Looking For A DIY Home Security System Solution? Try One Of These

Christian Cawley 28-01-2015

In the age of digital technology and always connected hardware, setting up a home security system should transcend the art of putting an alarm-shaped box on the wall. Securing your home in the 21st century should instead utilise all affordable technology to create a system that not only detects, but also alerts, as well as doing its best to identify.


Such security systems can prove expensive to buy as a packaged option, as well as being a little inflexible. DIY security systems offer us a better degree of versatility, as well as having the added bonus of being less costly.

While a DIY option may take longer to setup, the results can be just as good, or even better, than those available through electronics stores and security vendors.

Demand The Right Key For Your Doors

Old fashioned brass keys can be easily copied with a bit of clay and a dodgy keycutter.

For the modern home security system, you should consider moving forward with an NFC system, which will unlock your property as soon as the correct tag is in the vicinity.

The system could be applied to various locations, from the front and back door to your shed or garage, or even a safe or particular room in the house you wish to keep locked. As with all of the DIY home security projects listed it is worth considering some form of Uninterruptible Power Supply (UPS), in case intruders attempt to disable your security system by cutting the power.


Detect Intruders On Your Property With A Raspberry Pi

Love for the Raspberry Pi here at MakeUseOf is strong, so it makes sense that we should include this versatile little computer – the hub of so many DIY projects – in this list. Since 2013 a small video camera has been available for the Raspberry Pi, small enough to fit inside many Pi cases, and if this isn’t enough then the Raspberry Pi B+, released in 2014, has additional USB ports for additional webcams (although these should ideally be powered from another source).


The Raspberry Pi is small enough to position outside your home as a security camera, and with the right software can be configured as a motion capture system, capable of detecting intruders and even sending photos and video to your cloud storage and sending email alerts to your phone.

We’ve previously covered the steps required for creating a motion capture security system with a Raspberry Pi Build a Motion Capture Security System Using a Raspberry Pi Of the many projects that you can build with the Raspberry Pi, one of the most interesting and permanently useful is the motion capture security system. Read More , but note that since then things have progressed significantly in this area. There’s even a video surveillance distro you can download and install, called MotionPi.


Monitor Your Locked Doors With An Arduino

While the Raspberry Pi solution will check your property for movement, it won’t do much in the way of making a noise. It also isn’t the best way to check if someone is opening and closing doors in your house.

For this, we turn to the DIYer’s other best friend: the Arduino. Several variations on the basic Arduino intruder detection alarm system How To Make a Simple Arduino Alarm System Detect movement, then scare the heck out of an intruder with a high pitched alarm sounds and flashing lights. Does that sound fun? Of course it does. That's the goal of today's Arduino project, suitable... Read More described previously by James Bruce exist. Here’s a look at it in action:

In this example, James has used a proximity sensor, but it is also possible to setup a laser tripwire system or use a similar setup with a a magnetic door sensor.

Home Security With Your Old Smartphones

No Arduino? Short of a Raspberry Pi? Worry not, as you can use other hardware you might have lying around or in drawers for home security purposes.


One great solution – particularly if the device had a good camera – is to use one or more old smartphones as a network of security cameras How to Build a Security Camera Network Out Of Old Smartphones There's no better use of old smartphones than by building your own DIY network security camera system -- we show you everything you need to know! Read More .


It makes sense to take advantage of any suitable hardware you already own, and a smartphone is wireless ready. With a wireless system you can position your cameras wherever you need them (preferably indoors) and even alter their whereabouts to fox strangers who might be visiting to “case your joint”.

Using some old Android phones (an Android-compatible Windows Mobile device such as the HTC HD2 Install Android Ice Cream Sandwich On The HTC HD2 In Minutes Last week I was challenged to install Android Ice Cream Sandwich on the HTC HD2 in as little time as possible. The reason? It was my client’s lunch hour; she was sick of Windows Mobile... Read More could also be used) with the IP Webcam app installed and the Webcam Watcher desktop app for Windows, it shouldn’t take more than an hour to setup, position and start monitoring activity in and around your property.


PC-Based Home Security Project

There is a strong argument for using smaller devices for DIY home security projects, but for reliability you may opt for a dedicated PC.

While the power requirements might be a little OTT (dump the old power-hungry CPU for something more modern if this is the case) a wider selection of apps and strong cross-platform support exists, whether you’re using Windows or a suitable Linux distro.


Ryan Dube has previously illustrated how to build a Wi-Fi home surveillance system How To Build A WiFi Home Surveillance System With Your PC Read More using a PC as the main central component, quite similar to the system using old smartphones above. Meanwhile, as illustrated by James, you can configure such a system to issue alerts to your iPhone How To Set Up A Motion Detection Surveillance System With iPhone Notifications One thing I've been meaning to do is set up my always-on home server as a CCTV Surveillance System that sends alerts to my iPhone whenever it detects motion. Though the results are fantastic, you... Read More and notifications can also be setup for other mobile devices.

Note that monitoring apps can prove temperamental at times. Make sure you make the right choice when selecting an app Use Your Webcam For Home Surveillance With These Tools Having your own home surveillance system can be a powerful deterrent to would-be intruders, snooping roommates, or frustrating co-workers. Here are 6 great options for webcam-based surveillance products you can use today! Read More , looking for compatibility and reliability, and ensuring it is capable of displaying images from wireless webcams.

Five security systems that you can make yourself and secure your property, preferably with mobile alerts! Have you tried any of these already? Would you care to suggest something we might have missed? Tell us!

Image Credit: Burglar Via Shutterstock, Web Surveillance Camera via Shutterstock

Related topics: Arduino, Home Security, Raspberry Pi, Webcam.

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  1. Anonymous
    June 30, 2015 at 6:10 pm

    hello sir how can i make wireless home security system ?
    if i make it den where camera store that pic? which is captured by camera .means where is the storage of that pics then we send that pic to our mail

  2. dragonmouth
    January 28, 2015 at 11:12 pm

    "Old fashioned brass keys can be easily copied with a bit of clay and a dodgy keycutter."
    And NFC systems can be compromised by a bump-and-run.

    If you let your brass key get copied with a bit of clay and a dodgy keycutter, you deserve what ever happens aftwards.

    Have you done any experiments on how long can a UPS power a whole house security system? Don't forget that the more devices plugged into a UPS, the quicker it is discharged. A UPS is not designed to be a long term substitute power source.

    • Christian Cawley
      February 10, 2015 at 4:05 pm

      Good point, DM, and I'd suggest anyone using a UPS is only using it as backup, and on a single device.

  3. Newjorciks
    January 28, 2015 at 9:24 pm

    RFID keys are actually very easy to copy, even more easy than a regular key. You don't even need to have direct access to the key to copy it, it can be done from a small distance, like any time someone bumps into you, they might have just copied your key at that moment :D