I work for a security company, and recently I have explored the realm of DIY home security. There are many brands out on the market, including GE and Honeywell, I chose to go with DSC PowerSeries by Tyco for one big reason: it has a documented API for connecting the system to a computer for real-time zone information and control. I could not find any other home security system out there that had an API available. With an API to read and write zone information, I have the ability to write programs that can do the following without inducing any monitoring fees:
- Send zone arm/disarm information to my cellphone
- Allow me to arm/disarm the system from my cellphone
- Integrate the security system with other home automation products (when arming the system for leaving, the computer could turn out lights… maybe via Andriod@Home)
Since I mention Android@Home, you may wonder why I don’t just use Zigbee or Z-Wave devices to do home security. I did investigate those protocols, but quickly found that device support was both expensive ($50 for a wireless door contact, vs $25 for comparable DSC contact) and limited. With an established system like DSC I had access to sensors like smoke detectors — sensors which Zigbee and Z-Wave do not offer. Also, Z-Wave doesn’t have a published API, and the only one I’ve found for Zigbee is extremely low-level (read: way too much work for a home project). However, with the DSC talking to my home computer, I could always add-on Zigbee support in the future if I became so emboldened.
Without further ado, here’s my product list (affiliate links):
- DSC PowerSeries 1616 Kit (Kit16-qp63, no transformer) This kit contains almost everything to get you started, including wireless sensors, the keypad, the main control panel “cpu”, the bell, etc. You will need to get some 22 gauge 4-conductor wire (sold at radio shack) to connect the keypad to the control panel and the control panel to the IT-100 (below). You will also want to get a transformer and some 18 gauge 2 conductor wire to connect AC power.
- Serial integration module (for dsc powerseries control panels) This module provides RS-232 serial output for connection to a computer.
In future posts, I hope to describe my setup process a bit more (especially for novices) as well as describe what I end up doing on the automation front