Motion Sensor - Porch Package and Feral Cat Detection

I don't think I want a PIR sensor at all, as the false triggering from slate or concrete heating up in the sun would seem to be an issue.

I don't want a pet-immune sensor either as feral cats tend to visit porches to leave... umm... "gifts" in flowerpots, and, sometimes on the porch itself.

The basic need here it to detect the packages that are tossed onto the porch by a delivery person too lazy or hurried to take the 3 extra steps required to reach the doorbell. All I want is to:

a) Flip on the porch light if it is dark, to be friendly to humans and to scare off the ferals

b) Report the event so the system can double-bong the doorbell if the doorbell is not rung within 30 seconds of the motion detection inside reasonable delivery hours.

Problem is, the front door area is not shaded at all, as it faces north.

What's the consensus here? Will PIR trigger falsely more often than not during the day?

It's going to be tough to find something you are happy with for this. I have a slight overhang over my front door (which also faces north). Under the overhang, I have one of these, set to the lowest sensitivity. I don't have it set higher because I trigger a snapshot from a nearby camera to be emailed to me and I was tired of getting many photos of cats at night. However, I don't always detect the "drop and run" delivery drivers. If you are concerned about heat issues and you are able to hardwire the motion detector, you should look into dual mode or microwave-based sensors.

I know all too well the feral cat problem. I've been dealing with a cat lady a few door away and her constant feeding and sheltering has created somewhat of a plague. I deal with them by using motion sensors connected to solenoid valves some delivering jets of water, and others using blasts of air.

First line of defence is trap the stupid ones first. Then for those left make your property an unwelcome place. Using PIR sensors that are properly placed will help minimize false triggers but understand the weaknesses. Bright sunlight will make them go berserk. Partly cloudy days will have the same effect. Don't point them in the direction of cars/trucks or people. My automation only runs between dusk and dawn (most cats are active this time) I run six PIR sensors both in front and rear of my home. I have the ones in front facing downward catching them walking through. The back of the house is easy one on the deck and a few more in the driveway and back yard. The air blast method has been most effective because it is loud and the hose that connects to the compressor flaps up in the air hissing and spiting like a cobra.

TIP: If you have security cameras watch their pattern. Cats, raccoons, possums are creatures of habit, all having a routine. Once known setup your deterrent. I've been doing this for just under a year and can tell you that these animals make a wide berth around the property. I used to have a hale dozen cats every night but now only get about one a month, if that. Keep in mind that in order to keep them away you will have to keep your deterrent active. Cats learn to stay away but will test the area after a month or so.

The only downside with PIR is they are battery hungry. On sunny days they will trigger hundreds of time. Just set your automation to trigger at night and you are good to go.

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I once thought the same, but I was able to make something work in my case. I basically have two PIR sensors on my front porch, one on each side of my door, both placed so as to be reasonably likely to be in range of someone approaching my door. I'm using a Zone Motion Controller so that both have to be active before any automation here triggers (which any time of day is notifying me that someone is at my door and at night also involves turning on the light, though I'm thinking of relaxing the "double requirement" at night where false "sunlight" positives are less common).

The above is actually a tiny simplification: I have a third device, a Wyze Cam, fed into this ZMC via an IFTTT virtua motion sensor/switch driver that also gets turned on when it detects motion. If Wyze didn't have to upload things to the cloud, process them, and the alert me after the fact (i.e., if person detection were more immediate), then all of the above would be less of an issue. As-is, I treat it like another motion sensor, albeit one where I also have to make some guesses because it reports only motion, not inactivity after motion.

This does not always catch delivery drivers who just throw packages on the porch and run away, but I'm not sure I can do much to detect that. The only other idea I've thought about adding to this sometime is a pressure mat with a contact sensor, where the sensor will report closed when there is sufficient weight (e.g., if someone is standing at your front door or put a heavy enough package in a specific spot), which you can find a few other applications for here on the forum.

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We have the same problem with the cat lady next door
I am interested in your air blast system.
Would you have a parts list

The Wyze cam can have the detection area set for where the package goes.

I have mine set to turn on 30 second β€œ virtual motion detectors. They work in conjunction with regular motion detectors . I am still playing with an algorithm but right now at least 2 of a total of 4 cameras and 7 motion detectors need to go on within 30 seconds of each other to turn on an outside spotlight.

I haven’t implemented it just yet , but last night I figured out how to basically assign a weighting factor to each motion detector .

I plan on upping the number than need to all be triggered to 3, but some detectors that are more faithful will be allowed 2 votes and the ones that go off a lot for bugs and stuff will only get one vote. This all should reduce false triggers even more.

If your ups driver always follows the same pattern of walking up your driveway, leaving a package , and walking away, it would be possible to set up multiple sensors ( cameras and motion detectors ) that would in essence recognize his pattern.

Just set up all the detectors on a single dashboard and watch how they all go off as he arrives and departs. Then implement in logic a series of rules that will be valid when he delivers. Such a setup should be fairly immune to stray cats.

I would assume your ups guy always come within a predictable time window. The algorithm could include said time window .

I'll try and put something together later today and post it. There isn't any part list but I'll photograph some stuff and post it here.

The time-of-day issue is difficult, as in a single day, we can have USPS mail delivered to the box, USPS packages delivered by a separate truck, and a postal carrier who knows how to use a doorbell, UPS packages delivered by a random mix of drivers, and deliveries from Amazon. Other households might also have food delivered, we don't.

The level of Rube Goldberg is high on this issue. PIR might be fine for after-dark lighting control, but daytime is a thorny problem.

I think I need to go Ultrasonic or Mircrowave to eliminate the inherent issues with PIR, something like the RCWL-0516 microwave board. There are a few sets of docs out there on integration with Arduino/Pi boards, but I bet I could just wire it up to a contact sensor, and avoid all the complexity with my go-to kludge of turning more complex things into a contact closure to replace a reed switch.

This thing with cats seem to be a common problem:

Here is a link to my YouTube channel that shows the setup you are interested in.
Like I said before, the air blast is the most effective.

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very cool setup. The air/water relays are those DC? and do you have a link?
I have a huge deer problem. They ate like 500.00 worth of shrubs, and it cost me a 20.00 box of gloves to constantly clean up all their poop pellets

You need a cattle grid. And why don't Americans believe in fencing off their yards?

Seems ultra complicated. Just use cat/animal ultrasound repeller devices. Quite cheap from Aliexpress etc and no IoT complexity required. They actually work really well.

tried those, and for my problem totally useless. The deer went to the trouble of actually pooping right next to the device, oh wait maybe it scared the sh!t of out them?


The ones that I have a 120v AC but you can get them in almost any configuration. They make DC versions too. I got mine off eBay for around $20 US. Search for Solenoid valve. A warning about scaring deer. You don't want to trigger when close to windows. They tend to panic and run into things. But one thing is for sure, once they experience it they stay far away.

Of course its ultra complicated, its home automation. :smile:
Maybe they work for you but I find them ineffective. Once the animal is use to it they couldn't care less. Been down that road and have direct experience. I've been dealing with hundreds of feral cats over 6 years.

Keeping cats away from a non-doorway area is easy with a Hoont - this is the one you want Robot Check

There is also a newer version with a small solar panel to recharge the batteries.

Don't get knock-offs, and don't get the more vertical-looking version. You want the one that looks like an "alligator head". You can't just stick the spike in the ground and hook up a hose, though - the water sprayed will wet the ground, and the spike will loosen, and the thing will fall over, so mount it to something solid. The hose will eventually burst under pressure, so you need to run some PVC pipe, and connect directly to the hoot, or with a reinforced clothes-washer hose.

These work great. Not as well as a Tippmann 98 paintball gun, but great for unattended defense of one's yard and garden. But you can't put one of them on your front porch, as it will spray visitors and the postman.

But what about spraying solicitors that come to front door?

I ask them to come in, and find JEZZUZZ, because SATAN is everywhere. The door-to-door evangelists I tell that we worship Cthulhu. Its important to have fun with it.