School bus detector

With school back in session, I've always wanted to build a detector to warn me that my kids school bus is now starting through our neighborhood. It would give us a heads up to leave the house and head to the bus stop. Useful on cold and rainy days!

My idea was to mount a small box/fake bird house on the side of the road. It would detect the bus during a certain time window only (to conserve battery). Using GSM shield, it would then send a text alert.

I am struggling with which sensor to use. This is not a busy street. I was thinking of a way to only look at height of vehicle passing. Maybe?

Other ideas would be:
Acoustic frequency sensor for sound of the bus
Motion activated camera with color detection (look for bus color)

I realize I could probably ask the bus driver to throw a tracker in the glovebox, or have my 9yr old stick a tracker under a seat. I'm just not thrilled with those options b/c its school property, etc.

So what do you think? Thanks in advance for any advice!

If you don't get a lot of big trucks through your neighborhood, then a laser trip line at the right height would catch the bus and miss most cars and trucks. But you would need to be able to mount stuff on both sides of the road. At least a reflector on one side.

You could tunnel under the street and put a load sensor to detect the weight of the bus passing over.

Talking from experience, DIY laser trip lines are not practical. Especially at distances we are talking here. Getting the alignment right is very hard to do, and forget about mounting it on a tree. Unless you have a concrete wall to attach it to, I wouldn't even consider going down this road.
Audio frequency analysis is too complex for Arduino.
Video processing. You would need to process the video live on the go. Again, too much to ask of a simple Arduino. Raspberry Pi should be able to do it, although it's a bit power hungry for this application.

I've never used a school bus, but don't they operate on some sort of a schedule? Wouldn't an alarm clock be sufficient?

How are you going to power it?

What would your council/neighbours say about it?

Public liability if not on private property?

Vandal proofing?

What would the greenies say if the laser fries a passing bird? :slight_smile: :slight_smile: :slight_smile: :slight_smile:

Weedpharma

Audio frequency analysis is too complex for Arduino.

Let me introduce you to the TI LM567 Tone Decoder chip...

That is a tone detector, not capable of analyzing a complex audio footprint produced by a machine such as a bus.
It reacts to a single, specific, predetermined frequency, something that is not characteristic of a bus rumbling down the road.

Is that your personal opinion or do you have facts / references?

Pixy?

Get a few parents interested and install a low power low-ish frequency beacon on the bus.
Leo..

Shpaget:
I've never used a school bus, but don't they operate on some sort of a schedule? Wouldn't an alarm clock be sufficient?

the first part of your statement should be sufficient to reveal the answer to the second part.
if they ran on a schedule, this thread would not exist.
I too have a problem with the school bus. it comes over a 20 minute window in the morning. I was thinking on a remote web cam and just watching for the big yellow bus. in my very small neighborhood, we have 4 separate buses that come in a 2 hour window.

Wawa:
Get a few parents interested and install a low power low-ish frequency beacon on the bus.
Leo…

thought about that. no joy. makes a target out of the thing.
I thought about doing just that with every public bus. it comes to a stop, has sensor that the bus registers it is at the stop, reports in so to speak. you have a setting that at stop x, you get a text alert. you shut off your computer, grab your stuff, hit the elevator, walk to the stop and only wait a minute. these days, they should have that for all busses.

weedpharma:
What would the greenies say if the laser fries a passing bird? :slight_smile: :slight_smile: :slight_smile: :slight_smile:

got a link ?
not sure how to calculate the power needed as to the time the bird would be in range.
but a simple device on a telephone pole or two would work.

Shpaget:
Talking from experience, DIY laser trip lines are not practical.

There's something to them because I've seen several businesses put them up across driveways to alert the workers when someone pulls into the lot. I know there are commercial units you can buy for that purpose.

Delta_G:
There’s something to them because I’ve seen several businesses put them up across driveways to alert the workers when someone pulls into the lot. I know there are commercial units you can buy for that purpose.

yes, and if you search this list for people monitoring traffic, they use them all the time,
often mount the laser and sensor on a pole, aim at a the reflective stripe on the pavement. only cars in the lane will interrupt the signal. the reflective paint would work on sunny days.
I am thinking about some sort of reflective tape on the bus… many have them on top for helocopoters to see.

How about for every kids on board.

The smart phone (android, iphone) has GPS and data link ( 3G/4G) build in.
Bus driver start gps-tracking-apps at his/her smart phone, every one will know where bus is.

http://blog.dreamcss.com/android/best-android-gps-tracking-apps/

Sounds oddly familiar to this thread: http://forum.arduino.cc/index.php?topic=298135.0

Where I'm from, and I did ride the bus many moons ago, the buses were notoriously punctual, so yes, an alarm clock is all we needed. But everyplace is different.

Im sure that many of the kids will have pnones.

Find a kid who is picked up earlier on the route and pair to his bluetooth.

Detect his phone when it comes into range.

Datasheet says:

10.1 Overview
The LM567C is a general purpose tone decoder. The circuit consists of I and Q detectors driven by a voltage controlled oscillator which determines the center frequency of the decoder. This device is designed to provide a transistor switch to ground output when the input signal frequency matches the center frequency pass band. Center frequency is set by an external timing circuit composed by a capacitor and a resistor. Bandwidth and output delay are set by external capacitors.

dave-in-nj:
the first part of your statement should be sufficient to reveal the answer to the second part.
if they ran on a schedule, this thread would not exist.
I too have a problem with the school bus. it comes over a 20 minute window in the morning. I was thinking on a remote web cam and just watching for the big yellow bus. in my very small neighborhood, we have 4 separate buses that come in a 2 hour window.

That's what the disclaimer is for.
20 minutes? That's quite a spread.

Delta_G:
There's something to them because I've seen several businesses put them up across driveways to alert the workers when someone pulls into the lot. I know there are commercial units you can buy for that purpose.

What's the range on those things?
I tried to build a laser tripwire that would span around 7 meters. The only significant issue I encountered was the alignment.
The sender side (laser) had to be very, very steady. In my case, the system was installed indoors, bolted to a concrete floor on a 25 mm diameter steel pole 1,5 m high. The vibrations from an average person jumping on the floor 1 m from the pole would cause the laser to drift about 1-2 cm at the target 7 m away causing the laser to miss the receiver photodiode. I considered that behavior unacceptable, went to the drawing board and ended up using high power, narrow beam IR LEDs.

Forget about any device that is not on your property. You could pay the first kid in the neighborhood that gets picked up some $$$ to send you a notification text.

Shpaget:
Datasheet says:

So this is a fact...

That is a tone detector...

And this is your personal opinion...

...not capable of analyzing a complex audio footprint produced by a machine such as a bus.
It reacts to a single, specific, predetermined frequency, something that is not characteristic of a bus rumbling down the road.

Got it.