In these tumultuous times, we have seen too many examples of riots, looting, and unrest sweep across the globe. Whether it be unrest following elections, protests turned riots, or pandemic related panic many events can see the criminal element and looters at your property line.
In these cases, sometimes a good offense is the best defense, and having an early warning system in place can and will be the deciding factor in the security of your home. With a few items from around the house, you can build some tripwire triggers that will act as an early warning system to alert you to where intruders are entering your property.
The Legal Aspects
While these early warning systems are not designed to inflict any harm to those who trigger them, it is up to you to research the rules, regulations, and laws regarding such devices in your area.
These three traps, whose construction I will detail, have similar purposes but they achieve them in different ways.
The first is very simple: a rat trap, paracord, zap straps, and a glowstick is all you will need to be alerted to where the bad guys are. This method has a significant issue: the only way you will know that the trap is triggered is to be looking at it. This means that one of your family members has to be on watch from a safe distance, looking towards the trap to see it get triggered.
The second is not overly complex but requires some electronic components and a little bit of experimentation. The idea behind it is that when the trap is triggered, a LED light will alert you. For this trap you also need to be on watch, however you can be hidden in a safe place, being able to flee if this is the case.
The third one is a solution to the first ones, in case you are alone. This alarm will let you know if someone uninvited is in your house, and it could also scare the intruder off. When this one is triggered, you need to act fast and grab your firearm or hide/run.
The Rat Trap
The first trap I will describe is by far the simplest and requires minimal equipment and skills to construct. It works by placing a glowstick in such a way that when a rat trap is triggered the spring arm of the trap snaps closed on the glowstick shattering the vial inside of the stick. The trap is triggered by a tripwire of paracord, bank line, or wire.
Materials: 1 – Rat Trap, 1 – Glowstick, Paracord, Zap straps, Drill and drill bit
Step 1 – Determine where the glowstick is going to mount on the rat trap. Then drill holes on either side of the glowstick to accommodate a zap strap.
Step 2 – Mount the glowstick using a zap strap making sure that the glass vial inside will be broken by the spring arm when the trap is triggered.
Step 3 – Attach paracord to the trigger of the trap. You may want to modify the trigger to make it easier to attach the cordage.
Step 4 – Mount the trap in a suitable location then run the paracord to form a tripwire. Do not securely tie it off yet since you have yet to set the trap.
Step 5 – Set the trap as normal and very carefully adjust the tripwire keeping in mind that because of how sensitive the trigger mechanism is the tripwire will not be taut. Also, the longer the tripwire the heavier the line and in turn, the looser it will have to be. It is best to keep these lines short or made from lightweight materials.
The LED Trap
This trap requires a few electronic components which can be easily found or scavenged from old electronics. For this article, I have shown the simple circuit on a breadboard, but you will want to assemble the components more permanently through soldering.
An important point of note is that I have not specified a value for the resistor in this circuit. The reason for this is that the longer the run of wire you need to use the greater the resistance that wire will provide the circuit and in turn, there will be an associated voltage drop. When constructing this circuit, test it using the full lengths of wire to ensure that the LED’s light to your satisfaction. Do this before placing the traps in position.
Use a separate power source for each trigger. You may find that it is better to use higher voltage batteries for this project depending on how long the runs of wire are.
One advantage of this trigger is that you can place the LED’s on a cardboard map of the property and have a visual representation of exactly where the incursion is taking place.
- 1 – Wooden or plastic clothespin
- 1 – Length of two lead insulated wire of a thin gauge. It needs to be long enough to run from your tripwire location to where you are going to install your warning light.
- 1 – Resistor
- 1 – LED bulb
- 1 – 9-volt battery connector
- 1 – 9-volt battery
- Electrical tape
- Metal tape
Step 1 – Wrap the jaws of the clothespin with metal tape so that they are wrapped all around. This is what completes the circuit so make sure that the only place the two sides touch is where the jaws of the clothespin meet.
Step 2 – Split and strip the ends of the two-lead wire then attach one lead to the outside of one of the jaws of the clothespin with a piece of electrical tape. Repeat for the other side and secure the wire to the clothespin further with a wrap of tape.
Step 3 – Construct the circuit by connecting the positive of the battery to the resistor then to the anode of the LED.
Step 4 – Split and strip the other end of the twin lead wire and connect one of them to the negative terminal and the other to the free lead of the LED.
Step 5 – Test the circuit and the brightness of the LED. You may want to change the resistor value to increase the LED brightness.
Step 6 – Use a zip tie that has been fashioned into a loop as a non-conductive trigger for the tripwire.
Step 7 – Place the trigger and set the tripwire. I like to use a nail or screw through the hollow part of the clothespin spring to secure it.
This trigger can also be placed on doorways as well by securing the zip tie to the door and the trigger to the door frame.
These devices are useless if you place them where no one would walk. The best way to figure out where to set these devices is to approach your house from the perspective of someone who would want to break in. Look for areas that provide good cover from view and identify avenues of ingress that a looter or other criminal would likely use.
If you place them in areas that are often used by yourself or your family be sure that everyone is very aware of the locations of each trap. Also, be aware of any possible four-legged intruders as well because you may have to adjust the heights of the tripwires to avoid false alarms.
The Sound “Grenade”
One way to set up an early warning alarm is to use what is commonly referred to as a sound grenade. These devices are usually marketed to women as a nonlethal means to deter attackers and signal for help. They emit a very loud siren when activated that is often as loud as 120 decibels. For use in this tripwire system, I selected one of these alarms that are activated via a ripcord attached to a key. This allows the tripwire to activate the alarm by pulling the key out of the device.
When deployed around your home these devices serve two purposes, the first being to alert you to an intruder on your property, and the second to alert the intruder that they’ve been discovered and allow them to escape.
The best places to place a tripwire alarm such as this is along walkways, near entry doors, gates, and even on garage doors. These devices are loud but if placed too far away it may be too difficult to hear from inside your home. They are also well suited for placing inside the home as well.
Materials: Ripcord activated personal alarm, Length of cordage (a fishing line, wire, paracord, etc.), Short length of metal strapping, U shaped nails.
Step 1 – Mount the sound grenade in such a way that the key can be pulled out straight from the body of the sound grenade. This may require that the tripwire be routed in such a way that as someone’s leg pulls the tripwire, the key is removed from the device straight out and not on an angle.
Step 2 – Carefully string the tripwire across the area that you want to secure.
Step 3 – Test the tripwire to ensure that the key will be removed cleanly.
Instructions (Garage Doors)
Step 1 – Attach the sound grenade to the wall as close to the garage door as possible. Also, place a screw in the garage door to attach the other end of the cordage.
Step 2 – Secure a short length of cordage to the door and the other end to the key. I like to use a carabiner on the door side, so the alarm can be disabled in case I need to use the door. In this instance, I used thin gauge wire instead of paracord. Alternatively, one could use a loop instead of the carabiner.
Step 3 – When the door is opened the alarm will activate.
Tips For The Sound Grenade Trap
- When selecting a tripwire be aware that the sound grenade devices are designed to require a sharp tug to activate. If you choose to use something like a fishing line choose a line of the highest pound test possible.
- Always test the tripwire’s function to ensure that the device is activated appropriately.
- This style of alarm can be easily adapted for use on entry doors as well.
The advantage of early warning systems such as these ones, is that in a lot of instances the materials needed are laying around the garage or homestead.
The rat trap versions are good for placing at longer distances, and if you have access to night vision and IR glowsticks, they can be an almost invisible version of a trip flare.
While the LED version takes a lot of experimentation and a bit of skill, it can in a lot of ways, be a better early warning system. This is because it only requires one person to be aware of and looking at one set of lights, rather than trying to keep watch of several glowstick traps.
The sound trap is a great device which can be easily made, and it also gives you a better feeling of security. You know that if one of the places you have this alarm installed is entered, you will be notified and have time to act.
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