A new item to automate... the mailbox!

#4

just google for “packages mailbox” there are plenty of solutions availible.
they place the packages in the top compartment and when they close the lid the package will drop to the lover compartment.

the only tweak i would like to make is a notifier when a packages is delivered.
and of course point a CCTV to the mailbox for proof of (non) delivery

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#5

I have looked at a lot of them. I like what DVault sells but I can fabricate a Fort Knox-worthy level of box for quite a bit less than they are selling theirs for AND add the automation items I want in my vault. The actual mailbox piece is not a big deal as my box is already sturdy enough to do what I need it to do with a few add-ons.

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#6

You’re my new hero. What a devious and clever mind you have.
Reminds me of a time working with a developmentally delayed adult who we took on an outing when he soiled himself so badly that we had to change him in a public toilet. We placed the offending clothing and cleaning cloths etc in a plastic bag inside a woven shoulder bag. As we emerged from the toilet a skateboarding bag snatcher grabbed his spoils on the run so to speak.
Oh that we could have seen the look on his face when he opened his I’ll gotten booty.
Sorry to ramble on so.

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#7

Since Amazon has basically abandoned the postal service here in my area for an Uber style delivery type network, we now get anybody they send and it’s NEVER the same person. I have now had packages left on the porch, at the camp trailer, on the hood of my truck half way between the two and in the rain at the gate. Sheesk. This project has moved it’s way up the priority list by a mile. I have decided how I am going to do it.

The box for the project is going to be WAY overkill.


I have a set of 12v linear actuators that will be WAY overkill as well. Going to use one to push a bar that has metal hooks on each end that engage the stock latch arms in the box. I figured out how to install that with a “oh crap!” release so that if the power goes out or some component fails and the danged thing is locked shut, you can just run a couple bolts out and the latch arm will fall off inside freeing the lid. This thing will literally be a vault. Nobody is going to take the time to try and get in. If they do, I will have some serious camera footage to share with the world! I will do a build video of it once I get it done. Will be bolted to a concrete pad just inside the gate and I will put a sign on the fence that instructs delivery people where to put packages.

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#8

Wow, that’s really taking it seriously! I can’t wait to see the result of this.

About 17 years ago I put a sensor in my letterbox so it would send me notifications as text messages (using a hacked Nokia mobile phone controlled by Gnokii software and a serial connection) but I didn’t try to put any physical security in place. I just wanted to know when the mail had arrived.

I’ve been planning to do an episode about it, because I’ve since replaced the front gate and letterbox, so I need to install a new notification system. I also backed the Package Guard project on Kickstarter way back in 2016, but that seems to have gone off the rails so I was thinking about making my own. Deliveries are made to our front door in a spot that’s out of sight from the street, and I have a camera pointing straight at the front door with motion detection enabled, so I’d know if anyone stole a package. My plan is just to put a pressure-sensitive mat beside the door with a sign that says “place packages here”. When something is put on it, I’m notified. If the object is later removed without me disarming it, an alarm goes off. Just like Package Guard, basically.

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#9

I have started it. The box has been purchased, the pad is poured and the design is sorted out. Now all I need is to figure out how to program the ESP32 to make it all happen. No idea there but that is why we do all this stuff… to learn. Gotta love the internet…

Part one of the video series:
Building the package vault, part one

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#10

This is great! I’d like to do a blog post linking to the video, but it’s currently unlisted. Do you mind if I link to it, or would you prefer to keep it semi-secret?

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#11

I don’t have a problem with you linking to it. I will go ahead and make it public once I get home this evening. I pretty much keep my videos unlisted on the idea that the stuff I make isn’t for general consumption but as long as it has use for other people, I have no problem with it being out in the wild. Link away.

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#13

Next step…

Add a numeric keypad & set up passcodes for specific delivery services.

Then, when you start going nuts ordering stuff one day, UPS, the postal service or whatever trusted courier you like can add to the content of the box even if it’s been tripped already.

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#14


That’s on my list for sure! Also… set up combinations for the gate as well through the same controller! Different functions for different things all through the same keypad.

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#15

I love the idea of using the large metal work box… I also have theft issues occasionally & am definitely going to clone this project… although I’ll probably use an old electric trunk pull-down latch & loop (old Firebird/Camaro/Trans-am model) for the lock since I have them on hand and they come provisioned for open/closed sensing, electric unlock, and an automatic light… love the idea!!! I’m honestly running out of stuff I can think of to automate and this is deffinitely one I missed!!!

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#16

The trunk latch was one of the many ideas I had. I opted to use the existing setup with modifications mostly because I don’t have the tools available here to install new parts the way I wanted… welded as opposed to bolts that may be exposed. I definitely think the trunk latch is one of the most secure was to do it though. You don’t just pry a trunk lid open. I pondered doing a trunk latch and using a stock trunk lock cylinder as well just for nostalgia purposes but a flat tip screwdriver and vice grips makes that easily defeat-able. Make sure to post pics or video of your project under the project showcase category so others can check it out too. I would love for a ton of people to start doing this project. I am fed up with thieves.

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#17

I’ll have to do that… My work season is about to start for the year so hopefully I can get some time to put it all together b4 winter!! Lol And dont worry, I’m welding the top loop directly to the lid and a bracket to bolt the actuator to so the bolts arent accessible from the outside… the pin codes will be the fun part because I’m definitely a fan of encryption and making signals outside the house “less than hackable”… I started on one for a door lock a cuple years ago that used a 10 character string sent to both ends over mqtt to map out numbers to letters so u could easily remap the “code” to make it harder to wireshark the plain text pin codes… I’ll have to try to find & finish it…

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#18

Make sure to set up some way to get in should the power go out or the actuator quits. One of my versions had shouldered bolts holding the assembly on and I welded the bolt to the actuator on the inside. There was a bolt head someone could try to undo but they would strip it because it was stainless and soft. Then at least, I could take a grinder and strip off the bolt head and free the actuator allowing the lid to be opened and repairs made. If you have to destroy the box to get.in yourself, you lost the game.

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#19

I was actually going to copy the gap from the trunk in my bracket design to keep the original gm key cylinder!!! But good thinking…

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#20

This is a great idea, I been promising such a setup to my wife for the last 6 months, even though I am almost home 100% of the time, but our driveway is about 60m long and sometimes you don’t know the postman has been. This project has given me a kick in the behind to do it.

Only problem is I would need a battery/solar setup and a decent antenna to get back to the home network. Sounds like the next thing for me to obsess over lol.

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#21

Direct bury cat5e isn’t that much and if u know how to crip ur own ends u can robably DIY poe the line and get enough 12v off the 2 extra pairs to run a simple trunk popper… the current draw shouldn’t be that much… maybe an amp…

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#22

@JacobJohnson That is an excellent idea, just checked in CAD the actual distance where I would want the cable to run is still under 100m, I have a POE switch and also a couple of POE injectors so that is definitely and option. Also just thought, if I use an ESP32 or ESP8266 I could set the AP to detect when we get close to the gate for added automation on the opening of the gate etc. currently I have it setup on the home network to set a red alert when the wife arrives home lol

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#23

You are headed down the rabbit hole that I ended up in. Welcome to that BTW! I ran a power cord to the gate, which in my case was very expensive and I did the work myself. BUT… if you direct bury 2… or dare I say it…3… cat5E cables, you could actually utilize that for POE and other items like network attached cameras that can be POE powered. Or even send low voltage to the area through the spare cables to do the battery charging if you run a small battery setup. Would be easy to set up a small waterproof box (or integrate into your package vault) a 12v battery and solar panel for recharge. Then toss in some gear for the automation of the mailbox/package vault and gate. You could also add wifi to that kit and extend your wifi coverage on your property. Toss in an IP camera and you have a very smart gate node. And in a short period of time, you too could spend a lot of money to have it all that smart!!! Really, it isn’t all that bad. But it could go from super low cost kit to a truck box with a whole bunch of crap in it like I ended up with.

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#24

@Guru_Of_Nothing hahaha its a slippery slope.

It’s kind of always been a dream to do this stuff, I just didn’t have my own property or the time to learn it (time is still an issue lol), but seeing what everyone else is creating just stimulates my overactive brain with more plans and ideas.

Was trying to think the other day of how I could do this and earn a living, Just have to find a middle ground for all my obsessions and skills… or just wait till retirement.

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