I have a Jack Russel Terrier, he loves to run and could run all day long. Needless to say, he is in much better physical condition than me. I live on 3 wooded acres, and behind my house are 27 acres of woods owned by a neighbor who doesn't seem to have any problems with letting dogs run free back there. Any time I tried letting my dog run free, he always seems to bolt down the driveway and out into the street, usually followed by the sounds of various car horns and wheels screeching to a stop, then me running down with a leash to find traffic backed up and my idiot of a dog sniffing a dead squirrel in the middle of the street.
I've often thought about installing one of those "invisible fence" systems, but the thought of laying wire around my property and powering it makes my wallet scream in pain. Also, I'd like the dog to be able to utilize the 27 acres of woods behind my house, but even if I did convince my environmentalist neighbor to let me run a wire around her property to shock my dog, still, that's a lot of wire and electricity.
I've been thinking about making a small "backpack" that I could attach to the dog's leash harness which would carry a GPS unit, a piezo buzzer on the same frequency as a dog whistle, and some kind of interface to control the battery powered shock collars used by the electric fence systems. Of course, I'm thinking that an Arduino would tie the whole thing together.
I'd like to make a sketch that would hold a bunch of coordinates (I could pick them out on Google Earth easily enough) that would form a virtual "box" where the dog could run free and wouldn't be able to get too close to any other houses or roads (and maybe even the pathways used by the occasional hiker). With the GPS and the Arduino, I figure I could also have some kind of RF link (a cheap prepaid cellphone for example) where I could sit at my computer and see where the dog is (and maybe even a camera view). I'm also thinking maybe there could be some kind of microphone that could detect noises made by wild animals that could keep the dog away from deer, coyotes, etc.
Another simpler idea I was thinking of to help me test these methods would be a "virtual leash" where I would wear some kind of unit with an RF link that would buzz or shock the dog if he went too far away from me. I already have one where I hold a remote that will control the collar and I can vary the intensity with a knob on the remote, I would like to automate this somehow so I don't have to be carrying the remote in my hand and pushing the button whenever he sees a squirrel.
I'm thinking I might try the "virtual leash" idea first, and use it as a controlled test bed for the "intangible fence" idea. I'm starting to look into what I would need to make these ideas work, but I figured I'd put this before the forum in case anyone has any experience with interfacing these types of systems and any other ideas I should consider.
Obviously all components need to be able to withstand a lot of vibration and bouncing (the dog's name is Bouncer, and he lives up to it quite well when he's running). Also it would need to be water resistant (easy enough with the proper enclosures and following the specs of the collar).
I would definitely want to interface with a pre-made shock collar, I can calculate capacitor sizes well enough for most of my projects, but this is one case I'll leave to the professionals, he bounces far enough. The collar I already have seems to work reasonably well, the battery doesn't last too long, but with the "backpack" I should have enough room for a bigger battery (with a carefully calculated resistor).
I don't LOVE the idea of shocking my dog, that's why I think I could use the piezo whistle to give him a few warnings before actually shocking him, just like I already do with his remote control collar, I blow the whistle twice, if he doesn't listen, then he gets a shock. Anything I build to put on him will be tested on myself first, his current collar isn't painful, but it's a really uncomfortable feeling, which works well.
So, thoughts? ideas? opinions? flames?
Thanks in advance.
P.S. If I do the external battery idea, I may try to make it solar powered or even somehow powered by his movement, but that's a back burner issue for now.