I recently submitted an idea for the Ultimate Raspberry Pi Bundle Roadtest. Unfortunately, I wasn't selected, but I will still execute my project and describe it here.

The project I plan to work on takes the Santa Catcher from previous Roadtest a few steps further.

I would like to create a home security and automation system capable of the following:


  • the system should simulate someone’s presence even though no-one’s at home (when leaving on holidays for example)
  • the system should detect unwanted visitors
  • it should be possible to (de)activate the security system (remotely)
  • it should scare away intruders and immediately notify the owner of the house


Following paragraphs cover the different aspects of the project in more detail.




In the Santa catcher, I used the PiFace CAD purely as an IR receiver and display for the (de)activation of the system. For this project, I would like to use the actual control feature of the PiFace CAD or those of the Adafruit RGB LCD and Keypad kit.


Via the LCD and buttons, I plan to provide menu navigation and the possibility to trigger certain actions such as (de)activating the security system, but also verify the state of the different sensors around the house (more on that in next paragraph), etc ...

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Adafruit RGB LCD and Keypad kit





It is important for a security system to monitor not just a single room, but also every possible point of entry.


The camera will play a big role in this, as it is possible to generate evidence by creating recordings of what is happening.

It should be able to work at night, so I'll be testing further with IR lighting, in order to improve the results of my initial tests.

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Pi NoIR, switch & PIR sensor


Unfortunately, this will only cover a single room.

That's why in addition to the camera, a number of wireless sensors placed at key locations around the house will be in charge of covering the rest of the house. The sensors would most likely be a mix or even combination of motion detectors and switches (to detect open doors/windows) coupled to an RF transmitter. When the sensors are triggered, they should report the changed state to the central unit: the Raspberry Pi.


The pi would have to listen for such events and trigger appropriate actions.



Alarming and notification


In the unlikely case an intruder is present (and detected !), an alarm should be sounded to scare the intruder away and the owner should be warned immediately.


The PiFace Digital’s relay would be used as a switch for a high power siren, making it impossible for the intruder to stay in the house, forcing him to flee.

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PiFace Digital


For the notification part and the fact it should be immediate, I’m thinking of a cellular shield type of solution capable of sending text messages or even calling. This should attract the attention immediately, compared to emails, tweets or other notifications that would require the owner of the house to be connected to the internet at all times.

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Arduino GSM Shield





Potential intruders might be driving around the neighbourhood looking for houses without activity. In order to be a less likely target, the security system could simulate the presence of people in the house.


The presence would be simulated by different things:

  • turning lights on and off
  • occasional background sounds


For the lights, I was thinking of controlling them wirelessly from the pi by means of wireless 433MHz on/off switches. This could be time based, but with some randomness in order to avoid clear patterns, or it could be based on a light sensor turning lights on when it’s getting dark.


Elro Wireless Power Socket RF433


For the occasional background sounds, playing some internet radio during the day will do just fine.





Security systems need to be very reliable, otherwise, what good are they ?  This means the system will need to be tested thoroughly.

To do that, I would like to involve my daughter once again. We had a lot of fun with the previous Roadtest and I’m sure we will again.


We’ll turn this project into a game where she has to play intruder and try to enter our house without being caught.

I prepared her outfit and some tools for the job ... she was very excited!

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Burglar for hire

Ok ... perhaps we'll forget about the tools before she starts getting certain ideas ...


Stay tuned for part 2 in which I'll start building/coding on this project!