[Project feasibility] Alarm with SMS/Call/Email notifications

Hi All,

I am new to Arduino and electronics :blush:

The context Let me start with a little story, I had a motorcycle which was stolen at home last month and the insurance won't reimburse me for some shady reasons that I am still fighting against. Needless to say I am pretty upset since I spent a lot of money on this motorcycle. Now, I am buying a new one but, because I had a motorcycle stolen last month, all the insurance prices with theft cover are going skyrocket (> 2,000€ per year!!!) I looked at the different alarm systems for motorcycles out there but none of them seem to be a perfect fit as they either don't work very well underground or inside a truck (usually thieves load motorcycles in a truck and simply drive away with it). So I thought that, at least when my motorcycle is parked at home, I could have an alarm which would not be on the bike but rather in my garage...

The project Build an alarm that would detect if the motorcycle is moved away from its parking space. And that would notify me ASAP so I can come down and see what's going on.

For the "connector" I thought of several solutions (in order of preference):

  • A RFID tag placed on the motorcycle and a reader on the wall

  • as soon as the reader looses sight of the tag, alarm is kicked off

  • ideally, the alarm would be activated automatically once the tag is in range

  • A little sensor on the ground which is placed underneath the motorcycle

  • must be resistant to support 200kg though

  • ideally, the alarm would be activated automatically once the motorcycle has been on the sensor for one minute

  • An infrared sensor

  • would need to be activated manually I guess

  • would detect once it looses sight of the other part of the sensor placed on the motorbike

  • Another kind of sensor that would work? Any idea?

In order of preference I would like the notifications to be either (or all):

  • Call me on my mobile
  • Send a SMS on my mobile
  • Ping a web address

Additionally, I am thinking of the case where the thief would destroy my "alarm" or in case of a malfunction. It would be good that the alarm sends a ping to a web address let's say every minute so my web server can perform additional actions to notify me in case it hasn't received a signal for more than x amount of time.

Also, I would like to add an alarm activation beep. Or alarm activation/deactivation methods.

Regarding the power it would be best if low power consumption with batteries, please note I don't have access to a internet/wifi connection in my garage. I am however happy to use a sim card as my phone contract allows me a second SIM card at a very low cost.

Questions

  • Do you think this is a realistic project? Any comments/ideas/warnings?
  • Would Arduino allow me to build such an alarm? Can you think of any other kit that would help me?
  • On a scale of 1-5, what would be the difficulty level for this project?
  • Can you think of any links (tutorials, components, projects, etc.) that would help me achieve this project?

Thank you so much for reading this. Romain

It is feasible. Read this topic and see if you understand it. It covers sending the email and SMS part. http://forum.arduino.cc/index.php?topic=166906.0

If you plan on using a SIM card and a cellular connection, I'm not sure how much that will help.

A RFID tag placed on the motorcycle and a reader on the wall

as soon as the reader looses sight of the tag, alarm is kicked off ideally, the alarm would be activated automatically once the tag is in range

Not likely. A RFID reader typically only reads a tag once when it comes into range. It ignores the tag then until it goes out of range and then comes back into range. It's not really likely that thieves will bring your bike back after they've stolen it, is it?

A little sensor on the ground which is placed underneath the motorcycle

must be resistant to support 200kg though ideally, the alarm would be activated automatically once the motorcycle has been on the sensor for one minute

More likely to work.

So I thought that, at least when my motorcycle is parked at home, I could have an alarm which would not be on the bike but rather in my garage...

Of course, a lock on the garage door, a lock on the bike, and a cover over it would be more useful than an alarm system.

I'm a bit confused about the project. You seem to want something in the garage that will protect the bike, but that doesn't travel with the bike. I'm puzzled about that.

PaulS: I'm a bit confused about the project. You seem to want something in the garage that will protect the bike, but that doesn't travel with the bike. I'm puzzled about that.

Think valuable pieces being exhibited in a museum (Sean Connery, Entrapment). If it works there, why not in someone's garage?

SurferTim: It is feasible. Read this topic and see if you understand it. It covers sending the email and SMS part. http://forum.arduino.cc/index.php?topic=166906.0

If you plan on using a SIM card and a cellular connection, I'm not sure how much that will help.

Ok thank you!

PaulS:

A RFID tag placed on the motorcycle and a reader on the wall

as soon as the reader looses sight of the tag, alarm is kicked off ideally, the alarm would be activated automatically once the tag is in range

Not likely. A RFID reader typically only reads a tag once when it comes into range. It ignores the tag then until it goes out of range and then comes back into range. It's not really likely that thieves will bring your bike back after they've stolen it, is it?

Ok I didn't know that. Thanks for pointing out.

PaulS:

A little sensor on the ground which is placed underneath the motorcycle must be resistant to support 200kg though ideally, the alarm would be activated automatically once the motorcycle has been on the sensor for one minute

More likely to work.

Good! Do you have any idea of such sensor that would work with Arduino? Found that Button Load Cell (0-200kg) but it seems it's more for measuring the load, while I don't really need accurate measurement.

PaulS:

So I thought that, at least when my motorcycle is parked at home, I could have an alarm which would not be on the bike but rather in my garage...

Of course, a lock on the garage door, a lock on the bike, and a cover over it would be more useful than an alarm system.

I'm a bit confused about the project. You seem to want something in the garage that will protect the bike, but that doesn't travel with the bike. I'm puzzled about that.

Indeed I can understand this might sound weird and unusual but that's exactly why I want to do it... I didn't want to go in too much details on the resaons here but here are a few points:

  • Thieves ares used to alarms on the bike but not on alarms installed in a garage to protect a bike (my previous bike had an alarm fitted, they simply removed it from the bike, broke into my car and placed the alarm underneath the seat to cover the noise).
  • I live in a flat with a shared underground parking for all the flats in the building, nobody heard the siren of the alarm because it's underground
  • Because of this sharing, I can't do anything to protect the garage door more than it is and even though, I can't monitor everybody's movements
  • Like I mentionned, there are some tracking systems for bikes but thieves are used to them and know where to find them and remove them or they even use tools to kill the signal
  • By storing the alarm in the garage rather than on the bike, the alarm can be bigger (space is counted on a bike) and I can put for example a bigger more powerful antenna to send the notifications and make sure it works underground

Not likely. A RFID reader typically only reads a tag once when it comes into range. It ignores the tag then until it goes out of range and then comes back into range. It's not really likely that thieves will bring your bike back after they've stolen it, is it?

Thats not exactly accurate. I have a RFID reader and if you "reset it" it will read the tag again and again. You could easily make a program that checks for presence of an RFID tag.

Link: http://bildr.org/2011/02/rfid-arduino/

Quote from link...

" With the way the reader is hooked up in the product’s spec sheet, the reader will only scan a tag once, and will not rescan until the tag is moved out of, then back into range (watch the video below). But a lot of what I do with these requires knowing when a tag is present, not just when it was scanned. We can detect tag presence by connecting the reset pin (2) to the Arduino. Taking the reset pin LOW, then HIGH for at least 150ms will force the reader to rescan and re-post if a tag is present. So you can set a timer for 250ms, or so, and if the tag is not scanned during that time, you know the tag has been removed."

[quote author=Drew Davis link=topic=168861.msg1256522#msg1256522 date=1369749461] Quote from link...

" With the way the reader is hooked up in the product’s spec sheet, the reader will only scan a tag once, and will not rescan until the tag is moved out of, then back into range (watch the video below). But a lot of what I do with these requires knowing when a tag is present, not just when it was scanned. We can detect tag presence by connecting the reset pin (2) to the Arduino. Taking the reset pin LOW, then HIGH for at least 150ms will force the reader to rescan and re-post if a tag is present. So you can set a timer for 250ms, or so, and if the tag is not scanned during that time, you know the tag has been removed." [/quote]

Thanks for pointing that out, however I read on this link that:

the range, even on the ID-20 is less than 4in real world

Which would make those RFID readers unusuable for this project as I expect the tag on the bike would be 50cm / 20in away from the reader. Like I mentioned in my topic, I am new to electronics and don't know too much yet, but reading your link it seems these RFID readers were chosen because of their ease of use and compatibility with arduino. I am not sure if the reset loop would work on any other reader?

BTW that made me think that I forget to mention that I could use an infrared sensor instead? I have updated my initial post to add this sensor.

I made an alarm system for my little 49cc scooter. It went through various revisions, but I last left the project to have a wireless module that would sound an alarm inside my house. If you are interested, I'll email you all the schematics, code, etc. One thing I learned is that when building a new project there are so many different ways to do something, it's like an artist standing before a blank canvas.

I had planned on upgrading to an (hidden) accelerometer on the scooter rather than a vibration sensor, which I will still do if I could ever manage to find the time.

Just an idea but you could use the ID-2 on which you could attach your own antenna giving you pretty good range.

https://www.sparkfun.com/products/8709

Best of luck!

I would have thought that to be of any benefit the alarm would need to either prevent the theft, or enable you to recover the bike afterwards. An alarm that warns you after the bike has been moved seems pointless unless you’re planning to rush out into the street with a baseball bat and shout at the van as it drives away. If you can get the alarm to notify you that somebody is tampering with the bike that might be more useful, but still puts you in danger and relies on you being on hand and in a fit state to deal with the thieves. If they aren’t put off by an alarm sounder then they’re hardly going to be put off by anything else.

What might be more useful is a well hidden tracker device which will inform you of the bike’s location after it’s been stolen.

Best of all, either use a ground anchor or simply put the bike in a secure garage. The logic of putting the alarm safely in the garage and leaving the bike out on the street escapes me.