I’ve been using snail mail as part of my e-commerce business for several years. I’ve never had any problems with theft until November 2021, when a string of thefts occurred. The first was outgoing mail, a few small packages going to customers. The second was incoming mail, a Christmas gift that my mother had ordered online.
I’ve had to change my habits. I’m no longer comfortable leaving outgoing packages in my mailbox, and I don’t want incoming mail to sit in the mailbox for long, either.
It’s quite frustrating, and I want to do something about it. I want to build something that can monitor the mailbox. I know I could probably save time and just buy a solar powered cellular surveillance camera, but I have more time than money right now, and I have two underutilized TTGO T-Beam’s that I am thinking of using, if this idea is viable.
- Remotely determine the open/close state of the mailbox.
- Remotely photograph the mailbox when the open/close state changes
I’ve been looking through the Meshtastic docs, and it looks like there is some GPIO functionality which could help me with the first goal. I also read in the docs that this functionality is not yet implemented, so I’m asking here for details.
My mailbox is 700 feet from my apartment with lots of trees between. I’ve done some tests and I know that I can send messages via the T-Beams at this distance in this terrain.
The other technical detail that I’ll have to figure out is power. I think solar is probably the only option, unless I want to regularly replace batteries. I’ve seen some inexpensive 5W solar panels online… I have no idea if 5W is enough though.
I’m thinking of how goal #2 could go. Does the T-Beam have the capability of attaching a camera? If not, could a RPi handle the camera, and the T-Beam acts as an IP bridge?
Does this idea seem feasible?