South Africa
Asked — Edited

Security Light Project

Hi All & DJ Sures

I signed up about a year and a half ago with the intent of building a voice activated home automation system, but never got around to pursuing the project. I have been caught up in my workshop building model steam engines.

So the reason for my return is to get your input on a feasibility study for a security spot light tracking project i would like to try build using the EZ robot. Our model steam train club has been under attack from copper/metal thieves (in Cape Town, South Africa) and i have been trying to think up ways of scaring off these thieves as the police don't have the time or motivation to help us with the problem. While i would love to put a paint ball gun on the turret (this could cause legal issues) i think spot light would work as they would feel like they are being watched (i could also try identify them with the video footage).

So do think i will be able to build the following (having no electronics/robotics/programming experience) with the EZ Robot system:

  1. Turret system holding a high power spot light and infra red video camera.
  2. Ability to activate the spotlight when movement is detected and track the movement.
  3. Remotely access the video stream via web browser
  4. E-mail alerts on movement
  5. Have different positions, ie check one part of the premises then turn and check another part then turn back and check the first part again. (this would be a nice to have)

A couples of the challenges i will have to overcome (besides the robotics side of it) would be making the system weather proof and protecting the turret itself from being stolen.

Should the community think the above is possible (which i believe it is after following the development of EZ Robot since DJ Sures first posted Walle back in the day on Hack A Day:), i will do a detailed build log for others to see how anyone can build the robot of their dreams!

Look forward to hearing your thoughts!


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United Kingdom

I'm sure that is possible. The only point that I don't think ARC could cover is emailing on alerts (although it can tweet).

Also, if it has a high power spot light why would an IR video camera be required? The spot light should illuminate the movement for a normal camera to see clearly (and give a better image).

The turret would be simple enough, a simple pan/tilt should do the trick. Activating the spotlight would be possible however you may require relays and transistors to do so but it's still possible. Remote access is built in to ARC, just set up the router and PC correctly and you can access from any browser. Email alerts - as mentioned above. However, if you used an IP camera and tapped in to it's live stream for ARCs camera function you may be able to use the IP camera's built in functions which may include email. Foscam ones do, and they work with ARC. Different positions would be simple if using a simple pan/tilt bracket - just remember to disable motion detection when moving to avoid false positives.

As for the paintball idea, I'm no lawyer so don't take my word for it but surely if it's non-lethal and it's reasonable force (and this would be less than in my opinion) then it's legal provided it's not a booby trap. It may pay to look in to it as it may actually be legal (you may need signs up warning of it).

Long story short, I'm sure it's all possible:)


I say save your money and time and energize the copper. A few of these and the thefts will stop:

Well, maybe not. Ya cant stop stupid.

South Africa

Hi All

Thanks for your replies.

Rich -The reason for activating the spot light would be to give them the element of surprise, like they are being watched.

I actually have a Foscam HD wireless security camera that i was wanting to use, to i am glad to hear that it is supported.

I intend to further investigate the paint ball idea in the future!

Thetechguru - Thanks, that will be a good one!

dschulpius - We were thinking about doing this, again the legal issue is a concern as in South Africa, they will lock me up for setting up a booby trap, but set a copper thief free the next day.

Thanks for all your feedback.


Being from South Africa originally I can completely understand the experience.

One thing that for some reason seemed fairly effective for a prior neighbor of mine was placing a few beware of the snake signs. (King Cobra sign works) Someone broke into houses next to mine and his more than once but for some reason not his.

Then again he did breed snakes and some where lose in the house so they may have tried to break in and had their minds changed for them once they ran into his pets.:D

South Africa

Hi Darathian

We were actually thinking of hiring a snake catcher to walk around the area with a few snakes where the bergies (home less people) were camping up against our premises and telling him that he had been hired to come catch them.

My neighbour 8 houses down has a few snake signs up.


Yes, I'm the Lineman for a large power company here in the Midwest, USA. I work everyday maintaining and building our power grid. It is a epidemic here with people stealing copper right off the poles and we have had a couple people hurt. It's hard to feel sorry for them but I do understand times are hard and they see it as easy money. Sadly its more dangerous than most of them understand. Part of the blame goes to the salvage companies that turn a blind eye to where they get the copper from. Don't know what the answer is but I do know I spend a lot of time repairing what these guys steal. Sometimes they break into our yard here at work and try to roll out big reals of copper wire. Sometimes they make it and sometimes they get caught. We have security cameras all over our building with security companies watching monitors real time and sometimes they don't even see it happening. Must be in the bathroom or doing something more important at the time.


@Darathian Ha ha ha.. My Wife is from South Africa and when she lived there they always had beware of dog or snake signs. Apparently the snake ones always worked better!

Worth noting, any discussions of using the EZ-B and any sort of weaponry will be deleted immediately, so please keep the discussion on lights!

South Africa

Thanks Mark for the note. To to be clear, my intentions are to use this as a security light.


@Mark Gordon, Just to clarify, is it OK to talk about paintball, airsoft, and nerf weapons (all fairly common in robotics) as long as we aren't talking about actually arming robots (a violation of Asimov's three laws) or is any discussion of weaponized robot combat now prohibited?




As long as the discussion doesnt involve arming Robots and using our products to do so you are good to go!