Too Hot For Fido? Get Alerted!

Meet project Oro, the temperature monitoring watchdog. Err… the watchdog monitoring temperature probe. Well, it’s both actually!

[Richard Deininger] built the project after having the AC system go down in his company’s server room. That environmental cooling is imperative if you don’t want your server hardware turned to slag. The idea is a separate piece of hardware that monitors the room temperature and will alert the on-call staff if it climbs too high. He was successful, and showing the hacked hardware around the office came up with a second idea: a temperature sensor for your car to ensure it’s not too hot for your dog.

Anyone who has a canine friend living with them knows you don’t utter the word “ride” out loud lest a barking, whimpering, whining frenzy ensue. But jingle those keys and they’ll be at the door in no time. During the summer you can still take them with you for short errands thanks to the peace of mind [Richard’s] build provides. It’s simply an Arduino, DHT22 temp/humidity probe, and a SIM900 GSM modem. Set your temperature threshold and you’ll get an alert if temperatures are climbing to unsafe levels for Fido.

While you have your tools out, we recommend building auto-watering and auto-feeding systems for the family pets. What’s that? You hate domesticated animals? There’s a hack you can use to chase them from your yard.

29 thoughts on “Too Hot For Fido? Get Alerted!

    1. Yep, 2G is a pisser, and the people selling embedded cell modems like this are behind the times. Still as soon as 2G goes, and probably a while before, they’ll stop making them and start on something more modern. Hopefully the timing will work out that they can skip 3G and go straight to 4G, just to save on a bit more obsolescence. And eventually mobile phones will end up being SDRs capable of any frequency or coding, just through software.

      1. I really hope we would be able to say the same thing about future BTS technology. It would be very unfortunate, If GSM infrastructure would be killed entirely someday, living all of these M2M/IoT solutions unsupported. There should be some kind of backward compatibility implemented, at least on a small piece of one of the original GSM bands.

    2. When needed, I’ve used T-Mobile (in the USA) as the GSM carrier, though apparently this is a short-term solution. As I recall, the cost was about $10-14/month. SIM cards are available at most any Walmart (in the USA).

  1. – Company doesn’t have a reliable environmental control for the server room.
    – Servers can’t monitor their own internal temperature
    – there are no alarm in place

    I can understand if you are a start up in your basement/garage, but if it is a real corporation with a server room, time to get your resume in order. If you have to kludge something on your own for anything business critical stuff…

    1. “Reliable” varies, they might have good air conditioning, but all aircon breaks down occasionally. Shit happens. The servers probably do monitor their own temperature, but with PC hardware it’s generally an “impending disaster” warning. By the time it’s happened they’ll either have shut down or throttled down, either of which is undesirable.

      For the alarm, well, he’s got one now hasn’t he? A “server room” can be half a dozen PCs in a cupboard, up to any amount of racks. Maybe the building’s old and the server room was converted ad-hoc to house computers.

      We don’t know how big his company is, and even big companies can have pretty slack planning for their computers, done in-house by the technical support guys adding new bits as the demand grows. Businesses aren’t designed by the computer crew, computers are treated as a resource like water or electricity, and when they fail people get really pissed off quickly, and blame you for it. When they work, nobody thinks about it. Not all companies are ’60s IBM. And even megacorps like Sony fuck up things like basic password storage.

      Anyway whatever, dude needed an alarm, he made one. Not worth quitting your job over. Maybe he’s paid well and the people are really nice, maybe the management are approachable and pay attention to what people tell them. Computers aren’t your job, even if your job is computers.

    2. Our servers are hosted at Verizon, two stories down (in the same building.) We only got a few switches, networking equipment and other stuff in the “server room”. As Greenaum mentioned the building is a little bit old and the AC was installed by the building administration. Since the “server room” only holds networking equipment and the AC was not designed for this case, I/we thought “better be save then sorry”.

      In the project details I only did a brief outline of the problem and showed the solution,… I thought no one would be interested in the “whole story”.

  2. Also, don’t leave a dog locked in a car ever. They don’t sweat, they don’t have the greatest thermoregulation. This alarm doesn’t change that.

    Did you know that humans are the smallest animal to use sweating for keeping cool? And if it’s not true I look forward to being corrected.

    1. Thx Greenaum for your arguments about “reliable” ACs. I also think this way about “locked up dogs”. Since I don’t own a dog I never came in a situation where I HAD to leave my dog in the car.

      My colleagues, as far as I could see, love their dogs and they ensured me, if they have to leave the dog in the car, even if it’s just for 15 minutes, they will feel saver for the dog with this gadget.

    2. Thanks! There’s a rule I heard, post a question and people will ignore it. Post a wrong answer and they’ll be itching to correct you!

      Though that doesn’t apply to you, dear Joey. But it’s a good rule of thumb. Danke Schon for the information.

    3. Growing up on a ranch, we believed that pigs/swine have no/very few sweat glands and don’t generally perspire to thermoregulate. As a consequence, during the warmer months (Texas), we used misters/foggers to keep the livestock cool.

  3. that wont help here in florida (or anywhere in the south) as the car can get to over 110F in less than 15 minutes, and in florida it’s against the law to leave a pet or child under 6 unattended in a vehicle

  4. I was wondering why FIDO (the network, of course) might suffer from heat, except for the modems to stop working, naturally … may be the problem with all-capital headlines …

    Then again, I fully agree: Measuring the temperature in a car “beforehand” does not really help the poor dog once you LEFT the car (and the dog in it) and heat accumulates (the dog does, indeed, contribute to that as well …), even with open windows. It’s also not only a problem of the air temperature but the intensity of the sunlight (through the back windows), which the dog might not be able to escape from.

    Better use those tools for servers, machines and maybe wifes, but leave the dog at home in the warm time of the year. Or NOT USE THE CAR yourself, come on, it’s only 500m to the bakery, do you REALLY need to drive there?

    1. It’s people like you that will *immediately* break a car window upon seeing a pet inside it. Without bothering to ascertain how long the pet has been in there, or whether it’s actually in distress. Without checking to see if the engine is running and the AC left on. Without realizing that AC in a hybrid can still be running without the combustion engine running. I’ve even heard of someone getting their window broken, finding a note that it was done to save the dog from the heat… when it was 41°F outside and cloudy.

      I’m not in the habit of leaving pets in cars. But if I did under what I thought were safe conditions, I would want to be alerted if the temperature rose past what I expected, so I can take immediate action. Or if some unthinking idiot called the police or broke my car window without reason, I would want to have the temperature documented so I can defend myself from charges and/or press charges. Either way, the watchdog is a good thing.

      1. I have a working dog (gshep) that goes everywhere I go. If he needs to stay in the car, its usually left running with the AC on full blast. If it’s a cool enough day he gets all the windows opened a generous amount.

        Smashing my windows would probably be a sad mistake for the fool dumb enough to do it because my dog will likely grab them and pin them down until I return near the car.

        Then again, most people are stupid enough not to use common sense when leaving an animal in the car. I just saw a story where a woman showed up to court for leaving her kids in the car on a hot day, as she left her kids in the car AGAIN during the trial. Fail

      2. Yep. I’m one of those people. And whats more? I’m completely unrepentant of that fact. If I was a firefighter I would take joy in smashing the windows of cars parked in front of hydrants.

        It doesnt have to be clear and sunny for the temperature to reach a dangerous level- who cares if its 41 and overcast? Ever hear of a greenhouse?

        In an uncertain world there are many scenarios that could prevent a person from returning as they had planned. A pet shouldn’t have to die because a person tripped on their shoelace going down a flight of stairs and broke their neck. Or their owner lost cell service and didnt get the warning alerts.

        Fact of the matter is that the owners insistance of companionship places the pet in an environment that has the potential to be dangerous. And yeah. My dog gets deliriously happy when he gets to leave the house but part of being a responsible pet owner is in using my superior logic to protect him from hidden danger. My nephew would likely get deliriously happy if I taught him about matches… but- ya know… hidden danger, intelligent logic and responsibility.

        …I will see your indignation and raise you…

        1. Yes. All those scenarios, while unlikely to various degrees, could happen. If someone subsequently *verifies* my pet is actually suffering distress, I have no problem with someone breaking into my car to save my pet. You would have my blessing and thanks.

          Apart from a very special kind of scum, folks love their pets. They do not intentionally leave their pet in a situation that they judge to be dangerous.

          I’m sure we can both agree the the problem with that is, folks generally underestimate how fast a car gets unbearably hot, how much cooling partially opened windows provide, and so on. There are some that actually get it 100% right, they’re not our concern; they can keep on doing it, and should be allowed to without interference or lecture. The rest you can warn until you’re blue in the face, you won’t convince them. They’ve probably done it dozens of times before and Fido is fine, so you’re obviously full of crap.

          But a remote sensor providing *quantitative* feedback will correct any misjudgement *very* quickly. Probably within a few uses. And one cannot argue that the device is being overly cautious. Leading to both less reliance on the device, and less pets left in cars in hazardous or even marginal conditions. So if the device later fails to communicate or the owner gets detained, the device has already done its job, as the pet is much less likely to be in danger in the first place.

          Still not 0.000000% risk? That’s ok, expecting that is unrealistic, and attempting to impress or enforce that on another is just plain wrong. Go ahead and take your dog out with you next time the weather allows it, taking any additional precautions you feel necessary. Why should you deprive it, without exception, of that guaranteed happiness? The extremely unlikely possibility a shoelace will cripple you? It’s more likely to die in a house fire because you left it at home alone.

          1. One of those situations where idiots ruin it for everybody else then. Dogs still die in the cars of their well-meaning owners despite everybody knowing not to do it. I can’t tell if you’re one of those idiots just by looking at your animal and your car (probably can actually, but different conversation.)

            If you want to take your pet out of the house then go. Run your errands. Then come back. Put the dog in the car and drive to the dog park. Make a trip just for them since it means that much. Spend some time playing with them instead of just driving them around.

          2. That’s why I like [s_hennig]’s suggestion of a large in-car LED temperature display, further down in the comments. Which serves as a notification to others, “I am not an idiot”. ;)

  5. This is all well and good until some bleeding-heart hippy comes along a smashes out your windows to let the poor, suffering dog (who won’t actually be suffering at all because you’re monitoring the temperature) out while also calling the police to vindicate their breaking and entering.

    1. Have you heard that dogs die in hot cars? Actual dogs, every year. A passer-by has no idea what your project-boxed gadget is for, all they know is you’re irresponsible enough to leave a dog locked in a car. Where lots of them die.

      If you have to take a trip, leave the dog at home. Plan around it so you don’t have to lock the dog up. Use the superior primate intelligence we inherited along with the eccrine sweat glands. If it’s a dog’s life vs your crappy window, fuck the window. And the police and animal cruelty authorities will agree.

      On a different note, this is a potential hack needing invention. Some sort of ventilation insert for car windows, that doesn’t allow you to force the windows back down, and is small and portable, as well as strong enough to keep thieves out. Might be a few quid in developing that. Or there might be a hundred failed Kickstarters with the same idea, haven’t looked.

      1. FYI: when I was working on an HVAC system for one major German car-maker I suggested a special “pet-inside” mode for the ventilation / AC system. Blank looks. They just could not get the idea or understand the use-case. There is a timer-controlled park-cooling system as well as park-heating, but there is no “don’t let it be more than 28C inside” mode. Would be a simple software issue, all sensors and actuators are there. Well, I assume Subaru or Kia will have that first, and people will like it.

        1. I think the large weight of opinion on not locking dogs in cars at all, would mean a company launching a locked-dog mode for their vehicle would probably attract more criticism than praise. But that just means you have to call it something else. Say it’s for conditioning very expensive cheeses, or something.

  6. I am collecting parts for the very same use-case. But I would add a fine big 3 digit indicator “inside temperature” to the set. So that every passer-by can see the inside temperature without having to break any windows.
    The plate number of my car has been called out at a dog-show because I had left those dogs that were not judged inside the car. A car parked in the shadow of a tree. With windows open. And a roof-hatch open, too. And water bowls in all kennel boxes. When asked what the idea of this all was, the personnel replied “we have to report all cars with dogs inside”. Of course all dogs were fast asleep when I reached the car and it was cooler there than in the building.

    1. I like the indicator idea. Along with a big, easily readable sign making it clear what the indicator represents. And a contact number you can be reached at should there be an issue.

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