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Side Tent Security Question

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    Joe MattissonParticipant

    After a very nasty experience in a respected and ostensibly secure KZN resort I need to secure my side tent against further burglary/theft. (And the rest of the caravan while I’m about it.)

    Can anyone out there offer some good advice on how to do this? I’m not too worried about when I’m close by since I have no compunction about taking care of any thief in a face-to-face situation, but I’m often away from the camp, and that’s when my stuff is most vulnerable.

    Thanks in advance.

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    Simon Tasman
    Simon Tasman on

    There’s been some discussion about this on another thread on this forum – I think it was the one about gas alarms.

    I’ve had the same problem as you, Joe, my tent cleaned out while I was in away in town. I put in the extension to my leveler control from Dactyltech, but I know it comes as a standalone box as well. The problem for me was twofold. First to detect intruders without lots of useless false alarms, second was getting notification on my cellphone.

    There’s 3 types of detectors I thought of using, each with some pros as well as cons. A PIR will only work in a tent that flaps or shakes in the wind if you mount it looking downwards at the floor from the ridgepole. If it looks at the tent walls you get false alarms every time the wind blows. But mounting it on the ridge pole means you need to cable it back to the control unit, which is a bit of a hassle. A PIR can cover quite a big area in you tent and won’t false alarm unless it starts swinging.

    Other than that I wanted to put a pressure sensitive mat under a rubber sheet near anything that might want to get stolen, but right now there’s no stock in the country of the right stuff for the job. I hear there is stock on the way though. A pressure mat is pretty resistant to false alarms, but it is always smaller than you want it to be. And quite expensive by the look of things.

    I also have a sonic, or ultrasonic, scanner on the outside wall of my caravan and a plastic curtain like they use with shower stalls to bounce the sound pulse back to the scanner. Anybody walks between the two, or moves the curtain, it sets the thing off. A bit more prone to false alarms, especially if you make the gap to the curtain more than 2 metres. Also it needs a quite sophisticated control unit to time the sound pulses and measure the echoes from the curtain.

    The important part of the whole setup is the control unit, which can send text SMS messages to my phone as long as I’m in range of a cellphone tower. My box also comes with a couple of LPG detectors, and water meters which you may not need or want, and four more alarm zone inputs for magnetic door switches etc. I think the standalone has all this stuff also, and it’ll be a lot cheaper.

    I hope this helps you. Check out the other thread, I think there might be a link to their website there also.

    Cheers and good luck.

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    Fyko
    Fyko on

    Hanging a downward-looking PIR from the ridgepole is a really good idea.

    I had some feedback from another user this week who did this as well. He first narrowed the PIR’s field of view to about 45 degrees by masking the edges of the window. This reduces the background reception and makes the PIR relatively more sensitive to targets seen from above, where the profile of a person is going to be smaller, just the top of the head and the shoulders.

    He received the alarm SMS on his phone when he was only half a kilometer from his camp and he immediately turned around and went back, and found his tent full of monkeys! He reckons that what he saved here in damage already covers the cost of the whole system, and he’s had it for less than a month.

    So a PIR is useful in a side tent after all, you just need a bracket to secure it firmly to the pole so it doesn’t swing. And limiting the view angle to the 3 or 4 square metres directly below the sensor seems to be quite important also.

    (I’ll be offering a cable and plug system to make the implementation more quick and easy. As it is now you need to run 4 wires back into the caravan – 2 for +12V/Gnd, and 2 for the Zone input on the controller. We’ll mount a 4-pin weather proof female plug on the side of the van and provide a 3M trailing cable with a male for the PIR side.)

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    Fyko
    Fyko on

    UPDATE:

    We, this is as many users as I could get involved in this, have done quite a bit of work on this over the past week, and the results are most promising.

    I’ve been supplying the quick-mount brackets in the pic below to clip the PIR onto a 1″ roof pole to all who asked for them. The men involved used their own-sourced PIRs, but I’m in the process of testing 4 different types, all of which work quite well and all of which cost less then R160 (not including delivery).

    The PIR in the simplest form that we use it is very light and these brackets can be glued on if you don’t want to drill holes for screws.

    Once the tent is erected it takes about 10 seconds to clip this to the roof pole and plug the trailing cable into a female socket on the caravan side wall, and it’s just as quick when packing up again.

     

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    Joe Mattisson
    Joe Mattisson on

    Should I be using a PIR that is advertised as being ‘pet-friendly’?

    They seem to be the most readily available type.

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    Fyko
    Fyko on

    Should I be using a PIR that is advertised as being ‘pet-friendly’?

    No.

    Pet-friendly PIR seek to desensitize some or all of the view window so as to prevent alarms being generated by small animals.

    We on the other hand limit the view window by applying reflective tape to the areas on the lens we don’t want the PIR to look at. The areas we don’t mask off are where we want maximum sensitivity, particularly sensitivity to small animals since monkeys are a far more likely intruders than humans.

    By limiting the view window to just a critical section of the floor area we can:

    • Eliminate false alarms from elsewhere in the tent,
    • Increase the sensitivity in the target area to ensure nothing is too small to be missed.

    We’re currently evaluating a number of different PIRs that are the most commonly available, none of which so far cost more than R160 and I’ll be able to supply the model numbers of those that work the best.

    We’ll also be stocking some of the most successful types for those guys that live in the sticks and aren’t served well by deliveries.

     

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    Joe Mattisson
    Joe Mattisson on

    This is a Pyronix KX15ED. Made in England not China. Costs R160 incl. VAT. It takes a 4-wire cable (that’s taped to the back of the pole). I still have it wired direct to the Dactyltech SMS generator control box, but I’ll put in a connector for a quick-disconnect next.

    You can see that the sensor is angled at 10 degrees to the right, which allows me to hang it closer to the caravan than if it looked straight downwards, but it doesn’t see the tent wall at all.

    It pick up small animals like dogs, and therefore also monkeys, without fail and hasn’t had a false alarm yet. I haven’t masked off any of the view pane yet because it’s not been necessary.

    This unit has 2 sensitivity settings, I’ve set mine to the most sensitive because monkeys are my big problem here. If I ever start picking up false alarms I’ll first narrow the view area down a bit before I make it less sensitive, but so far it works perfectly well.

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    Simon Tasman
    Simon Tasman on

    I found one of those at Communica in Midrand, and tried it now for a few days. Works really well for me too. I hung it a half metre from the caravan wall and it covers the floor area all the way to the tent wall, no way to get past without being detected. And so far no false alarms either.

    I see the chip shortage is starting to bite here too. You can hardly get control units anymore. The waiting list is going into a couple of months now. Guys I know wanting to get ready for December may not get their stuff in time.

    BTW. The newest phones don’t have an orientation sensor inside them anymore – they only have an accelerometer sensor, which means you need to upgrade the app if you have the leveling installed. The latest version of the Caravan app supports the accelerometer sensor. Also if you have a bubble level or a protractor app, you need to get the version that works with the accelerometer sensor.

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    Fyko
    Fyko on

    You’re right. That PIR is one of the 3 best suited for our purpose that we’ve tested. So much so that they’ve run out of stock; but there are others that do the job just fine, so not to worry – there’s always an alternative.

    There’s not really a chip shortage such as the motor industry is facing, we’re still OK with getting supplies for now. What you should remember is that this device is first and foremost for sending SMS messages if gas is detected, secondarily for detecting and SMS reporting of intruders, and lastly a water tank level monitor.

    Because of the safety aspect of the gas detection alarm and reporting, which we see as being more important, we prioritise those requests if there is a production capacity issue, which there may be from time to time.

    BTW, the mobile network operators now cancel any SIM that they don’t make any money from after 3 months of inactivity, not 6 months as before. So spend 30 cents sending yourself a test SMS at least every 3 months. In fact all it takes is a tiny blast from a BIC lighter to set the gas detector off and give yourself peace of mind that you’re protected.

    That’s worth 30 cents I reckon, so do it every day.

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