Avoiding Exercise with an ESP8266 and Blynk

[Mike Diamond] was tired of climbing down (and back up) 40 stairs to check his mailbox. He decided to create a mailbox alert using the ESP8266 to connect to his WiFi. The idea was simple: have the ESP8266 monitor when the mailbox flap opened using a magnet and a reed switch. As always, though, the devil is in the details. [Mike] got things working with a little help and shares not only the finished design but how he got there.

To handle the sending of e-mail, [Mike] used the Blynk app. You often think of Blynk as a way to build user interfaces on an Android or iOS device that can control an Arduino. In this case, though, [Mike] used the library with the ESP8266 and had it send e-mail on his behalf.

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Building a Sturdy Remote Control Mailbox

This DIY mailbox pretty much has it all. Not only is it waterproof and secure, it’s beautifully built and unlikely to arouse the suspicion of or induce fear in the mailman.

It’s made of 2mm thick sheet metal and features accents made of merri, a rather nice blood wood native to Western Australia. [George] of Make It Extreme built this mailbox primarily for remote control access, the idea being that each of his family members would have a key fob remote to open it. There’s an input panel under the lid in case someone loses or forgets their remote.

The setup is simple. That 12V solar panel under the address number is connected to a solar charge controller and charges a small battery. Pushing the A button on the key fob remote triggers the latch to slide over, unlocking the door. A push of the B button turns on an interior light for late-night mail collecting. The tube on the side is for leaflets and other postal miscellany. Now, the coolest feature: when mail passes through the slot, it lets [George] know by calling his cell phone. Check out the build/demo video after the break.

We’ve featured all kinds of mailboxen over the years. This wifi-enabled ‘box uses an Amazon Dash button and a Pi to play the AOL notification on the owner’s phone. The flag on this adorable mini mailbox goes up when there’s mail in the real one outside.

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Mailbox notifier texts when the letter carrier arrives

mailbox-notifier

[Felix Rusu’s] mailbox is on the other side of the street and he’s got a pretty big front yard. This means checking for mail is not just a pop your head out of the door type of activity. This becomes especially noticeable during the winter months when he has to bundle up and trudge through the snow to see if his letter carrier has been there yet. But he’s made pointless trips a thing of the past by building a notifier that monitors the mailbox for him.

He’s using a Moteino, which is an Arduino clone of his own making. It’s tiny and features an RF module on the underside of the board which takes care of communicating with a base station inside the house. The module seen above rolls the microcontroller board up along with a 9V battery and a hall effect sensor which can tell if the mailbox door is open or closed. When the Arduino detects a change to that sensor it pushes some data back to the base station which then relays the info to a computer or Raspberry Pi in order to send him a text message. All of this is shown off in the video after the break.

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Physical email box — mail flag and all

We gave you a side view because we really like the red new-mail flag. Sure it works the opposite of how USPS boxes do (where the flag tells the letter carrier there is outgoing mail to be picked up) but it’s still a fun touch. What you can’t see here is that this physical email box has a character LCD screen to read your messages and a set of buttons on the top to send back replies.

[Eraclitux’s] project puts an Arduino, LCD, a few buttons, and a servo motor inside of a metal project box. It connects to his computer and takes commands over the USB cable. The Python script is where most of the magic happens. This is a good reference project if you’re interested in using POP and SMTP packages to interface your Python scripts with an email server. You’re pretty limited on responses, with preprogrammed messages to reply “Yes”, “No”, or “Read”. But it’s journey that matters, not the destination.

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Facebook notifier uses some papercraft and simple electronics

This weekend project will tell you when you’ve got something new to look at on your Facebook page (translated). The yellow flag on the side of the mini-mailbox automatically goes up, alerting you to your recent online popularity.

[Rocco’s] craftwork on this project is fantastic. We love the scale, the colors, and especially the artificial grass that adorns the base. Inside the mailbox an Arduino controls a small servo motor attached to the new mail flag. As with other Arduino-based notifiers (be it the Internet Furby, or our own troll sniffing rat) the USB connection makes it incredibly easy to convert online information to real-world signals. The client side of this is a Python script. It uses a package that we were previously unfamiliar with called mechanize. We’ve just made a cursory examination of how that package is used, but we’re going to keep it in mind as an alternative to our usual go-to package, BeautifulSoup, which tends to be a bit hairy when you’re just looking for some basic data.