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434 posts

Ultimate Geek
+1 received by user: 16


Topic # 138118 20-Dec-2013 09:49 Send private message

I am looking for my next home automation project and decided vehicle tracking might be quite useful. Not so much tracking I guess, but rather vehicle presence detection. I would just like to 'know' when one of our two cars is in the garage or not. Ideally it would be very useful to know when a vehicle is approaching so I can automatically open the garage door and disable the alarm etc, and vice versa when a vehicle departs.

All the rules etc are no problem, I am just looking for ways to actually detect/track the vehicle. I have been looking into RFID but it looks like getting a reader that is powerful enough to read a tag on a vehicle a couple of meters away is going to be far too expensive. I guess one option could be a cheap android smart phone (< $100) in each car, hooked up to the 12V supply and hidden away behind the dash. This could run something like Mqttitude which automatically posts location updates to my home server MQTT broker. This seems a bit of an overkill though.

What about a simple bluetooth transmitter? Can you buy these standalone? I already have a Raspberry Pi in the garage which is controlling my irrigation system, so I could chuck a BT dongle in there and maybe use that to detect when the vehicle BT TXs come in range?

Any other bright ideas out there?

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556 posts

Ultimate Geek
+1 received by user: 131


  Reply # 955388 20-Dec-2013 11:08 Send private message

No real ideas, just a safety point.

Automatically closing a garage door, is possibly a safety risk. You could end up squashing something or someone if you drive away (or just losing the connection) and don't intend it to close.
I'm sure some sensors would eliminate a lot of the risk, but if there are small children around, I wouldn't do it.

Automatically arming the alarm may cause you issues too if someone is still home.

Otherwise, cool idea.

340 posts

Ultimate Geek
+1 received by user: 51

  Reply # 955398 20-Dec-2013 11:20 Send private message

Have you scrolled through

Personally I'd find a car that automatically opened the garage door as it approached annoying, as I don't always want to drive the car in (sometimes park outside even if there is no car inside).

Conceptually I'd imagine voice activation (like the set up that hacked siri to run home automation) to be a better option.

As to whether 'a' car is in the garage or not, bluetooth or a webcam with image analysis could work... Potentially even at a range of locations on the property?

3255 posts

Uber Geek
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  Reply # 955400 20-Dec-2013 11:21 Send private message

Maybe a couple of RF sensors spaced apart so it detects vehicle coming in / out of drive way.

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434 posts

Ultimate Geek
+1 received by user: 16


  Reply # 955414 20-Dec-2013 11:41 Send private message

Yep - auto-closing the door is probably something that needs a bit more thought. A nice little IR beam across the opening would prevent any closing when something was in the way, but that is of course another cost. I think it would be most useful when arriving home however, just driving up near the house and having the door automatically open would be great - we always park our cars in the garage.

The only thing is the drive is very short - the garage pretty much opens onto the street, so ideally the door would start opening when the car was 50m from the house so it was open by the time we arrived. That complicates things however, and leads me to think that perhaps a manual trigger (voice or NFC) might be the best option.

And yes you are quite right about the alarm auto-arming. I already have pretty decent presence detection so I think the alarm arming might be left to that, rather than anytime the garage is empty. Good point.

I guess I would like to know a little more about what is available in the RFID area. Everything is either very cheap and low power, requiring the id to be within a few cm of the reader, or extremely expensive for anything with a decent range. Anyone know of any DIY type setups that give a decent range but don't cost the earth?

621 posts

Ultimate Geek
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  Reply # 955431 20-Dec-2013 11:55 Send private message

There are quite a few bluetooth 4.0 'lost your key' type transmitters on ali-express and dealextreme, which might fit the bill.

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Uber Geek
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  Reply # 955449 20-Dec-2013 12:46 Send private message

I would look at hall effect sensors to detect whether the car is in the garage or not. Lay out a grid in the garage for each parking space.

And then the GPS transmitter for the car could be a Raspberry Pi with a 3G data stick in it and appropriate GPS bits.

340 posts

Ultimate Geek
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  Reply # 955512 20-Dec-2013 14:54 Send private message

A raspi with the GPS module would be mint, and lead into the fertile relm of car computers ;)

The biggest challenge with home automation I think is making it adaptive enough to do what you want it to do in that moment. I find any sort of 'automation' frustrating if I end up losing dynamic freedom and have to modify my behaviour to operate within its process.

Tapping the door opener above my head is pretty damn easy, so it's a low yield task to automate.

434 posts

Ultimate Geek
+1 received by user: 16


  Reply # 955522 20-Dec-2013 15:06 Send private message

Yeah but where is the fun in that?!

You are of course completely right - I am trying to develop my HA systems to be as unobtrusive as possible. They should just work in the background without you noticing. Things should just happen when they are supposed to, but you should be able to go about your life without knowing they are happening, and if necessary be able to do things manually without too much interference.

It is indeed a fine balance...

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Uber Geek
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  Reply # 955540 20-Dec-2013 15:47 Send private message

I dont know the specifics on how it would work, but some switchable automated tasks running through tasker (and or trigger) on an android phone using geofences would be a good project. Ive just recently got into doing simple automated tasks with these through nfc tags but see that they can be used with geofencing and the like. Even if you had a nfc tag on the dash, activate it as your approaching and your garage door opens, alarm off etc.

Would be very cool to have a play with anyways!

434 posts

Ultimate Geek
+1 received by user: 16


  Reply # 955543 20-Dec-2013 15:50 Send private message

I have actually already got that setup currently - I have an NFC tag on my dash and when I get close to home I unlock my phone (since NFC doesn't work unless the phone is unlocked) and swipe it across the tag. This sends a message to my HA system (openHAB) which opens the garage door and prepares the house for my arrival (alarm off, lights on etc).

This works fine for me, but I want something that the wife can use (she has an iPhone so no NFC). Figured something in the cars themselves would be the easiest and list obtrusive option.

Also had a play with tasker. Very clever app(s). Got it hooked up using AutoVoice so I can just swipe up from my home button and then speak commands to openHAB. Things like 'coffee on', 'leave garage', 'bedtime'. Requires a custom task/action for each command but still pretty cool!

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Ultimate Geek
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  Reply # 958704 29-Dec-2013 17:33 Send private message

434 posts

Ultimate Geek
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  Reply # 958706 29-Dec-2013 17:37 Send private message

Yep great idea...

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