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.

18 thoughts on “Physical Email Box — Mail Flag And All

  1. why cant the arduino connect directly to the pop box and check every few minutes or so?
    much more useful to know if you have new mail when your computer is off than when its on and your sitting infront of it and you can see you have new mail.

  2. Back in college, somewhere in 2000-2001 maybe, I had a 386 running a floppy linux distribution. It used a 3Com EtherLink III ISA card to run fetchmail on my school email server every few minutes, and just get an email count. If there was email, it would blink some red LEDs using the parallel port; one above my desk, another mounted inside the peephole lens on my door.

    Such a satisfying waste of resources that was…of course, it was back when you could be nearly certain that any new email was important and relevant.

  3. I don’t know how this works for most places, but the flag here is used to indicate mail waiting to go out, so the postal carrier stops even if they don’t have anything to deliver.

    1. I wish the flag on mailboxes here in the USA (maybe others too?) were dual purpose:

      Down \ = No pickup or delivery
      Half Mast — = Outgoing pickup
      Up / = Incoming delivery
      (Semaphores anyone?)

      Not that the postal service needs more to do, it would just be nice status indicator for boxes that are far away.

  4. An option for the hearing impaired, but not as attention getting as the alarm & telephone strobes. Probably not as likely to get hit by traffic as my USPS mail box is.

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