Simple Household Status System


[BrianH] decided that he no longer wanted to venture outside on cold or rainy days just to check if the mail had come, so he built himself a notification system that would alert him if the postman had stopped by. Additionally, he admits to being forgetful on occasion and wanted a way to monitor whether or not he forgot to close the garage door. His Instructable details how he accomplished both of these tasks with the household monitor he built around an ATmega168. His project uses a mailbox mounted photoresistor to determine when the mailbox has been opened, and a reed switch that is triggered when the garage door has been opened. If either of these things occur, a beep is emitted from his notifier, and the appropriate status LED is lit. Simply monitoring whether the garage door has been opened is not all that helpful, so he programmed his notifier to beep persistently at 10-minute intervals if the garage has been left open for more than an hour.

His hack is pretty useful, but he does mention that there is an inordinate amount of wiring that needs to be laid, citing his driveway repaving as a great opportunity to do so.

20 thoughts on “Simple Household Status System

  1. that would be a good candidate for an electronics tutorial: one circuit with a switch and resistor and a led. one with schmitt-trigger (or darlington or op-amp) added and a mono-flop with reset button.

  2. You could use a flip-flops, etc. However you would also need a couple of timing circuits for the different delays. Where an ATiny, or ATMega128 will do everything for you, and still only costs about $5.

    Also, if I was going to stock only a couple parts for random projects: an couple barebones MCU kits are going to be more useful then any thing else.

    Though I agree, never a bad time for a tutorial. :D

  3. @poiso,

    No one cares what you do or do not read. Don’t visit instructables, big whoop – thanks for sharing but no one cares.

    Sometimes there happens to be interesting stuff on instructables such as this post. If you are too thick to figure out how adblock works or that all you need to do is register an account and click “see all steps” then maybe you should step away from the computer.

    This is a neat idea, no matter where it happens to be posted – not everyone has their own web site where they can post stuff like this, so instructables makes it easy to share. I don’t see your contributions to hackaday anywhere on instructables or anywhere else for that matter…

  4. saccrolux

    wow so much hostilities, I read the article, but I was just making the point that instructables went from being a pretty cool place to post projects to one of utter annoyance. I understand that a website needs a way to generate income, but when you make it so blatent where a user has to register to just click certain photo’s then it is annoying and alienates certain readers. i dont know who the person was that wuold post the barebones versions of the projects but it made them so much easier to read.

    and as for contributions I have submitted several articles to hackaday that have been listed.

  5. Hostilities? No. The whining about it here just gets old after awhile.

    I would much rather see constructive additions or suggestions for the posted hack rather than, “omgponies I hate instructables”. Trust me, I realize that my commenting here is just as unnecessary.

    I have my login info cached in Firefox, and I have no problems clicking the “See everything on one page” button when I have to visit Instructables to see a writeup. It would not be my first choice, but I do what I have to do to see what I want to see. I have suffered far worse site navigation *cough* Gizmodo *cough*.

    If everyone wants content for free, the bills have to be paid in some way. My guess is that content farms likely scraped their site for ages stealing views and ad revenues, so they had to implement some steps to prevent wholesale theft of content. It is a sign of the times and something we all have to deal with.

  6. The WTF is that this is required at all – in this country, the postman puts letters through your door (for most houses), so you don’t need to go outside.

    Though fair enough about the garage.

  7. @Muzer

    There is a significant part of the population that lives in rural areas. In rural areas, mail boxes are placed on posts along whatever roadway is closest to the property of the person in question. Often (as in my case), the mailbox is out of sight of the house due to terrain and vegitation, and for some it could be at the end of a mile-long driveway.

  8. It might not be some huge, fancy, sophisticated hack, but it appears to be practical and functional.

    I think it’s rare in suburban or rural U.S. for the postman to put mail through a door slot. Some homes built here in the 1950’s had mail slots in (or near) the door or had a box on the outside of the house near the door.

    In the 1960’s and 1970’s, mailboxes on new homes were put on posts at the curb of each house.

    In the 1980’s and beyond there was a building boom and I think that’s when the “gang boxes” appeared. My mailbox is down one house and across the street along with those of about 10 of my neighbors. I can’t see it from inside my house.

    Myself, I don’t care whether the postman has been here or not, only whether there is actually mail in the box for me to retrieve. I’ve kicked around an idea or two for photosensor type systems but have never implemented anything.

    In this house, I’d have to go wireless. But, the postal service might have a question or two if I start installing electronics in the box.

  9. I could see myself doing something like this, however my mailbox is across a public roadway. Any thoughts on a cheap wireless implementation? (Yes, I could just get off my butt and check the mail… but it’s a fun mental exercise).

  10. @Muzer
    in most american suburbs mailboxes are placed next to the driveway so the post man can drive up and put the mail in the box and drive off

    i was 16 before i saw my first mail slot here in maryland XD

  11. I helped a someone make something like this for his mailbox (down a steep 20m driveway) nearly 10 years ago, with a led, a relay, a microswitch and a pushbutton switch. Worked a treat for at least 5 years (haven’t seen him since then).

  12. It’s funny, for something that moves so slow we need to find out right now when it gets here. With the internet it gets here instantly but it takes time to get to it.
    In as little as 10 years it won’t matter as the USPS will be shut down. It will handle less and less and it will cost more and more. Plans are for UPS and FedX to take over what little will be left by then. Stuff won’t fit in a wire. Only money and words etc will. Mailboxes will be pulled up and those of us with a slot will have a piece of history. Stamps will all become collectible.

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