Any way to make a "trip wire" using USB?

Discussion in 'Mac Accessories' started by MiataMac, Apr 30, 2009.

  1. MiataMac macrumors member

    Nov 24, 2008
    I'm considering using my Mac Mini (mediacentre Mac) as a simple security system as well, with a motion detect enabled webcam. I've had an issue with break-in due to the block next door being a building site, so they can jump down to my terrasse and get in that way, without much trouble.

    But I don't see a reason for my Mac Mini to be on 24/7, also since sometimes I might be away for several days.

    I know that if you connect USB stuff to it, it will wake up from it's sleep.

    So, is there some how I can make a USB "trip wire" that will wake up the Mac, so that it will auto-run the motion detector software and start recording if something's going down?

    I don't know, maybe it's possible to take a USB cable and tinker with one of the ends, so that 2 of the connectors will short circuit and wake the Mac? Obviously this is not something I'll be doing with "trial and error" in case it does damage to the Mac's USB port as well :)

    I'me open to ideas and/or suggestions... Alternative I will just have to leave the Mac Mini running 24/7 :(

  2. GGJstudios macrumors Westmere


    May 16, 2008
    It wouldn't help, even if you could do it. Consider that if someone is stealing it, the video it would record will be stored on the stolen computer.... you'd never see it, anyway.

    Edit: After re-reading your post, it appears you're not concerned with someone stealing your Mac. Also consider that it takes a few seconds for a Mac to completely wake from sleep. It's possible that by the time it's awake and the webcam is active and recording, they could have come and gone.
  3. natebookpro macrumors 6502a

    Sep 25, 2008
    Leave the mini on 24/7. It shouldn't use too much power.
  4. sammich macrumors 601


    Sep 26, 2006
    If you are really that paranoid, just leave your Mini on. But how does your motion camera work with your computer?

    I had a motion-enabled pan-tilt-zoom camera to mess around with and you can set these things to upload pictures every so often, or send video when motion is detected. This camera operates independently of any computer.
  5. ChrisA macrumors G4

    Jan 5, 2006
    Redondo Beach, California
    No, that can't work. USB is a serial data cable. You need a small micro controller (that is a tiny computer on a chip that sells for about a buck or two.) and then you you need to interface you sensor to that ad have the micro controller send the riht data down the cable. And then you need a USb driver written that runs on the Mac. So yes it can be done and for about $5 in parts but you would need considerable software skills.

    Actually it's not that hard as some of the microcotroller companies have example USB code on tutorial websites.

    Better to simply buy a camera that has a built-in Eithernet connection and have the data sent over the Internet to a service that records it off site.

    Or just buy insurance and don't worry about it.
  6. Hot Snowboarder macrumors 6502

    Jan 2, 2009
    Behind you...!
    All you need is a 2metre length of USB cable, 2 nails, and a hammer.

    Put a nail in each side of the door frame about 30cm above floor level. Tie the USB cable tightly between the two nails.

    And you have yourself a USB trip wire!!!

    hahaha, but seriously have you checked out Logitech's range of security camera systems. They come bundled with a bunch of useful software.
  7. MiataMac thread starter macrumors member

    Nov 24, 2008
    Hehe, good one :D I'll check out the site, thanks.

    I'll see if I can find a webcam that connects directly to my network, that would work too. I do have insurance (after the 1st incident happend

    Actually the software I've tried, EvoCam I think, can e-mail the pictures immediately or upload them through FTP, so that shouldn't be a problem.

    Does anyone know approximately how much power a Mini uses? And how such a small computer would "handle it", to be left on 24/7 for weeks at a time?
  8. GGJstudios macrumors Westmere


    May 16, 2008
    Again, when a Mac first wakes from sleep, it takes a little time before everything is fully functional, including network connections, especially AirPort. If someone were stealing the Mac, it's possible they could wake it from sleep, power it down, unplug it and leave before any pictures were taken or before any taken could be emailed or uploaded. It would depend on how much time there is between tripping the USB and reaching the Mac.
    Less power than is required to power a single light bulb.
  9. MiataMac thread starter macrumors member

    Nov 24, 2008
    That's not bad, no problem then.

    Also I found this, NorthQ NQ-9006, wired+wireless cam:

    It's around US$ 160 and doesn't require windows.
  10. Sonicjay macrumors 6502a


    Jan 1, 2008
    As far as software for motion detection, etc. I use Mobiscope. It uses the external iSight on my Mac Pro, and the internal on my MBP, and when it detects motion, it will start recording to the computer, and simultaneously send an email with a screenshot to my Blackberry immediately; I can then start the app on my Blackberry and view the camera live. Works awesome. I think they have an iPhone client too.
  11. MiataMac thread starter macrumors member

    Nov 24, 2008
    Thanks, I'll give it a try. They do an iPhone version yes, that you pay for. I can't seem to figure out if you have to pay for the app itself, if you just want to motion detect recording ability. But I'll give it a try and see what happens.
  12. CyrusOz macrumors regular

    Mar 15, 2009
    it's a very straight forward process if you get a program that works well, it just sucks that nobody wants to make a decent third party webcam for less than an arm and a leg. I have a logitech webcam but those losers only recently came out with one that works on a mac which sucks
  13. MiataMac thread starter macrumors member

    Nov 24, 2008
    CyrusOz, actually I went with the NorthQ cam I linked to earlier (, it's pretty good. Just hook it up and set up a few schedules, and that's it. Much better than normal webcams too, as it's not designed to focus on people sitting in front of it.
  14. CyrusOz macrumors regular

    Mar 15, 2009
    Thanks mate, that's exactly what I need, however I live in Australia and I can't find a reseller of the NorthQ cams..... I wonder what I can get down here that will work the same way. I have a wide variety of security cameras both wired and rf but nothing that will work with a usb port and nobody seems to be able to rewire or connect any of my existing cables so that it will work with a usb port on the mac :(

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