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Wireless alert for mail box

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
 
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
 

deonb

Active Member
Mar 4, 2013
4,062
4,362
Redmond, WA
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.
 
Last edited:

deonb

Active Member
Mar 4, 2013
4,062
4,362
Redmond, WA
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.

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.
 
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.

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).
 
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).
No line of sight either.
 
Have you tried other cellular providers at the mailbox? You really only need to be able to send an SMS (Text Message).
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.
 

woof

Fluffy Member
Supporting Member
Apr 30, 2009
1,592
1,917
I think it would be more fun to check it via drone!
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?
 
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.
 

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