Can You Build a Simple Signaling Device for Equipment Management?

In summary, a person can install a device on rental equipment that sends a signal back to an office, and the office can use the device to tell the person when the equipment needs service or has been picked up. The devices need to be self-contained, have a small battery, and be able to communicate with a minimum of 1000 locations. There is no need for special hardware, but the devices need to have QR codes and a web application to be used.
  • #1
Thomas Lyons
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I'm not sure I'm posting in the right category or even on the right forum but I need some guidance on building a simple signaling device.

I want to make or buy a device that when installed on a piece of rental equipment a person can push a button and it sends a signal back to my office and integrates with my Google map program and tells me that the equipment needs service or picked up depending on which button is pushed.

Is this an Electrical Engineering problem or a Computer Programming question or maybe a little of both? I am thinking I would need it to run on a small efficient battery and have some sort of cellular communications back home. The problem is the scope is quite grand I would need to communicate with a minimum of 1000 locations up to a potential of 100,000 plus.

My main questions are; Who would one go to for that many devices? Would you get a Verizon plan with 100,000 users? I'm thinking a better way is possible. Do you need to make your own device and apply for a mac address for each device? The area covered would be the entire US. Once the signal is received I think a good programmer could make that location light up on a map as long as it has the device tied to a specific site which could easily happen. I would want the dot on the map to turn red for service and green for pickup depending on which button was pushed.

I think a simple membrane switch and overlay tied to a cellular device like an alarm company uses may be what would work. The issue is that I need the whole thing to be self contained. I will have no power on a location, The good thing is I do not need power till activated and then stay awake just long enough to generate a signal so battery life should be easily maintained. I'm thinking life alert type device except I don't need the GPS locator if I tie a mac to a physical address on my end.

Any help would be greatly appreciated or just someone to point me in the right direction would be nice.
 
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  • #2
You may want to investigate the LoJack stolen vehicle recovery system. See how they've implemented it. There are smartphone apps that can do almost as well as GPS to pinpoint a phone's location within a relatively small radius in urban settings.
 
  • #3
Thomas Lyons said:
I want to make or buy a device that when installed on a piece of rental equipment a person can push a button and it sends a signal back to my office and integrates with my Google map program and tells me that the equipment needs service or picked up depending on which button is pushed.
There is a new paradigm for such services based on smartphones that may work well for you. At my work, each vending machine has a QR barcode label on it that you can scan to get a web link to report a problem with the machine. It works very well, since each QR Barcode is custom for that machine, including information about it and its installation location.

I have a free app on my phone called "QR and Barcode Scanner", so all I have to do is scan the QR code, touch the link that comes up, and answer a couple questions in my cellphone's browser about what the problem is. If it has been previously reported, I'm told that in the app, and asked if I still want to report it. I'm even given the option of having a status e-mail sent to me about the problem, and I can get notified when a technician is dispatched, and when the problem is resolved.

So you don't need any special hardware, just print a unique QR Barcode for each piece of equipment, and do the web application (you can probably find them to purchase and use). If your equipment can move around, you can ask the reporting party to give the location in the app, or allow access to the GPS location of their phone temporarily.
 
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berkeman said:
I have a free app on my phone called "QR and Barcode Scanner", so all I have to do is scan the QR code, touch the link that comes up, and answer a couple questions in my cellphone's browser ...
I guess that's better than smacking the dang machine. :devil:
 
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dlgoff said:
I guess that's better than smacking the dang machine. :devil:
You didn't say any bad words, did you? :wink:
 
  • #6
Thomas Lyons said:
I want to make or buy a device that when installed on a piece of rental equipment a person can push a button and it sends a signal back to my office and integrates with my Google map program and tells me that the equipment needs service or picked up depending on which button is pushed.

upload_2018-12-19_9-9-13.png


The picture shows Amazon Echo Buttons. I am not pushing Amazon, but they illustrate what can be done.

When pushed, the (wireless, battery powered) button simply uses WIFi to report the message "Button serial number 0Q98734987 was pushed." The meaning of that is completely up to software that receives the message. You could associate two buttons with customer A, and assign one of them to mean "repair" and the other "pick up". You could distribute thousands of buttons. Each has a unique serial number. You can assign a unique meaning to each.

Note that it requires the customer to have Internet and WIFI. You might also find buttons that would link via a smart phone, and be usable for mobile applications. When the button is pushed, the customer's phone sends a text message to your phone.

It will need some custom software on your end.

I only know about the Amazon brand buttons, but I suspect that similar things might be available from many sources.
 

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berkeman said:
t my work, each vending machine has a QR barcode label on it that you can scan to get a web link to report a problem with the machine.
Here is a picture I took just now of one of the labels on a vending machine at my work. It looks like they have also added the option to text in a code to let the vendor know there is a problem with the machine. That doesn't seem as flexible as using the QR Barcode and the interactive web app, though. It also looks like you can just call the toll-free phone number and talk with a human about it (but where's the fun in that?!). :smile:

upload_2018-12-19_7-22-12.png
 

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berkeman said:
You didn't say any bad words, did you? :wink:
I did once. After hurting my knuckles. :redface:
 

Related to Can You Build a Simple Signaling Device for Equipment Management?

1. What materials are needed to build a simple signaling device?

To build a simple signaling device, you will need a power source (such as a battery), a switch (such as a button or lever), a signal transmitter (such as a light or sound source), and connecting wires. Optional materials include a resistor and a capacitor for more precise signaling.

2. How does a simple signaling device work?

A simple signaling device works by completing an electrical circuit, which allows electricity to flow from the power source to the signal transmitter. When the circuit is closed, the signal transmitter will turn on and emit a light or sound, creating a signal.

3. Can a simple signaling device be used for long distances?

The range of a simple signaling device will depend on the strength of the signal transmitter and the quality of the materials used. In general, a simple signaling device is best suited for short to medium distances, such as within a building or across a small outdoor area.

4. How can I modify a simple signaling device for different signals?

To modify a simple signaling device for different signals, you can change the type of signal transmitter used (such as switching from a light to a sound source) or add components such as resistors or capacitors to alter the strength of the signal. You can also use a different type of switch to trigger the signal, such as a motion sensor or pressure pad.

5. Are there any safety precautions to keep in mind when building a simple signaling device?

When building a simple signaling device, it is important to ensure that all components are properly wired and secured to prevent electrical hazards. It is also important to use caution when working with batteries, as they can be dangerous if handled improperly. If you are unsure about the safety of your device, consult a professional or do additional research before using it.

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