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I am working on a project where I have to control a vehicle barrier gate like this:

enter image description here

Our team has planned to work with Arduino but we are open to other suggestions.

My question is, can I use a DC motor for this sort of task or should I look into AC motors? And what kind of motor should I use? Is this even possible using Arduino?

I looked into some of the tutorials of automated garage door openers which kind of relates to what I am trying to do. But the problem is, most of them use commercial garage door openers which are already built in to the system. So I have no way to know which hardware (specifically, which motor) they used for the purpose.

I have worked with Arduino before so have some idea on how it operates.

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migrated from stackoverflow.com Jul 20 '12 at 15:14

This question came from our site for professional and enthusiast programmers.

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This looks like industrial-grade equipment, and then the Arduino seems like an odd choice to me. Arduino is very successful, but it's a hobby SBC (Single Board Computer). It doesn't even have an enclosure. It definitely works, but the design is not professional, and therefore may not be the best choice in an application like this.

For industrial-grade control mini-PLCs are often used, like the Siemens LOGO!.

enter image description here

They're a bit more expensive than hobby SBCs, but are more heavy-duty and more reliable.

The Siemens LOGO! is meant to be mounted next to a relay module on a DIN-rail (EN 50022):

enter image description here


PS: on my previous job we used a LOGO! as a timer for a battery charger for our 9 V batteries. (Fluke DMMs drain batteries quickly. The older types like the 79 had a much better autonomy.)

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Yes this is possible, a possibility is combining some motor driver board and kill switches at the open and closed positions of the gate that the arduino listens for to kill power.

I suggest doing some more googling on servos, DC, AC, and stepper motor control with arduino to figure out how you may want to approach it.

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Either AC or DC should work, but be careful with either. For control with Arduino or other microcontrollers, the first consideration is isolation. The gate will likely require current and voltage, far outside of an Arduino's capacity.

Perhaps the easiest solution would be to use a relay connected through an opto-isolator (Arduino->opto-isolator->relay->motor) to drive a simple on/off motor. Many other possibilities exists, including motor-dirvers/shields, and servos. However, they are more complex than appears to be needed. Unless you need to control the speed and/or angle of the gate, a simple relay should do the trick.

To pick a motor, consider the weight that needs to be moved, and the power sources available. A balsa wood gate would require very little in the way of power, but would break easily, perhaps not being much of a barrier. A steel gate would be an effective barrier, but would require a far more robust motor and power supply. I'd go as light as possible. This will be cheaper, and easier (less dangerous) to work with.

Plenty of other considerations will affect the choice as well. Does the gate need to stay up if power is cut, or should it return to a closed position ? Does it need to sense an object below when it is closing ?

You may also consider salvaging a motor from an old drill. This would be more than powerful enough for most gates, and you would only have to bypass the switch. Indeed, it may be more powerful than you want.

Finally, consider counter-weighting the gate (hinge it a bit offset from the end, and add weight to the short end if needed). This will reduce the amount of power needed, but will increase the size a bit.

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