Herding Cats + Checking Mail
A pet owner explains how he uses SmartThings to keep an eye on his mail and his cat.
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“At our house, checking for mail is a planned event. Our cat Gryffie is an indoor cat but will take any opportunity to bolt out the front door in search of leaves, birds, rabbits, and tasty but dangerous plants.
I use a SmartThings Multi sensor to let us know when mail has arrived so that we can open the front door only when we need to. I took the multi-sensor PCB out of its enclosure and used the mounting hole to attach it to the inside of the mailbox door using a standard bolt and nut. This keeps the sensor protected from direct rain or snow. There is no shortage of either here on the Eastern shore of Lake Michigan.
The Notify Me When app simply sends me a text message when the orientation of the multi-sensor changes– meaning the mailbox door was opened, and that we’ve got mail! We have one less thing to think about and check during the day, and Gryffie has fewer interruptions from the one thing he does best.” –Andrew
Hold on a minute. The picture shows that the “dumb” half of the multi sensor is changing orientation, meaning that the text in the article can’t be correct. Right?
Good eye! While the image above is of Gryffie, Andrew’s cat, the mailbox image isn’t the exact mailbox Andrew uses–we just used a professional-quality shot we took after our Kickstarter campaign to convey the idea. Andrew did send us a picture of his mailbox and the Multi sensor PCB inside his mailbox. If you’d like to see it, just drop us a note at email@example.com and we’ll be happy to pass it on over!
Eliot, a major reason we bought SmartThings products is to get alerts when our mail gets delivered. However, based on our experience (and the laws of physics) I think we should have been skeptical of this claim. You’d expect a steel mailbox to act as a near-perfect Faraday cage and block radio signals. It might be possible to get alerts from a sensor mounted inside, say, a plastic Rubbermaid mailbox, but I’d be amazed if you can find anyone having success with a Multi sensor mounted in a steel mailbox that’s facing the street. We’ve certainly tried positioning the Hub as close as we could to the mailbox, even testing with a clear line of sight to the back of our mailbox through a window, and have never gotten this to work. Am I wrong on this? – Paul D.
It really depends how far the mailbox is. Also you don’t need to mount the sensor inside the mailbox. You can put it in a plastic bad and secure it to the underside or back. You don’t need the open/close aspect t the sensor – you can rely simply on vibration. That’s what we do.