Project - bin notification

I like to tinker, but I’m still a beginner when it comes to hardware.

Every week the rubbish bin and/or green waste/recycle bin go out, but I only want to bring them in if both bins have been emptied. I could wait the whole day to be sure, but then I wouldn’t have a problem (excuse) that could be fixed with tinkering.

I want to get a notification when bins have been emptied.

Detection: bin has moved. Or more accurately bin has been violently flipped upside down.

Notification: A light on the device isn’t sufficient. Wireless - wifi, Bluetooth (probably too far. 20m?), zigbee.

Should be battery operated and small. Preference to be cheap in case it falls off with the rubbish! :slight_smile:

Any suggestions on the hardware to use? I’ve got some Particle Argon/Xenon’s, Arduino & rPi, but not sure if there’s something smaller/better.

Let me know what hardware you think would be suitable, and if there’s already blogs on a sensor like this.



Hey Andrew,

Welcome to the forum, sounds like an awesome project!

For the sensor, I would take a look at an IMU (Inertial measurement unit) such as the MPU6050 which measures the acceleration of whatever it’s attached to.
Personally, I would probably go for WiFi since it’s very well known among the maker community and has some pretty decent range (walls and humidity will affect the range of WiFi but grabbing a WiFi extender will patch up any issues).

Personally, I would go with the ESP32, with a Piico, STEMMA or Qwiic connector.
As for the battery, I would definitely steer clear of using any chemistry involving a LiPo. If that ends up getting crushed the whole truck could go up in flames! You can read up on some options here:

The Argon’s are great little boards so getting one of those hooked up might be another option!

Using a microphone and looking for some specific sounds might also be a way to detect a garbage truck.

I’m I’d love to see what you come up with!


Hi Andrew,

What a handy little project :slight_smile:

I’d go super simple for sensing - a photo resistor on the bottom of the bin, and look for a sudden change in brightness. Unless your bins are being emptied pre-dawn, it should be pretty reliable. Most wheelie bins have a bit of cutout underneath that would be heaps to fit some electronics in.

As for signal, I’d personally go with a 433MHz RF Link or Zigbee - leaning towards a preference for 433 to stick with the KISS principle - stay away from tcp and networking issues if you can, and the higher data rates of wifi and bluetooth come at the cost of very short range - especially if this is transmitting from outside your house to inside.

If you need a push notification on your phone, just hook the receiver up to an Argon or an RPi and use your favourite flavour of IoT service :slight_smile: