Home automation

At last, a door bell

I’ve not had a door bell for years. With the old arrangement of entrances, there was only one and folks could knock with the knocker. With the new door, the knocker is gone and there are now two doors, one on the Fletcher side and one on the Townley side with the back garden gate to the right and garden monsters luring in the shadows. So, what to do for a door bell?

An advert for the Ring Door Chime showed up in my Facebook feed. Finally, a useful Facebook advert! The Ring Chime is an inexpensive combination wireless door chime and perimeter camera with off-site recording and it actually works.

The Ring Door Bell — is the new kids in town with a wireless video door bell. This is a two piece or three piece system consisting of the following kit.

  • The Ring door bell assembly mounted near the door.
  • An optional Ring chime plugged into an out of the way outlet
  • An IOS or Android app on your favorite device

The door-side assembly mounts to a mounting plate secured to the siding. Two Torx screws lock the outside kit to the mounting plate. More about mounting in a bit.

When a visitor approaches the door, a motion sensor detects the approach and wakes the unit from standby. The Ring bell reports motion sensed events to the paired IOS/Android device. When the visitor presses the bell button, the Ring bell sends a ring event to the paired devices. The chime and IOS/Android devices will play a chime tone. The camera initiates a video chat session with the app to allow you to see who is at the door and chat with the visitor.

This happens via the local WiFi network but the notification will be routed to the device via the Internet. You can see visitors from anywhere that there is Internet service.

The outside assembly signals all events, both motion and chime presses. The paired application can be configured to announce chime rings and motion events independently. The settings are local to each phone or tablet. Multiple phones and tablets may be paired and each can have its own notification policy.

Added Value, a Video Record of Each Visitor

So, big deal! So far, I’ve described an expensive wireless chime. But the Ring bell does more. It records each encouter  to off-site storage. Anybody coming to your door is on candid camera. You have a video record of break-in attempts to show to the police and your insurance carrier. A practiced thief can be in and out before the police respond to a monitored alarm. And without leads, the police can’t pursue a simple smash and grab. We see this repeatedly in the local newspaper. A citizen reports a break-in. The police come and take a report. But there are no leads to follow. If the citizen was home, the description of the perpetrator lacks detail.

The Ring camera is designed for low light and makes passable images. When paired with an inside Nest or Canary camera, you have a video record of the intrusion that the police can act on. Canary has collected several stories of successful apprehensions of burglars when the video captured an intruder known to the police.

Each motion event is saved off-site. It is not necessary to ring the bell to start a recording. The motion detection can be adjusted in azimuth and distance to reduce spurious activations. In reviewing the captured events for this article, I found that it was capturing my returns home from dog walks and from trips. Exiting home does not trigger recording.

I found that passing traffic was triggering recordings several times a day but these are easily identified as nothing is visible in the foreground.

Subscription to off-site recording is optional. Ring charges $3/month for the service or $30 for the year prepaid. The first month is free.


The Ring outside assembly is designed for both wireless and wired applications. When wired, it steals power from the bell circuit and pushing the button completes the circuit to sound your existing chime in addition to playing a chime sound on your mobile or tablet. To use this feature requires connecting the bell circuit to the base plate and adding a diode as shown in the installation instructions. Hopefully, Ring will revise the baseplate to include the diode in the printed circuit. For wireless use, the diode is not required.

Ring includes a level, screws, screw anchors, screw driver, and masonry bit in the kit. The included masonry bit was not robust enough to drill through brick. If mounting to brick, you’ll need to buy a proper 1/4 inch rotary/hammer masonry bit to drill the mounting holes.

Ring’s installation video glibly shows a millennial marking the four mounting holes with a pencil, drilling them, inserting anchors, and mounting the base plate. This procedure may be troublesome on masonry. In my installation I either miss-marked the holes or the drill walked on the brick. I recommend the following procedure. For this procedure you will need a proper masonry center punch and 1/4 inch rotary/hammer masonry bit and a 1/4 or 3/8 inch variable speed drill, preferably corded as drilling each hole takes several minutes.

  1. Center punch and drill the first hole, either upper hole using a masonry punch and masonry bit.
  2. Insert the anchor and loosely mount the plate so it can be rotated to plumb.
  3. Using the center punch, mark the hole diagonally opposite the first hole.
  4. Remove the mounting plate and drill this hole.
  5. Insert the second anchor and loosely mount the plate.
  6. Confirm that it is plumb
  7. Center punch the two remaining holes
  8. Dismount the plate
  9. Drill the remaining holes and insert their anchors.
  10. Mount the plate

By davehamby

A modern Merlin, hell bent for glory, he shot the works and nothing worked.