Motorized TV Lift with Home Automation Integration

New home buyers at some point or another need to make a hard decision: make the TV the focal point of the room, or keep the fireplace or mantel piece the main attraction. For Mike, an avid handyman and IT professional, compromise was not an option either way. 


Mike had already installed a SmartThings home automation system in his new home, which was intelligent enough to control the lights and dimmers depending on ambient light outside, heat when he approaches his home and all of the above when he goes to sleep. His home has already become a living, breathing creature which keeps an eye on the activity in his home and adjusts its living conditions accordingly to make everyone comfortable. 

 Drop Down TV Lift

Typically people take the easy route and just pick up a wall mount kit for their TV and place it above the fireplace as the main attraction; however this presents a slight health concern: the viewing angle of the TV is nearly always too high. After much research, Mike realized that mounting his massive 84" TV would just put too much strain on his and his wife's neck if they tried watching anything longer than a few minutes.

 Back of TV Lift

The next logical step for Mike was to look into systems that would allow him to pull the TV down when he wants to watch something, and then push it back up when he was finished. After a couple hours of searching through products that wouldn't quite work, the following occurred to him: Did he spent five figures on a TV that he needs to walk up to and pull down to watch, and then walk over and push back up when he's done? Frustrated, he then started wondering if there was an easier way to watch TV with a little ingenuity. 

 Building the TV Lift

The solution, he figured, was to incorporate his existing home automation system into the design of the mechanism that would move the TV up and out of the way when not in use. The project that would ensue has thoroughly impressed the Firgelli Automations team, and we are proud to present his work on our website. 


Home Automation Guide

At first glance, this can be quite an eye-crossing display of systems integration, but after working it through it makes plenty of sense and is completely repeatable. As you can see from the figure above, Mike is using a Harmony media system to control his TV and audio system. The ultimate goal was to have this IR remote control his TV lift mechanism via the Smart Things hub. To do so, he had an update daemon (a process which works in the background) pulling a status update of the A/V equipment operation from the Harmony remote to the Smart Things hub; this allowed the home automation system to know whether or not he is watching TV, or if the media systems are on. Also, it would allow the Harmony remote to send a lift command to the Harmony Hub via IR/RF signal. The lift command would then be sent to the Smart Things hub via the Harmony and SmartThings cloud or via LAN; once the SmartThings hub had the lift command, it communicated with an Arduino Uno attached to the back of the TV via a Zigbee Radio Shield.
If you're still following, then all that's left is the programming of the SmartThings incoming data, and output commands, as well as the Arduino Uno. The good news is that both systems are quite user friendly and coding can be found online, in instruction manuals, or custom commands can be used since you are programming both sides, so you can tell the SmartThings hub what your custom command is, and then what it should do when it gets that signal.


The end result is a real-time update of the lift status on the SmartThings app, Harmony App, and full control via an IR Harmony universal remote. Of course this wasn't quite enough automation for Mike, he now wanted his home to know when to have the TV retract when he's done watching.


Hidden motion sensors monitor movement in the living room, and the SmartThings hub checks the status of the A/V equipment via update daemon every 5 minutes. When the motion sensors have not detected movement for a set length of time, the hub checks the status of the TV system; if the system is off, then the hub will instruct the custom TV lift mechanism to raise the TV out of the way of the fireplace. Now when Mike is heading to bed, he can hear the TV lift retracting and the home going into 'sleep' mode.


Moving on to the bulk of the project, Mike designed and built this fantastical TV lift mechanism which attached to the back of his monstrous 84" LED TV. Using two Sleek Rod Actuators, two Gas Springs, a Pulley System, and several micro switches all attached to an aluminium frame he made what could be single best looking custom TV lift system that the Firgelli Automatons team has seen a client build.
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