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"Desperate Housewife" with Remote Control Project

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So glad I found this site as I was about to give up on my quest! Alas, I'm not the type who likes to admit defeat so I hope someone here can help me.

>:(Problem: We paid a carpenter $3000 to design and build a unique entertainment center for our living room. The unique part is this: We have an LCD tv hanging on the wall in the middle of the unit and there is a wood panel that slides up and down to hide and reveal the tv. Affixed to the panel is a framed painting. The panel is attached to some cables with weights within the cabinet. The problem is the panel is difficult to lift up manually and takes quite a bit of effort (like standing on the unit itself). The entertainment center looks beautiful but my dream of having the painting hide the tv is too cumbersome to operate. Our carpenter says he did his best and that next time he builds a similar project he'll do it differently. Gee thanks.

???Question: I know zilch about electronics but I'm sure there is some way I could use a small electronic lift mechanism (with a remote control) to lift and lower the panel. I've researched all over the web and I'm still stumped. We've spent so much already so I'm hoping for a solution that won't cost more than a few hundred dollars. I would even consider hiring someone, but who would I call? An electrician or mechanic?

I am open to suggestions from anyone. Thanks for your time! :-*


P.S. I estimate the combined weight of the panel and painting to be 20 lbs.

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There are several ready-made sub-assemblies that can be made to work in your situation...

Linear actuators can be made to do the lifting for you:

...and there a wide range of consumer-oriented remote control modules that can be used to control the linear actuator.

It's best if you have (possibly a more innovative and tech-savvy) carpenter come over and look over the information and your situation to give you a cost estimate on the additions to your existing entertainment center.

It really shouldn't be that difficult to do.

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Thanks for getting me started in the right direction! I researched "linear motion" and found something that just might work. It's a belt drive. I suppose if it was hooked up to a motor and a remote it could slide the picture up and down.


I'm still a little lost as to who I can find that will be capable of putting together all of the components. I guess an electrician would be most qualified?

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What you want is a hobbyist with carpentry, mechanical, and electronic skills. Lo and behold! Here you are.

You can probably get more informed suggestions if you can provide some pictures. If you have a web site of your own to post them on it would be easiest. Posting too many pictures here might be irritating, but one each of the inside and the outside (.jpg and not too high resolution) may give an idea of what needs to be worked with.

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Like Ldanielrosa says, you're probably looking for a "jack-of-all-trades" type of person; and getting a look at the situation certainly would go a long way towards getting a solution in the shortest possible time.

Electronics is the easy part. Custom carpentry is really where I get into trouble.

Looking at the link you provided, I'm reminded that we'd need to know the distance that the frame slides (up, down, over, whatever) and a look at the kind of space available to mount the mechanism. (Most of this kind of thing is usually done when the cabinetry is being constructed.)

Given that information, it looks as though structural CAD files are available from the supplier that would be of use to you.

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Thanks again for all your replies. I'm attaching two pictures - one of the whole unit and one showing the track the panel travels to hide the tv.

After looking over some other linear motion sites, I've found out that an actuator would be more appropriate than a belt drive. I found a remote control activated actuator at this site:

If this worked, it would be perfect! Based on my specifications and the specs on the actuator, do you all agree that it would be an appropriate solution?

FYI: The panel must travel 24" and the track is 1" wide. I've attached two pictures depicting the unit.


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I see what you mean. That thing needs the slot routed-out a bit larger, and the sliding panel should be mounted on good quality ball glides.
Your carpenter should be able to understand that much about the situation.

With 15mm/s thrust rate, be aware that the time to open up the panel will be on the order of 41 seconds. Not bad, but don't be in a hurry. I see that they say that they'll be introducing some higher speed models early this year. At 20lbs of force, it might be worth it to see what they offer the public on that count.

Definitely install ball glides on both sides of the sliding panel (possibly 'L' bracketing the panel to ball glides mounted on the rear sides of that slot, though hidden would be much better), and it really depends on where you have to stuff the motor/gearbox. Possibly right behind the panel and attach the clevis at an appropriate point in the center of the panels width.

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My second picture didn't come through for some reason. Here it is just so you can see the full unit (if you're curious).

I wish we'd figured out this problem at the time the carpenter installed it, because now we'll have to go through the back wall to access the panel and make the adjustments!

Question: If I get this to work with the remote that is now available, would it be possible later to switch to a faster remote?

Thanks for your suggestions - I really appreciate your time and expertise.


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Good News! I found actual plans on a website of exactly how to accomplish my task (except instead of lifting a tv, I'll only be lifting a picture.

Enigma, I never would have found it without you pointing me in the right direction.

For anyone who is interested in building their own pop-up tv or picture project, here's the link:


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Don't forget to put some kind of release or safety switch in this thing. You do not want to injure a child (or adult, for that matter) if he or she gets their hands or head in the way of this panel when it is moving. Safety should be built into the plan.


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Glad whatever I was able to contribute was of some assistance to you. :)

Now, as I'm looking at your photos, I'm just letting my mind coast along a bit as to what kind of overall plan you want to craft on this.

If it was something that belonged to me, I would definitely put a ball-glide on each side of that panel, to reduce your lifting load, and to stabilize the side-to-side position of the panel as it travels.
I'd add a clevis bracket on the top center of that sliding panel (behind the brass lift hardware) and mount your linear actuator in the center of that stationary vertical surface below the TV screen. Some sort of mechanical linkage (which I haven't puit too much thought into) which would allow for a panic situation disconnect from the top linear actuator clevis would be a feature to include out of prudence.

I'm thinking that you should be able to spring mount the "south end" clevis attachment point so that it's fixed, in the "side-to-side" and "front-to-back" directions (x-axis and z-axis); but free, within limits, to move in the vertical direction (y-axis). If the travel of the panel is blocked by an obstacle (child, cat, somebody's tush) the spring will be vertically compressed, but won't compress under normal lifting condtitions. That vertical displacement can be used to operate a safety switch that will reverse the motor direction to lower the panel if something is in the way.

Alternatively, one could monitor the motor current and, if it exceeds a certain level, the same safety protocol would be implemented.

Things like this are more involved to describe that they are to "just do it." Sorry you don't live on the Left Coast, or I'd send you a guy I know, who could do what I'm thinking about in a few hours time.

Don't get offended, but my mind distills volumes of verbage like this to a couple of iconic phrases, at the oddest times. In scanning through this thread one last time, I had to supress a giggle when I saw:

"Desperate Housewife"
provide some pictures.
This, on the heels of having just cleaned out my nephew's Internet cache, and ridding it of spyware--again.

::: slapping-self and getting more coffee :::

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You are too much! To confess, I used the moniker "Desperate Housewife", to attract attention to my dilemna. Due to the popularity of the show (of which I'm a fan), I knew it would stand out. While I do work out of my home, I'm not exactly a housewife. But I agree, that that term combined with "need pictures" could be construed as risque or funny.

I definitely relate to you cleaning out your nephew's cache and spyware. It is a constant battle in our home and my son's computer is especially plagued with unwelcome content due to his frequent visits to online game sites, etc. I'll never forget a few years ago when he tried to view the website for the wwf. Well, suffice it to say, it was not their official site!

Thanks for the laugh and the advice. I've emailed the plans to my handyman to see what he thinks and I can't wait till the project is completed so I can ponder another one.

This website rocks and so do you.

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