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Part III: Home Security > Build a Security System

Chapter 13. Build a Security System

What You Need
  • X10 Powerlinc serial controller

  • Eight AAA batteries

  • 100 feet of 18–24 gauge wire (preferably white)

  • Wire strippers/cutters

  • Double-sided foam tape

  • Two to ten X10 Powerflash Interfaces

  • An X10 Powerhorn alarm

  • Door and window sensors, as required by your home

  • A stable broadband Internet connection

  • A friend with a stable broadband Internet connection that allows inbound connections

  • A computer running Windows

  • Sticky poster adhesive

  • A screwdriver

For a list of specific parts used in this project, refer to Exhibit A at the end of this chapter.

The first thing I did when I moved into my new home was to change the locks and install deadbolts. I needed to change the locks anyway, but I was shocked that deadbolts weren't already installed. After all, the house was built in the 1950s and had gone through several owners. You'd think at least one of those owners would have been willing to spend a few bucks to prevent any teenager from breaking in with a credit card.

Installing deadbolts on the three doors of my house took me about three hours and cost about $60. However, that minor improvement dramatically increased the security of my home. Sure, a few deadbolts won't turn my house into an impenetrable fortress. But it was cheap and easy to do, and definitely worth the effort.

Since then, I've been looking at other ways to improve my home's security. Naturally, I researched several businesses that install and monitor security systems. I have a great deal of confidence in these companies—they are, after all, security professionals. However, none of the standard solutions met my needs. While the up-front costs were relatively low, the ongoing cost of monitoring services was very high. Also, the systems were very inflexible, and integrating them with my software-based home automation system would be difficult or impossible.

If you still want third-party monitoring, Smarthome offers a cheap service, and it sounds like they might even be willing to monitor a hacked-together system. Check out http://www.smarthome.com/ALARM.HTML.

I decided that the best way for me to improve the security of my home while staying within a tight budget was to build my own security system using off-the-shelf parts. Such a system can provide most of the features of standard security systems, as well as a few features found only in high-end security systems:

  • Door and window sensors

  • Motion detection

  • Local audible alarms

  • Video monitoring

  • Off-site archiving of video feed

  • Remote alerting using my existing mobile phone

The system should be designed to resemble Figure 13-1. Intrusion detection mechanisms will provide input to a script running on your computer. The script will use logic you provide to determine the appropriate response: take pictures or video through remote cameras, send you an alert, or do nothing if the system isn't armed. You can arm and disarm the system using anything that you can use to communicate with your computer, including a wireless remote.



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