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Monday, December 26, 2011

Home Security System - Part 2

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Home Security System - Part 2
So, now I find us, 16 years later (today is Dec 26, 2011, and I'm retired), without a Burglar Alarm or Security System, and home invasions are taking place.  There have been 2 in the last 6 months in our area, one of which was about a mile from our home, and another about 2 miles from our home.  They appear to be deliberately waiting until the family is home before breaking in - 5 men breaking in around dinner time or early evening, tieing up the family, then ransacking the home for 3 hours.

So we're on edge about this, and I want to get our Security System online.

I gave this some thought, coming up with a plan:

  • My immediate goal is to get a Quick Hitter in place.  This may not solve all my desires, but it should give me some assistance with our security immediately.  It should make things better than they are without making anything any worse than it already is.
  • My next goal is to get our existing system online.  This could take some time to bring back to functional.  So it's divided into the following steps: 1) Examine existing system and determine whether to proceed with it or abandon it; 2) if proceed, then make it functional.
  • My final goal is to enhance our existing system (if possible) or add a new system.

Quick Hitter
  • Add external fake security cameras.  Since these aren't functional, they don't take long to install.  They may not stop all criminals, but they should give them pause for thought, and hopefully will deter some.  I can have all 6 installed in a day.  Ordered, waiting on delivery.
  • Add external 'video security surveillance' signs and place in prominent positions on the edge of the property.  Again, they won't stop all criminals, but should help and can't hurt. I can have all 6 installed in the same day I put the cameras up. Ordered, waiting on delivery.

Existing System
So I've spent the last couple of days determining the state of our system - it was left in the house but never finished.  Based upon that determination, I will:

  • Get the existing system functional and online and add additional capability.
  • Move on to a new system altogether.
The existing system is a DSC 1500/1550.  The thought of using the existing system has some appeal to me.  It appears that all of the doors and windows already have sensors installed, and the sensor wires pulled back to the system box.  In addition, there are two (2) keypads, located where we can work with the system, to acknowledge alerts, stop alarms, arm the system, and create an instant alarm.  So, since it's already there, I would like to utilize it.  In addition, there's an exterior siren already installed.  But this means a 'do it yourself' or DIY project.  It was missing the power supply, which I've ordered and received, along with a battery, which I haven't bought yet.

However, the existing system is in the current state:
  • There's just a bunch of wires in the system box.  They aren't labeled, and I don't know where they go.  In addition, there are different types of wires, which I would assume are doing different types of functions.  I counted 17 wires in the box.  These can be divided into 4 categories: 2 2-conductor round 18ga wires; 3 4-conductor 22 ga round wires (2 of which go to the keypads - don't know where the other goes, unless it was to the phone line which we don't have anymore - we're all cellular); 4 2-conductor flat wires (2 of which are brown, 2 of which are white - I suspect 1 or 2 of these are siren wires); and 11 2-conductor round 22 ga wires (which I suspect are sensor wires).  So I've got a bit of a problem here with all of the different wires, none of which are labeled.
  • I don't know if the system board is functional.
  • I don't know if the keypads are functional.
  • I don't know if the sensors are functional.
Existing System First Step

  1. Pulled all the wires out and categorized them (see above).  Done  Note: my system has no power going to it yet, so all the work I'm doing is to a powerless system at this point.  The last thing I want to do is power it up, and certainly not while I'm determining the state of everything!
  2. Pull the keypads out so I can get to the wiring.  Done
  3. Examine wiring to identify in system box: Done it's round 4 conductor 18 ga.  I have 3 of these in the box, but only 2 keypads, so 1 of those wires doesn't go to a keypad!  
  4. Identify which keypad goes to which wire in system box.  If there were only 2 wires and 2 keypads, then I wouldn't need to do this, but there are 3 wires, so I don't know which isn't a keypad.  Done  Did this by performing a continuity check and labeled in system box.
  5. Determine which sensor is associated with which wire, so I can identify the zones.  This means stripping off the insulation on each 2-conductor sensor wire and performing a continuity check.  It should read 'closed' or 'continuity' or very low resistance when the sensor is on a window or door that is closed.  Remember - this system wasn't supposed to be installed in our house, so who knows what work was done and what work was not done.  Bad news: all sensors are in open state!  That means: a) either the sensors are not connected to the wires, b)there aren't any magnets next to the sensors to make the sensors closed, c)the sensors have all failed in the open position.  In my opinion, C isn't viable, A isn't likely, so that leaves me with B as the most likely.  Sure enough, a quick examination of a window casing shows the sensor in place, but no magnet on the window itself.
Well, this is going to be a bit of a thorn.  Here's a rough look at a 'daisy chain' of 4 sensors that would constitute a 4 sensor zone, showing them all closed (non alarming).

Here's a rough look at that same 'daisy chain' of 4 sensors, with the 2nd sensor open (alarming), and the other 3 closed (non alarming).
___--____/ ____--____--____

Th 2nd sensor open (shown as __/  __) would stop the flow of electricity, the same as a light switch stopping the flow of electricity to a light bulb.  This one open sensor stops all of the flow.  Any of the sensors going open causes the flow to stop and the system to go to alarm.

Since usually the sensors in a zone are daisy chained together, this means for me to test my sensors, and I suspect all of my sensors are missing magnets, I have to somehow ensure all the sensors in a daisy chain have magnets to place into a closed state before I can test.  Since this is an abandoned project by the builder, I don't know what sensors are in a daisy chain together, and will be guessing at it at best.  If I'm wrong and I miss just one sensor in the daisy chain, then I will just see an open circuit at the system box.  In order to see a closed state, all sensors in the daisy chain have to have a magnet installed.  So that may be a bit of a problem, since I have no way of knowing which sensors in the house are on a single daisy chain.....but I'm going to try!

The first thing: get some magnets!

And that's where I'm at right now!

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