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Card Access Complete Write-up

So you want to setup a card access system?  Well assuming you don't mind being locked out of your home for a few hours here is how it's done...

First let's cover how they work—

There are five parts to a card access system:

  1. Control Interface
  2. Cards
  3. Readers (Either card readers, keypads, or a combination of both)
  4. Card Access Control Panel(s)
  5. Outputs (electromagnetic locks, electric strikes, contacts)

INSTEON IRLinc Control with Harmony Remote

So this was a challenge--I wanted to eliminate the X10 remote and disable X10 on my INSTEON switches for the home theater.  In doing so I wanted to use the INSTEON IRLinc to convert IR signals to INSTEON.  This would allow me complete control via my Logitech Harmony Remote.

I hooked up the IRLinc and paired up my devices to Scenes A/B and everything worked fine with the IRLinc credit card remote.  To get the Harmony setup I had to add custom commands for Scene A on/off (Screen Up/Down) and Scene B on/off (Wall Scones on/off).  These had to be learned on the Harmony using the IRLinc remote when I was done I quickly discovered control from the Harmony was very unreliable.  I toyed with this for a few days on and off and eventually got fed up and tossed it in a drawer to forget about.

Last night Ken was over and I decided to have two minds look at it 😛 I knew it should work, and with a fresh pair of eyes we got it working.  We hooked it up and everything worked properly--I had previously added the INSTEON switches to the IRLinc's scenes and it had retained those settings.  Testing it with the IRLinc's credit card remote everything worked fine (as before) but with control via Harmony was very unreliable just as before.  We tried relearning the IR signals and that wasn't getting us anywhere while sitting there staring at the screen we saw the "Custom" button on the IR Learn page in the Harmony software.  When we hit that we saw that all our learned commands had "Analyzed" next to them so we hit the new Learn Raw button that appeared once we hit the Custom button.  The learning process was a lot faster and we quickly updated the remote to test.  Success!  We learned that the Harmony doesn't replicate IR codes it learns exactly.  By default the remote analyzes the IR signal and fixes any issues or interferance it encounters (sunlight in the room for example has IR light).  When the Harmony analyzed  the IRLinc's signal it would clean the signal so much to the point that the IRLinc wasn't able to respond because it wasn't receiving the proper IR signal.  Hopefully this post helps others who have IRLinc's in drawers from failed integration with Harmony remotes.

We mounted the IRLinc's receiver on the front of my A/V receiver since I have no spare IR Emitters.  I don't think I'll even pickup another IR emitter for this since it's always behind a closed door.

To get the Harmony setup I had to add custom commands for Scene A on/off (Screen Up/Down) and Scene B on/off (Wall Scones on/off).  These had to be learned via the Harmony for it to work and once learned they never worked properly.

Home Theater Part Six

PJ Mounted now--
The mount sucks, some cheap junk from flea-bay, having mounted so many projectors in the past using real mounts (using peerless, chief and premier mounts) I should have known better then to use this crap.  It has a ball & socket so you can adjust XYZ, however they all adjust at the same time...mounts by real manufactures have separated the various  XYZ adjustments. I wont' make the mistake of using a junk mount again...Took me some 15-20min to get it squared away and it's still slightly off.  I made my own grommet out of some fire retardant nomex, mainly to stop attic debris from falling onto it, and also as a possible fire-stop.  This pic was taken after it had been mounted for awhile, ignore the dirtiness.

Harmony 880 for IR, and temporarily using X10 remote for controlling Screen/Sconces.  Can't wait to get the Insteon to IR stuff setup so I can chuck the X10 controls...


Home Theater Part Five

Prepared the INSTEON controls and PJ outlet for the attic.  Also mounted the relay board up in the attic and wired it all up.  Sconces are wired into this as well, programmed them so they ramp up/down.  Made a macro on my USB programmable INSTEON controller so whenever the screen goes up the Sconces ramp on, and when the screen goes down they ramp off.

TV is all wired up and center channel & sub RCA cabling is done.  TV wires look all gummy because the cheap electrical tape that wrapped around the plastic protecting all the connectors and binding the cables together left all the adhesive behind...and I pulled it off early so some insulation came in contact with it.  Will clean it up later on.

Clean speaker wire installs all done.  The mounts I used for the speakers suck--cheap plastic junk, no covers for the screws, ugly as hell... The cool part is I used a very handy tool from LSD (Labor Saving Devices) called a "Wet Noodle"  it's a flexible bit of thin stiff tubing with a magnet on each end.  It comes with some ball chain attached to a split ring.  The way it works is from the attic you drill a hole through the top plate of the wall frame and drop the ball chain in the hole (split ring prevents the end from falling into the hole) and then drill a hole in the wall where you want to bring the wire out, and you retrieve it using by inserting the Wet Noodle and catching the ball chain on the magnetic tip affix your wire or poly and go back in the attic and pull the ball chain out and you got your wire through.  I was able to drill holes just a bit bigger then the gauge of the speaker wire and pull the speaker wire through using this tool/technique.  Well worth the 22 bucks, will definitely come in handy again.

IR connecting block installed and IR Receiver too.  Receiver went in the vaulted ceiling area since the screen being down would block it's placement elsewhere.  Doing this again I wouldn't use an inwall connecting block, it just added more wires traveling from the wall to the media cabinet, had I used the non-in wall version I would simply have a Cat5 cable coming across and that would be it.  This way I have 3 emitter cables traveling across, along with a power cable.

Wired in the HDMI and Component splitters to get output for both TV and PJ.  Super Cheap HDMI splitter, so far no issues.  Component picture really suffers on the PJ pretty sure I need to get a better VGA to component cable.


Home Theater Part Duex

More progress--Paint and Wall Sconces all done.

Some more decisions made, Harmony 880 will control the entire system.  Xantech Connecting block & Emitters for IR distribution, Samsung 52" LCD selected.  Receiver + Speakers will be my dad's existing gear.

To control the motorized screen and wall sconces INSTEON was selected.  I was going to get the low voltage board for the motorized screen so I could control it via IR, RS-232, etc. but those options all would have cost me over $300.  My electrician buddy Kenneth "Teh Fuckin' Man" Deli figured out a way to use INSTEON Controls, and a Relay to control the screen.  He also advised me on an IR to INSTEON adapter so my Harmony remote could control everything properly.  Did I mention I <3 DIN Rail???

Screen Testing!  Also set the limit switches were I think they should be...
Installed half the power bridge and cut in the LV mudring.

Setup my ghetto cable pulling rig--Since only one of the cable is on a spool this isn't straight forward, but most of the cable is very stiff so it spins easily.  Still needed someone tending to this while the pull was going on but it made it a breeze running all the cables at one time.  I didn't have any poly to use as a leader, so I used a bit of phone wire and staggered all the cable's connectors so the pull wouldn't just be a big ass ball of connectors.  Everything is neatly tied up and all connectors are protected as described in the previous post.


1-Wire Temperature Sensors

Well I finally got some Dallas Semiconductor 1-Wire Tempature Sensors in.  I quickly threw a bunch on the breadboard to see how accurate they are and stuffs, pretty nifty, 2 wires is all it takes, ignore the 3rd leg of the sensors it doesn't do anything...

Breadboard + 1-Wire Tempature Sensors

Breadboard + 1-Wire Temperature Sensors

I put white blocks in the picture because of the nonsense on the breadboard--it was just some toying of a segment display from awhile back...

I plan to use these sensors (along with many more) to build a weather station, and I'd like to place a few throughout the house to see the difference in tempature between the rooms.  Would be intresting to see the temp difference between the outside, attic and home on a graph.


HID Reader Installed

So I got a pair of HID Readers today, MiniProx's I expected them to be smaller but oh well, they work nice...  I mounted one up for the garage door outside properly, and used a terminal block to make the connections because it only has a 18" pigtail.  I used STP Cat5 because honeywell/northern computers recommends sheilded cable, and STP Cat5 was lying around on a workbench...
Pics below:
HID Reader in Box

HID Reader in Box


Card Access System Installed & Operational

So with a tip from a fellow on the internets, I was able to finish that last step in programming it, setting the link between a card reader and an output.  It was all working so I ran to install it, took a little under an hour and it works! w00t!!!111oneoneeleven


N-1000-II Mounted

N-1000-II Mounted


Progress on the Card Access System

So I tinkered around today with it some more, and realized my mistake when I previously tried to program the panel.  Every command has to be prefixed with a space.  The other show stopper is the POS USB<->Serial Dongle I am using, it craps out after a few minutes and I have to change the com port, disable/reenable the device, or unplug/replug it in...

I made good progress today, Assigned the Reader to an Output, Added the Card to the Reader, and named the Panel, Reader and Output.  I cannot get the panel to energize the output when I have a successful read, however the LED status on the reader works now and I can see the actions in the terminal processing.  I know it has to do with the V command, but everything I've done thus far is invalid syntax, stupid Honeywell needs to improve on this documentation from 1995.  Perhaps I'll try to get a firmware upgrade for this thing, apparently you have to send the EPROMM in to get it, PITA.   Heres a pic from my tinkering...

Access Control Progress

Also bidding on a Blackbox wireless serial server so once this is installed I can make whatever changes over the network...mmm disable someones proxcard (key) to the house via VPN--oh the joys...

Anyone else who wants to do something like this, the Northern Computers panels may be a cheaper solution since they are in surplus out of old buildings, however something like an ELK-M1 may prove to be more user friendly and alot less fustrating...


Card Access Systems for Home use…

So I picked up this Northern Computers N-1000-II Access control panel from fleabay for a few bucks.  I'm working to make my garage door have card access, and then maybe the front door of the house.  Still haven't figured out howto program it, the serial port spews out timestamps of events (alarm conditions, card reads, etc) you can program one of the 2 card reader inputs to energize a relay output when an "authorized" card is read..