Does someone here knows a cheap DIY door logging system?

What I have:
- 2 doors that needs to be logged
- 1 netbook (running OpenBSD with internet connection & root permissions), the two doors are 1 and 4 meters away from it.

What I need:
- Every time when one of the door open/closes I need a warning about that (via e-mail) (e-mail must be sent in a few seconds after door opened/closed)

- When there is something moving or one of the door opens/closes an infra cam (to be exact I need 2 infra CAM) needs to take video (in good quality) about it (or at least pictures in good quality) and upload it to a place what I can reach via FTPS (the place where I upload isn't at home, where I need this monitoring/logging - So I alredy has a place where I can upload thing through FTPS).
- When there isn't any power, the netbook could run fine (because it has a battery), that's ok. But how can I give power to the infra cam's?

Question: How to do this? Or where to ask for this?

*I need e-mail notification because I have an Android phone and this way I don't need to pay for SMS via phone, etc. That would be enough.

There are these kind of systems off the shelf for horrible $. But I want to do this from a lower budget. :) (as many people who want a little more security at home too here in the forum :) )


5 Answers 5


I'd forget about door logging, since your additional requirement is to have motion detecting cameras upload photos of intruders, and any solution that can do this should also be able to email you an alert as well. (And even if the solution you choose doesn't, there are services that can monitor the folder where the uploaded pictures go, and notify you of changes.

This is easy to do with modern wireless security cameras - they have all these features built in - the problem you will have is that you don't have power. Battery powered wireless cameras do exist, but are rare. (the wireless means no network cable: they usually have a power cable)

One possibility might be to look at cameras designed for outdoors use. These are more likely to have battery or even solar power.

Or, as Rory suggests, use software on the netbook and USB powered web cams. There are IR capable USB web cams out there, or you can often easily hack cheap web cams to see in IR - see http://www.instructables.com/id/Infrared-IR-Webcam/

  • I think this will be the answer.. May 1, 2012 at 12:33

You could first have a look at Grabmotion - a freeware application which uses a webcam as a motion detector that can then email you pictures of whatever triggered it.

It's not connected to the door, but if you had the door in it's sensor range, it could work just as well.

Grabmotion isn't the only one - google will show you many free ones - but it seems closest to what you want straight out of the box.


You can use zwave connected sensors. Zwave is a wireless protocol for low power communications. They make zwave alarm systems, door locks, controls, etc.

The MiCasaVerde is one example of a Zwave access point. It controls the Zwave network and connects to wifi/ethernet. From there you just need to send an email every time it is alerted to the door opening or closing.

Most camera DVR systems will only record when there is motion. You can get a cheap one for $250 and then use your bsd system to upload recordings.


If you're ok with a proprietary solution, this might help.

  • 1
    Please do not answer with just a link. Put the relevant info from the link into your answer so that the answer will survive even if the link goes dead
    – schroeder
    Sep 29, 2015 at 17:32

You can do this simply by using a raspberry pi or other low powered device. You can get it to snap a picture every 2seconds and calculate the difference. With openbsd, I'm not too sure, but if you have a uvc peripheral and can access the image buffer, you can do the exact same thing.

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