Another home security question

Discussion in 'After Hours Lounge (Off Topic)' started by Wade, Jan 29, 2004.

  1. Wade

    Wade Stunt Coordinator

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    Just moved into our new house which was pre-wired for a security system. All the windows and doors have dangling wires that I would like to do something with. All of these wires lead to one spot under the stairs and there is no box or panel of any kind, just a bundle of wires behind the wall. I don't want to use a monitoring service at this time but would like to set something up that would trigger some sirens, maybe have some zone controls of some sort.

    Any suggestions as to some type of panel or box I can pick up that would allow me to do these things? Maybe I can utilize an old computer in there to do some things. I just wish I had ran some camera cables but I'll tackle that one later. Maybe wireless for those would work.

    Thanks
     
  2. BrianW

    BrianW Cinematographer

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    You can get reed switches to hook up to the wires at each door and window. Magnets mounted on the moving window sashes or door will then close the switch contacts when doors/windows are closed, open the switch contacts when they are open. You can get the switches and magnets at Radio Shack, though you may be better off searching for them online.

    The home run location (under the stairs) is more complicated. The easiest thing to do would be to get a home security panel and install it. Look at www.smarthome.com for some ideas.

    If you want to use a computer and "roll-your-own" security system, you'll need a power supply to run current through the wires, along with some current limiting circuitry (resistors, at a minimum), and a way to interface that with the computer.

    Then you need to write the computer program to monitor the switches at the end of the wires.

    I've seen some people hook the wires in parallel with keys on an old computer keyboard, eliminating the need for a power supply and any kind of hardware interface. You could then write a simple DOS program that looked for individual keystrokes, like "K" for Kitchen Window, or "F" for Front Door, etc. But this doesn't work very well for most applications, because the lengths of wire involved introduce capacitance that makes the keys appear to be pressed even when the reed switches are open. The wires could also attract local EMF that could trigger fals-alarm keystrokes. Low-voltage TTL just doesn't work over long, unshielded distances, so do some testing before you try this with the existing wires.

    Overall, I think you're best bet would be to just buy a hard-wired security panel.

    Oh, and completely forget the wireless cameras. They're fun toys, but using them for security is like building a freight train out of Leggos.
     
  3. Wade

    Wade Stunt Coordinator

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    Brian,

    Thanks for the response.

    I was just looking at some control panels at the Home Security Store. I just happened upon their site, so I don't know if it's a reputable place or not. The control panels I was checking out are by DCS and CADDX. I couldn't tell you which brand is better.

    The under the stairway location works out to be a pretty good location. It's centrally located on the first floor and is a completely finished area that we plan on using for storage. I can have an outlet put right below the panel if needed and put a keypad right on the other side of the wall from the control panel. A siren can go right outside the door that accesses this area. Could put a motion detector there as well. There is also a smoke and carbon monoxide detector outside this door I could tie into if possible.

    I think I'll keep the computer setup for a future project. I just want to get some kind of security in place for now.
     
  4. Shawn Solar

    Shawn Solar Supporting Actor

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    Hello Wade,

    You first need to check all the wire and tone out what goes where and label them. The windows may be looped(ran series) window to window and the doors could be the same. Motions are ran in corners keypads at entrances and glassbreaks usaully come out the ceiling(though cailing motions exist) If it was ran properly all windows/doors and motions are individual home runs. check for a phone line and a power line(12volt transfomer is used). sirens can be wired at the panel, above a heating duct or if they were good in the attic.

    Most alarm companies use DSC brand. they come in 6 and 8 zone versions. the 8 zone can be expanded(with an expander module) to 64 zones(depending if it is an 832 or 864). Paradox and ademco and Napco are other brands. All need to be programmed and program differenly using numerical data entered at the keypad.

    make sure you know which contact you need for the doors and windows and I suggest basic pet immune motions(which don't go off for pets under 40lbs-60lbs) If you need any help let me know

    Shawn Solar
     
  5. Shawn Solar

    Shawn Solar Supporting Actor

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    And yes I install alarms[​IMG]
     
  6. Johnny Mo

    Johnny Mo Agent

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    A few other things to look out for (we recently moved and the house was pre-wired, but I have my own alarm guy):
    whether this was done intentionally or maliciously I don't know, but it seemed to coincidental to be an honest mistake

    The keypad was wired incorrectly
    There was a window contact put in place with the magnet removed from it's plastic case
    A few wires were shorted out (not with staples but with butt connectors)
    The smoke detectors were in place but not connected
    Some wires were looped to make it difficult to line trace.

    Seems like way too much to be an honest mistake, but I can understand (and appreciate) that the alarm company probably wired the house for next to nothing, hoping to get a nice long service/monitoring arrangement out of the buyer, but my alarma guy could've wired up a whole new system for the time he had to spend figuring out the "pre-wired" mess that was left. So be careful about jumping to conclusions about certian things - they may not always be what they appear - depending on the installers possibly hidden agenda.
     
  7. Randy Tennison

    Randy Tennison Screenwriter

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    If you truly want cameras, there are camera adapters that allow you to send a camera signal through a twisted pair.

    All in all, I would pay someone to install a system. You should be able to find an independent contractor who will install the system, without having to sign up for monitoring.
     
  8. Wade

    Wade Stunt Coordinator

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    Shawn,

    This is probably a dumb question but how do I tone out what goes where? I knew I would have to determine this and was curious as to how to do it. By looking at the bundle of wires I would say each window and door is ran separately. I counted 25 contact points in the house and the bundle easily has that many wires. There are also a few larger wires, presumably for phone and power as you stated. One wire could be for a keypad but I have no idea where they would have terminated it.

    The DSC stuff looks promising but their web site locks some information (tech. manuals, installation stuff) I would like to read. If I were to buy this equipment I would hope I would get this information. Some things like motion detectors and glass break sensors would have to be wireless. Do you think this would be a problem?

    Johnny,

    That does seem like an awful lot of stuff to be just an honest mistake. Good thing your guy found everything.

    Randy,

    I probably should hire someone to install it, but I would like to investigate doing it myself first.

    Thanks,
    Wade
     
  9. Shawn Solar

    Shawn Solar Supporting Actor

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    Wade I have access to the blocked info and if you bought the stuff you would get an installation manual and a programming textbook. I have the power 832 practically memorized so please ask if unsure. If you don't think you can handle it I suggest getting a few quotes and prices. Again I can help you there too.

    By toning I mean tracing. This can be done two ways. A toner works the easiest but is expensive. You connect two alligator clips on two of the four wires turn on the signal generator(send a tone down the line). Then you go to the other ends of the wire and the probe will emit a loud constant beep when you have the wire you connected to the generator.

    The second way is cheaper but much more time consuming. You have to strip every wire at the main panal location and then go to each location through out the house one at time and twist two of the wires together. Then go in the basement with a Volt meter, VOM whatever you want to call it and check for continuity on the two colours you twisted together. But you have to check each pair on every wire until you find it. then go untwist the last pair and twist a new pair.

    Johnny,

    You would not believe what kind of wiring we've come upon. live 110V power lines in ceilings, wires that go know where and so on. looping all zones(including powered motions) together.

    Shawn Solar
     
  10. Wade

    Wade Stunt Coordinator

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    Shawn,

    Smarthome.com actually has the manuals on their web site. I'll skim through those to see if I'm up for the challenge or not.

    It looks like the second option for sorting out the wires is the way I'd have to go. Could I use a 9 volt battery at the panel location then run around with a cheap speaker or are the wire runs to long for this.

    Thanks for the help.

    Wade
     
  11. Shawn Solar

    Shawn Solar Supporting Actor

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    Wade,

    You just turn the meter to one of the ohm settings. digital ones have a setting that beeps when there is continuity. Analog metres just max out the needle when you find the wire. The manuals are probably not programming but user manuals. Most companies don't give them out unless you buy the system. Some won't sell them unless you a dealer. But then again the internet is different
     

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