not everyone has mails everyday and therefore, wouldn’t it be nice if you could be alerted only when there are mails in your snail mail mailbox? you can say that this isn’t all that necessary. true, but it is one of those little things in life could make life more efficient and in this case, the efficiency comes about because you don’t need to head out to check you letterbox if you know there isn’t anything in there. and it also has a fringe benefit: it can potentially solve or even foil mail theft, that’s if you are facing such a problem. as far as we know, there isn’t a commercially available snail mail notifier, but there are a bunch of ideas from talented DIY-ers, employing different methods to get user notified of “incoming mails.” well, here’s one, the Snail Mailbox Phone Alert, by instructables contributor ‘nikoala3’ to add to the list. as in most cases, Arduino Uno forms the basis of this particular DIY system.
a photo resistor (aka ambient light sensor) and a GPRS/GSM shield are rigged to the Arduino and programmed in such a way that when the light level goes beyond a certain threshold, it triggers the Arduino to send a text message to your cell phone via the GPRS/GSM Shield. an arming button is in place to ensure that the device won’t send you a text again until you re-arm it. obviously, this method is not entirely foolproof. firstly, from the time of notification to the time you actually head out to check on the box physically, there exists an odd that someone may open the mailbox without you knowing. secondly, though the contraption looks pretty sleek, the box with the antennae and red button for arming makes it look like a bomb, which may set off unnecessary panic in your neighborhood. perhaps a friendly bumper sticker that says “this mailbox is equipped with snail mail notifier” or something similar might help. anyway, for now, if you want to get text notification rather than door bell ringing, the Snail Mailbox Phone Alert sounds like a doable and practical project.