Access control never became easier; it became more involved. I did a lot of prison work and I used to call it “clank and clang” electronics where you used potted relays and switches. Everything was hardwired, nothing digitally or data controlled. I used to buy a lot of LCP panels from Securitron and I found a niche doing prison work and wiring these things to a series of LEDs and switches to control movement. No two cell doors could be opened at the same time. I got involved in that stuff and had to learn the intricacies.
So you did this out of the need to come up with a solution to a particular problem?
Yes, exactly. This is what the specs called for; this is what they needed to have happen. I would sit down and design what would work. It was all hard electronics; potted relays, LEDs. Nothing was automated. It involved a physical input to require an action so every action had to have a reaction. This was very prominent back in the 80s.
If you didn’t do that kind of work for them, who would have?
Lots of electrical contractors were involved. I was on the Pennsylvania state bidders list and they would put out various kinds of bids and you would bid on what you wanted to do. Programmable locks weren’t available then so it was all very primitive. Securitron was an innovator in the industry at that time; they had engineers that would come up with solutions to problems. They’re the ones who would come up with the panels that would do this stuff.
We haven’t talked yet about CCTV, the reason you were referred to me in the first place. In your opinion, why don’t more locksmiths do camera work?
Because of the fear of the unknown. I’ve taught CCTV classes at the last two IDN Hardware shows and I realized that both access control and CCTV are based on communication. The key question is how do you get the data to a central point and make it useful? With locks and keys, in order to make it so someone can no longer gain access with their key, you had to physically control that key by taking it away or rekeying the lock. Today’s systems rely on what we all rely on, the Internet! Everything today is based on Networking; Access Control and CCTV share Networking as the backbone. That’s what makes it useful to the end user. (Tony refers to a customer’s info on his laptop while in the hotel room). We’re talking to multiple buildings, multiple sites; we’re streaming video over; we’re taking control of doors and openings based on the power of their network. Locksmiths miss it because they’re afraid of that aspect of it.
I taught a class called “Low Voltage Switch” to the carpenters union for years because they were trying to get involved with access control. Electricians don’t understand low voltage. Carpenters get the hardware aspect but nobody knew how to make all this stuff work together and that’s where we came in and thrived.
How can locksmiths learn from all this and be successful?
Even though locksmiths know hardware and some basic low voltage stuff, when we talk about PCs, networks and servers, lots of locksmiths say, “Time out, I’m not getting into all that.” If they would just sit and take a little time, it’s not that hard!
What does it take for the locksmith who’s already making electric strikes and some electrified panic hardware part of what they do to take the next step?
I was a mechanic as a kid and I was a locksmith getting dirty and this is what I figured out. When you take something apart, it’s easy to understand. When you’re keying a cylinder and it’s sticking, you pull it apart and you find out you’re .005 high or low. Then the problem and solution are obvious.
The problem with electronics is that you’re dealing with Voltage and Amperage and you don’t see that. You have to have the correct copper density between power supply and device and have the right amperage involved to get those things started and understand solenoids. These are things the locksmith doesn’t know and can’t see. I always tell my technicians to go to the meter (Voltmeter). If they don’t have their meter, then they’re wasting time and guessing. It’s like a locksmith on a lockout without his pick set.
Not being afraid is important; understand the general idea of what’s supposed to happen. You can’t see electricity but with the right tool you can.
ADI Expos Network CCTV Solutions is one of the courses scheduled at the 2007 ADI Expo series of one-day seminars. This course provides a comprehensive explanation of network cameras, encoders and...