Need help positioning linear actuators to a bi-fold window shutter model

Oh, I know. And I appreciate the input. It is best when several minds tackle the same problem, because each one sees a different solution.

I did look at those commercial covers in 2011 when we bought this home. They are 'Spensive, Lucy! I have considered a good fence around the property, but I do like the open Kentucky countryside look, so no fence.

I know there are many options, but I am trying to learn SketchUp, and I really want to build them myself, rather than resort to a commercial installer. Thanks Dan, for pointing me toward those concepts!


c_j_ryan, I do like the concept you proposed. I am wondering how I would cover the actuators, so that they are not directly exposed to the weather, and are not visible. This IS where a canvas canopy would come into play, I guess. A canvas canopy could be the “case” for the covers, making them invisible to the casual observer unless they are deployed to the closed position. When retracted, they could tuck up under the canopies, and disappear.

I am also wrestling with solid sheet metal vs. perforated or CNC design cut panels. Solid would not collect things like bugs, grass clippings, etc. A design cut into them would look good, but then, who cares what they look like while we are dodging a tornado?

I have about 30 4x10 sheets of 14 gauge stainless steel, so I’d like to make them out of the material I have. Also, with stainless, there are no rust or rot issues.

I DO appreciate everyone’s assistance here. I am working with SketchUp to learn the software. There are actually about 14 different large projects around here that must be done, and I will TRY to plan all of them out using this software.



I like this concept…



I do play one on TV sometimes :wink:, and I don’t think your going about it half-as*ed or pie-balled, or if you are I think that’s great. Plenty of projects, small and shockingly huge, get done by people too stubborn to be daunted, I say go for it. I have the kind of bulldog mind that loves to chew on a problem so I couldn’t stop thinking about the many conflicting objectives you have here. Make it: cheap, fit the existing architecture, off the shelf parts, remote deployable, lightweight but secure against tornadoes and intrusion, provide shade, and slice and dice and make chicken soup it’s a tall order to put those all together.

Here is a version that satisfies some of those. It’s a once piece design that’s easy to manufacture. The frame is 1x3" box steel that is inset into the existing window cavity. I know the masonry depth is not quite 3 inches so this might have to protrude from the window a bit, it might be possible to make it thinner, I’m just playing around here, but the actuators need some kind of angle to start at or they will not lift so you need some depth. The lid is sheet metal with inset strong-backs that has a rimless design so it sits flush with the perimeter frame when closed. It makes it susceptible to prying, but honestly I’m not sure you’re going to get a completely “secure” design here anyway. Prying from the bottom of the lid just provides such a long leaver arm against the upper hinge and actuators that the cover would need to be extremely robust and heavy or have a separate locking system at the bottom to be “thief proof”, but they will look intimidating and protect against the casual or lazy intruder (many are).

The actuators are embedded inside the frame and inaccessible when closed, also sheltered from rain when open. I made up some dimensions, I think I made them 2 1/2" in diameter. I worked out that with a 12" stroke you could get the window tilted up about 110˚ or 120˚ which would put the outer end of the lids up above head high when open (which is good as the sharp edge would be deadly to any foreheads walking by). I don’t know what specific actuators are available but if you could fit 16" travel rams in it would lessen the force needed and the stresses on the hinge and upper frame. I just ran with a singe sheet idea, but in maybe you could combine this design with the bifold idea you were pursuing, it would be more complex but might be possible. Maybe I’ll chew on that next.

I am obliged to state that this is really little more than a collection of ideas thrown together as a thought exercise after the kids are in bed. You can take or leave all or any part of it. I do not guarantee the kinematics will work as modeled here, but it could be a starting place for some experimentation. I often find making a mockup to be enormously helpful. Keep working on it and keep us posted!

frame lid.skp (446.8 KB)

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I DO like those!


Hi, thanks! I did consider a single panel, but the winds in Kentucky would probably rip them off of the building. That is why I felt a folding cover anchored at four points (two top, two bottom) and protruding only 40" out from the building would be much tougher. Also, a triangle is the strongest geometric shape.

I AM impressed with your illustrations though! I wish I knew how to do that. Wow. Clear glass, and looking very professional.

It looks like I will end up attaching them to the brick about five bricks higher than the window frame. That will allow the lower edge rise to nearly the top and still have a good triangle over the window for the actuator to operate within

As for security, I was going to place a steel channel at the bottom that the shield would settle into. The channel would be attached to the brick sill, sl the bottom could not be pried away, and there would be no advantage over the top hinge. .

I sure do like SketchUp!!!


Thoughts …

When open, rainwater should shed away from the masonry if possible.
Or place a drain slot or chevron shaped ridge across the panel.

Another thing to consider. Check insurance and building codes.
Codes or insurance inspectors may require window coverings to have an emergency release from the inside. (Our insurance gave us a hardtime for not immediately removing fixed storm covers from bedroom windows after a hurricane. They sent an inspector again to verify we’d removed them.)

Although not the finial solution, I think this is part of it. The lineal actuators might need to be mounted on the actual window cover.

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Ah, yes. BIG BROTHER. I forgot about them! So I need to make these things releasable from the INSIDE.That complicates things a bit.


Yes, I figured the actuators would need to be attached directly to the panels as you have illustrated so beautifully! But you have flipped them, and that may be the answer! I was mounting the motors low, and pulling the ram tip in at the fold, but you are pulling the ram from the lower panel to a position outside of the fold/motor envelope. I like that!


Dan Rathbun, thank you for reminding me of the need to release these covers from the inside. I had forgotten about “FIRE!”

Since the design hinges at the top, and is ONLY held against the wall with the two wheels at the bottom, wouldn’t it be easy to set the wheels into some cradle that releases them from the inside with a simple removal of an R-clip or a pull pin or something similar?

When the lower wheels were released from the shield, the whole thing would swing open at the top. I could even install a strong spring that would tilt the covers out a distance while not constrained by the wheels in the channels along the sides of the window opening. The springs would be in their relaxed state 99% of the time, unless the shields were fully closed, so they should remain able to lift the covers when needed.

Either that, or use a simple rod like those that hold up the car hoods of cheaper vehicles that no longer use hood springs.

The weather is cold and wet and miserable now. As soon at it warms up a bit, I may go get the stainless channel and the frame tubing, and make a prototype to test. With a prototype, I can cut and drill and weld to it here and there, until I get it working correctly.

and the beat goes on …


I appreciate the help you folks have provided. I have made some mods to the original design, and it is looking quite doable!



I am going to put the lower wheels on retractable axles, like the bolts of a vault door. A single lever on the interior of the lower panel will retract the wheels from the channels, allowing the panels to swing out via the top hinge.