Gate - world's first zwave mailbox sensor

Hi, MCV,
If you ever wanted to secure your mailbox by installing a mailbox sensor that has a long range and is solar powered, here is your chance to make it happen by supporting this Kickstarter. It took us over 2 years to create this. We tested it with Vera and it works. https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1038424215/gate-the-worlds-first-true-smart-mailbox
We hope some of you will find this useful.
Please support us.

Seems like this has utility in a very limited situation because of a few reason…

  1. In the US, Majority (largest %) of homes no longer have individual mailboxes
  2. Could accomplish the same with with a $30 tilt sensor or door/window sensor + setting a variable using a scene/script on your automation platform.
  3. very expensive

While I’m sure it works great, it don’t see any tech savvy Home automation people getting this. I do see some (old) people in very rural areas with large distances from their home and box… but even many of those are PO Boxes these days and don’t get individual delivery.

Aaron, thanks for your analyses

Looks like you’ve done a nice job with it. One question–does it work like a tilt sensor or a door sensor? Our mailbox opens like a door, so curious if it would work in that situation. If so, I could see this could be useful in other locations where longer range would be useful, if you can get the price down. We have a number of gates where we just can’t get consistent signals from a wireless sensor.

tb001,
It’ll work like a door sensor too (vertical axis).
What price point do you have in mind?

[quote=“zwavefan, post:5, topic:187227”]tb001,
It’ll work like a door sensor too (vertical axis).
What price point do you have in mind?[/quote]

Good question. I would have probable spent up to 150 to have a reliable sensor on our main gate. We just broke down and upgraded the gate controller unit to one that will work with MyQ (at a cost of ~500) in order to get reliable signal and operation. If you could get it under 100, I could see installing them at multiple points around the property where wireless/battery operated sensors don’t seem to have sufficient range. Not sure if you could have one receiver handling multiple sensors?

Out of curiousity, can you get enough power off the solar panel to power a motor drive? I think someone here has built a prototype of a gate lock, but getting the power to it was wonky. Seemed like there was a fair bit of interest in a pre made solution.

tb001, can you get electrical specs on that lock motor? we can calculate it.
$100 price is possible with mass production, but not at this stage

I think this is the thread I was thinking of:

http://forum.micasaverde.com/index.php/topic,25360.0/wap2.html

[quote=“zwavefan, post:1, topic:187227”]Hi, MCV,
If you ever wanted to secure your mailbox by installing a mailbox sensor that has a long range and is solar powered, here is your chance to make it happen by supporting this Kickstarter. It took us over 2 years to create this. We tested it with Vera and it works. https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1038424215/gate-the-worlds-first-true-smart-mailbox
We hope some of you will find this useful.
Please support us.[/quote]

Hello Zwavefan,

with all respect but this is not a new idea. Yes, it looks like much nicer and it has apps for IOS and Android but if you remove those you can buy a similar product today on Amazon.

I actually bought this device and it does have about 400 feet range with no obstacles in the line of sight. Unfortunately I have 2 houses in the line of sight from my home to the shared community mailboxes. I sent it back as it didn’t do the job.

The kickstarter project speaks to a range of 100 feet or up to 500 feet without obstacles. Zwave doesn’t go 100 feet. The best range is about 60 feet but your antenna on the home station might do the trick for the 100 feet distance.

With that said, my failure with the mail chime product made me investigate and I purchased Arduino Unos with Xbee Pros. The reason I bought those is the 900MHz frequency. The lower the frequency the better your chances are to penetrate through houses or other obstacles. In this case you choosing 915Mhz was the right choice.

My experience with those showed that I could go up to 600 feet distance without obstacles but as soon as you have houses in between the game changes. I could go through one house but not through 2 houses.

Another major factor is your antenna on each device. The small whip antennas are useless for such a project and the same for the chip antennas. The small elbow antennas are good enough for inhouse range and the medium and long elbow antennas will provide the distance I quoted above but still not good enough.

Anyhow, in summary I don’t think that this product will succeed for the following reasons in priority order:
A) there is already a much cheaper competitive product out there
B) the price is WAY too high
C) the distance is limited to 100 feet which in my neighborhood would make this product useful for one or two houses only out of let’s say 24 per community mailbox
D) those community mailboxes are not owned by the house owners and there is no way to make holes in those to attach the solar panel
E) you should be very careful when you sell those devices in the future because when I was talking to my mail lady, she was glad that I told her about my intentions because you can imagine what a mail man or mail lady will think when he/she wants to deliver mail and when she opens the mailboxes, she will see a black box with a red blinking light. You don’t want to be in the news for having had the bomb squad in your neighborhood.

The good news about this kickstarter product:

  1. apps for IOS and Android
  2. Integration into Home Automation devices

One last comment: If you have a goal of $10.000 on Kickstarter and a total of 10 backers were one backer paid $10.000, this sounds very fishy to me. Wish you the best with this product but I will not become a customer.

[quote=“Pseudomizer, post:9, topic:187227”][quote=“zwavefan, post:1, topic:187227”]Hi, MCV,
If you ever wanted to secure your mailbox by installing a mailbox sensor that has a long range and is solar powered, here is your chance to make it happen by supporting this Kickstarter. It took us over 2 years to create this. We tested it with Vera and it works. https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1038424215/gate-the-worlds-first-true-smart-mailbox
We hope some of you will find this useful.
Please support us.[/quote]

Hello Zwavefan,

with all respect but this is not a new idea. Yes, it looks like much nicer and it has apps for IOS and Android but if you remove those you can buy a similar product today on Amazon.

I actually bought this device and it does have about 400 feet range with no obstacles in the line of sight. Unfortunately I have 2 houses in the line of sight from my home to the shared community mailboxes. I sent it back as it didn’t do the job.

The kickstarter project speaks to a range of 100 feet or up to 500 feet without obstacles. Zwave doesn’t go 100 feet. The best range is about 60 feet but your antenna on the home station might do the trick for the 100 feet distance.

With that said, my failure with the mail chime product made me investigate and I purchased Arduino Unos with Xbee Pros. The reason I bought those is the 900MHz frequency. The lower the frequency the better your chances are to penetrate through houses or other obstacles. In this case you choosing 915Mhz was the right choice.

My experience with those showed that I could go up to 600 feet distance without obstacles but as soon as you have houses in between the game changes. I could go through one house but not through 2 houses.

Another major factor is your antenna on each device. The small whip antennas are useless for such a project and the same for the chip antennas. The small elbow antennas are good enough for inhouse range and the medium and long elbow antennas will provide the distance I quoted above but still not good enough.

Anyhow, in summary I don’t think that this product will succeed for the following reasons in priority order:
A) there is already a much cheaper competitive product out there
B) the price is WAY too high
C) the distance is limited to 100 feet which in my neighborhood would make this product useful for one or two houses only out of let’s say 24 per community mailbox
D) those community mailboxes are not owned by the house owners and there is no way to make holes in those to attach the solar panel
E) you should be very careful when you sell those devices in the future because when I was talking to my mail lady, she was glad that I told her about my intentions because you can imagine what a mail man or mail lady will think when he/she wants to deliver mail and when she opens the mailboxes, she will see a black box with a red blinking light. You don’t want to be in the news for having had the bomb squad in your neighborhood.

The good news about this kickstarter product:

  1. apps for IOS and Android
  2. Integration into Home Automation devices

One last comment: If you have a goal of $10.000 on Kickstarter and a total of 10 backers were one backer paid $10.000, this sounds very fishy to me. Wish you the best with this product but I will not become a customer.[/quote]

I have to agree with all of the above. Altho I don’t live in a community and I own my mail box I would not purchase this for most of the reasons above. Also several houses around me have in door mail slots and all have mailboxes closer then 100ft. Also I have an alarm panel tied to vera and my wireless sensors reach much further then z-wave. They cost as low as 18.00 a sensor on ebay.
I’m not saying everyone is in my shoes, but monitoring the mail main is not worth 200 to 250.00 and I can do it for less then 20.00 in my case anyways.

Thanks everybody for their feedback.
Looks like we’ll have to cancel this Kickstarter campaign and relaunch with lower price and higher dollar goal.

“E) you should be very careful when you sell those devices in the future because when I was talking to my mail lady, she was glad that I told her about my intentions because you can imagine what a mail man or mail lady will think when he/she wants to deliver mail and when she opens the mailboxes, she will see a black box with a red blinking light. You don’t want to be in the news for having had the bomb squad in your neighborhood.”

I have to agree, in the post 911 world, this is the first thing I thought of too, so I can imagine what someone delivering mail would think… I think it would need to be more hidden and blend in with the mailbox, IE keep the main unit somewhere on the back out of site