Please help with a home invention...

Hi there, my name is Nathan and I have an idea for creating a device which will help my grandfather maintain the flow of irrigation water that comes into his yard. Currently, the city allots two irrigation periods per month and essentially, my 80-yr. old grandfather is responsible for ensuring the proper flow into his yard at odd hours in the morning. For example, he'll have to wake up at 1:30 a.m. to go out
and lift the two small water gates (on each end of his house)...then, he'll have to stay awake to maintain them until 5:30 a.m., or something
like that.
Anyway, my idea is to install a home-made mechanism at each of the irrigation gates that will allow for the lifting and shutting of the water gate (about a 12"x6" rectangular plate covering the water hole).
In my crude, non-mechanically-inclined mind, I thought of somehow welding a straightened-out bicycle chain to the lift piece and fashioning a sprocket to a motor (garage-door opener motor??), held by maybe a pipe in the ground (in front of the water hole). The motor would turn the sprocket which would be connected to the chain, somehow.
One of the tricky things is figuring out what I could use to automate all of this...I was thinking of some type of connection between the motor and say, a water-sprinkler timer, where I might pre-program each of the two irrigation lifters to independently lift and shut their water gates at specified time intervals.
Of course, once a motor is activated in lift or shut mode, it would need to stop after a few seconds when it reaches the apex of each motion. Wow! Am I insane or what?! I was also thinking that, instead
of a water-sprinkler timer thingy, maybe I could just set up some kind of radio transmitter/receiver from the two irrigation points to my grandfather's computer...that way, maybe we could take advantage of some customized software solution or computer timer of some sort. With
something like that, perhaps we wouldn't have to worry so much about running a bunch of underground wiring (it would just be the power to the motors, I think??).
I don't want to drag on about this, so I'll pretty much leave it at that and ask for any advice/comments/suggestions that ANYONE might have. Is there a company or a machine or some product out there that provides something close to what I want? Is it really expensive?? Maybe there's a better way to accomplish this all together (probably an
easy one, like hire someone to lift and shut the water gates, ha!). Anywho, thanks again in advance for any light shed on my crazy idea. Nathan Entrekin
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Use the chain and sprinkler timer idea. Attach a bucket, of suitable capacity to lift the gate by weight of water, to the chain. Poke a small hole in the bottom of the bucket. Use the timer to turn on and off a small water pump that fills the bucket and lifts the gate at the beginning time, then shuts of the water pump at the end time, allowing the water to drain out of the bucket and lower the gate.
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I LOVE this idea!!! Thank you so much! It's so simple and elegant...a "why didn't I think of that" kind of thing. Wow! Now we can save time and money and headaches, and I really am going to have a go at it.
I sort of wonder how well it needs to shut, considering all the water that will be in the yard. Then again, if I use a heavy-enough counterweight, we could be in business. And, of course, it would probably be best to ensure there's easy friction and stability with the gate/chain/bucket assembly.
And I suppose I'll need a fairly small hole(s) and we'll need to gauge the shutting time to approximately 4-5 hours. This can REALLY work! Thank you again!! I'll try to let everyone know how my project goes soon.
Many regards,
Nathan
Chas Hurst wrote:

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