While UPS, Fedex, and even your Amazon Prime delivery bro will all happily throw your packages directly at your door, your USPS mail carrier will likely only do so as a last resort if your box of hand-selected Pogs Slammers don’t fit in your mailbox. Most of us wouldn’t even bother checking out mailbox if it weren’t for the fact that an anticipated package or piece of mail occasionally gets deposited there. This is, apparently, a phenomenon which knows no borders. Eivind Holt was dealing with that headache in chilly Norway two years ago, and solved the problem with a LoRaWAN notification system. Now he is updating that original project and sharing the details.
The beauty of LoRaWAN connections is that they work over significant distances, which is particularly useful in rural areas where, incidentally, your mail might be dropped off at the end of a long driveway. For the same reason, you’ll likely need a mailbox monitoring system that can run for a long time on a battery charge. Holt's original design has been running for the entirety of the last two years on a single pair of AAA batteries — a frankly astonishing battery life for any connected device. The new version of Holt's mailbox notification system should be even better, and uses components that are readily-available today.
This entire project relies on the Things Network, so you’ll need an account and to have access to a Things Network LoRaWAN network in the area. If one isn’t available, other LoRa networking alternatives may work for you. The most important component is a Wisen Talk2 Whisper Node LoRa development board, which can be programmed though the Arduino IDE. Holt goes into a lot of detail about programming the board, properly configuring the radio, and optimizing the whole setup for power efficiency. When you’re done, you’ll have a device that sleeps most of the day, but which will wake up when your mailbox is opened and then send you a notification — perfect if you’ve been waiting eagerly for the post office to deliver that special new Pog Slammer.