So I have a project idea. (groan)
I want to monitor multiple motion and/or ultrasonic sensors to build a simple proximity alert. I want to "deploy" sensors at key points along the perimeter of my home (outdoors). Later, I'd like to send z-wave notifications to my home controller and play a gentle alert tone for large signals but ... baby steps... For now I'll settle for a simple output (a lit LED will do) just to get things working.
I'm aware of the components I'll need and have an idea for the sketch to drive it (either with one or as many sensors as an Uno 3 can support after shields) but I'm at a loss regarding distance. I have a choice between multiple Arduinos with their own sensors, each communicating back to home base OR one Arduino in the loft with multiple sensors and a hydra-like set of cables to each, as well as a SINGLE hardwired power draw. I like the latter approach as it's less wasteful in a number of ways and is certainly cheaper (especially considering radio shields).
The Actual Question
What I want is recommendations on how to approach (if it's even feasible) long-distance connection of the sensor components to the Arduino. Specifically:
- Might some of the extra Cat-5 I have laying around be a good match for this?
- If not, why (I'm trying to learn - a reference to good reading is all I ask)?
- Is there an alternative I hadn't considered?
- Am I trying to run before I can walk?
- Mother will they tear your little boy apart?*
*Okay, so that's just a Pink Floyd reference. I'm just getting started with the Arduino as a new hobby (I'm a software engineer by trade, no EE background or experience). I'm currently facing the problem of "not knowing what I need to know to ask a good question." Please forgive any perceived laziness and feel free to school me. :-)
Further research did turn up this thread where someone suggested this is feasible but the OP said one sensor wouldn't respond. A responder said one sensor's manufacturer suggested a low pass filter on the sensor side of the connection, as close as possible. Thoughts?
Also, it occurs to my network engineering background that if multiple cat-5 runs in different directions wastes at least 2 of 8 strands, maybe a 2-pair telephone data cable would also work just fine, assuming the tips are soldered to make them solid leading into the breadboard. Again, thoughts?