Ajar alarms are online!

Hey All,

As part of our continuing efforts to protect access to the facility, we now have ajar alarms hooked up over the lobby and workshop entrances. If you see the blue light flashing and hear something that sounds vaguely like a smoke alarm, it means somebody left the door propped open. Close the door and the alarm will turn off.



How long do the doors have to remain open before the alarms go off?

That is a secret :shushing_face:

Not for long. [starts stopwatch]

Right now it’s two minutes in the lobby and five minutes in the workshop. They used to both be two minutes but the workshop was firing all the time so we increased the timeout to accommodate people loading in materials.

As we get people used to not propping doors, I expect we’ll reduce the workshop timeout.


“Not propping doors” is “not going to happen”. It’s essential for bringing tools and materials in and out of the workshop. I get that we don’t want people to dawdle while doing so, which I am sometimes guilty of, or to forget and leave it propped, which I don’t do, mainly because my custom door prop makes it obvious it’s open. Yes, I made a special door prop for this. I figured it was better than the alternative, opening the garage door, because that opens 3-6 times as much area to lose AC/heat through.

Five minutes was barely sufficient to load in today; it wouldn’t have been enough to load out. I avoided the alarm then by pulling the prop midway to reset the timer, but that’s annoying too. Shortening the interval is a terrible idea.


Is this a problem that could be solved by having more convenient carts for people to use?


That would in fact be a great help for me. I actually bought a dolly a while back with the intent to make moving my tool bins easier and faster, but I rarely use it, because it’s unstable going over the door threshold; even our floor is irregular enough to be an issue. (James actually filled in some of the floor near the door, which might help.) So a cart that could fit through the door and was stable could greatly reduce how many trips are needed.

OK, cool. We have two service carts on the metal shop plan that I was holding off to avoid adding clutter while so much is in flux. I just ordered one to try out. If we like them we can get some more.


There are 3 carts on UT Austin surplus, all closing Oct 4. The first is Metal warehouse cart - Swico Auctions Click Next Item twice for the others. The first two look sturdy and have pneumatic tires, while the 3rd is flimsy.

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Setting the door ajar alarm at 5 minutes is going to strongly discourage taking out the trash. It takes more than 5 minutes to empty the trash, and wrangling a trash can and keys is supremely annoying. I always prop the door when taking out the trash.

I get that we don’t want to let it go so long that people walk completely out of range, but I suspect that 5 minutes is significantly too short.


That’s interesting. I’ve never propped the door when taking out trash. When returning with empty bins, I don’t find it difficult to open the door again. I wonder also if it truly takes more than 5 minutes or is just something that feels longer than it is because it’s not the most pleasant task.

I think the main point to these alarms and also this thread is that we need to all be rethinking how we behave around propping doors open and recognize that it’s a problem we need to solve collectively. These ajar alarms are part of that, carts for easy of load in/out are also part of that, changing current behavior patterns will also be an essential part of that.

Hey, how do you feel about smaller steel trash cans like the Behrens can we put on the planer? I think some people have difficulty lifting the big Rubbermaid cans over the lip of the dumpster. Plus the smaller can is going to be lighter but of course it will fill up sooner.

I never prop the door emptying the trash. I keep my fob or phone on me.
I do prop the door, sometimes, when loading in.

I have seen people prop the door to take a phone call so that they don’t have to unlock to get back in. Mystifying, since they have their phone by default.

Carts are a great idea, but… carts seem to collect items that stay on them for too long. We will need to develop new habits around carts.
As for the can size, they can get unwieldy, though I still think that the dumpster lid is the greater barrier - but that’s a different discussion.

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5’4" regular trash can empty-er chiming in here. I generally empty two cans at the same time, don’t prop the door and would guess I’m in and out in less than five minutes. The garbage lid is a significant hurdle. I’m pretty spry so I end up shimmying up the side of it, and standing on the fork receptacle to get it open/closed. This has only recently been more sketch due to some less than friendly stinging insects in our neighbors can.


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I feel you @Chrisjmckinley as a 5’3" person! The lid is the hardest part for me, not the can.

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Maybe changing the door prop alarm to 8 minutes then is a reasonable solution?

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Would it be possible to install a button that resets/extends the door timeout? Or one that prevents the door from locking for a few minutes?

The latter would make propping unnecessary for short trips, provided the items being moved aren’t unwieldy.

I generally prop the door when taking trash out, simply because the app isn’t all that reliable for me. I’m sure it’d work better if I gave it the extra permissions, but I don’t want it draining my battery.

So the strategy I use for open door is to open it when I get to the shop with all the permissions fairly generous. And then I force quit the app entirely as I leave the shop. So it’s heavy battery use when I’m there, but not all the time

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I see no impact on my phone battery, and I never touch the app, so it always works. But I get it that not all phones manage their batteries and apps the same.

For the few hours one is at the shop, leaving the app on, like you do @stepho, is one way to address it, while not leaving the app running all of the time.

Another option is to purchase a fob, here.

We don’t mean to make it difficult, but there are already options available that can make re-entry a little easier while at the space.

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