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Wireless alert for mail box

Discussion in 'Off Topic' started by Merrill, Jul 31, 2015.

  1. Merrill

    Merrill Active Member

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    Nothing to do with Tesla, but knowing that there are many IT people out there thought I would post this. I live over 1 mile from my mailbox and need a remote way to alert me that I have mail in my box. This is a locked set of mail boxes for everyone in our neighborhood. Is there something out there that would send me an alert on my iPhone when the mailman opens the door on the mailbox. Did not find much with that distance on the Internet other than Postybell, and do not think they are up and running.
    Thanks, Merrill
     
  2. kaneda

    kaneda Member

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    You could try a low power controller like arduino, powered with small solar panel & battery, and using either long range RF transmitter to your house from where it can be picked up by a receiver programmed to send you alerts over email or whatever you want.

    i have something like this running at home using NRF24L01 and RF69 setup but I only need a range under 200 feet.

    your main challenge will be to find the right RF solution with 1 mile range
     
  3. deonb

    deonb Active Member

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    #3 deonb, Jul 31, 2015
    Last edited: Jul 31, 2015
    The voltage stabilizer on the Arduino makes it definitely not a low power device. It will drain a 1200 mAh battery in a day. Even solar assisted won't help enough in the winter.

    You can use the Arduino software environment if you want, but use a raw ATMEGA328 chip, rather than literally using an Arduino UNO.

    Here's a design for a ATMEGA328 with a wireless transmitter than can run several months from a battery:
    https://github.com/petervojtek/diy/wiki/Arduino-with-Very-Low-Power-Consumption


    Geez, this is an interesting project. Wish I had time right now for it. My electronics work-desk is getting lonely.


    PS: If you still haven't figured this out by Halloween, PM me and I'll build one for you (and me of course :)). It will be < $50 in parts. Every Halloween->Christmas I am anyway engulfed with this type of stuff due to my Halloween & Christmas Light shows. Just can't do it right now.
     
  4. Merrill

    Merrill Active Member

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    You guys are awesome, thanks for the info. I know very little about this stuff and another problem I have is no cell reception at the mail box area. Just checked it out and either 1/2 bar or no service so not sure anything will work.
     
  5. deonb

    deonb Active Member

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    You may be able to use an XBee Pro Module. That has a 1 mile rating. It draws 215mA, but you only need this for a few seconds every day.
     
  6. kaneda

    kaneda Member

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    The UNO is indeed not the ideal board, but the Pro Mini would do the job.

    Forgot to mention, you need line of sight for the RF transmitter to have a chance to talk otherwise you start getting into high power transmission gears which will probably be incompatible with the low power requirement for the sensor located in the mailbox (unless you have some power supply near it).
     
  7. Banahogg

    Banahogg Member

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  8. Merrill

    Merrill Active Member

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    No line of sight either.
     
  9. deonb

    deonb Active Member

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    I assume your mailbox distance is 1 mile driving along roads, and not 1 mile as the crow flies. What's the crowage?
     
  10. Merrill

    Merrill Active Member

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    Good question, I will mileage it out both ways and let you know. Probably not that much less via crowage because the road follows almost a direct route.
     
  11. deonb

    deonb Active Member

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    Have you tried other cellular providers at the mailbox? You really only need to be able to send an SMS (Text Message).
     
  12. Merrill

    Merrill Active Member

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    Yes, it was only a couple of years ago that we could get a cell connection and we still have to do satellite TV and Internet. But the location of the mail boxes are in a canyon and have no service with anyone. My wife says our crowage is 1/2 mile.
     
  13. woof

    woof Model S #P683 Blue 85 kWh

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  14. Banahogg

    Banahogg Member

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  15. Tdriver

    Tdriver Member

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    Since most mailboxes are metal, you will need some kind of external antenna for transmission. Maybe you could install a loud horn on the mailtruck. LOL
     
  16. Chipper

    Chipper Active Member

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    I think it would be more fun to check it via drone!
     
  17. woof

    woof Model S #P683 Blue 85 kWh

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    It would be fun...but requires bluetooth or WiFi comms to fly and get the images back. The distances involved don't allow for that.

    There's always Satellite data plans (Iridium GO! - Wi-Fi Hotspot Equipment & Service). Pricy, but perhaps worth it. For one SMS message a day, and assuming the device is powered off until it needs to send a message, then powered up long enough to get a message out, probably not too bad on the power budget.

    Back in the days before cheap cell or satellite data, we would have ordered a good old POTS phone line...possibly even a dry pair. Any chances of getting a phone line to that location?
     
  18. tkizzy

    tkizzy Member

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    Put an old iPhone in there running the app "Presence." If you could put a large battery or somehow wire it up to power. You could even turn the led light on remotely to see inside your box. App is free for basic version.

    T-Mobile has 2 unlimited data lines for 100$. Or you could find a wifi network and get access to it in the area.
     
  19. NigelM

    NigelM Recovering Member

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    It would be even more fun to have a drone mailbox that delivered the mail to your front door. If Amazon can deliver parcels like that, then why not the USPS?
     
  20. Merrill

    Merrill Active Member

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    Will,if USPS was privately run we might even be able to rely on getting mail.
     

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