Arduino to track mailbox opening


We have a shared mailbox like this one :


Evry postman has a pass to open it and there are lots of stolen packages in recent times…

I would like to set an arduino to warn us on the web as soon as the door is opened so that we can go downstairs to check that it is to put a package in … and not to take one out!

Is the project doable?.. difficult…?

How to protect that Arduino from being stolen too…

why not installing a video camera? An esp32 perhaps? And a motion sensor set with a narrow fov in order to sense motion only if someone is standing in front of the box?

Anyway, i don’t think any of that would resolve the problem of theft.

D1 Mini running simple web server. Would need WiFi connection, is there one available? Would need power.

When I was a boy someone was stealing money from our house. My dad put a £5 note between 2 brass strips, battery, bulb, soon caught the thief (one of my (ex) friends).

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Here’s my solution. It uses LoRa because I can’t put an ESP32 on my school’s network. It has a light dependent resistor that looks for something blocking the light.

It was made with a barebones Atmega328p microcontroller to minimize power consumption and it is activated by a realtime clock chip to wake it up once an hour monday to friday between 7am and 3pm.

THere’s a second Arduino Micro that is connected to the LoRa transceiver and it’s activated by a relay when the Atmega328p wakes up. It just runs a quick script that sends the notification character. 10 seconds later, the relay on the Atmega328p de-energizes and everything goes back to sleep for another hour.

If something is blocking the detector, it sends a single character to the receiver and the flag goes up to indicate I’ve got mail.

It’s been running flawlessly for 3 months on 3 AAA batteries. I project it may last 6 to 9 months on a set of alkaline AAA cells…

I chose Lora 433MHz transceivers because they can transmit through buildings with lots of concrete and steel and over 2km outside with trees and buildings in the path.

This has been a great project. Lots of other applications.

Problem , I guess , is you don’t own the box , so can’t really modify it .

You try experimenting with magnets and Reed switches to see if you can signal through the casing

lots more questions than answers.

I would assume that no one would notice another smoke detector…
one on the ceiling, with a camera…

if the keys have been copied or you have a fan of the lock-picking-laywer… when the box is open, everything is exposed. so as someone pointed out, they may steal your sensors.

if you put up a could dummy security cameras, you might just make your mailbox to risky and the thefts decrease.

in the example box, there appears to be a rather open area behind each post. something that might allow you to hide , totally hide this project. a light sensor does not have to see the sun, just a significant change, like the looking at the back and the door being opened.

also a transmitter does not have to reach out a mile, only a few feet to a nearby receiver that can reach out to a distance.

changing batteries… you could, should, send battery condition as part of your packet.

it seems the ideas are on the table. do any seem to fit your need ? is there some added thing you want or is missing ?

I would say that pretty much any project will start on the bench. an UNO or some such.
get it to work, then make is small and battery powered.

get some clay, shove it into the recess of the box to get dimension and your journey begins.