Nov. 16, 2004, 5:32 p.m.

Home Burglar Alarm System (2)

It has been quite a while since I last posted here. The reason is that we have just moved to a new townhouse, and Telkom does not yet have any lines available in the complex so I am without ADSL :(

The burglar alarm installation went well bar the misconception regarding the time it took to have installed it. After a week of struggling I got it in and fully working - finally! There were 22 cables I had to pull through the roof, which was no easy job...

So you are interested in the performance of the system? I love the Optex sensors, they work brilliantly. So far I only had two false alarms - one from an unknown source in the dining room, and one from the garage where my cat was locked in.

I am however finding that the garage beams sometimes causes problems in that they go open in the afternoon. I am 99% sure this is attributed to the fact that at that time, the sun is shining directly into the sensor at a 45 degree angle. When it is cloudy or night the problem disappear and the sensor closes.

The Paradox Graphica keypad is nice. I like its look and feel. The only thing I do not like is the fact that it does not provide macro like shortcuts where I can define a certain key sequence and have the system replay them. This would be useful to store some common bypass and arm situations.

The Paradox controller is very powerful and rather trivial to install. However, I have encountered some bugs. The bell squawk does not work as they say - it does not consistently squawk once on arming and twice on disarming. Also, if a follow zone is violated without the corresponding entry zone being violated first, a 90 second entry delay is triggered - not what is explained in the manual. According to the manual (and common reasoning) the system should see the follow zone in that scenario as an instant zone.

So far I am very happy with it despite these minor inconveniences, and love the fact that I have a constant stream of event information being fed to my computer via the RS-232 adaptor. It makes troubleshooting and investigations easier. This reminds me that once Monitor Net (the armed response company I signed up with) phoned me about an alarm on my premises. They said they would send out someone immediately. Normally there is no accurate way of knowing when they arrived at your premises to assess the cause of the alarm. In this case, I had a running log on my computer. I found out they only arrived 1 hour 35 minutes after the initial alarm went off, then triggered the alarm 4 more times by jumping into my garden. This is obviously unacceptable, thus I terminated my contract with them immediately and am now signed up with ADT. At least their worst response time thus far was 6 minutes.

All in all, I would recommend the components I bought. I would not however recommend installing it yourself unless you are a masochist. Find someone who can give you good referrals, and follow up on those to ensure the work is of high standard.

One other thing I did encounter while installing the system is that a glue gun is useless to fixate the components and wiring. I ended up using the glue gun in combination with a clear silicone gun - very work intensive but it works. I recommend using those bostik glue sticks which the professional installers use should you decide to perform the installation yourself. It will cause less burns and allow you to work a bit neater than what I could muster.