Recommendations for alarms with a computer interface?

16 Nov 2010
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United Kingdom
I'm looking for a (relatively simple/inexpensive) alarm which can be connected to a computer, to create a home automation system.

What I would like to find is a relatively simple alarm, which can be connected to a computer, so that the computer can then do all the complicated home automation stuff. In this way, I hope to be able to do the home automation control on a computer which is much more flexible/easy to program/easy to interface, as opposed to getting a more expensive/complicated complete home automation/alarm system which will have a proprietary programming system.

The computer would need to be able to get the status of the alarm system, including individual alarm sensors (or maybe just the zones) so that it can do things like turn lights on-off/email status messages. Ideally the computer would be able to query all the events in the alarm system not just the alarm status (e.g. system has been set/unset by user X).

So, can anyone recommend a suitable alarm? I'd prefer a wired or hybrid system than a wireless-only one.

I've done a lot of googling, but not really found anything perfect yet. The latest one I found was a Texecom Premier panel with a ComIP ethernet adaptor, but I've not found any documentation on the communications protocol yet.
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Texecom, with wintex. Wired/Hybrid
Galaxy with RRS Wired/Hybrid
Visonic Powermax+ X10 Protocols Wireless

Only ones I would use personally.
Thanks Alarm! I'll take a closer look at those 3.

I want to write my own software to interact with the alarm, rather than using the manufacturer's software. I want to do this for a variety of reasons, one of which is that the computer will not be running Microsoft Windows (which all the manufacturer's software I've seen seems to rely on).

So, I'm looking for an alarm which has a well-documented communications protocol (ideally TCP/IP-based, rather than RS232/serial).
Texecom have a Java SDK for the ComIP interface. If you e-mail them, they'll get you to sign an NDA and then should send it to you.
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Galaxy runs a Ethernet port as well as RS.
Not heard of anyone writing their own code for it though.
You may find it exceedingly hard to source RSS for galaxy if your not trade.
the computer will not be running Microsoft Windows

The Honeywell Galaxy RSS / Management Suite and associated binaries are all Windows apps. They're also closed source with closed protocols. You could have a Virtual Windows environment in your 'nix environment and read the database that the Windows apps write to. Ugly and probably error-prone though!

I've read of people directing events to the RS232 output (applicable panels/options) that are picked up and decoded by their automation controller. You could go down that route with the Galaxy. It's probably better for an external system connection, as when the RS232 based automation system goes down, it will not cause the panel to signal a fault condition.

If you need event granularity of zones triggering even when the system is unset (I expect you would for a home automation system) , then the zone programming gets a little more complicated...

I have written a UNIX based event monitor (like a central station receiver) which interfaces with the Galaxy panels via Ethernet, so it can be done without the Honeywell Windows apps. It's written in 'C' at present, but I don't want to release the source and the executable is pretty specific. I'm looking to port to Java and have a released class whenever I get the time...
Nice one when you do, drop us a line here be interesting to see.

If you need event granularity of zones triggering even when the system is unset (I expect you would for a home automation system) , then the zone programming gets a little more complicated...

Remembered tonight that there's a three event limit from each message source (think this is between each set/unset). This means that the event log would be of limited use for say, something like switching a light on when you entered a room. This pretty much means you're back to programmed 'links' with the Galaxy. Which means input zones can also be programmed to drive outputs that are in-turn read by multiple I/O ports on your automation system. Not really what you were looking for as it doesn't give full control over the system via Ethernet and isn't as simple as plugging a network cable into the panel.

A non-Windows application that does the same as the Mimic feature in RSS is probably what's needed for an automation system. That or a virtual RIO with many virtual outputs that can be linked to.

Thanks for all the input so far.

I have contacted Texecom about the Premier panels, and they do have some kind of Software Development Kit, as mentioned, which also contains some documentation about the serial and IP communication system. To get the SDK you need to sign a Non-Disclosure Agreement, which I have, so now waiting to receive it to see what's possible.

One thing I have found is that the ComIP ethernet communications add-on is not support on the Premier 24 panel, so you need to get the more expensive Premier 48 panel.

socdesign - Is the Galaxy communications protocol documented somewhere, or did you reverse-engineer it to write your C code?
Unfortunately for any home automation enthusiasts, the protocols are closed and strictly controlled by Honeywell. Apparently, they will only open into an NDA with a third party if there is a business benefit to them.

I've sent you a PM with some more details.
Looks like the Canadian drugs work.
Post 2 gives those panels and another :D

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