Home Protection with Raspberry Pi

Planning to go on a vacation, but afraid of who will look after your home for you? Worry not, for the mighty Raspberry Pi (RBPi) is here. Not only will RBPi look after your entire house, it will send you an email of what is happening in your home and let you see it on your mobile or on a PC. How cool is that?

Most alarm systems incorporate three primary sensors. The first is a temperature sensor to detect the rise in temperature in case of a fire. The second is an intrusion detection sensor to detect if an intruder has gained access to the insides of the house and third is a motion detection sensor. Apart from these primary sensors, you may add smoke detectors and cameras according to your necessity.

The software consists mainly of a database to store all the events with a time stamp, a dashboard to display the status of the sensors, configure them and to program the alarm system. The Raspberry Pi also acts as a web-server to send email alerts and to display the dashboard on a remote computer or Smartphone.

Depending on the size of the home, its vulnerability and the number of sensors being used, you could divide the area into a number of zones. This makes it easier to arm the sensors belonging to a specific zone. For example, a door and few windows of your home may be facing a busy street during the day and you may decide not to arm the sensors in this zone in the daytime. As night falls, the street gets deserted and you may want the sensors in that zone to be armed for the night.

Dividing the home into zones also has the advantage of knowing in which area or areas the alarm has been triggered. The camera for that zone can then be switched on to assess the situation visually.

Since RBPi runs on Linux, and Linux multitasks very well, the software runs in the background. The software is programmed to wake up RBPi about once every minute and check in on each of the armed sensors in all the zones. If there is no activity, it simply updates the logs for the database and the dashboard and goes back to sleep.

If a sensor trips, or generates an activity, Raspberry Pi records it in its logs, and sends you an email with the details. The dashboard then indicates the alarm condition in the zone where the alarm originated. You have a choice of turning off the alarm after checking it out.

You can login to the server from a remote PC using a username and a password. The web-browser will display the dashboard and a green button lets you know that the RBPi is running your home alarm software and is transmitting the information from the sensors. If the alarm system goes down for some reason, or there is a problem with the connectivity between the Raspberry Pi and your computer, this green button will turn red within a minute. You can now proceed to test, arm or disarm the sensors in each zone. For details of software and setup, refer here.