Jul
08

Remote Site Alarm and Environmental Monitoring System – Protect Your Fish!

Protect Site Equipment & Machinery - Remotely Detect Flooding & Fire and Hundreds of Other Environmental Triggers and Thresholds

Problem:

Site alarm and environmental monitoring system - remote security and peace of mind - demo caseTo be able to remotely monitor the security and status of a wide range of items and conditions on any site, anywhere in the country (or in any country for that matter).

The security monitoring requirement is for the remote protection of on-site machinery and equipment, for example on building sites, roadworks and farms etc. The environmental monitoring requirement is for the protection of buildings, land, crops and animals (including fish - think 'koi carp' for example) etc.

The two key design goals were to produce a product/system which would work under its own power, independent of mains power for long periods of time; and also for the product/system to be wireless to allow for quick and easy remote placement.

Meeting these two goals would produce a solution which could be used on remote locations and which would also be flexible enough to be quickly deployed and later redeployed on a variety of subsequent sites if required.

The ideal result would be a product/system which would allow a company or an individual to monitor a wide variety of remote assets and resources from a single location such as an office. Ideally, alarm conditions and other feedback should be receivable via a mobile phone.

For example, a farmer may want to monitor flood risk areas, generator/pump fuel levels or field access points (gates etc.) throughout the day and would need to be notified immediately via a mobile phone, if anything required urgent attention.

Solution:

I designed, developed and produced a product/system which I called SAM (Site Alarm and Monitoring). All the product details are available for download below under the resources section, including pcb artworks, programs, parts lists etc.

SAM consists of a central monitoring unit (battery or mains powered) and a wide range of hard-wired switches, sensors and alarms. SAM can also be used in conjunction with another product of mine called Pro-Tect100, which I will include in another post a little later.

The addition of a Pro-Tect100 would make SAM into a 100 'wireless' zone alarm and monitoring system. Each zone monitored by a small, long battery life transmitter (up to 500 metres range, but unlimited with the use of transponders) coupled to an appropriate sensor.

SAM will monitor various switches and sensors and upon detecting an alarm condition, will notify the responsible person(s) by activating alarms and by dialling and sending SMS messages to pre-programmed mobile phone numbers.

I originally designed SAM for use on building sites to protect equipment such as diesel generators and welding gear etc., however I quickly realised that the base product could be used with almost any available sensor, and it could be deployed in almost any location including industrial, commercial, private or farm locations. Therefore, I expanded the programming to make SAM flexible enough for use in any of these potential markets.

Uses / Applications:

These are some of the potential targets/markets/uses for SAM.

  1. Building sites - to protect machinery and materials. Sensors would include; tilt switches, vibration switches, always-on pressure mats and PIR sensors etc.
  2. Roadworks - to protect generators, diggers and materials etc. Sensors would be similar to those used on building sites, but with the addition of battery power-dip sensors (for detecting generator or engine start-ups) and the possibility of linking into existing vehicle alarms on diggers and so on.
  3. Environmental Agency - for monitoring flood, pollution and fire risk areas and receiving early warnings.
  4. Farms - again for flood monitoring in fields, to monitor access points (gates, cattle grids etc.) for security, for protection of farm machinery and vehicles left on location around the farm overnight, and also for additional security of fire risk areas such as barns.
  5. Boats - for protection of private and commercial boats moored in harbour or on canals etc. For example, a private individual houseboat owner goes out for the evening and leaves the boat protected by SAM. If a break-in or theft is attempted (or even if someone just steps onto the boat) the owner will be instantly notified by mobile phone. Great for peace of mind.

    For commercial harbours where a mooring fee is charged, SAM may provide an additional income stream, since the harbour owner could rent or lease SAM to boat owners as an additional security measure. Alternatively, SAM could be included in the mooring fee as an additional incentive.

  6. Caravans and Motor Homes - as with boats SAM can provide security and peace of mind for owners. In these and similar applications, SAM also has a 'panic' alarm feature which adds to its value. For example, a family member stays in a caravan while the rest of the family go out for the evening.

    If there is any kind of threat or emergency, the family member in the caravan can press the alarm button and the rest of the family will be notified via mobile phone (along with any number of site based audio/visual alarms). Again providing peace of mind to all parties.

  7. Private & commercial fisheries and fish ponds - to protect against theft of valuable varieties such as trout and koi carp. Also to monitor environmental conditions for risks factors such as frost, pollution or leaks. Float/level, temperature, conductivity, and low sensitivity PIR sensors etc., would provide the monitoring capability.
  8. Commercial & private aircraft - for general security as with many other applications, but also I considered that there may be some more specific applications here to do with the prevention of tampering, vandalism, external item theft, fuel theft, and the prevention of damage by animals!

    I say this, because of course in areas of Canada, Africa and Australia (and many other countries) bush pilots have to protect the tyres of their aircraft from overnight damage by hyenas and other animals :-) SAM could monitor the aircraft perimeter and activate an audible/visual warning when animals were detected near the aircraft.

  9. Lock-up garages - a SAM and a door switch would provide continuous protection and monitoring of a lock-up garage for up to a year before requiring new batteries. Many garages and other forms of lock-up storage facilities are used for quite valuable items these days, such as commercial stock for shops and online sales, classic car restorations, household contents between moves, and many others. Many of these lock-up storage facilities are in remote, isolated or out of site locations and usually have no mains power or existing alarm system.

There are hundreds of applications for SAM which can be developed and met with the appropriate sensors and physical deployment techniques.

I was very passionate about SAM and felt that it was a truly useful and large-scale commercial product with a lot of potential. I had assumed by now, many years after I originally developed SAM, that there would be a plethora of similar products on the market all available for £49.99 and nicely packaged with simple to use instructions etc. However, although there are in fact many products available, they are either surprisingly expensive or of very poor design and build quality, and clearly not rugged enough for extensive real-life deployment.

All that would be required to bring SAM up to date, would be the incorporation of a basic modern mobile phone unit or an ASIC.

Please feel free to use my entire SAM product/system or any aspect or component of it, for your own applications/designs or uses.

Resources:

Zip file containing pcb artworks, pic programs, parts lists, memory maps etc.

SAM (zip 748Kb)

I deliberately kept the image resolution fairly low in the SAM manual in order to ensure a fast download.

Photo Gallery:

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