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Spin-Off: Monitoring a Metal Barn

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  • Spin-Off: Monitoring a Metal Barn

    I read the thread about the baby monitor for the barn, and thought that would provide terrific peace of mind for me now that my boys are in at night. So, I ran out and bought the top-rated longest-range baby monitor.

    Drats! It does not work for me because my barn is a metal building. I mean, the monitor works, but the range is like 5 feet outside the barn.

    I do not need (or want) a video monitoring sytem. I just would like to be able to hear a smoke alarm sounding in the barn. A barn fire is, of course, my primary fear.

    Any suggestions?

  • #2
    If there's a window facing your house, try placing the monitor there.

    There are mainly two types of monitors, one that sends the signal through the air (radio), and the other that sends it through the power wiring. This will sometimes work for the first type.

    There's a third type that uses dedicated wiring, but these tend to be expensive and often part of a security system.
    The inherent vice of Capitalism is the unequal sharing of blessings. The inherent virtue of Socialism is the equal sharing of miseries.
    Winston Churchill

    Comment


    • #3
      Radio Shack or similar store.
      Buy a two way radio set with base.
      (2 walkie-talkies with a base system)
      Set the base up in the barn, they can stand on a table/shelf or hang on the wall.
      Put the two way radio chargers in the house, one in the bedroom next to the bed. The other where ever you hang out most often.
      Set all 3 to the same channel.
      Now you can hear everything in the barn.
      Two way radios are sold according to distances they cover. My set covers up to 7 miles. Cost was $125 for the 3 IIRC. Goes through walls of concrete and metal.
      Also nice to have if riding solo. Wear a radio and have spouse in house wear the other. If spouse hears a thud and then a horse giggling, they can come check on you and catch your horse.
      You jump in the saddle,
      Hold onto the bridle!
      Jump in the line!
      ...Belefonte

      Comment

      • Original Poster

        #4
        MB -- I'm heading to Radio Shack tomorrow. Thanks, I hope this works!

        DH and I are both the worrisome type. I guess it comes with the years and you've learned that sh*t does happen! (As opposed to when we were younger and thought "oh, it will be okay" no matter what it was!)

        Comment


        • #5
          Originally posted by King's Ransom View Post
          I read the thread about the baby monitor for the barn, and thought that would provide terrific peace of mind for me now that my boys are in at night. So, I ran out and bought the top-rated longest-range baby monitor.

          Drats! It does not work for me because my barn is a metal building. I mean, the monitor works, but the range is like 5 feet outside the barn.

          I do not need (or want) a video monitoring sytem. I just would like to be able to hear a smoke alarm sounding in the barn. A barn fire is, of course, my primary fear.

          Any suggestions?

          Yes, go to Radio Shack and get a decent intercom system. My METAL barn is about 2-300 ft from the house depending where you stand and, other than background static, they work great. I've got one transmitter in the barn and 5 receivers scattered throughout the house.

          Mine are labeled Radio Shack FM Wireless Intecom - 3 channels.

          I originally bought a 3 pack and used one as transmitter and one as receiver in my bedroom and one in the FR where my computer is. I then decided the following yr to get another 3 pack and added a receiver in the LR/DR and one in the sitting room and one in the extra bedroom in the lower level.
          Sue

          I'm not saying let's go kill all the stupid people...I'm just saying let's remove all the warning labels and let the problem sort itself out.

          Comment


          • #6
            I think that's the one I have too msj. Least expensive one. Works fantastic!

            Fun part is with the range I can take a hand held downtown with me to run errands and still hear everything inside my barn.

            I can also yell at the horses when they're in. When they start snarking at each other through the stall bars I can hit the talk button and yell, "Knock it off!" First time I did that after Sonny came home I got to hear them not only stop banging the walls but got to hear poor Sonny spook at the disembodied voice, LOL!

            The boys are good with it, but when I had Moo he had learned after getting yelled at a few times that I can hear them...thus I can hear him ask for more hay. At 3 am. In a really loud whinny. Helluva way to wake up, a radio right on the nightstand and a horse screaming in your ear! Almost had to get plastic sheets.

            I'm not as good as I should be wearing the radio around the property though. During the week I'm the only one home most of the time and on the weekends if I'm wearing the radio it goes off every 10 minutes with really important stuff like, "Honey, where are those cookies I like? I can't find them."
            "Hey sweetie, that commercial that you think is funny is on!"
            "Sweetheart, we're almost out of milk!"

            Yeah okay, thanks. I'll ride this horse right to the store and get yoou some milk to go with those invisible cookies while you watch commercials. *sigh*
            You jump in the saddle,
            Hold onto the bridle!
            Jump in the line!
            ...Belefonte

            Comment


            • #7
              Misty, I've learned to put the receiver in the bedroom about 10' away because I have a horse that will paw. A mild paw I will wake up too, but if it goes on from a minute or two, I immediately suspect another gas colic episode of which during 08 and 09 he had about 17 of them. Usually 7 cc of Banamine PO, about 40 minutes on the lunge line and he's OK, but he's had a couple of relapses so I'm really careful. So far this yr, knock on wood, he's only had 2 episodes. One each in Jan and Feb. I'm hoping to maybe have it under control.

              I like your idea of the walkie talkie's though. I now have one guy who has on occasion decided he wanted to keep all the neighbors up at night by calling to all the neighboring horses. At least 6 farms nearby. I don't know if it would shut him up, but, hey, it's worth a try.

              If I have any $ left after X-mas, I may take a trip into Radio Shack and check them out.
              Sue

              I'm not saying let's go kill all the stupid people...I'm just saying let's remove all the warning labels and let the problem sort itself out.

              Comment


              • #8
                They work pretty good. My system is made to use with the walkie talkies. One base and 4 walkie talkies. (only needed a set of two but I lose stuff, LOL)
                The hand helds have little charging bases they sit on. My bedroom charging base is across the room now too...way too loud near the bed. All that snoring, bucket banging, farting, snorting, bickering, etc.

                They were a big help when I had a gelding with stones and then colitis. I spent a buttload of nights in the barn but copped a few hours overnight once in a while in bed due to the radios. And for peace of mind before my mare passed, she had a really bad heart and I wanted to hear if anything went bad overnight. And great for catching colics.
                You jump in the saddle,
                Hold onto the bridle!
                Jump in the line!
                ...Belefonte

                Comment


                • #9
                  Originally posted by MistyBlue View Post
                  Also nice to have if riding solo. Wear a radio and have spouse in house wear the other. If spouse hears a thud and then a horse giggling, they can come check on you and catch your horse.


                  Seriously, this is a very helpful thread. Thanks, everyone!
                  "My friends, love is better than anger. Hope is better than fear. Optimism is better than despair. So let us be loving, hopeful and optimistic. And we'll change the world." ~ Jack Layton

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    thanks for the intercom idea.

                    My back barn does not get the reception and so I can't use cameras or baby monitor.

                    So, I am getting the intercom system.
                    I also love that I can yell at them. I sometimes do, open my window and yell to knock it off, and they all look at the house with a how does she know that. Thank you camera.

                    But, the back barn, is silent and I don't like that. Intercom is such a good idea, better than a baby monitor!
                    thank you.
                    save lives...spay/neuter/geld

                    Comment

                    • Original Poster

                      #11
                      Radio Shack has discontinued the FRS intercom that you guys have! I talked at-length to the Radio Shack guy, and he is going to see whether it is discontinued because they just didn't sell enough of them, or whether the FCC has changed the laws on their use.

                      At any rate, I found a discontinued model on e-Bay and went ahead and purchased it. The Radio Shack guy told me it "should" work.

                      I'll let you know when I get it.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        How do the intercoms work? Do they have to be connect to the same breaker box? We have one break box in the barn, and another in the house. Barn is about 300 feet from the house, but it is a metal barn.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          DH (an electrical engineer) says that intercoms will work
                          fine as long as there is not a transformer between the house and barn and there isn't "too much wire" between the two. He said that they would not work well between your home and the next door neighbor, but between a house and the (reasonably nearby) barn would be fine.
                          Robin from Dancing Horse Hill
                          Elmwood, Wisconsin

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Mine are individual units and I plug one in at the barn and lock it on TALK - that is the transmitter. I then plug in one or more at the house where I want them - they are the receivers. I think I said earlier my barn and house are about 2-300 ft apart. Now, with mine, as opposed to the walkie talkies that MB is talking about, I cannot set one to call down to the horses and one to transmit unless the units are greater than either 10' or 20' apart according to the directions. Honestly I've never even tried it.

                            I had a perfectly fine 2 unit set but because my home is extremely well insulated, interior walls as well, I wanted units in most of the rooms I would be in during the day. That's why I went out and bought so many.
                            Sue

                            I'm not saying let's go kill all the stupid people...I'm just saying let's remove all the warning labels and let the problem sort itself out.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by Robin@DHH View Post
                              He said that they would not work well between your home and the next door neighbor, but between a house and the (reasonably nearby) barn would be fine.
                              Hubby might be right about intercoms, but that doesn't apply to baby monitors.
                              My next door neighbor had a baby monitor, the same brand I had BEFORE I bought the Radio Shack intercoms and we both happened to be on the same channel. Either that or one of my horses learned to cry like a baby! Thank god there were 2 channels on the baby monitor!
                              Sue

                              I'm not saying let's go kill all the stupid people...I'm just saying let's remove all the warning labels and let the problem sort itself out.

                              Comment

                              • Original Poster

                                #16
                                I had a long talk with the (knowledgeable, rural) Radio Shack guy today. He thought the AC intercoms would work well, but not the 900 mhz baby monitors.

                                He did explain to me that as long as the house and barn are on the same transformer, the ones that travel through the AC current will work. I explained that I have a separate service box (breaker box) in the barn -- he said no matter. He says, "Look outside, can you see your transformer at the pole?"

                                I said, "Yes."

                                He said, "Is there only one transformer bringing power to your farm? Or is there another transformer for the barns?"

                                "I just see one," says me.

                                "Okay, the ones that travel on the A/C current should work for you."

                                The downside is that the units have to be plugged-in, so you can't travel around with them like you can with the walkie-talkies (like MistyBlue describes).

                                I am hoping that the unit I bought off of e-bay, which is the FRS intercom my Radio Shack guy said should work, will indeed work.

                                Sadly, Radio Shack no longer makes this unit.

                                Comment

                                • Original Poster

                                  #17
                                  Not for monitoring

                                  Other than the one I found on e-bay (discontinued model), this is the closest I could find in an available-now unit like MistyBlue described: http://www.gadgetshack.com/3mirain.html

                                  Here's the catch, there is no way to lock this intercom into "monitor" mode, because it's against the FCC regs to use it that way.

                                  The Radio Shack guy told me, however, that you could possibly tape the monitor key down and use it anyway ... it would depend on whether you started annoying someone and they complained. He carefully said he was not recommending that, just conjecturing that it could be done.

                                  He also mentioned that, out in the country, it's less likely that you would be annoying anybody.

                                  Just saying.

                                  Comment

                                  • Original Poster

                                    #18
                                    Intercom Unit Buzzes When on VOX

                                    Okay you guys who have the Radio Shack intercom -- mine just arrived. I've been playing with it in the house (haven't taken it to the barn yet). When I turn the intercom unit on VOX for monitoring -- my handheld units buzz constantly.They buzz so loudly that I can barely hear anything coming over the intercom.

                                    But, if I reverse it -- put one of my hand helds on VOX for monitoring, it all works fine.

                                    Is there a setting I am missing here?

                                    Comment


                                    • #19
                                      Originally posted by King's Ransom View Post
                                      Okay you guys who have the Radio Shack intercom -- mine just arrived. I've been playing with it in the house (haven't taken it to the barn yet). When I turn the intercom unit on VOX for monitoring -- my handheld units buzz constantly.They buzz so loudly that I can barely hear anything coming over the intercom.

                                      But, if I reverse it -- put one of my hand helds on VOX for monitoring, it all works fine.

                                      Is there a setting I am missing here?
                                      Did you change where you plug the base unit?
                                      You may be getting interference there from something like the refrigerator or something else the intercom base is picking up.

                                      Try plugging it in different sockets in different locations.

                                      Comment

                                      • Original Poster

                                        #20
                                        I tried plugging in to several different outlets, but no luck. As soon as I set the intercom on VOX, the hand helds start buzzing. Arghhh!

                                        Comment

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