cave security systems for remote areas

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cave security systems for remote areas

Postby Dave Bunnell » May 7, 2009 11:26 am

We're replacing a cave gate on a somewhat remote cave on forest service land and wanted to institute some security measures as the gate has been breached before. What we'd like is some sort of photo/video surveillance and maybe a switch that could send a signal if the gate were breached. There is cell service at the cave so the devices might use a cell network to signal.

Does anyone have any experience with something like this, or know of commercially available devices, or could point me to someone who does?

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Re: cave security systems for remote areas

Postby shibumi » May 7, 2009 1:05 pm

Dave Bunnell wrote:We're replacing a cave gate on a somewhat remote cave on forest service land and wanted to institute some security measures as the gate has been breached before. What we'd like is some sort of photo/video surveillance and maybe a switch that could send a signal if the gate were breached. There is cell service at the cave so the devices might use a cell network to signal.

Does anyone have any experience with something like this, or know of commercially available devices, or could point me to someone who does?

Dave


If you haven't already, do a web search on "game camera". There are lots and lots of them that are
motion activated, IR, etc. Cheaper ones that simply record a picture with time and date stamp,
some that have external signal points, some that do exactly what you are asking, hell, some
even will connect into the net and email you pictures. I don't know of a system that does exactly
what you are asking offhand, but I do know they exist and can be had for anywhere from $50 for the
basic game camera to a couple grand for the fancier systems.

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Re: cave security systems for remote areas

Postby NZcaver » May 7, 2009 4:57 pm

Dave Bunnell wrote:We're replacing a cave gate on a somewhat remote cave on forest service land and wanted to institute some security measures as the gate has been breached before. What we'd like is some sort of photo/video surveillance and maybe a switch that could send a signal if the gate were breached. There is cell service at the cave so the devices might use a cell network to signal.

Hi Dave,

I've dabbled with some of this stuff before, and so have a few colleagues. For a start, see if you can glean any useful info out of these previous topics.

viewtopic.php?f=1&t=5744

viewtopic.php?f=1&t=5872
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Re: cave security systems for remote areas

Postby Caverdale » May 7, 2009 5:23 pm

I was lucky enough to actually catch someone who had broken into a cave using game cameras. Check it out at:
viewtopic.php?f=15&t=7506

The process is not as easy as it may seem at first glance. First, I was overwhelmed at the size of game cameras and what it took to disguise them. The camera lens and sensor must be left uncovered, and the shape hidden. Fortunately, the approach to the cave is up a gully allowing the cameras to be placed on the sloping ground of the gully wall, not hung in trees, as would be the case on level ground. Hiding a game camera in a tree would take some real thinking. Also, although moving branches are not supposed to trigger a response, shadows moving on heated ground during the summer took photos. Violent wind storms with waving branches also were recorded. Another problem was with what may be false triggering, but it is difficult to say because I have read where passing birds can initiate a sequence, but they pass from lens view before a photo is taken. Take the advertised "Very fast triggering" on the ads with a grain of salt. Fortunately, the new cameras will hold some very high capacity memory chips, so you can take a few thousand photos without running out of space.

Utah is now having another serious problem with a certain cave. One of the people in the discussion of how to catch the culprits is a police detective and give us an earful about the new miniature spy cameras and how to use them. He says the price of these has dropped dramatically in the past year. They are far easier to hide, also. That discussion was at last night's grotto meeting so I haven't had time to do much research.
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Re: cave security systems for remote areas

Postby wyandottecaver » May 7, 2009 8:48 pm

I am philisophically opposed to gates period without some very very compelling reasons and bats usually aren't good enough for me and I'm a bat person. In any event.....

Not sure this is what your after, but we have used speloggers quite a bit. They are a light sensor and data recorder. The light sensor is the size of a LED connected by a wire similiar to a computer mouse wire to the recorder which is like a small pack of cigarrettes. It is not for real-time notification but is great for recording trips into the cave for up to several months. In many cases this allows you to discern patterns.

In your case, if you could get a light sensor in the dark zone and wire it to a small cell transmitter at the entrance you would eliminate false alarms and have a fairly decent setup.

Another method that has worked is to place a semi-obvious sensor with a obvious blinking light (they can blink for months) connected to absolutely nothing just past the gate but visible from outside. If the ceiling height is good a "antenna wire" running towards the entrance is better. You gotta ask yourself...is that a fake sensor punk...or a high tek jailer waitin for a victim?.....

Scary signs do work as well but unlikely on USFS ground.

I'm sure a real cell-phone notifier is available...for the right price.
I'm not scared of the dark, it's the things IN the dark that make me nervous. :)
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Re: cave security systems for remote areas

Postby Ralph E. Powers » Jan 7, 2010 1:46 pm

I was about to suggest the same link/post that Dale Green had given...showing that it does indeed work.
Having knowledge that the gate is breached is fine... but how long would it take to get a response person/team out there... by the time they get there the vandals may have already left eh? But getting their pictures and time/date and hopefully identification can be made... you got 'em and proof positive that their defense attorney will find it hard to dispute in court.
Building a bomb proof gate really helps, and this we all know. They're expensive and such a bear to build (carrying materials to the site, etc) but they are a good deterrent if they can frustrate the efforts of those trying to get in without permission.
Building an additional interior gate will have them screaming in frustration AND may keep them on site long enough for your response officer/team to get there and catch them in the act as it were.
Game cameras on the trail and likely parking areas will be useful to get license numbers of the vehicles, tracing them back to the owners. Game camera outside the gate gets them and another game camera INSIDE the cave gets them right where you want them... because they could use the defense "we were just hanging out side and looking at the damage that was already there!" But the interior camera says otherwise.
An intrusion alarm... a LOUD OBNOXIOUS CONTINUOUS Intrusion alarm may scare them off. A (bogus) sign in the cave reading "warning if the alarm is sounding then officers are dispatched immediately to this site"... that'll get them thinking twice and get them the hell out of dodge in a hurry (with cameras still taking their pics) ... or (worse case) get them working doubly hard to harvest or destroy as many formations in as little time as possible. Double edged sword.
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Re: cave security systems for remote areas

Postby NZcaver » Jan 7, 2010 4:16 pm

Some good ideas there Ralph, but be careful relying on game cameras to produce security images with recognizable faces and licence plates etc. The models I've seen are cheap, waterproof and easily available, but the image quality often isn't the greatest and they work best in bright but diffuse daylight and/or only at close range. The built in flash isn't exactly great. Plus you'd need to be a bit inventive with the mounting, or you camera will end up stolen or vandalized.

There are much better camera systems available which are designed for surveillance, but obviously they come at a price and/or require some technical expertise to design/modify/install etc. I've visited caves with security systems and other electrickery, both tourist and wild. It's easy to set this kind of thing up in tourist caves, because they already have power and wiring chases. Wild caves are not so easy, but lithium batteries do help assuming you have somebody to regularly check and replace them. Alarm sirens draw a fair amount of amperage, so you'd probably want them to time out after a few minutes or you'll kill your system.
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Re: cave security systems for remote areas

Postby Ralph E. Powers » Jan 7, 2010 5:36 pm

Well it's either those ideas or a string of claymores at various intervals with maps given out to those who legally obtain the key. :big grin:

Either way, I forsee the protection of caves becoming increasingly difficult with folks posting on the internet the GPS coords, and folks who just don't give a darn about the conservation and preservation ethics that caves deserve. Still we gotta do what we can and continue to educate the public and advocate stiff penalties and fines for vandals.
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Re: cave security systems for remote areas

Postby tncaver » Jan 7, 2010 7:03 pm

Your know....I think a very loud audible alarm is an excellent idea.
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Re: cave security systems for remote areas

Postby Ralph E. Powers » Jan 8, 2010 7:04 pm

tncaver wrote:Your know....I think a very loud audible alarm is an excellent idea.

Thank you... that and the sign inside the cave where it can't be missed gets would be vandals to thinking and wondering how much time do they actually have?

Solar powered stuff can be had pretty cheap and the panels can be mounted high up on tree tops nearby (if applicable) and etc.
The alarm can blare on for a good half hour or so... it has to be one of those annoying-ear piercing types that can't be stand for a long time. Kinda like putting your ear up against a car alarm... or even using a car alarm, cranked up to Spinal Tap 11. :laughing:
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Re: cave security systems for remote areas

Postby NZcaver » Jan 8, 2010 11:53 pm

A pair of piezo screamers might work well. They're little round cylinders, a few inches in diameter. We used to install them in homes and businesses, normally one per premises but sometimes more. They emit a very piercing fast oscillating tone, and using a pair spaced at opposite corners of a room (or cave entrance) will induce a kind of asynchronous interference pattern which can be quite painful to the human ear. These are much more effective than the common square box on the wall internal siren you see used with most US security systems. Earplugs will help, but these things put out over 100db at 3 feet so there's really no escaping the noise.

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Re: cave security systems for remote areas

Postby ArCaver » Jan 9, 2010 6:28 am

NZcaver wrote:A pair of piezo screamers might work well. They're little round cylinders, a few inches in diameter. We used to install them in homes and businesses, normally one per premises but sometimes more. They emit a very piercing fast oscillating tone, and using a pair spaced at opposite corners of a room (or cave entrance) will induce a kind of asynchronous interference pattern which can be quite painful to the human ear. These are much more effective than the common square box on the wall internal siren you see used with most US security systems. Earplugs will help, but these things put out over 100db at 3 feet so there's really no escaping the noise.

Image



How would these affect bats and other critters in the cave?
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Re: cave security systems for remote areas

Postby NZcaver » Jan 9, 2010 6:41 am

ArCaver wrote:How would these affect bats and other critters in the cave?

No idea. I suppose we could conduct experiments and find out. But we're hypothesizing about using these only by cave entrances, and the alarm will only sound if somebody breaks through the gate. Assuming it was set up like any other professionally installed system :wink: it would *never* false alarm, and when it does go off for real it will time out after a predetermined period.

I can't imagine this would have any greater detrimental effect on critters around cave entrances than the noise from a low flying aircraft, or somebody parking their truck next to the entrance and cranking up the bass. Or breaking the gate with power tools just so they can get in and make a campfire and drink beers. Or going caving in sensitive areas when bats are hibernating. Or smoking in caves. :shrug:
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Re: cave security systems for remote areas

Postby ArCaver » Jan 9, 2010 7:41 am

NZcaver wrote:
ArCaver wrote: Assuming it was set up like any other professionally installed system :wink: it would *never* false alarm,

:rofl: :rofl: :rofl: :rofl: :rofl: :rofl:
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