Monday, March 25, 2013

Snail Mail Detector

Since his letter-box is outdoors  and quite some way from the  house, the author was looking  for a simple means of knowing if  the postman had been without  having to go outside (contrary  to popular belief, the weather  isn’t always fine in the South of  France). Circuits for this kind of  ‘remote detection’ come up regularly, but always involve running cables between the letter- box and the detection circuit in  the house. Seeking to avoid running any extra cables, the author  had the idea of using the existing cables going to the doorbell,  conveniently located adjacent to  his letter-box.
 Snail Mail Detector1
The letter-box has two doors:  one  on  the  street  side  for  the  postman, and one on the gar-den side for collecting the post.  A  micro switch  is  fitted  to  the  street-side door, to light an indicator in the house showing that  the postman has been. A second  micro switch is fitted to the door  on the garden side, to turn off  the indicator once the post has  been collected. The only difficulty then remains to connect  these detectors to a remote circuit in the house that remembers  whether  the  postman’s  been or not.
Snail Mail Detector2
The idea was to use the alternating half-cycles of the AC signal  on the cable going to the door-bell  to  transmit  the  information, according to the following logic:
  • Both  half-cycles  present: no change in the status of the mail detector.
  • An interruption (even brief) of one half-cycle: indicator lights permanently.
  • An interruption (even brief) of the other half-cycle: the indicator goes out.
Note that the signal is tapped off  across the doorbell coil via R6  and the pair of diodes connected  in inverse-parallel (to limit the  signal,  par ticularly  when  the  bell is rung). The signal is then  filtered by R2/C1, before being  used by IC1, which is wired as a  comparator with hysteresis. The  trigger threshold is adjusted by  P1, using a pair of inverse parallel diodes as a voltage reference  (positive or negative according  to the output state):
For the detection to work, there  has to be continuity in the bell-push circuit this is generally  ensured by the little lamp illuminating the bell-push. Resistor R1  is added just in case the lamp is  blown or not present. To keep things simple, the circuit is powered directly from the  doorbell transformer itself (230 V  / 8 V). The author managed to fit  the little circuit within the door-bell unit, with the LED poking  through a hole in the casing so  it is readily visible in the hall of  his house. 

Source by Streampowers

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