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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Desktop email notification bell

email_notification_bell

Instructables user [meseta] wanted an audible notification whenever he received an email, but must have thought that his computer’s built-in sounds were lacking in some regard. To get the perfect sound that he desired, he built himself a USB-powered notification bell.

Using an off the shelf “front desk bell” and a hand made electromagnet, he constructed a bell that could be triggered whenever a message showed up in his desktop email client. The electromagnet can be triggered by a quick pulse from a microcontroller, and in [meseta’s] case, he used a Forebrain dev board. He created a filter in his email client that runs an executable each time a message is received. This executable in turn sends a message to his microcontroller via USB, triggering the bell.

While we think that the notifier could have been put together using a far less powerful microcontroller, it’s a neat idea regardless. People seem to love alternative notification systems, so we’re pretty sure this bell will appeal to many in that crowd.

Keep reading to see a short video demonstration of his email notifier in action.

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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.

Building a dead mouse’s switch

building_a_better_mousetrap

[Ned] had a mouse problem in a very uncomfortable place.

No, not like the back of a Volkswagen, in his ceiling. He wanted to put a mouse trap up there to take care of the critter, but knowing how nasty a tripped trap can be after a few days, he was hesitant. He recalled a project he saw online where a mouse trap was wired like a dead man’s switch and he got to work putting together a trap of his own.

He scavenged some parts from around the house and wired up the mouse trap so that a pair of LEDs were lit so long as the trap had not been sprung on an unsuspecting mouse. Once a mouse is caught in the trap, his circuit is broken, and the LEDs go off, letting [Ned] know it’s time to poke his head back up into the ceiling and clean things up.

While his trap is decidedly low-tech, we always enjoy seeing a cheap and easy solution to annoying, everyday problems.