air powered door

Star Trek has featured a great deal of tech over the years that eventually came to pass  – consider the iPad, for instance – but one of the neatest features, perfect for any geek domicile, has not been widely adopted: the automatic, two-piece sliding doors.

Complete with a nifty futuristic swooshing-air sound, this do-it-yourself Instructables project by uiproductions has it all – powered by compressed air, no less (so no, the sound is not fake!).

DIY door process

At the same time, though, its creator wanted something that would look conventional enough for a traditional early-21st-Century domicile. Thus, a normal 32-inch door was cut in half and coupled with a pocket door track.

While there is a push-button to open it once (after which it closes automatically moments later) as well as a key-to-keep-open option, one could wish for a final Star-Trekked aspect – motion detection – to make it complete. Then again, in the shows, even that did not always work …

“I always wanted a piece of Star Trek and the Disney Monorail in my house, and one thing they have in common is that they both have automatic sliding doors. It would be the perfect, most geek-ified entryway for my bedroom.”

“To be acceptable as a permanent renovation to our house, I knew the door had to have a normal appearance, as well as be practical and maintenance free. To reduce the number of moving parts (and maybe for a little coolness factor) I decided to make the door air-powered. The air would be supplied by a small compressor and storage tank located in the attic. In order to open and close from the inside and out, the door needed a little bit of brainpower. I decided to use a small PIC microcontroller, my platform of choice still to this day. Arduino didn’t exist back then.”

“With a rough plan in my head, I drew a quick CAD model of the door and the brackets that would connect the pistons to the door halves. I was ready to start purchasing parts.”