From: John De Armond
Subject: Re: Home Freeze Alert
Date: Tue, 13 Feb 2001 15:31:31 -0500
Ed J wrote:
> Take a look at Sensaphone....
> I got this and it does an excellent job. It is currently monitoring
> my house in the North while I am snowbirding in Fl... The primary
> advantage over the inexpensive models that you have to call, is that
> it will monitor temps and other conditions and call numbers you
> program in when one of the sensors goes out of the programmed range.
> So, if the furnace breaks, you (or a neighbor watching the house) will
> know about it BEFORE the pipes freeze.
Nifty gadget. Let me suggest a cheaper alternative if you already
have a security system on your house. (or think you might want
one.) This is what I did on my restaurant and apartment. I
installed an FBII alarm panel and system. The basic panel has 8
inputs (or "zones") and it accepts remote muxes which report 8 more
zones per mux. I have one mux. After I zoned the place ("dining
room", "kitchen", "bathroom", "fire", etc) I had some zones left
over. I hooked thermostats to these zones and places them at
various important points. One monitors the room temperature as a
freeze alert. Another has a water sensor for flood alert. The rest
are installed in the walk-in freezer and the refrigerators. This
panel lets one program English text for each zone so that it reports
locally and to the optional printer in English (example: "Walk-in
freezer hi alarm").
When I was using a monitoring service, I had these zones programmed
on their console with appropriate action just like the burglar and
fire. The monitoring company allows a separate action and telephone
calldown list for each zone. If one of these temperature or flood
zones alarmed, it did not set off the local sirens. It simply
reports to the monitoring station where the operator is instructed
to first call me on my cell phone, then my brother, my parents and
finally a friend who lives nearby.
I no longer use a monitoring service so I simply reprogrammed the
panel to call my cellphone. This panel, like most, is capable of
reporting alarms in dozens of alarm formats. I programmed it to a
simple 2 digit, 10 pulse per second format. Somewhat like Morse
code, I can read these pulses. I know the zone numbers (and have a
little card in my wallet if I forget.) I have to ack the message by
pressing the "0" key on the phone. It will re-send the code until I
do so if I miss the code the first time I can catch it the next.
Here's a little secret that most people don't know about. Most
(all?) these panels are capable of reporting to 2 services. If you
use a monitoring service like ADT, one channel will be programmed to
report in their format. The second channel is normally unused. You
can program (or have your alarm company program) this second channel
to call your cellphone (or whatever) and send the alarm out in a
slow pulse format that you can receive by ear. Or if you have a
digit grabber, you can have it signal using touch tones. Of course,
if your monitoring service charges a flat rate, you can just have
them monitor the additional zones.
This technique involves only the cost of the sensors and the wire to
return the signal to the panel. One could implement a simple freeze
alarm for under $10.
From: John De Armond
Subject: Re: Ladder for Accessing The Roof from Inside RV
Date: Sat, 09 Jun 2001 17:28:06 -0400
David Martin wrote:
> I've another thought. How about building up a large static charge on the RV
> so that potential intruders would be zapped if they came too close?
> The RV is insulated from the ground by its rubber tires which should
> provide a few thousand volts isolation from ground. The charge might be
> established by dragging a cat pelt behind the vehicle while driving to the
> Oooh, even funner would be to use the RV's shell as the globe of a Van de
> Graff generator. Really big voltages could be established and people
> outside would have their hair stand on end if they ventured too near the
Tire rubber is conductive (so it WON'T build up a big hairy charge
and nuke you when you step out of the car) but there are ways.
I stopped a dog from pissing on my boat trailer wheels by putting
the wheels up on plex blocks and hooking a 15,000 neon transformer
to it. I wish I'd had a video camera. The dog made it to the end
of the driveway before he could get his leg down :-)
From: John De Armond
Subject: Re: RV Mace Sprayer
Date: Thu, 11 Oct 2001 03:21:51 -0400
It doesn't quite work that way. Both MACE and pepper spray are
actually liquids that are discharged as rather large drops (small
drops/mist would tend to come back at the sprayer) that quickly
"Tear gas", while actually a powder, will behave enough like a gas
to do what you want. Alarm triggered gas dispensers are made by a
number of companies and are sold by wholesalers that service the
alarm installer business. I suggest contacting a local independent
alarm installer and ask.
Something you should be aware of is that this fine powder settles
out on everything and gets into everything. Then for a long time
thereafter, every time you stir it up, you get to relive the
experience! Just ask me how I know...
There is another option if you're handy. You can take a surplus
military or police CS (riot gas, as opposed to the milder CN or
conventional "tear gas") grenade and rig it with a solenoid that
will pull the pin when actuated. Be aware that the grenade burns
with fairly intense heat and so will need to be safely mounted. I
built just such a setup for my homemade alarm system when I lived in
Atlanta. I tested it by firing it out in my driveway, which is how
I learned about the powder settling out on everything in the open
carport :-) My house burned (started by a computer monitor and not
the CS grenade :-) and the fire ignited the grenade. Firemen
couldn't figure why their eyes were burning so even after the smoke
cleared the place :-)
Since firing any of these irritant agents in an RV would pretty much
end its useful life (without stripping it to the frame and
rebuilding), you might consider another option. A CO2 fire
suppression system. Electrically tripped systems used to be used in
restaurants but no longer meet code and so are available widely,
usually for free (used restaurant equipment places and fire
protection contractors.) When the liquid CO2 is discharged, it
flashes instantly to dry ice snow and in the process freezes the
moisture in the air. Instant whiteout. You can't see an inch in
front of you. And the CO2 is choking. It will suffocate if exposed
for long enough. You get a very good fire protection to boot!
I was in a computer room once where the Cardox system was
accidentally tripped. Not something I'd want to go through. The
last thing on my mind would have been to try and steal anything. It
was all I could do to make it the ~8 feet to the door before I
I took a different approach in my restaurant to access denial after
I suffered a "smash 'n grab", an event my conventional alarm system
merrily announced to me after the fact. I have mounted a number of
150 watt police sirens at various places around the inside of the
building. I'm not sure of the sound level produced because my sound
meter pegs at 130 db but I can assure you that it would be
impossible to stay in the room with it. I found it to be painful to
be in the room to make the measurements even with 20 db hearing
muffs on. It is tripped by glass break detectors. The second
channel that calls the police is tripped by motion detectors so that
the cops don't come unless someone enters the place. (our *lovely*
police department defines such an event where no one is present when
they arrive as a false alarm and the city levies heavy fines after
the second one in any 12 month period.)
I know that this system works because we experienced a "smash but no
grab" a couple of months ago. The motion alarm didn't trip so I
know the guy didn't come through the window he smashed. The glass
break system pages my cellphone so I know what's happening.
> Hey I want to buy a security system for my RV. I do not remember
> the name of it...
> But there was this system that when tripped would fill the RV or room
> with a mist of Mace. Does anyone know the name?
From: John De Armond
Subject: Re: RF alarm system that will transmit over 2 city blocks.
Date: Tue, 23 Mar 2004 00:52:24 -0500
On Mon, 22 Mar 2004 19:12:29 -0800, "Ben Hogland" <firstname.lastname@example.org>
>I don't have any utilities where I park my RV but it's parked in a gated and
>locked area. I haven't had many serious problems but recently my RV was
>vandalized. Currently I do have a motion detector that sounds an alarm. This
>works if I can depend on one of the people who lives close by to call me or
>the police when the alarm sounds (in this case, the vandilizer was obviously
>surprised by the alarm and didn't get any farther than doing some damage)..
>I do have some neighbors in that area who are looking out for all the RVs in
>that parking area but what I'd really like is a battery powered motion
>detector that will reach me immediately at my house about two blocks away if
>there is a break in.. I'm really interested in something that doesn't use a
>lot of battery power but will broadcast to a remote if there is a violation
>of the area (the inside of the RV). I don't want anything that requires 500
>or 1000 dollars to install.. I'm looking for a simple motion detector that
>I can place *in* the RV and, if activated, it sends a signal to a remote
>unit that alerts me 2 blocks away. I don't want anything other than a
>sensitivity settable motion detector inside the RV because I don't want ANY
>false alarms. Does anyone know of such a device on the market?
I've never seen a turnkey system that would work reliably. All are limited by
the FCC's very restrictive power limits on non-licensed transmitters.
Probably the easiest thing would be to put a VOX capable FRS radio in the
coach so that it could broadcast the siren to you. Not strictly legal but a
man's gotta do what a man's gotta do.
Let me suggest another approach. Make it impossibly painful to stay in the
vehicle. That's the approach I've taken in my restaurant. I have 2 100 watt
police sirens installed, one at each end of the dining room. Even with ear
muffs and plugs it's uncomfortable. Within 10 ft of a speaker it pegs my 130
db capable sound meter. So far it has thwarted one "smash'n'grab" (he smashed
but he couldn't take the pain to grab :-) and probably thwarted another
(smashed the laminated safety glass in a door. Glass broke and bowed but
didn't give way. I figure the alarm drove him off before he could take a
second shot with the concrete block.)
The installation is simplicity itself. There is a relay driven by the alarm
panel output. It switches 12 volts from a small car battery to the siren
drivers. The panel contains a float charger that keeps the battery up. All
exposed wiring is in conduit so it can't be quickly cut. The speakers are
recessed in the ceiling so the wires aren't exposed.
One siren would do the job in your RV. There are now some very compact folded
horn siren speakers available, designed for use on compact cars that some PDs
are using. Hiding one under a bed or in a cabinet with the horn facing out or
down through a hole would work. I can't even imagine what the sound level
would be like inside an RV!
From: John De Armond
Subject: Burglary protection
Date: Tue, 18 Jan 2005 06:32:51 -0500
Periodically the topic comes up of protecting RVs from burglary. I've
written a couple of articles on this group discussing my thoughts on the
subject and what I've done for my rig.
I'm a strong proponent of active defenses. That is, techniques that
actively foil the burglary attempt rather than just shouting about it.
Unfortunately with the current legal system's active protection of
burglars, most active systems carry some legal risk.
I designed a system for my house in Atlanta that activated military CS
tear gas grenades. This system would have very effectively excluded
burglars but it had some downside risk. A false alarm could have rendered
the house uninhabitable for a long time. CS is actually a powder that
will settle out on things and will "work" again when stirred up.
A couple of these grenades were in the active fire areas of my house fire
and activated. Even after activating in the middle of active flames where
presumably some portion of the gas was burned, it was remarkable how the
"post fire fumes" as the firemen called them, burned the eyes :-(
Around that time in the mid 80s I proposed a system (and discussed it on
the net as it existed back then) that would fill the house with a foul
smelling smoke that would both blind and drive off the burglar. I never
found a suitable vaporant that would both smell bad and easily dissipate.
I did some experiments with very dryly vaporized mineral oil but even that
left a film.
In my restaurant, my active system is sonic. I have several 100 watt
police sirens mounted in various places, designed to create an unbearably
loud sound level. In fact, it is almost unbearable even when wearing
shooting ear muffs. And it did, indeed, work in its first and only
tryout. It foiled a smash-n-grab attempt. The perp tried to get the cash
register but apparently abandoned the attempt before he could get all the
wires loose. Nonetheless the guy did considerable damage inside the place
as he barged in and out.
I want a system, short of bars on the windows, that will keep the perp out
or at least immobilize him. I'd been thinking again about smoke
generation. I even took time to investigate theatrical smoke generators
that use non-toxic propylene glycol (yep, pink stuff) but none that were
even remotely affordable could generate the needed volume fast enough.
Glycol smoke is especially nice because it is completely non-toxic and
odor-free and yet is dense enough and long lasting enough to pretty much
completely immobilize anyone caught in it.
The priority of this project has been bubbling toward the top of my round
tuit heap, especially since my last burglary attempt (dumb crook tried to
throw a concrete block through my Lexan glazed glass door. From the blood
spots, the block had certain boomerang properties :-)
I was surfing the net tonight looking for something else when I happened
upon these guys:
Apparently they had the same idea and went ahead and commercialized it.
The videos on the site make the system look impressive.
The smallest version would seem to be the ideal active defense for an RV.
Even the smallest unit would fill an RV practically instantly. And since
the glycol smoke is non-toxic and odor free and can be breathed normally,
one could hook up a panic button to smoke the place manually if a break-in
was detected while the RV is occupied.
The only technical problem I could see would involve keeping 120vac on the
unit at all times to keep the smoke generator hot. An inverter system
should solve that problem, at least for short periods of time.
The other problem appears to be their marketing plan. They apparently
want to limit sales to "licensed alarm installers". In other words, the
old restraint of trade and price fixing scheme. I'm going to bet the
product will be expensive after it goes through a distributor and then an
I took a brief look around the web and found a Taiwan company
that doesn't appear to have a US presence. I dropped them a note about
sales to the US so we'll see what comes back. I'm going to look some more
later in the day when I get time. I hope I'll be able to find a company
that sells direct. If not then maybe I'll make my own.
From: John De Armond
Subject: Re: Outdoor lights in the Country - What Gives?
Date: Sat, 19 Nov 2005 17:48:31 -0500
On Sat, 19 Nov 2005 12:45:45 GMT, Janet Baraclough
>The message <181120051518165084%shiver@me_timbers.com>
>from Shiver <shiver@me_timbers.com> contains these words:
>> Plus I'd add in a large visible sign with reflective letters near my
>> property line that said something like.... for security reasons you
>> are being video taped and photographed beyond this point.
> You might just as well put up an invitation to break in. Signs like
>that advertise to every passer by "I'm protecting something really
>valuable up here, bet you crooks can't guess what", like having a big
>red burglar alarm box on the outside of the house. The best protection,
>is to have your road entrance/property exterior look downbeat, plain,
>workaday and unremarkable. No notices, no warnings, no cameras, no
>indicators of valuables, and above all, no regular habit-signals (like
>gates left open) that the occupants are either in or out. Thieves
>target properties that display all those useful indicators of wealthy
>owners, nervous or absent occupants, *and previous successful
Unsurprisingly, you're wrong about that. Crime statistics, the advice
of police forces everywhere (including the one I volunteer at) and the
federal government advise that good lighting, alarms and signs are
A quick read of any of the books written by burglars tells you the
same thing. (I highly recommend "Catch me if you can" and "The Art of
the Steal", both by Frank Abgnale) People who make their living
thieving are risk-adverse. They look for the pigeons in a
neighborhood, you know, the unmarked, unlit, unalarmed houses. All
but the very poorest of people own at least a few things of value so a
frumpy house is still a target.
Abgnale describes in "The Art of the Steal" how he and his partner
would recon a neighborhood before going on a thieving spree. They'd
avoid any house with an alarm company sign, whether fake or not. As
is obvious, his logic was, why take any risks when there were so many
other unprotected houses?
Of course, there is no predicting what a smash'n'grab punk will do but
they're not the major concern. It PISSES ME OFF to find something
stolen out of the back of my truck but nothing like coming home and
finding my house cleaned out.
On a personal level, I know that petty theft and vandalism stopped
dead in its tracks at my restaurant when I put up a 1000 watt HID
light and a camera for my parking lot, along with suitable signs
warning of video surveillance. The lot is now lit like daylight 24
hours a day. Anyone who doesn't like it, well WGAS?
>Here, out in the stick rural people just put the name of the
>property at the gate or postbox; they never post the occupants names.
>That's a city-person habit, and just makes it easy for thieves to look
>you up in the local phone book, and ring to see if you're home; or make
>up some pretext for being in the yard.
Fortunately, "there" has nothing to do with here where most folks in
the country still take care of their own problems. I can understand
the theft problem "there", though, considering how cheerily y'all
disarmed yourselves. Thieves have a bit more to fear over on this
side of the pond.
From: John De Armond
Subject: Anti-theft engraving (was Re: Got my stolen Property back)
Date: Sun, 09 Jul 2006 02:08:03 -0400
On 8 Jul 2006 04:49:02 -0700, "Rick Onanian"
>RVer Don wrote:
>> Kevin W. Miller wrote:
>> > contribute to someone interested in ID theft after they've taken your
>> > other belongings. Like the word "EDNOLB" (blonde spelled backwards?)
>> If the police recover the property, for example, how will they know who to
>> notify if you don't have your driver's license number or telephone number on
>> the items?
>They'll call the person who has already reported that their stuff has
>been stolen and is engraved with EDNOLB.
That might be of marginal use if the same department recovers the
goods as took the report. But with as little variation as the city
department taking the report and the county department recovering the
goods, EDNOLB does absolutely nothing other than make the property
clerk wonder WTF that means.
For years I engraved my name and "TN DL#" and then the number. That
has worked well but when I pick a new state as my home, not so good.
The major problem is, of course, that there is no general globally
unique personal locator except the SSN and one wouldn't want that out
in the open (though I don't think it makes much difference anymore.)
I've been putting a lot of thought into this the last few months and
I've discussed some ideas both with a police chief friend and with a
couple of nationally ranked computer security experts with whom I'm
friendly. Here are a few.
If you're a member of MedicAlert (the tiny amount they charge per year
might make it worth being a member just for this application), you can
put your MedicAlert number on the item. Engraving my name and
"MedicAlert #" and then the number is one options I've been
Another option that doesn't cost anything is to engrave your name and
"SSN 123-45-xxxx", the digits being your actual social and the "xxx"
actually being the letters "xxx". With your name and that many digits
of your social, the cops can get the rest easily enough and track you
down without revealing enough of the social to make it an identity
theft risk. As long as you're current with the IRS and SSA, the cops
CAN locate you with the above information.
The MedicAlert option is the easiest for the cops and therefore the
most likely for them to use. All they have to do is call the 800 #,
identify themselves as cops, give the number and MedicAlert will do a
dump of what they have on file. Obviously, you have to keep your
MedicAlert file up to date. (No, this isn't a privacy issue since you
knowingly and voluntarily put what you want in the disclosure database
The masked SSN option is 'automatic' in that your file with the
government is automatically kept up to date with your tax returns but
using the masked number requires the cop to do a tiny bit of extra
work. The good ones will and the lazy ones won't.
Either option will allow you to see your property in a pawn shop or at
a flea market and yell "That thing is bygawd mine!" and then
positively identify it to the cops if calling them becomes necessary.
Yet another "internet savvy" option is to register your name as a
domain name and engrave that domain name as a URL on the objects. A
domain name is just as permanent as you want it to be and the cost,
especially in the non-.com.net.org TLDs is quite small. Even if you
didn't want a formal website, a simple single page site that displays
your name and your current address and phone number (as a GIF so the
spambots can't get it, of course) would do the job. Many of the
registrars give you a tiny bit of web space free with the domain
registration. godaddy.com does, for example.
Technically, you don't even need a web page, as you can leave your
whois registration information public if you like. I prefer to keep
my whois info private so that I can control the disclosure of
information and/or redirect queries to somewhere else.
There is a new top-level-domain, .name, that is intended for just this
purpose, to let individuals have a globally unique location on the
net. Here is a list of registrars that are registering the .name
Guys named John Smith will have to add digits or something to the name
to make it globally unique, of course. www.johnsmith123456.name would
The domain name option has the advantage that both your name and your
globally unique locator are encoded in that one URL. Lots fewer
letters to have to engrave. I think that this is the one I'm going to
One other thing that I've been doing to gadgets that have a battery
compartment, cord compartment or other easily accessible closed space
is to put my name, cell and home phone number along with the statement
"This device belongs to: " in there using my Brother label maker.
This is an adhesive label that is easily removed but I'm betting that
typical burglar looking for something to hock won't bother opening
compartments. The idea is to make it easier for the honest pawn shop
operator and the cops (who usually DO open compartments of recovered
stuff) to find me. If the perp does open the compartment, well, there
is still the engraved number.
With number portability, my cell number is almost permanent but not
quite enough to engrave it, at least not on durable goods.
From: John De Armond
Subject: Re: Got my stolen Property back
Date: Sun, 09 Jul 2006 02:34:57 -0400
On Sat, 08 Jul 2006 10:45:33 -0400, GBinNC <GBinNC@yahoooo.com> wrote:
>On 8 Jul 2006 05:31:28 -0700, "Rick Onanian"
>>Not to mention, maybe the thief will be dumb enough to call the number
>>in hopes of extracting some ransom.
>Or use a reverse lookup to find out your name and start putting data
>together for whatever reason....
This is paranoia bordering on abject stupidity. Whom other than GB
could come up with that one?
The intersection of fine citizens doing smash'n'grabs and those who
are internet savvy is practically nil. Duh.
For those couple perps out there who know how to smash in a window AND
also know what "identity theft" means, let's consider what he already
If he's burgled your home, he knows your name and address.
If he's burgled your vehicle, he knows your tag, at the bare minimum.
Either of those is enough to start finding out who you are.
True, someone receiving stolen goods has no knowledge other than what
is engraved on the object. Is that a risk? Let's get real. There
are LOTS of people who engrave their whole SSNs on their goodies,
forchristsake. To the best of my knowledge, there is no reported
epidemic or even a trickle of cases of identity theft that started
from data available from stolen property.
Then one has to ask one's self this question. Why would any
enterprising entrepreneur operating in the underworld possibly waste
time trying to build a false identity from bits of data found on a
stolen object when all he has to do is prowl neighborhoods looking at
mail, troll the post office trash cans for treasure-troves of personal
information or hell, for that matter, cruise parking lots writing down
tag numbers to hop on the net with?
Let's put this in further perspective. Many times that check that you
write to pay a bill to a mega-corp ends up in the hands of rather
unsavory persons as part of the processing chain. Off-shore data
entry in third worlds. Even prisoners in some places. On that check,
you've handed out your name, address, phone number, many times your
DL# (either printed on the check - dumb or written on) and, OhMyGawd,
YOUR CHECKING ACCOUNT NUMBER! Heck, with that information, all I'd
have to do is get on the net, find a merchant that does pay-by-check
(ACH transfers) and go on a spending spree. There is NO
authentication in an ACH transfer. If the shipping address and the
address on the account is compared then it is done outside the actual
money transfer transaction, quite unlike a CC purchase.
Is there an epidemic of checking account clean-outs going on from this
obvious exposure? If there is neither me nor google can find it. Is
anyone outside the financial industry even thinking about this? Not
that I can tell.
Or how about when you give your credit card over to that sleazeball
restaurant server who just hired on and who is trolling for CC numbers
to sell? After all, that server goes off to who-knows-where, does
who-knows-what and in a few minutes returns with a slip for you to
sign. This is a known established risk and yet we all hand our cards
over in spite of the risk. Despite that being a known risk, there
doesn't seem to be an epidemic of restaurant-sourced CC fraud.
If I ever felt the need to lose sleep over what a thief might do with
the identifying information I engrave on my toys then I have a LOT
more problems than identity theft! Flushing the bats from the belfry,
for one thing. Personally, I'd put that risk right below the risk of
tripping over the white lines on the pavement.
From: John De Armond
Subject: Re: RV vandalized
Date: Tue, 17 Jun 2008 02:12:51 -0400
On Mon, 16 Jun 2008 13:22:09 -0700 (PDT), Tom T <email@example.com> wrote:
>I'm considering the "Elkguard" system (www.elkguard.com). The only
>problem now is they haven't replied to my email of questions. Hope
>they do within a few days. If they don't, that's an indicator their
>customer support sucks and I then will likely go with the "RV Nanny"
>system (www.rvnanny.com). I like both the systems but both have
>pluses and minuses. One things I don't like about the RV Nanny is that
>wiring is required for setup and it uses power from the main battery.
>That is, it's not self contained (my RV is not connected to shore
>power while in storage and I disconnect my battery while in storage).
>Also, it is more expensive. The things I don't like about the Elkguard
>is that they do not sell a strobe light or an external siren alarm and
>the main unit can easily be found and destroyed by an intruder costing
>a bunch of money to replace. That is, at least the RV Nanny can be
>hidden and if the inside siren module is destroyed, it would not cost
>a lot to replace (99 bucks for RV Nanny module replacement vs. 800
>bucks for a replacement of the Elkguard). Both will call via cell
>connection. That's the important thing for me.
I'm working off-line right now (power failure, on emergency power) so I can't
check things out. A few questions/things to think about.
Does the cell notification require a subscription? If so then, considering
how close you said that you are to the storage lot, perhaps you could look at
a business band link? A couple of 5 watt walkie-talkies should do the trick.
Does the cell call you or a monitoring service?
With either system, I'd consider a separate battery and solar charger so that
it would have no effect on the house or cranking system. Some enterprising
thieves might know enough to cut the house wiring cable if it's accessible
from underneath the rig.
You might also consider one of the dry fog obscuration systems that are
available. These fill the protected space with chemical fog so thick that one
literally can't see his own nose. That would halt a smash'n'grab in its
If you get one, you'll want the type with the instant-on heater. Some rely on
keeping a large block of (usually) aluminum hot all the time. The fog liquid
is injected into this block to make the fog. The other type has a heater that
heats instantly, similar to a hot body igniter, and doesn't consume the rather
high standby current that the heated block ones do.
You'd need either a decent sized solar panel or an automatic generator starter
to provide the standby power either of these need.
A second alternative, one that I used successfully in my restaurant, is an
acoustic deterrent. That is, something that produces sound loud enough to
cause physical pain. In my case, that was 2 100 watt police sirens mounted
above the suspended ceiling with the speakers pointing down, flush with holes
in the ceiling.
My system pegged my Rat Shack db meter (140 db max) and I could barely stand
to be in the place even with shooting muffs on. It did, in fact, stop a
smash-and-grab. I set up a two tier system. Glass break detectors and door
switches caused instantaneous activation of the sonic system but did not call
me or my monitoring service. The second tier was motion detectors and
pressure pads at the doors. Those caused a call-out.
The logic involved was that if the sonic system scared the thief off, no need
to roll emergency vehicles or have an alarm call-out charged against me. The
city had fairly heavy fines after 3 call-outs in a year.
In my attempted smash-n-grab, the thief threw a concrete block through a
($500) plate glass window. The police sirens scared him off because nothing
in the second tier was tripped. I programmed the system to call me but not
the monitoring system AFTER the siren reset (10 minutes). This was a
notification that a perimeter/glass break alarm had sounded. If I was out of
town, I could have someone drive by and look for broken windows. I programmed
the system to wait to send the non-critical notification because I didn't want
the risk of the non-critical alarm interfering with a critical one.
It was a total waste of time to roll a cop car on non-felony (<$1000) cases,
as they didn't bother to assign the case a detective. The report went in the
file and was forgotten. I didn't file insurance because I knew the impact it
would have on my rates so I didn't need a police report.
Police sirens are quite cheap used. I picked up a whole box of 'em at a
swapmeet for $20. There are several power levels so if you get one, make sure
that it is 100 watts or more. The behind-the-grill folded horn speaker is the
most compact and would fit well in a MH. I'd mount it on the wall opposite
the door, aimed right at the perp :-)
The nice thing about the siren system is that there is no standby power
requirement. The alarm system's contact closure output actuates a relay that
puts 12 volts from the battery to the siren. It instantly starts making a
The police siren will have another major advantage. It doesn't sound like a
car alarm. Most folks, myself included, actively ignore car alarms, given how
high the false alarm rate is. If you also install a fog system then the
"smoke" rolling out of the rig will likely get a really fast response :-)
From: John De Armond
Subject: Re: OT? Game Cameras: Which Features?
Date: Sat, 09 Aug 2008 04:11:14 -0400
On Fri, 08 Aug 2008 11:39:54 -0800, Jan Flora <firstname.lastname@example.org> wrote:
>We need to set up a remote, motion-triggered camera to catch the people
>who rustle our cattle. We have a hidden gate on our grazing lease and
>folks (yes, we know who) push our cattle through the gate to their barn
>and slaughter them. The State Troopers are less than worthless with this
>Any suggestions on cameras that won't flash, that are easy to conceal in
>a wooded area?
>The list that Ann posted is really interesting. Some of those camera
>models take really crappy pictures and some take great photos. I didn't
>look at prices to see how they compare.
You're going to need more than a game camera. Unless you can channel the
criminal action into a very small area, the odds of getting incriminating
activity in a still short are slim. We recently caught a firewood thief up
here using a game camera but it was mostly luck. Our good luck, her bad luck.
Mountain justice and all that.
You'll want a low light/infrared video camera or three feeding a DVR (digital
video recorder). Security-oriented DVRs can be programmed to only record when
motion is detected and a designated number of minutes on either side of the
Typically a small security DVR supports 4 cameras. The cameras themselves are
cheap. I bought several at Sam's awhile back for $29 ea. This is a color
camera with IR illumination LEDs built in.
You'll probably also need some IR illumination near the gate so as to
adequately "light" the perp's face and his vehicle if one is involved.
Last time I was at Sam's club, they were offering a 4 camera DVR system in the
$thousand-ish range. It's not the best system available nor the best deal but
if a Sam's club is handy then it is too.
You'd want to locate the DVR some distance from the target area (my cameras
came with 100 ft cords) and secure it in a waterproof box along with either
enough batteries to run it for the duration or fewer batteries and a solar
panel. A NEMA 4 or 4X box of adequate size would do the job.
I'd probably bury it just under the surface so that the dirt could be raked
off the unit for access. if you get a DVR with built-in WiFi and you use a
solar panel, you'd never have to access it. Just pass by every so often and
harvest the video via WiFi.
The usual video-tape-based security systems are next to useless, as I
discovered the hard way. I videoed a pair of thieves stealing a refrigeration
condensing unit from my restaurant (about $5k to replace). The cops said that
my tape system was better than usual but they still could not make out the
truck's tag number, nor were the faces clear enough for a positive ID.
Ironically, I had a DVR surveiling the interior of my restaurant. I was more
concerned with fake slip-and-fall stunts than theft of heavy equipment.
One other thing that you might consider is a cow tracking system like modern
dairies use. An ear tag, collar or injected chip goes on each cow and a
wireless proximity system reads the chip as the cow comes and goes from the
A reader on the gate in question, especially if it activates the DVR and sends
you a radio alarm would be great. No idea how much something like this costs
but in general, RFID systems aren't very expensive.
From: John De Armond
Subject: Re: OT? Game Cameras: Which Features?
Date: Mon, 11 Aug 2008 18:34:32 -0400
On Mon, 11 Aug 2008 14:17:28 -0600, cj <email@example.com> wrote:
>> > Then, what does the sensor connect to? Does it require a power source
>> > other than a few batteries? How easy it is to make the sensor either
>> > hardened/indestructible/unstealable or hidden?
>> I'd be surprised if they required as much power as the surveillance
>> systems that have been suggested.
>I agree with that. Having lived in places with no power, it's always
>interesting to see how often people suggest things that just plug into
>that handy outlet that's always in a convenient place...
Then there are those of us who DO know what we're doing and also know how to
balance the cost of catching the perps against the cost of lost cows.
What's a cow worth these days? Several hundred dollars, I assume?
A surveillance system, sufficient batteries to power it overnight and a solar
panel to change them might cost a couple of grand. The result would be,
however, evidence that WOULD stand up in court, evidence collected with no
additional effort on anyone's part.
All this alarm and 'scare 'em away' babble is just that. Put yourself in the
thief's shoes. Maybe the alarm does scare 'em once. Then they'll either
destroy or steal it and come back later. When the do come back, they'll be
much more careful to look for trips. They may also simply cut the fence
Even a silent alarm is worthless unless someone is there to monitor it. Even
if you are, what are you going to do? You've already said that you'd not
shoot anyone. What else? Yell "please quit!"?
With a surveillance system, you get hard evidence. With a game camera, you
might get lucky and get useable evidence but without motion, it's hard to
prove intent. "was he opening the gate to rustle or was he closing it after
finding it open?" Anything else is just jerking off if you're not willing to
Earlier I told of the example where my (then) cheap system didn't work well
enough for a prosecution. It DID work in another instance, stopping a faked
"slip-and-fall" suit in its tracks. I didn't even have to hire a lawyer. When
I got served, I simply took a copy of the tape to the scumbag's lawyer and we
sat there and looked at it together. We watched the "victim" toy with some
spilled liquid with his toe after moving the "wet floor sign". Then we
watched him back up a step and slide through the liquid, falling with great
fanfare and noise, making sure there were witnesses, of course. Even
scumsucker lawyers don't bet on lost causes. The suit evaporated.
But hey, they're not my cows. Play around with whatever you like. I simply
thought you were soliciting serious advice and actually wanted to stop the
rustling. Go figure.