DIY Moving Truck Alarm (and light-hacking)

Some guys built an alarm system to protect their fully-loaded moving truck from getting burglarized. This is also neat on a conceptual level: Compared with a commercial alarm, a DIY alarm carries two advantages if it’s well designed.

It’s an unknown quantity to the adversary, something for which they’ll have to develop a bespoke bypass. This increases the odds their bypass will suffer a wardrobe malfunction during the crime.

It also has no connection a large alarm company — though this means it lacks monitoring infrastructure, it also means it isn’t vulnerable to alarm company corruption adding (critical) security holes.

Remember all the reasons not to trust a large organization? They apply to alarm companies too, only doubly so thanks to the criminal payoff.

Light hacking: Right, so I talked about swapping fluorescents (awful color spectrum, pulsing at frequencies bits of your mind can perceive) for halogen/incandescents. It turns out you can get even more done by messing with how you place lights around the room.

The idea is to give your eyes lighting conditions they like, so they aren’t wasting energy and brainpower — it’s both surprising just what they can compensate for, and what the mental cost is of doing so — trying to make up for crappy overhead fluorescents.

(this is also a pretty foolproof formula for being able to take decent photos of people anywhere in the room)

– Diffuse your lights. A big (2 meter by 2 meter) sheet of translucent plastic is ideal, but unwieldy enough that it’s only for the hardcore. In a pinch you can point the light at the wall instead, but be mindful that you’ll need to bump up the wattage.

– Top down ceiling light sucks. Overhead fluorescents are my least favorite light ever, and you probably hate them too without knowing it. Light that comes from high on the walls is nicest, but some lower lights around the room keep things interesting.

– There’s only one sun in the sky, and so there should always be a direction from whence the brightest light comes. Pick a wall and point more lights at it than any other wall. This doesn’t mean you should have all your light come from one direction. (in fact, you want to be able to see things in the ‘shadows’ just as well, which is the whole point of scattering lights around the room.) Just have the light from one direction be brighter than all the other directions.

– Too much to think about? Put three halogen lights in a triangle around the room, point them at the walls, make sure they’re bright enough you can see well, and make one of them brighter than the rest.

“Summary:To protect our moving truck (with all of our things inside) on the night before our move I used a WiFi-enabled Arduino and a motion sensor to to create a DIY alarm system that would trigger if someone opened the loading door on the truck.”


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