Sound activated siren

Can I use little bits to make a sound activated siren?
I want dog barking to trigger a short (say up to 10 second) reasonably loud sound, but to be able to continue to do this on and off as required all night/day, so need some decent power.
(BTW, I know nothing about electronics.)
Have searched for ready to buy item and can’t find.
I guess I’d need a power input - can these hook up to anything more powerful than the 9V Power Bit? e.g. a 12 V battery or better still a 24 v car batter I can run a solar panel to?
then I’d need the sound trigger bit - looks good as can adjust it.
Then hook to buzzer bit - but how loud is it and how long does it buzz each time it is activated?
Are there bits in between that are needed?
Can I connect it to a separate electronic siren/horn?
Is there a timer bit? or a light sensor bit so that I can just run this at night?

thank you

Hey @jaffakatie!

Sounds like littleBits are exactly what you need to make the Alarm System!
Here’s one way to accomplish the project!
(2) USB Power Modules
(2) Cloud Modules
Buzzer (alarm)
Sound Trigger (allows sound to be picked up at different levels)
Light Sensor (switch this sensor to dark mode to only have it operate at night)

First, build the Receiving Circuit, which will be in your bedroom:
USB Power + Cloud Module (2) + Buzzer

Transmitting Circuit:
USB Power + Light Sensor (dark) + Sound Trigger + Cloud Module (1)

Create a recipe for the Cloud Modules:

You could also use a separate electronic circuit in conjunction with the Hardware Development Kit.

Let me know if this helps!

Thanks very much for your reply Mr Steam, it is probably helpful if I knew more about this sort of stuff. But I also may not have explained what I want clearly enough.

When you say something is in my bedroom and something has USB power I think it’s not what I want, so I’ll clarify.

I want this whole thing to be outside at the dog yard. I don’t want to be disturbed at all.
I have 240V (Australian mains) power to there (not under cover, but could make a protective box), alternatively a variety of battery options (12V car batteries charged via solar panel ; 6V torch lantern batteries, 9V little rectangular batteries). But no spare computer to put out there providing USB power - however, could I just plug a powered USB hub to the mains power and then hook the USB power bit to it? i.e. if all it is doing is providing power, does a powered hub really need a computer?

Once I know the sound (e.g. buzzer) the set up can make I would manually use it to train my dogs to be quiet and go to bed when they hear it. When they understand that, then I will set it up in the dog yard so that if they start to bark at night the sensor hears it and makes the sound (buzzer) work, they hear the buzzer and go to bed. And I don’t have to go out and tell them to go to bed.

AS AN ALTERNATIVE or extra - instead of/as well as the buzzer, can the circuit turn on a tap to make a sprinkler work?

How loud is the buzzer? It does not need to be siren loud, but loud enough some barking dogs will hear it from about 10 metres away.

thanks you, I very much appreciate your help.

Hey @jaffakatie!

Sorry for the misunderstanding! Okay, so lets forget everything I mentioned in the first post. On another note, the USB Power Module does not necessarily need a computer to be powered. You only need a 1 Amp USB port to power it, so yes you could use a portable hub to power circuits. Before I make any suggestions, I have a few questions for you:

  1. Are the dogs free to roam around the backyard or are they usually in one area? Such as chained to a doghouse?
  2. Is WIFI available in the backyard?
  3. How big is your backyard?
  4. Do you want the siren to trigger for up to 10 seconds? What is your exact duration for the siren?

Based on your answers, I have a few awesome ideas for you & I think you will love the results!

Thanks Mr Steam
The dogs have various yards in which they roam free, but they have some kennels within them where they can go to sleep. The biggest yard is 20 m x 20 m (that’s about 60’ x 60’)
There is a gateway which is central to all the yards, and I have a power cord running to this gateway, currently for a floodlight.
There is about 20 m from the gate to the farthest point the dogs could be in any particular yard.
If a sound was made there it would need to be at least the loudness of an average voice (not yelling) - they are all young dogs and have good hearing.
Another alternative to the buzzer is a flashing light (though it might be a little harder to train with it during the day if it’s not so visible, but is a nice silent option I won’t hear).
The sprinkler option would work very well to send dogs to bed, but due to us being in severe drought with water shortages I wouldn’t currently risk having a sprinkler hooked up in case it did not turn off and used up a lot of water. However, I’d still be interested in that option for other times.
There is no wifi available out there. It is too far from my office.
The siren/buzzer/light etc, I think 10 seconds is about right to get their attention without going on too long. (I am on a farm so none of these things will disturb anyone else). I assume if they keep barking, after the 10 seconds, it will trigger it again.

FYI, the training would involve the dogs being in the yard (done either one at a time or in little groups), sound the siren (or lights etc), shoo them into the kennel and hand out some treats in there. Repeat a lot and then the siren becomes the trigger for them to go into their kennels. Once they are disturbed like this and go to kennels they stop barking.

The barking I want to disturb is the boredom “pack” barking/howling. One starts a howl or bark and the others join in like a pack of wolves - just standing barking or howling into the air. As opposed to play barking which tends to be less uniform with more running around.
If only on at night then the sensor could be set to be quite sensitive, as they don’t need to be doing any barking at night.

thanks
I look forward to your ideas. You know, if it works well, it could be extremely popular. There are commercial ones that make an ultra high frequency whistle which i could try too - but in theory these are supposed to work with no training - i.e. the noise is supposed to be unpleasant, but lots of reviews show they don’t work. However, combined with the training I described they might. Sprinklers would be good - they don’t really need to wet the dog more than a few drips, as most dogs won’t stay out in the sprinkler or rain (It’s always quiet at night when it’s raining).

Wow! This was certainly not what I expected, but I’ll give it a shot!

I wouldn’t recommend using the sprinkler idea but here’s a gardening project that could help you towards a similar direction. Maybe this could help fill the dogs water container? Automated Gardening Water System

Here’s what I have in mind for the project.
List of littleBitss:
(1-4) Power Modules
(1) Wireless Receiver
(1-3) Wireless Transmitters
(1-3) Sound Triggers
(1) MP3 Player Module
(1) Light Sensor
(4) Mounting Boards
(1) Arduino Module

List of Hardware
(2-4) Enclosures [protection for littleBits]
External Stereo Speakers

So here’s a quick explanation of how everything functions. The Sound Triggers are capable of being highly sensitive or highly resistant. The Wireless Transmitter & receivers can communicate up to a range of 100 feet (indoors). I’m not entirely sure of the range outdoors. Additionally, 3 Wireless Transmitters can all communicate with a single Wireless Receiver. We will use the Arduino Module to process the signals from the Wireless Receiver and turn on the MP3 Player for any duration of time you would like. You could upload any MP3 Files to the MP3 Player, so this is where you could upload a siren sound or any sound you would like. The Light Sensor would be used to only trigger the MP3 Player at night time. Depending on the area you want to mount the Enclosures, you could use up to 3 Wireless Transmitters to communicate to the single receiver. To play the MP3 Files, connect the MP3 Player to an external speaker of your preference!

Game Plan

Circuits:
First Circuit: Power + (1st) Wireless Transmitter + (1st Channel) Sound Trigger
Second Circuit: Power + (2nd) Wireless Transmitter + (2nd Channel) Sound Trigger
Third Circuit: Power + (3rd) Wireless Transmitter + (3rd Channel) Sound Trigger
Fourth Circuit: Power + Wireless Receiver + Arduino Module + (D5) Light Sensor [Dark Mode]+ MP3 Player + External Speakers

The first 3 circuits will be mounted in the various yards or various spots in the yard. Adjust the sound triggers to highly sensitive. Once the dogs bark anywhere near the sound triggers, the sound triggers will activate the different Channels of the Wireless Receiver to activate the MP3 Player. Each Wireless receiver could be placed within 100 feet from the transmitter. You could mount the Fourth circuit next to the Gateway.and build an enclosure for it. To protect the bits & speakers from weather, you could build an awesome enclosure as well. Instructables has some awesome DIY enclosures that you could definitely use.

I could help you with the programming and could send you more photos if you would like. Let me know if you like this idea, and I’ll help you bring this to life. I also have another idea in case you dislike this one! :smile:

Mr Steam,
thanks again.
This sounds pretty good.
Would the mp3 and speaker circuit use more power than the other ones that just have a transmitter? If so, I could use just a small battery for the transmitters and a larger one for the MP3 one.
I see the power bit says 9-12 V - so that means I could hook up a 12 V car battery?? (I have one I use with electric fence that is charged by a solar panel)
Re enclosures - can easy make own, we have heaps of suitable stuff to do that.
With the MP3 files I could actually record verbal commands too, such as “go to bed”
I don’t dislike this idea, but I’d also like to hear your other idea.
I’d definitely need more help if programming is involved.
PLease tell me other idea.
Can these power circuits be hooked to mains power via a transformer? I think we have a proper 240 to 12 v transformer, but I wonder about old phone chargers etc and various other little plug in transformers that have come with various pieces of equipment.

Hi @jaffakatie,

Which power bit were you hoping to connect, and how were you hoping to connect it to a car battery? Do you have a custom cable? Do you also have an example of the kind of transformer you were thinking of?

Katie

Hey @jaffakatie!

Glad you liked the idea. In regards to the power requirements for littleBits, they all run on 5 Volts. The Power Module regulates the input voltage of a battery or wall adapter to only 5 Volts, so the MP3 module runs on 5 Volts. I’m not sure how long it would take to drain the battery, since every circuit power usage is different. I would recommend using powered USB hubs to power the different transmitter circuits, since you would need more than one power supply in this case. If you’re able to use extension cords from the power at the Gateway, then I would recommend using wallwarts. This is possibly the best way to power the littleBits without changing power sources. If you would like to use the car batteries, you would need a proper cable to connect it to the littleBits power module.

Another idea depends on if they are in a single group when they start howling. You could make a wearable that attaches to one single dog. This single dog could activate the circuit alone, rather than having separate transmitter circuits around the farm. Another idea is to find a spot where the dogs usually howls and place the transmitter there.

OK, now I’m starting to understand these things just a little bit (excuse the pun) could I start with a simpler single circuit?
USB power (I’d also need a USB cord and a powered USB hub connected to my mains power) +sound trigger+MP3player (with my sounds loaded onto the SD card)+Synth speaker (or external speaker)

Will this one work? I already have an electronic timer I can use to turn the power on and off to make it work just at night.

Katie, the usb one might be easiest as a standalone. But re the car battery, I see that the PowerBit says 9-12 V on i and car battery is 12 V. So I would run wires from car battery terminal to the terminals (that connect to a square 9V battery) that are on the cable that connects to the Power Bit. Would that work?

Mr Steam, I’d never heard of the term wallwart, but that’s what I meant as an alternative to USB power bit.
The wearables option sounds interesting. But I’d like to try the simplest option first. So how does my suggestion sound?

The reason I suggested using the Wireless Kit is to avoid the Sound Trigger being too close to the speakers. If the sound trigger is too close to the speaker [USB Power + Sound Trigger + MP3 Player + Speaker], the Sound Trigger may just keep the circuit from turning off. Which means, if the dogs barks and turns on the Sound Trigger which will then turn on the speakers, the sounds from the speaker will keep the Sound Trigger from turning off. It would all depend on the delay time of the MP3 Player. I’ll check the time for you! If there’s a short time period between files, then it may just work! But it would only work for the area it is in. Meaning, the sound trigger will only activate from the area it is in. Unlike the wireless kit, it won’t hear noise from close to 100 feet away. Unless the speakers are far enough away from the circuit.

A wallwart is basically a wall outlet power adapter anywhere between 3-12 Volts or higher. The car batteries sounds like an option. I’m a little nervous about leaving them around the dogs though. Wouldn’t want the positive & negative lines to come in contact with each other from dog play.

Aha, that didn’t occur to me. What if my MP3 player only has one file? (you said between files??) I am assuming the sound trigger is continually sending a message when it is hearing sound?? Will this only be successful once the designated MP3 file has finished playing? If so, I could record whatever sound/voice I want plus a short blank time - say a few seconds - at the end of it.
Would that work?

Don’t worry about the car battery leads - they’d be protected. Yes, little dogs like to chew up anything they can find!

Once the sound trigger picks up a sound, it sends a high signal for 3 seconds. The MP3 Player can be adjusted to ONCE MODE to only play a song once. As long as it’s a small delay in your recording at the end, more than 3 seconds, it should work!

Thanks Mr Steam
Well I might go ahead and order them and give it a try. Though I see the MP3 player bit does not yet seem to be available.
I’ll have to order from US as the Australian retailers don’t have all the bits.
I’m also going to make another post about a means to turn off a tap when left running too long.

Awesome! Yes, the MP3 Module has not been released for an individual purchase but it will soon! It’s included in the Smart Home Kit! Did you check the link I posted about the water gardening project?

I’ll wait for someone else to respond to your post before I do. I want to see what other awesome ideas others may have in mind!

No I missed the watering link, but found and looked at it now.

Why wouldn’t you suggest using the sprinkler idea? Spraying the hose at the dogs works well. It’s not as if they get wet - just a bit of spray on them - it’s just like it starting to rain - they go into bed when it starts to rain (though sometimes they stay out in it if it’s only a little shower!) It’s plenty hot enough here so getting a light spray is no issue.

I wouldn’t use it to fill dogs water as I like to rinse their container as it gets grubby with their dirty little faces.

So for my antibarking gadget I could remove MP3 and speaker and instead connect sound sensor to a solenoid valve on a tap? Is there a little bit timer? how do I make it turn off again?

I didn’t recommend the water project because you mentioned there’s a drought in Australia! Wanted to avoid wasting water. Other than that, go for it! There is a littleBits timer, named the Timeout Module, which is basically a timer. Check out the description to learn more about it. You could set it to where if it receives an input, it will turn on for a specific amount of time and then turn off. If you don’t like this idea, you could use an Arduino to program how long you want it to stay on!

Great, I looked for a timer but missed seeing the timeout module. I’ve found it now.
Any idea when the MP3 player will become available as a single item?

OK, the mp3 player is now available so I want to order my little bits. But I want to make sure I have it all correct and that it doesn’t keep triggering itself.

I’m going to go with:
USB power (I’d also need a USB cord and a powered USB hub connected to my mains power)
+sound trigger
+bright LED
+MP3player (with my words & sounds loaded onto the SD card)
+Synth speaker

  1. Can I connect both the light and the mp3 player after the sound trigger - do I need extra wires or such?

  2. I need clarification about stopping my sound from triggering the sound trigger:

Will the sound trigger be sensitive again immediately after sending its high signal for 3 seconds? OR
Will it not trigger while the file is playing, and if I have a blank time of 5 seconds at the end of the file, then the sound trigger won’t detect it?
I intend to have my file be a recording of me saying “Go to Bed” and then me making some loud noises that will encourage the dogs to go into their beds.

thanks