Sump pump monitor emails and raises alarm if water rises

sump_pump_overview

[Matt] literally finds himself in a sticky situation. There’s an oil slick in his sump well. These wells work in conjunction with drain tiles to pump water away from the foundation of a house. Unfortunately the tar that was used to waterproof the outside of his foundation is also washing into the sump and gumming up the works. The system he built will sound an audio alarm and send an email if something goes wrong with the sump pump.

He’s monitoring for two different issues. One technique uses a float valve to sense if the water is too high, signalling that the mechanism controlling the pump has malfunctioned. The other is a current monitor that senses if the sump pump has been running too long (caused by the sump’s water sensor getting stuck in the on position). The one thing he didn’t want to do is control the pump directly as a bug in his code will easily result in a flooded basement. We have the same concerns when considering building a DIY thermostat (an error there could mean frozen water pipes leading to flooding).

Directing an alarm system straight to the Internet

[Scott] has a pretty nice alarm system at his house – it will give the operator at his alarm company enough information to determine if it’s a fire alarm, burglary, or just a cat walking in front of a sensor. [Scott] wanted to cut out the middle man and receive notifications from his alarm system on his phone. He did just that, with the help of a trusty Arduino and the very cool Electric Imp.

[Scott]‘s build began with an Arduino attach to a Raspi to monitor state changes in the alarm system. Because the designers of the alarm system included a very helpful four-wire bus between the alarm panels and the part connected to the phone line, [Scott] found it fairly easy to tap into these lines and read the current alarm status.

Dedicating a Raspberry Pi to the simple task of polling a few pins and sending data out over WiFi is a bit overkill, so [Scott] picked up an Electric Imp Arduino shield to transmit data over WiFi. We’ve played around with the Imp before, and [Scott] would be hard pressed to come up with a cleaner solution to putting his alarm monitor on the Internet.

Now [Scott] has a very tidy alarm monitor that sends updates straight to his cell phone, no middle man required. A very neat build, and an excellent use of a very cool WiFi device.

Self monitoring a home alarm system

[Lior] wanted to cancel the monitoring system for his home’s alarm, but he didn’t want to stop using the alarm all together. The trick is to rig up some way to monitor it himself. It would have been simple to have it just call him instead of the alarm company since the system just uses a telephone connection. But this would require that he have a land line for it to connect to, and when it calls him he would have no idea what part of the system had been set off. He developed a way to have the system text message him with all of the available details.

An Arduino controls the system, with a SIM900 GSM shield to hand the cell side of things. The board to the left emulates the standard telephone line, with an M8870 DTMF touch tone decoder to figure out what the alarm system is telling him. He also needed to implement touch tone generation to talk back to the system. His write-up includes links to other articles he posted about hardware, software, and protocol specifics.

Alarm system makes sure your moving truck doesn’t get raided

When you move you generally load up everything you own into one truck. If your entire life is ever going to get ripped off, this is probably when it’s going to happen. To guard against the threat [Tim Flint] built his own alarm for a moving truck. If someone opens the door on the truck it’ll alert him via text message. Hopefully he’s got an annoying notification sound that will wake him up in time to catch them red-handed.

The setup is simple and shouldn’t distract you too much from your packing and loading. [Tim] connected a proximity sensor to an Arduino board which has its own WiFi module. The entire thing is housed in the black project box seen above and the proximity sensor is pointed at the moving truck door. When the door is opened the Arduino pushes an alert to Twilio which is configured to send him text messages.

The alarm system doesn’t protect from someone stealing the entire truck… that kind of system is an entirely different project.

Home security anyone can build and install

We’ve been seeing quite a few home security hacks around here lately and we think they’re a lot of fun. This is one that we missed a few weeks ago. [Sharpk] used his existing home security system as inspiration for a completely DIY security system. Above you can see the tiny models he used to help visualize how the system would be installed.

The board at the center is a JeeNode, a development board that pairs an ATmega328 with a wireless module. There are three magnetic door sensors which you can easily find at the home, hardware, or electronics store around the corner. They’re basically a reed switch and a magnet; one mounts on the door, the other on the jamb. There is also a panic button and a PIR motion sensor. [Sharpk] has even been working on a UI for the system. He crafted a 3D model of his home’s floor plan in SketchUp and uses it to indicate which part of the system has been triggered.

Now he just needs to add a keypad for arming and disarming the system.

Getting connected with your home security system

This simple device, paired with some creating code will let you become your own home security monitoring service. It’s called the PhantomLink and [Adam] started the project as a commercial venture. He recently decided to go open source with the hardware and will soon be posting a guide on how to program your own web interface too.

We just looked in on a project which takes control of a security panel using an Arduino. The PhantomLink is focused on not just reusing the input hardware, but monitoring the whole system. It sounds like several different protocols are supported.

The DB9 jack is intended for use with an adapter you can wire yourself. Basically just tap into the terminal block on the alarm controller for your house, then route those connections to the proper pins. A PIC 12F683 monitors the alarm system, pushing data via the WiFi module mounted on the board. With that web connection you can do anything you want by catching and formatting the data.

Monitoring a clothes washer with an accelerometer

[Viktor's] washing machine did a good job of cleaning his clothes, but it kept a bit too quiet about it. The machine doesn’t have an audible alert to let him know the cycle has finished. He decided to build his own alarm which can just be slapped on the side of the machine.

You can see that a couple of magnets hold the board to the metal housing of the washer. The board doesn’t actually connect to any of the machine’s circuitry so this should work about equally as well for any unit. The detection is based on motion, thanks to a Freescale MMA7361 3-axis accelerometer. When he starts a load of wash he flips the power switch for the board on. The PIC 12F683 that drives the device starts monitoring the accelerometer for changes. If it goes for more than about one minute without reading motion the piezo buzzer starts beeping. It’s a fun and easy solution along the same line of this oven pre-heat alarm add-on.