened or closed! Also keeps some of the lazier folks from coming and bothering you when your busy and all they wanted to do was stand around and say things like "why do you make all this stuff when you could just go to Wal-Mart or Home Depot and buy a new one?"!!!! (mainly because they're too lazy to get out and open the gate! )

    Save your money and buy more tools!!!

    Just my simpleton $0.02 worth.
    Thanks!
    Richard

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    Just spend the money for a good (and I mean GOOD) opener. I built a 20' single leaf gate for my driveway. I used pillow bearing to mount the gate. You can open and close it with one finger.

    The first opener I went with did not have a "soft" start and stop. It would slam open and slam closed. I couldn't stand it. I finally spent the money and got a nice GTO opener. Well worth the $1000 I paid. I can't imagine how you could build one with a soft start and stop on your own. Learn from my mistakes and just spend the money.

  14. #13
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    First of all, Richard, I laughed when I read your post.
    You are right, I can get out of the car and open my gate, absolutely. And for a time being, until something is bought or built, this would definetly be the way.
    But then you think to yourself I can make things and wpuldn't it be fun to built an opener. And you look for people with similar ideas and thats how I got here.

    Now Regis, buying is the next best thing, and even then you need to know what to buy. I don't know what you got but I'd be interested to know the specs. And yes, with a proper sensor on it I could make the think shut and open softly, and of course you would need that with such a gate.

    We seem to have similar gates (mine is still in the shop, not yet hanging, and I will be interested to see the bending (out of its plane) it does. I am prepared to install tensioning wires to keep it stiff, and a slamming opener is definetly not what I had in mind. How did you stiffen yours??

    Uwe

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    I ended up purchasing a GTO/PRO SW4000XL. You can google the specs. I'm very happy with it. My gate does flex a bit, but not much. Be sure to buy an electric magnet to keep it firmly shut. The wind can really move a gate that size around. In the long run the movement will destroy the gate opener.

    We live at the very top of a hill (about 2000ft above sea level) and a half mile from the Pacific Ocean in San Diego. During big storms, the gate almost doesn't want to open with the wind pushing against it.

    There are other things you should look into when installing your gate. In my area, an over ride switch with a universal key is required for the fire department. Same goes for the Gas/Electric company (in case there is a gas leak). Also needed by Gas/Electric to read the meters. I have sensors that I mounted in the driveway to prevent the gate from closing on a car, or more importantly, my 4 or 6 year olds. Also make sure you have a very sturdy, positive stop for the gate when its in the open position. If not, the gate opener will take the brunt of the force when it comes to a stop.


    I hope you built one hell of a post to mount your gate to, given its size. Mine stated with a 6" x 6" square metal pole, stuck 6' into the ground, with concrete poured around the large hole I dug for it. Then I filled the 6" x6" post with concrete. Next, I surrounded the post with cinder blocks and more concrete between the steel post and the cinder block, then used bricks.

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    You would find it much easier, simpler and safer with a sliding gate. The opener can be a chain type. The wind will have little effect on opening and closing. A safety edge can be put on the gate to keep it from closing on a car or people. The extra heavy duty post for a swinging gate is not needed. It takes up less room for a sliding gate.

    Yep, you guessed it, I don't like swinging gates for many reasons. Having used both, the sliding gate was best but I didn't have an opener.

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    Carl, you are probably right.

    Carl, but I have a swinging gate!!

    And I do not want these trees and these old stonewalls out of the way ( I guess I really couldn't!) to make space for your slick solution.

    Reality!

    It may be a dumb thing but I only have space for a swinging gate!!

    Uwe

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    Good luck. You'll need it.

  19. #18
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    I also had no choice but to go with a swing gate. A sliding gate would have been much easier and cheaper to build.

    One thing I have to say though, is that a swinging gate sure looks a lot more elegant and expensive opening and closing then a sliding gate does, IMHO.

  20. #19
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    I considered building a swinging gate for my daughters place in Florida. I was going to use a standard garage chain operated opener, with a chain drive to a large pulley on the gate swivel post. Or maybe a reduction drive, did not ever finish sketching it out. Using the chain drive, I could keep the trips on the unit, and get an inexpensive unit. However, she decided she didn't want a powered gate (or any gate) so the project never happened.
    Steve

  21. #20
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    Well Regis, your opener is exactly the model I considered were I to buy one, and I am glad that you are satisfied with it.

    We hung my gate today, it rests on 3.5" Timken bearings and when a fly landed on it it started moving, it's that smooth!!!

    Despite it's size the gate is surprisingly tight and does not flex much at all, I do not need any tensioning wires!

    The hinge assembly is attached (actually thrubolted) to a concrete post with three 1.5" massive threaded rods which allow for slight adjustments should the gate ever sag, or, what is more likely, the post move in a frost.

    I am happy for now and will consider the gate opener you purchased. I do not know if this forum allows pictures otherwise I post one.

    Uwe


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