The old house was set back in a field, far away from the single winding road that passed through this rural landscape. It was late on a dark night; only the stars shining through the heavily foliated trees provided any light. Suddenly, there was an unexpected hard knock at the front door, startling the unsuspected family inside.

This sounds like the beginning of a horror story, but it actually happened. The stranger’s knock at the door that night turned out to be a wonderful adventure with a very happy ending. This country house is set back 1/8 mile from the road and accessible only from a narrow gravel driveway. The drive is shared with another nearby house for a short distance entering from the main road, then forks with one path leading to the clients home. Occasionally, someone gets lost and drives along the wrong path and startles the client. I thought the simple solution would be to install a motorized entry gate but the clients wanted to preserve the openness and country appeal, having moved from a dense urban environment. So, I put on my engineering hat and sketched out a concept using a driveway alarm, with its magnetic field sensor buried in the ground beside the driveway and detects interruptions to the Earth’s magnetic field caused by moving steel (i.e. a car).  This is far more reliable than motion detectors and other systems that frequently experience false alarms caused by animals and blowing objects. The driveway sensor would be the trigger that would start a sequence of events and, ultimately, include two rugged outdoor video cameras (one looking at the upper driveway entrance, the other down at the parking area), lighting along the driveway and outdoor flood lights at the parking area.

You might ask: “How does this work”? When the driveway alarm sensor is tripped, an audible WAV file is played in the house announcing “driveway, driveway, driveway”  through the built-in speaker in a touchpanel that displays the video cameras.  The first video camera catches the vehicle on the initial driveway approach, while the second garage area camera is timed to display in approximately 20 seconds (EDG tested this with several people and different vehicles to see how long it would take to reach the parking area).

The four step sequence:

  1. Turn on driveway lights at night
  2. Play audible recordings at touchpanels (“Car is in the driveway,” etc.)
  3. Pull up driveway cameras on screen
  4. Send Email Alert
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