PrivateEyePi – a DIY home alarm system

A big thank you to Recantha for spotting this one: PrivateEyePi is a project that went straight on my “I MUST make one of these” list when I saw it. Right now, that list includes an aerial Pi and camera board with the IR filter removed to take pictures of Iron Age sites in inaccessible bits of Cornish moorland; an Airplay-alike MagicPlay receiver; a garden irrigator and an Ambilight clone for the TV. I need a holiday so I can work on all this stuff – there just aren’t enough hours in the day.

PrivateEyePi is an open, configurable, automatable home alarm system that you can build and program yourself. Its maker (identified only as “Gadjet Nut”) has documented the whole system minutely and provides parts lists and pricing; wiring schematics; and all the code you’ll need. You can use motion detectors, or switches attached to doors, or a mixture of the two. There are instructions on adding cameras to the setup, and you can even add a temperature gauge to check on whether your central heating’s working when you’re away. You’ll be able to monitor everything via your computer or smart phone.

Even if you’re not an experienced electronics hacker, this project is very approachable, with clear instructions, great diagrams and an easy learning curve; beginners should feel at home here.

Click on the images to visit the PrivateEyePi project, and let us know if you decide to hack your own alarm system together.

A word of warning here: your home contents insurer may not recognise an alarm system you have made yourself under the terms of your insurance agreement – if you’re going to use this in earnest (and there is no reason why you should not – it’ll do the same job as an expensive, off-the-shelf alarm), it’s best to check first that it won’t affect your premiums. And if you’re disconnecting existing alarm equipment, be aware that in some places there are laws which require you to have a licensed electrician do the work for you. 

23 comments

Mikel-ange Adelson avatar

maybe some will integrate ugv into the perimeter mix.have them circle the house once or twice a day.

John-Paul avatar

Brilliant Idea.

I think the most difficult part of having a drone circle the house would be figuring out how to recharge it automatically. Though you could possibly mount a small solar panel for trickle charging.

Blayzeing avatar

I’ve been trying to work this out too, at the moment the best I’ve come up with is an external ‘slot’ for the drone to align with, then charge on. Of course, the weather certainly poses a bit of a threat.

Mabee avatar

This could be done with wireless charging. Such technology as used in some smartphones. Controls could be sent via a pad mounted on a roof or porch, which would also have a wireless charging station.

Max Packard avatar

The Raspberry Pi is simply amazing. I have stumbled upon many articles illustrating the different uses for the Raspberry Pi. It seem like the uses are endless, as in integrates with many other devices and components. The DIY Home Alarm system is brilliant!

Son Hoang avatar

1 Raspberry PI control numbers of individual circuit in different locations and control XBMC at the same time with Voice Control. Check my project out
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QqjTdJfLlME

tzj avatar

Sweet, this would be great for hackspaces!

lheures avatar

I have tried this and it is very nice, I just don’t like the fact that the site is hosted outside. I would be really nice to have it hosted on the Raspberry Pi itself. Since I have a Asterisk server I am not concerned if I loose internet connectivity at least then the Alarm system can make a phone call. That is my only peeve. Other than that works great really fast easy to install and get running. Lets see if we can get a door lock and key pass working on this :)

Tom avatar

I agree. It would be nice if this “Gadjet Nut” person would open source the server-side code and post it on github (or similar) so it’s forkable.

Jim Manley avatar

Since the Python code for the Pi is available, you can pretty readily see what’s being done and reverse-engineer the server side functionally. You do want an off-Pi server though, if for no other reason than to maintain a heartbeat monitor to ensure it’s running OK, because what happens if the Pi or power fails, or it’s circumvented? I’m not so hot on someone else’s server interacting with my security system on a server I have no access or control over. Did anyone notice the server doesn’t even use Secure Sockets Layer (SSL, e.g., no https in the server URLs in the Python script), and it appears that HTTP GET is being used (instead of more secure POST), where the user ID and password are being passed in the URL in the clear … and so that’s how it’s going over the Intertubes? That doesn’t instill much confidence to curmudgeons like me.

I probably wouldn’t run security-related code in Python anyway – it’s fine for prototyping, but I would convert it to C or something else that raises the barrier one more step in sophistication. It’s a good start on an educational project that students should be encouraged to harden, though, so kudos to the developer for the effort so far, for free.

AndrewS avatar

Did anyone notice the server doesn’t even use Secure Sockets Layer (SSL, e.g., no https in the server URLs in the Python script), and it appears that HTTP GET is being used (instead of more secure POST), where the user ID and password are being passed in the URL in the clear … and so that’s how it’s going over the Intertubes? That doesn’t instill much confidence to curmudgeons like me.

Crikey. I guess that means a man-in-the-middle attack (or somebody scanning your unencrypted wifi connection) could easily sniff your credentials and remotely disable your alarm system?

Jonathan avatar

Thatnks for that observation. It was on our “to do” list, but accelerated into production after this post. So I’m glad to announce SSL support now available. All the best, Jonathan (GadjetNut)

Dauhee avatar

It will also have access to your webcam as part of the future development. Think I would give this a skip.

Alex Eames (RasPi.TV) avatar

There’s nothing to stop you taking the bits of it that you want to use and modifying it to avoid the bits you don’t like the look of.

Personally, I would never publish the code of an alarm system I was planning to use myself. Likewise, using an “off-the-shelf” solution like this, it would be wise to tweak it anyway.

It’s going to be much harder to crack your system if nobody else knows how it works. ;)

AndrewS avatar

Security through obscurity you mean? ;-)

Ufoguy avatar

I really LOLed at this one. But some times obscurity indeed gives security. That is why Microchip doesn’t release details about it’s Car remote unlock chips.

mrpi64 avatar

Is it realy that reliable? If so, the militar will be buying them up soon. “We would like 50,000 Raspberry Pi’s to contain into tanks to provide a reliable targetting computer.”

Pgrf avatar

To be honest an off the shelf professional alarm panel is not expensive £50-£100 tops, so why not try a proper alarm panel alongside the raspi alarm system to bypass any fears of people hacking into your alarm system, a sort of hybrid?

Niels avatar

I was thinking this when I read it, I have an old Abacus alarm in my house, it would be great to use say the dialler output pins to check it’s state from anywhere in the world.

Not everyone has the money for BT Redcare and it would be a nice option to send an email/SMS if there’s an issue at home.

Now where did I leave that handbook?………..

Woldemar avatar

Good idea! Last month I think about it. I find PIR sensor and other components on ebay. For secrets I’m planning static IP address for Raspberry and static address for server on the DigitalOcean, for example.

ds21 avatar

Has anyone configured this to send an SMS or IM text if the alarm is triggered? Would really like to do away with my alarm company. All they really do for $$$/month is make a phone call when an event is triggered. Seems like the pi should be able to do this easily. Of course, if someone cuts my internet phone/cable it is not going work, but neither is my alarm.

Dave avatar

Hey All,
just a noob to all this Pi stuff and found this.
http://makezine.com/video/pilarm-how-to-build-a-raspberry-pi-room-alarm/
I would love to incorporate this room alarm into an existing car alarm as well as try to get the Pi to output to a dedicated, off service android phone that could still call 911 while taking a pic of the perpetrator and then allow tracking via GPS for police to follow/track. Anyone working on a project of this nature and does this even sound possible?
TIA for any/all replies!

Tony avatar

Hi,

I’ve done something similar myself details at http://oddwires.co.uk/?page_id=52

Full server side code is on Github at https://github.com/oddwires/oddwires-alarm-system
and I opened a forum topic at http://www.raspberrypi.org/phpBB3/viewtopic.php?p=357363#p357363
And a video of the thing in operation on YouTube at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BQ7hbFnG … detailpage

The intention is that the system should run alongside an existing, commercially available DVR security camera system, and the two systems seem to complement each other quite nicely.

It’s still a work in progress, so the security needs tightening up, (SSL, file permissions etc.) and I’m considering a UPS power supply to keep the alarm, camera’s and router going in the case of a power failure. But realistically speaking, I haven’t seen the power go off for more than 2 minutes in the last 20 years, so I’m willing to take the hit on that.

but the project has got a few good ideas…
• self-monitored through an iPhone
• remote light switches
• scheduled tasks
• unusual interface to remote control mains switches

Comments are closed