4 Comments

Summary:

I tried out a MyQ connected garage door opener, and found it worth buying. But it would be even better if it could talk to the other gear in my home.

MyQdooropener
photo: S. Higginbotham

For the last few weeks I’ve been testing a Chamberlain MyQ garage door opener, which does exactly what you think it does — it opens my garage door from a tablet or smart phone. I mentioned the $129 device on the podcast when I first installed it, as well as the trouble I had getting it to install using my Android handset, but I still think it’s a fun gift idea, especially with Mother’s Day and Father’s Day coming up.

Look, my garage door is currently closed.

Look, my garage door is currently closed.

The garage door opener attaches to most garage doors installed after 1993, and lets you open and close the door from a smart phone. The app shows you the state of the door and offers alerts via email or push notification if your garage door stays open longer than a time frame you’ve selected.

Installing the MyQ is about a 10-15 minute operation. First you pop the palm-sized sensor on your garage door using supplied velcro tape (removal about 2 months later was a snap). Then above your garage door opener, you place the systems hub and plug it in. Most garages should have an outlet near the opener to supply it with power, so this shouldn’t be an issue. Screw the hub to the supports holding the opener (or zip tie it as I did) and all of the hardware is in place.

The MyQ sensor on my garage door.

The MyQ sensor on my garage door.


The next step was where I had a few issues. The MyQ should work with both Android and iOS devices, but my Android handset couldn’t detect the signal the hub put out. A spokesman for Chamberlain said that some Android devices running Jelly Bean might have problems, but they should eventually work. I didn’t want to wait, and so used my iPad to set it up. The device puts out a Wi-Fi network signal or Bluetooth to connect to the app and then to your home network. Once online I had the app running on both my iPad and my Android handset.

Finally, you link your garage door remotes to the MyQ. Once set up I could check the status of my garage door and started getting email alerts if it was open for more than 15 minutes. In the two months I had it installed, I never used the app to open or shut the garage from my car, although apparently some people do. Last month I got an email from Chamberlain about some customers having trouble opening the door from their app because the servers running the MyQ had fallen down on the job during a regular upgrade.

Setting alerts on the MyQ app.

Setting alerts on the MyQ app.

For those considering using your phone as the sole control for the garage, you might end up caught out if a problem occurs in the cloud or your network goes out. I didn’t use the app every day, but I liked having the ability to check the garage and get alerts if it were open. I would have liked it more if I could have tied it into my other smart devices in my home, but so far Chamberlain isn’t opening up its API.

The spokesman explains that it wants to tread carefully because security is such an important element to the Chamberlain family of products. Today, there’s a connected light switch (open your garage and your porch light goes on) and later there will be other connected home products.

All in all, since I’m not sure that many people are worried about using their garage as a trigger for other things taking place in the home, I think this is a well done product for people who are prone to forget about closing their garage door or worry about leaving it open. However, if you use your garage door as the main entry to your home and want to wander off without your remote, you might want to install a keypad or bring your house key in case the internet or Chamberlain’s servers are out.

  1. I built my own garage door opener, and created an app to do the same thing. I purchased a second garage remote control and an arduino. I took the remote out of its casing, soldered arduino pins onto the remote (simply completed the circuit as if the button were pushed), and installed a web server on the arduino to listen for a push command via HTTP.

    I then wrote an app for Android that sends the HTTP command. It works great.

    I then decided to take it a step further. I created an account on Twilio and got an SMS number. In response to an SMS with certain commands (like from a friend), Twilio can then issue the HTTP command, and the arduino checks the sending number of the SMS for authorization. If I don’t want the friend to open my garage, I remove their number.

    All this worked so well that I decided to do the same thing with the remote that operates my gate.

    The only items missing are
    1) sensing if the garage/gate is open for an extended period of time and then sending a notification, and
    2) SSL on the arduino web server.

    I thought I could accomplish both of those by going through the SmartThings platform, but I digress. I wrote an app on SmartThings to work with it, and I encountered *many* shortcomings with their API, both from a security perspective, and also (from a participant in their weekly Office Hours Google+ Hangouts) just the fact that all they seem to do as a company is goof around and don’t get any serious work done. It drove me nuts that I decided to forego ST and just stick with my own implementations. If they would get their API straight, then controlling the garage with a SmartThings app and a SmartThings multisensor would be all I’d need.

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  2. I also did something similar using an Atmel microcontroller (Arduino compatible). I connected a magnetic sensor to detect if it was closed or not. I also connected a relay with the output in parallel to the wall’s door switch. I used the enc28j60 ethernet chip and connected it to a wifi bridge in the garage so I could reach it from my iphone. With an iphone-enabled web page masquerading as an app I could see how long the door had been in its current state as well as open/close from the phone.

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  3. Chamberlain/LiftMaster has a newer MyQ setup that is much easier to install. The components are readily available and inexpensive on Amazon. I used the 828LM Gateway ($21.00) which only requires plugging in an ethernet cable and a power wart. It operates at a lower frequency than WiFi, so coverage is excellent. Each garage door required an 888LM Wall Control ($23.75) to replace the existing units. No other wiring or boxes were required.

    I added a WSLCEV ($30.24) Remote Light Switch and an 829LM Garage Door Monitor ($17.98) for good measure and the whole setup works well together. I’ll agree that using the vehicle remotes are much handier than the Android app, but it sure is nice to be able to monitor and control things remotely.

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  4. Be careful with MyQ. I recently installed Chamberlain 3/4 HP belt drive GDO. The GDO was equipped with MyQ. All I needed was a $35 component that plugged into my internet modum. Added the App to my I-Phone and all worked great for two weeks. Now the App jumps immediately to “Add Device”. cannot determine if GD is open or closed. Called Chamberlain 4-times with no resolution.

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