Capacative touch sensor for a VERY large object?

GICU812GICU812 Posts: 289
I've been working on perimiter security on my house. PIR is just to flakey for me.

Im working on IR laser trip beams for the front yard, the back yard is fenced. I could try and bounce a beam around with mirrors, but seems like it would be very finicky to adjust.

Is there a way to build a capacitive touch sensor that would work with such a large object? That way when someone touched the gate, or grabbed the fence to jump it, it would trip.

Would it even work with the fence being grounded? If not, what if I insulated the top bar, which would be doable, it would then not be grounded, could I build a CT sensor that would
sense maybe 200' of 1" mild steel pipe?

If not, I wonder what would happen if I energized the bar with a mild DC source, like 5VDC, not enough to even feel, but could I monitor it and sense a dip when someone touched the pole?

Im not horribly paranoid, just some activity in the neighborhood got me thinking, and im in need of a project. I definitely dont want motion sensors \ PIR because I want this to be a 99% accurate system.

Unfortunately I dont know much about capacitive touch other than plug and play chips. Maybe you guys can give me some pointers, or just tell me its impossible.
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  • SRLMSRLM Posts: 5,012
    edited August 2008 Vote Up0Vote Down
    You could use a laser and shine it across the top of your fence. If it's in the infrared range, an intruder would never even know that it is there. You'll probably want to modulate it so that the reciever doesn't confuse it with sunlight. If you want mechanical, take a look at the pressure force sensing area of the Parallax store.

    http://parallax.com/Store/Sensors/PressureFlexRPM/tabid/177/List/0/CategoryID/52/Level/a/Default.aspx?SortField=ProductName,ProductName

    Traditional security couldn't hurt either, like a thorny bush just below the fence.
  • GICU812GICU812 Posts: 289
    edited August 2008 Vote Up0Vote Down
    That gives me another option I suppose, stringing a thin steel cable above the post, with a pressure switch on one side, so if someone pushes down on the cable, it pulls the switch.

    I had also thought about isolating the cable from the fence, powering the cable and grounding the fence, so when the two touch, it trips the sensor. Heck, I wouldnt mind just powering the cable with 220 and letting the intruders screams alert me, but legallity gets in the way.

    Either of the cable ideas however leave me having to also alarm the gates. Touch \ laser could go right through or over the gates.

    I checked, I could enclose the laser, reciever, and mirrors inside the main fence posts, just drilling holes to pass the beams so you woundlt even know it was there if it was visible, unless you noticed when you breached it. But I figured it would be very tedious to allign it. That and with the cables, there is a margin for failure \ misallignment \ etc. With a capacitive touch system, assuming it was self calibrating, it should be rather resilliant, though I dont know what would happened when it rained or snowed.
  • Phil Pilgrim (PhiPi)Phil Pilgrim (PhiPi) Posts: 19,368
    edited August 2008 Vote Up0Vote Down
    You will need to consider things like wind, rain, snow, hail, etc., along with deer, raccoons, and pets, any of which could cause a false alarm.

    Or, you could erect a bunch of inert but showy security items; then, in a conspicuous location (near a gate, maybe), place a lighted keypad with a little LED labeled "ARMED". Near the keypad, perhaps scratched into the enclosure's paint or penciled in so it looks surreptitious, would be a five-digit number. Just program the keypad so that when that number is entered (or any key is pressed, for that matter), the alarm sounds. smile.gif

    -Phil

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    “Impossible is just a big word thrown around by small men who find it easier to live in the world they'’ve been given than to explore the power they have to change it. Impossible is not a fact. It’'s an opinion. Impossible is not a declaration. It'’s a dare. Impossible is potential. Impossible is temporary. Impossible is nothing.” –Muhammad Ali
  • LeonLeon Posts: 7,420
    edited August 2008 Vote Up0Vote Down
    You can get piezo cable that could be attached to the fence and will detect anyone trying to get over it. It's used in UK prisons on top of the walls. I've got a length of it, it's *very* sensitive.

    Leon

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  • sam_sam_samsam_sam_sam Posts: 2,144
    edited August 2008 Vote Up0Vote Down
    Leon

    Thank You for sharing this with us about Piezo Cable

    Here iis a Link That Sell that type of cable····· idea.gif

    http://www.windworld.com/products/msipu.htm

    I just bought some of that kind of cable

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    ··Thanks for any·idea.gif·that you may have and all of your time finding them

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    Sam
    Sam
    _________________________>
    Now wanting to learn Spin Thanks for any idea that you may have and all of your time finding them
  • LeonLeon Posts: 7,420
    edited August 2008 Vote Up0Vote Down
    That's the stuff. I couldn't remember who made it.

    Leon

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    Amateur radio callsign: G1HSM
    Suzuki SV1000S motorcycle
    Leon Heller<br>G1HSM
  • GICU812GICU812 Posts: 289
    edited August 2008 Vote Up0Vote Down
    So how much of the piezo cable would I need? Just a small piece for each section of the fence? At $1 a inch, I would hope not much more. If I went that route, I guess I could just use these from Parallax
    http://parallax.com/Store/Sensors/PressureFlexRPM/tabid/177/CategoryID/52/List/0/Level/a/ProductID/89/Default.aspx?SortField=ProductName,ProductName

    The problem I see with Piezo, as metioned above, it would react to animals, wind, loud noise, and rain.

    Capacitive sensing would react to animals, and possibly rain

    Laser trip would react only to animals going over the fence (cats seem to squeeze through the cracks), leaves, possibly hard rain and snow accumulation.

    Pull cable would react to animals going over only

    Electrical contact cable would react to animals going over, and possibly snow accumulation.


    Not only that, but I would have to consider the possible failure modes. I could program for obvious failures to avoid false alarm, but I dont want to have to tinker with this every week.

    Piezo would have nearly zero failure mode

    Capacitive sensing, if auto calibrating, would have nearly zero failure

    Laser would be finicky to adjust, and possibly drift out of adjustment

    Pull cable I dont know, it might stretch, and it might expand in the hot sun

    Electrical contact cable should be fine as long as it doesnt stretch or expand enough to make contact


    Just from that, it looks like a pull cable would be the simplest and best solution, though installing it poses some engineering challenges. Im still not convinced.


    Anyone have any other suggestions? Input on Captouch?
  • skylightskylight Posts: 1,857
    edited August 2008 Vote Up0Vote Down
    Another capacitive touch sensor ic

    http://www.qprox.com/assets/Downloadablefile/Q0020(A)QT1106.pdf

    If i read it right you could break up your fence into approx 10 sections (3 +7)

    presuming you have to keep the interconnecting wiring short you may need several ic's?

    though this would then allow seperate zone's sensing

    £1.50 or at todays rate $2.88 a throw


    Post Edited (skylight) : 8/8/2008 6:41:42 PM GMT
  • SRLMSRLM Posts: 5,012
    edited August 2008 Vote Up0Vote Down
    Take a look at the thread "Propeller People Counter Idea" An idea was posted there about using a laser to scan the area, like a supermarket barcode reader. For your application, you could set the module up on you house (or far away from the fence) and have the beam scan at about 1/2 degree measurements. To calibrate, make sure the area is clear, scan, and store the distances in the EEPROM.

    You can adjust sensitivity in several different ways, it is unobtrusive (with an infrared), and can be recalibrated very easily. The downside is that it will take a while to build.
  • GICU812GICU812 Posts: 289
    edited August 2008 Vote Up0Vote Down
    I dont see how that would work though. There is no way im going to be able to detect a laser dot on a tree or person at 50 feet.

    Maybe Im missing something.

    Actually, I found IR leds to be much more powerful than I thought. Using a Parallax 38.5Khz IR reciever I found that just my TV remote will work from across the yard, and I have some supposedly high powered IR leds. So im going to try that first.
  • GICU812GICU812 Posts: 289
    edited August 2008 Vote Up0Vote Down
    I might have been wrong, using a IR reciever, I can pickup signals from my TV remote clear across the yard. It would definitely be the easiest thing to use, if IR LED's have the range, I just never thought it would work that far.

    I cant seem to get my stamp working with IR though, I can use the TV remote to trip the sensor, but I dont get anything when I use the stamp, Im using parts and code from the Understanding Signals book that came with my Oscope.

    Its a 38.5k reciever module, and using freqout 0,1,38500 its not working. And the LED is very dim when viewed with a camera, whereas my remote LED is very bright. If I hook the LED right up to 5v + resistor, its very bright. I', using a 220ohm resistor as called for.
  • LeonLeon Posts: 7,420
    edited August 2008 Vote Up0Vote Down
    You need an MCU with the piezo cable, with software to detect false triggering.

    Leon

    ▔▔▔▔▔▔▔▔▔▔▔▔▔▔▔▔▔▔▔▔▔▔▔▔
    Amateur radio callsign: G1HSM
    Suzuki SV1000S motorcycle
    Leon Heller<br>G1HSM
  • skylightskylight Posts: 1,857
    edited August 2008 Vote Up0Vote Down
    GICU812 said...


    Its a 38.5k reciever module, and using freqout 0,1,38500 its not working. And the LED is very dim when viewed with a camera, whereas my remote LED is very bright. If I hook the LED right up to 5v + resistor, its very bright. I', using a 220ohm resistor as called for.
    You may have to lower the frequency or to allow the led to be on for longer and therefore brighter.
    would you be able to adjust the mark/space ratio so the on time was longer?

    Post Edited (skylight) : 8/9/2008 10:37:46 PM GMT
  • GICU812GICU812 Posts: 289
    edited August 2008 Vote Up0Vote Down
    I tried setting 0,10000,38500, which would pulse for like 10 seconds, still nothing. Maybe I'll try it with a transistior, maybe the stamp isnt putting out enough juice. Its just wierd that it wouldnt work when its in the Parallax literature
  • GICU812GICU812 Posts: 289
    edited August 2008 Vote Up0Vote Down
    Problem solved, Im using a BS2p40, so the timing is diffrent, 3.77 ms per pulse, so I had to send a pulse closer to 10000.

    I still have the LED brightness problem. My TV remote will trip the IR detector clear across the backyard, the LED driven by the stamp drops dead after 10 feet. This is supposed to be a high powered IR LED, 16mW minimum radiant power @100mA.

    I actually bought another IR LED that came packaged with a phototransistor. This LED is rated at 150ma, though its radiant power output is rated at 13-15mW, I would have to assume, if it will take another 50mA, it probably puts out more power, even if its not rated for it.

    At anyrate, the LED seems far dimmer when run at 38.5khz from the stamp than it does when its just powered straight from power.

    I'm using a 150 ohm resistor, but if I'm not mistaken, the LED should take a 39 ohm resistor (5v source, 1.2V foward voltage, 100 ma current) Is that correct?

    If I bump the resistor down, it might help put out more light.
  • skylightskylight Posts: 1,857
    edited August 2008 Vote Up0Vote Down
    Be careful @100ma draw I think you are in danger of damaging your stamp you should use a transistor to switch the led.
    Apologies if you are already doing so, if so then it still could be a mark space problem, you would need to make sure the on time is longer at the expense of the off time(duty cycle) you may need to increase the on time to 75% or more to gain that distance?
    Experimentation will determine the duty cycle you need.
    Alternatively use a 555 timer·it's easily·capable of handling that frequency and current and will allow the mark space ratio altering with appropriate wiring and then have the stamp trigger it.

    Here's a link to help you calculate the Mark Space Ratio

    http://www.antonine-education.co.uk/Electronics_AS/Electronics_Module_1/Topic_11/topic_11__555_timer_circuit.htm

    It looks like the Resistor designations are different to the ones in the formula, I'd take R1 to be Ra and R2 to be Rb

    As the 555 is more than capable of handling that current you may get away with a 50% duty cycle(default) which will save you having to calculate the mark space ratio and just have to work out the RC components needed for the frequency.

    Post Edited (skylight) : 8/10/2008 12:07:01 PM GMT
  • GICU812GICU812 Posts: 289
    edited August 2008 Vote Up0Vote Down
    I was using a transistor now, but thanks for the advice anyway.

    I need 38.5khz to trip the reciever, so I dont think I can really play with on time anymore than how long I send the signal, which I am doing for 1 second right now.

    However I am limiting the current to about 30ma, so I suppose that might be an issue, since I can safely triple the current. Unfortunately that means I need a 1watt resistor, or 4 1/4's and I cant even find one resistor with <100 ohms in my collection, guess I'll have to go shopping before I can see.

    Any advice on how to extend the range on these IR LEDs?

    Thinking more about Peizo though, I guess someone going over the fence would create a lot of vibration, as opposed to the wind or something that would produce very little. Maybe I'll order some of those Peizo sensors from parallax and play with them.

    This is a very tough decesion because I have so many options, none of them the obvious answer.

    Post Edited (GICU812) : 8/10/2008 6:32:39 PM GMT
  • SRLMSRLM Posts: 5,012
    edited August 2008 Vote Up0Vote Down
    For the laser, the detection would be a change in distance of in the line of sight. However, since the IR LEDs work this would be much better and easier than a laser setup, not to mention cheaper.

    Anyway, to extend the range of the IR LEDs the easiest would be to focus the beam. I'd look at LED flashlights at home depot or something. The only part that you need is the lens. Use this to focus the beam toward the reciever. You could even use multiple IR LEDs in one spot. I haven't tested this, but from using visible LEDs it seems the best step.

    Also, there might be a way to daisy chain the IR LEDs so that you only need one BS2

    BS2===IRRECIEVER
    IRLED===IRRECIEVER
    IRLED


    My guess is that if one gets tripped, it causes the other LED to not emit, which then trips the next, and so on. This would eliminate the need for a bunch of BS2s or tons of wiring. Let me think on it for a while...
  • kelvin jameskelvin james Posts: 531
    edited August 2008 Vote Up0Vote Down
    Accelerometers are widely used in car alarm systems, and yes very annoying when not set up properly. I don't know what span of fence you want to monitor, but you could check the vibration / and or the tilt with it. Basic physics will show someone climbing a fence will have a pull factor to the xy axis, thus creating a tilt by the offset weight. Accerlerometers are pretty sensitive, so you would have to experiment with the output to determine what is actually an alarm worth checking. Unless you have bears climbing your fence, most false alarms could be avoided. As far as an alarm goes, normally just some type of visual alert is enough to deter most, if the situation persists, then an audible alarm would be required. I use x10 cameras in globes placed visibly around the outside of the house, anyone scouting the place will wander off, not willing to chance being caught on video. Some type of deterent is the most effective measure. Anyway, just an idea with the accelerometer and not actually tested, i guess there are many ways to do what you want.
  • GICU812GICU812 Posts: 289
    edited August 2008 Vote Up0Vote Down
    I was thinking the same thing with daisy chaining them. Just seems like too many componets though, I would need 6-8 pairs to cover the fence, plus I would have to run wiring for power all around the perimiter.

    Testing outside, I am having rather disapointing results. even running at ~100ma, it still wont cover more than 10-15 feet, half of what my TV remote does. The brightness in a camera looks simular now though.

    Using your idea and using a small LED flashlight, focusing the beam the best I can only yeilds anoter 5 feet or so.

    What happens if I cut the end of the LED flat, wont that somewhat concentrate the beam forward, rather than dissapating it with a rounded tip?

    What is used to detect the laser beam in your scenario? Thats the part im not understanding.

    Post Edited (GICU812) : 8/10/2008 9:10:24 PM GMT
  • jazzedjazzed Posts: 11,767
    edited August 2008 Vote Up0Vote Down
    The worst part of using I/R detection like this is that dark color objects will not reflect the I/R very well. You could request that all intruders wear white [noparse]:)[/noparse] If you've ever tried to get a BoeBot to run a track with I/R and different color barriers, you might understand this.

    Seems to me that class 1 lazers would be most accurate for object detection, though the cats, birds, and squirrels in my neighborhood would cause many false alarms (I see Phil already mentioned this). Perhaps adding an accelerometer would make the system more viable; this would provide for a check/balance. If there is vibration and no object, then perhaps it's just the wind; if there is an object and no significant vibration, then it's probably just a cat. Now if there was a cat on the fence and a dog jumping on the fence, maybe a microphone could be used to help harden the system (but dogs tend to keep intruders at bay anyway). Hey before you know it you could have 15 sensors and a security guard [noparse]:)[/noparse]

    Being able to recognize the threat seems to be a big factor; maybe an I/R CAM and neural network software design would help.

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  • GICU812GICU812 Posts: 289
    edited August 2008 Vote Up0Vote Down
    Well Im working towards break beams, so reflection isnt an issue, just looking for something that will shoot a beam to a reciever at least 100 feet away. I think I can program out most contingencies, though a cat jumping over the fence would be hard to weed out, a cat or bird sitting on the fence could simply be detected if the sensor trips and doesnt reset, the its an object sitting on there or sensor drift. This would issue a mild alert, but not trigger an alarm.

    Im not worried about this being exploited, as my primary concern is not the sophisticated professional thief, he'd get in no matter what I did, though really I doubt anyone who hasnt read this would know to exploit it.
  • jazzedjazzed Posts: 11,767
    edited August 2008 Vote Up0Vote Down
    Slap!!!·lol.gif··Break-beams "of course" ... duh· blush.gif

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  • SRLMSRLM Posts: 5,012
    edited August 2008 Vote Up0Vote Down
    Laser distance detection can use several different methods. The most accurate is probably time of flight, where the laser is shot and the time that it takes to go out, bounce back and fly back is measured. The reciever can be a light sensitive module. I'm theorizing here, but you could probably hack a commerical model. The essence of the system is that the laser is mounted on a servo/stepper motor, and rotates in a fixed field of view. It measures the distances at predetermined angles or rotation, and stores that distance. (This is when your yard is empty of intruders). When in the armed mode, the laser looks at each of those angles. It then compares the distance of a clean yard and the current. If there is a difference (you can pad this), then it determines that something is blocking the beam and is an intruder. Note that this has the same fallacies as many of the other designs, namely animals, stuff falling in the way, etc.

    I know what the title says, but I'll mention PIR. There are modules that you can get that simply detect infrared, without doing the calculations of whether or not something is there. You could foccus the module down the fence, and make your own standards for object detection.
  • GICU812GICU812 Posts: 289
    edited August 2008 Vote Up0Vote Down
    I could do the mapping, motion, and everything but the actual sensor, I just wouldnt know where to start. It sure would be cool as heck, but I think realistically though, it would be more show than anything.

    I put the LED inside a small maglite, it isnt a huge diffrence, but it does make some improvement. Also the higher powered light is definitely an improvement, unfortunately I got 33k resistors, instead of 33 ohm, so the 150ma LED is still only running at 100ma(1.2v - 44Ohms), but is still stronger.

    In the dark, I can definitely get the distance of the fence, Im actually going from the middle of the house to the far corner for testing, or maybe %33 further than I need to. I guess in the daylight it just wont work. Thats not a killer, nightime is the targent. Im no expert, what is actually causing the loss in daylight? Would it help if I just put the reciever in the shade?
  • John BondJohn Bond Posts: 369
    edited August 2008 Vote Up0Vote Down
    Microwave radar is used occasionally in South Africa and is comparatively inexpensive. You put the single beacon up, set the detect distance and it signals by wireless 2 times a second. You can specify the minimum body mass you want to trigger in case you have dogs (vicious pit bulls usually, trained to attack intruders – not pets!). The beacon has 2 beams, adjustable but usually at about 90 degrees so you need just two beacons, at opposite corners of your property. They have an adjustable range (if I remember right) from 10 yards to half a mile. They interface with a standard base station. The standard base station is as common to most houses as say a dishwasher and linked via cellphone to a private rapid response reaction unit. If the alarm is triggered, these guy’s turn up with sub-machine guns and pump-action shotguns.

    And we still get robbed!!!

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  • SRLMSRLM Posts: 5,012
    edited August 2008 Vote Up0Vote Down
    Here in the States we would have to hire somebody like Blackwater if we wanted them to show up with machine guns...

    Anyway, GICU, the laser harware is the difficult part. You could hack a laser printer for both the laser and the spinning mirror, but you'll need to come up with a reciever and a timing system. If you can't get the laser system to work, then you could always use the IR laser as a defense device: shine it in the intruders eyes for a long time until he's out of luck. (Just kidding, please don't...)

    To debug the infrared, it's easiest to image it as visible light and go from there. My guess about why it works better at night is that there is less natural IR, and so the IR LED is relatively brighter. To improve the daylight you can try and put a dirrectional tube on the reciver and point it the way the you want.

    When my house go broken into, it was in broad daylight at about 3 in the afternoon. I live in a suburb type area and even had a dog. Unfortunately, she just said hi to them and laid down on the back patio. Some security system. Anyway, don't discredit the daylight, since chances are that that is the time that you are gone most often.
  • GICU812GICU812 Posts: 289
    edited August 2008 Vote Up0Vote Down
    Well it will be housed inside a 3" fence post, so I can put it towards the rear, drill a hole pointed towards the LED and cap the pipe and see if that helps.
  • SRLMSRLM Posts: 5,012
    edited August 2008 Vote Up0Vote Down
    Test with a tube (a paper towel tube would be a good approximation) before you drill! I have proof that this will work, merely intuition.
  • GICU812GICU812 Posts: 289
    edited August 2008 Vote Up0Vote Down
    IR - no go.

    Its close, at 65 feet, in pitch black, perfectly alligned, its iffy, its a little more stable with optics on it, but its just too finicky, not to mention the next length I need is 70 feet. Any shorter and it could probably be made to work.

    One of the advantages of IR was going to be that it didnt need aimed so much, but that doesnt seem to be the case at these distances, its very picky about allignment, its got a few inches to play with, but its still too picky to be an advantage. Also, there is pretty much no way I could get this working in the sunlight. I did get some positive results in the daylight putting the reciever in a shoebox, but that was at a shorter distance, its just asking too much for 65 feet.

    The back yard is 65 - 70 - 65, thats actually cutting a little across the yard on the first and last, because the last section of fence is on an angle. The front is going to be 60' , 22' , 48'

    I think my best bet is going to be laser for the backyard, one beam bounced around, it will cover the entire fence, gates and all. Also the side runs, being on an angle, wont trip when something goes over the fence, only if something about 4' walks through it.

    The front yard I think I can use IR. I can use it to jump the driveway at 22', and then over to the house 48' I cant use laser here because there is no fixed mount by the other side of the driveway, but IR being less picky, I can just use a stake. I'll just have to bury a wire out to there. The other side of the front yard, at 60', I dont know, I might be able to use IR, but since its one point to another, both fixed hard, so theres no chance of movement, it would probably just be easier to use laser.

    I can probably just build these with visible laser, then maybe later replace the mocules with IR if I want.


    I finally got a response from that website with the IR lasers, they dont sell any of those IR laser pointers on the site, begging the question why they are still advertized. The only options they have relevant to me is a plain module, no housing button or anything, just the module.

    Anyone else have other links for IR lasers?
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