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Author Topic: Mailbox Sensor - with a slot and no door?  (Read 8591 times)

madmartian

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Mailbox Sensor - with a slot and no door?
« on: October 20, 2008, 06:34:48 PM »

I need to add a sensor that tells me when the mail is delivered. Setting off an X10 chime would be nice, but not required. The commercially available mailbox notification devices depend on opening the front door of the mailbox to trigger a tilt switch. My mailbox has no postmaster door - just a slot in the front - so none of those would work. A flat switch that requires minimal pressure and could be set off by a couple letters worth of weight might work, but where do I get such a switch and how do I send an X10 with it remotely? Or perhaps an infrared sender/receiver combo - I could mount one inside top and one inside bottom such that the mail would block the IR signal and trigger the system, but what sender/receiver would work that doesn't drain the battery too quickly and again - how would I hook it up to send an X10 signal remotely? The mailbox is close enough to the house that an RF signal could reach a receiver in the house, but what battery-powered device can send an RF X10 signal using an external switch rather than body heat? Perhaps I can hack a remote control by wiring "1-ON" to an external switch. Just using an Eagle Eye to detect the mailperson won't work as it might detect passers by and the mailbox would get too hot during the summer for accurate body heat detection. Any other suggestions on how I might signal the mail is in? Note that my mailbox is large enough for magazines to lie flat.
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idbl_fanatic

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Re: Mailbox Sensor - with a slot and no door?
« Reply #1 on: October 20, 2008, 06:58:26 PM »

Maybe Radioshack Catalog #: 275-008  or Catalog #: 275-017 , or Catalog #: 275-016 ?
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Brian H

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Re: Mailbox Sensor - with a slot and no door?
« Reply #2 on: October 20, 2008, 07:00:30 PM »

One of the mods here adds a switch closure to a motion sensor. http://www.idobartana.com/hakb/index.htm
Near the bottom of the left pane of the site. One of the Hawkeye mods.
This mod is also here along with others. http://www.laureanno.com/index.html

One of the mods from CocoonTech to add a switch to a PlamPad. http://www.cocoontech.com/index.php?showtopic=1422

You would then need to find a suitable trigger switch if you go that route.
The PalmPad may send a continuous stream of X10 signals if the trigger switch; with mail on it;  acts like a stuck button.
Not sure about how the motion sensor mod acts.

« Last Edit: October 20, 2008, 07:18:56 PM by Brian H »
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madmartian

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Re: Mailbox Sensor - with a slot and no door?
« Reply #3 on: October 20, 2008, 07:53:42 PM »

The stuck button thing is a problem. Constantly sending a signal until the mail is removed will drain the battery and cause the chime to keep going non-stop - neither of which is desired. An actual door/window sensor may do the trick. Can that send a signal when the state of the switch changes without sending it repeatedly? It should be a simple matter to replace the magnetic switch with an external switch.
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thejfk

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Re: Mailbox Sensor - with a slot and no door?
« Reply #4 on: October 20, 2008, 09:18:22 PM »

How about using Brian's suggestion of converting an eagle eye to a switch closure  and use a roller switch as the trigger. When the mailman slides the mail in, it will roll over the ball and activate the eagle eye.

http://www.philmore-datak.com/mc/Page%20183.pdf
« Last Edit: October 20, 2008, 09:31:09 PM by thejfk »
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HA Dave

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Re: Mailbox Sensor - with a slot and no door?
« Reply #5 on: October 21, 2008, 02:04:07 AM »

The stuck button thing is a problem. Constantly sending a signal until the mail is removed will drain the battery and cause the chime to keep going non-stop - neither of which is desired. An actual door/window sensor may do the trick. Can that send a signal when the state of the switch changes without sending it repeatedly? It should be a simple matter to replace the magnetic switch with an external switch.

I love this stuff! Whatever you do... success or failure... keep us in the loop so we all learn. Many more read these posts than reply.
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Brian H

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Re: Mailbox Sensor - with a slot and no door?
« Reply #6 on: October 21, 2008, 06:42:18 AM »

The mod page where the motion sensor is shown. Indicates it sends an On when closed and an Off when open. So a stuck switch may not be a problem with the motion sensor. I believe the D jumper in the picture when cut. Disables the motion input and the switch simulates motion. Note the magnetic switch in the mod can be any switch as the original  mod was for a window/door sensing.
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PajamaGuy

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Re: Mailbox Sensor - with a slot and no door?
« Reply #7 on: October 21, 2008, 07:08:09 AM »

How about using a DS10A?  One contact above the slot, one below.  Test the distance so that when there's nothing in the slot, the contacts are closed, but when a letter slides in between them it's enough to break contact and shazamm!  Use a standard size 10 envelope with a single 8x10 folded piece of paper inside.  Put the contacts as close as possible, but just far enough apart that when you slide the letter in, the contact is triggered!

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PajamaGuy
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dave w

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Re: Mailbox Sensor - with a slot and no door?
« Reply #8 on: October 21, 2008, 11:54:58 AM »

Idea guys,
I hate to be a wet blanket, and madmartain didn't describe where the slot is, but I'm betting the slot is at the top of the box, not the bottom. So the mail may end up just falling on top of a roller, or separation type switch.

Madmartain, give us more detail on the box and slot. Does the slot have a weather flap?
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PajamaGuy

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Re: Mailbox Sensor - with a slot and no door?
« Reply #9 on: October 21, 2008, 12:41:46 PM »

Weather flap - put one inside with a weak spring and a DS10A!  Great idea!

Or get an IR beam like on the garage door floor and hook a DS10 to it.

Or put a rear-hinged flap on the bottom, again with a real weak spring so that any weight colapses it.

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PajamaGuy
Win-7 - Dell XPS -Automation
VA12a on a dedicated desktop - Video
XTB-IIR & V572RF32

Remote via LogMeIn (FREE) and Ignition

HA Dave

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Re: Mailbox Sensor - with a slot and no door?
« Reply #10 on: October 21, 2008, 12:47:21 PM »

Or just a simple hinged copper wire hanging down the center of the slot... it's own weight holding it against a copper wire loop below... which completes the connection for a DS10A. Any sized letter would open a gap and trigger the DS10A.
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Alan V

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Re: Mailbox Sensor - with a slot and no door?
« Reply #11 on: October 21, 2008, 04:43:43 PM »

Or just a simple hinged copper wire hanging down the center of the slot... it's own weight holding it against a copper wire loop below... which completes the connection for a DS10A. Any sized letter would open a gap and trigger the DS10A.

Also makes a pretty good earthquake detector  :D
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