Residential Security Solution: Gated Entry

Additional security was provided through gated entry with an electromagnetic lock, wireless controls for the gate operator and video surveillance.

A recent project came along during one of those droughts where after a while you begin to fear it will not ever rain again. Besides a poor economy in general, and a weak real estate market, locksmithing continues to be under siege from carpenters, handymen and DIY’ers, as well as Internet direct marketers & home improvement centers, to name just a few.

This project involved repairing and upgrading a residential vehicle gate for a young mother with small children, one of whom was diagnosed with autism, and who it was feared would leave the property if the gate was not adequately secured.

While it is generally impossible for a typical residence to be prepared to repel an attack at all times, physical security and electronic security are proven to help a lot. Best practices are to secure the property with a perimeter physical barrier, and start the security perimeter as far from the house as possible. An early enough warning and delaying the intruder buys time to contact police, find refuge or locate a weapon. A properly designed intrusion system notifies police of an intruder even if the homeowner is not there when the intruders pay a visit. Other threats and inconveniences a physical perimeter could address included solicitors and unleashed dogs in the neighborhood.

In addition to repairing the existing gate, the plan included:

  • Evaluating/repairing/replacing the existing gate operator
  • Adding an electromagnetic lock
  • Providing wireless controls for the operator
  • Installing a gate position lock status monitor
  • Providing a PTZ camera
  • Upgrading outdoor lighting.

The gate operator controller was housed in a hollow wooden gate post which was leaking like a sieve and also offering no protection against insects. So the gate controller was covered in dirt, sand and insects. Two 12 V 8AH gel batteries which had been previously connected were dead.

The power transformer terminals were rusty but the transformer was putting out 18 Volts. An electrical receptacle was live but disassembled and looked like it deserved to be dead and buried. When I plugged in the transformer, the gate operator controller lit up and looked promising.

My plan of attack was to first repair the gate, then see if the gate controller and operator were able to swing the gate. Then I would add a lock to the gate, provide wireless controls to open the gate, and provide monitoring for the gate position.

The gate itself was an ill-conceived single arm about 13 feet long which was constructed with gate lumber. It was warped and not exactly swinging smoothly on undersized and damaged hinges.

Because of its excessive weight, the gate needed some additional support. I installed two gate wheels which helped take the pressure off the hinges.

Gate operators and controllers share many characteristics, so troubleshooting them adds to your cumulative knowledge on the topic. This particular operator used line voltage to drive the controller circuitry and a trickle charge for the batteries, but the operator arm itself was driven by the battery pack. This keeps the controller from requiring a massive power supply. In some applications, the system could be solar powered. The variables are the amount of sunlight available vs. the number of gate operations a day vs. the size of the solar collectors. Most of the solar powered systems I’ve encountered were problematical because the proper balance was not achieved.

The gate operator portion of the circuit had a 15 Amp fuse, and the old system was powered by a 16 AH battery array. I got some replacement batteries and performed a test.

The operator worked with the gate attached so we were able to implement the maglock and radio controls. The geometry of the gate necessitated a custom-fabricated aluminum bracket that would withstand the elements. I got exactly what I wanted at the right price from


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