Setting Up a Secure Computer Room

July 2, 2019
Component List: Sliding Barn Door, electromagnetic lock, hands-free switch, Piezo switch, along with router and specialized lighting

My client wanted to designate an area (room in her home) where items could be located that would keep the children safe from potential injury and also protect the items placed in the room from potential damage.

The usage would be for the adolescents and adults to retreat in order to use computers, read and study without constant interruptions and tampering with keyboards, reading materials, the router, and other items which were not suitable for little children.

It was going to be referred to as a computer lab, but in many aspects it was going to be a saferoom.

We used several interesting products and techniques for the project; items which were domesticated versions and applications for products I’ve used on thousands of commercial, industrial, healthcare, retail banking, and detention projects.

Door System: Barn Doors

Since we were creating a new space within an existing home, already bursting at the seams, we had to figure out a door system. We wanted to avoid swinging doors because their swing used up valuable space. Pocket sliding doors were too labor intensive and also might require moving wiring and plumbing which might be in the wall where the pocket would be installed.

We opted for barn doors which are very popular for all the reasons pocket and swinging doors are not; no swing issues, minimal carpentry in walls, and they are trendy.

We used a LUBAN #LB2002BLK-2M Steel Barn Door hardware kit. The track is 6.6 feet long and it will accommodate a door up to 36 inches. Ours was 32”

I liked it because the rollers attached to the top edge of the door instead of being straps attached to the face of the door. There needs to be a floor guide at the bottom of the door so that pushing on the face of door does not allow it to sway. You can use a track adapter which they supply, But I didn’t want to have to mount the bracket on the carpeted floor, so I created a slot on the bottom of the door using two pieces of quarter round moulding attached to the bottom edge of the door, and fashioned a guide to fit in the slot out of an angle bracket, and attached this bracket to the wall.

I had to create an opening in an existing wall, being careful to maintain the structural integrity of the framing, mount the barn door rail kit, and of course provide a means to lock the door.

A glass and wood French door was selected. The barn door rail kit was well made and attractively priced. Just be sure the track is securely mounted so it will support the weight of the door.

Locking Device

My locking device was a BEA UL3.

BEA’s UL Listed 600 lb. Maglock with DS provides a standards compliant locking solution for retail, healthcare, banking and other high security facilities that require a UL listed security product. UL Listed Maglocks can be used on hollow metal, wood, aluminum, glass and composite door materials.

For decades, there were few if any Codes or Listings for maglocks. There are now.

I only use UL Listed maglocks, because it isn’t worth the savings of using a non-UL product and expose my company to the liability of having a product fail in service and result in a loss, injury, or death.

Even using a UL maglock is no guarantee you will not be sucked into some sort of legal action. But using UL Listed products and having a comprehensive commercial umbrella policy helps.

Using a UL maglock provides a degree of assurance that the lock will deliver the rated holding power to the coil, and it will not start a fire in the door frame.

Maglocks are rarely maintained or inspected once they are installed, so when mating surfaces corrode, or the door and frame misalign, you will no longer be sure the lock is holding at its rated strength.

That’s where the bond sensor feature comes in to play. By wiring this sensor to a remote monitoring point, you’ll know if the magnetic lock and armature are bonding.

There is the door status sensor also, which will report whether the door is closed and the electromagnet and armature are making contact.

Sometimes they will require these sensors in the spec, but in case they do, it’s nice that these bells and whistles which used to be upcharged add-on options, are supplied with each lock and do not have a significant impact on the price or labor required to install the lock.

The Maglock with DS is available in surface mount, single or double door configurations, with a holding force of 600 or 1,200 lbs. These locks include an adjustable 0 – 90 sec relock time delay, lock status sensor with visible LED and door status sensor. The LED is very useful to immediately determine of the circuit is getting power, and clients like red and green lights.

This project required I design some bracketry, but I was able to use wood, and it was almost like being back in high school wood shop.

Creating brackets for stainless steel and aluminum maglock installations was a time consuming and labor intensive proposition, and my van was a Noah’s Ark full of tools and as many types of bracket options possible to be able to get ‘er done.

Early on, brackets were pretty much DIY, while later as the industry evolved, manufacturers started to catalog many varieties of brackets mounting hardware and installation tools for electromagnetic locks.

More Info:

There still were remaining pieces of the puzzle


I used two activating stations (controls): the Securitron WSS Wave Sense Switch and BEA Piezo Button (10PIEZO241),

A no-touch switch for hands-free activation, the Securitron WSS Wave Sense Switch  features a ‘new’ class of motion sensing technology for hands-free, contactless switch activation. Use for request to exit (REX), activation or on/off switching to trigger a variety of access control devices in place of a push plate or push button.

These are used for door operator activators, and also for REX applications. They are favored in situations where end-users are concerned about getting germs by touching door hardware because you only need to bring your hand within range of the sensor and a blue light illuminates and the lock releases. I used the model on the double gang plate.

Product Features

  • Active microwave motion sensing using Doppler radar—which is claimed to be more reliable than infrared sensors. By reliable we mean it is more likely to actuate when you want it to, and less likely to actuate when you do not want it to. Adjustable sensing zone from 4” to 24” helps screen out incidental traffic
  • Two modes: Pulse mode to initiate action or toggle mode to provide on/off switch function
  • Offered in a single-gang or double-gang model
  • Mounting ring included or install in standard plastic or metal gang box
  • Water resistant—foam gasket included
  • Compatible with Securitron WBB Weather Back Box and WCC Weather Cover-Clear
  • UL Listed
  • Adjustable 0 – 90 second relock time delay
  • Lock Status Sensor with visible LED
  • Door Status Sensor
  • Input voltage of 12 / 24 VDC, must be used with UL Listed power supply
  • Variety of mounting hardware available

More Info:

The BEA Piezo Button (10PIEZO241) incorporates piezoelectric technology to convert physical touch (pressure) of the push button from mechanical to electrical energy. This technology utilized a weather resistant design and digital timing circuits.

The Piezo Button has an adjustable output timer ranging from 1 to 40 seconds. The LED ring can be illumined in brilliant red, vibrant green or disabled. It has two separate outputs – Normally Open and Normally Closed – and can be configured for Fail Safe or Fail Secure.

I’ve been using these for a number of years because they have some great features.

They are on a stainless steel plate and are very robust and vandal/weather-resistant. No moving parts.

They illuminate RED, GREEN, and OFF and can be CUSTOM configured to control the lights to indicate the status of the switch contacts, power to the locking circuit, or something else (such as LOCK status or BOND Sensor status).

The lights are large halos and highly visible from a distance.

Features like this are really valuable when you are setting up a custom system.

  • VOLTAGE INPUT 12 to 24 VDC (Auto-Sensing)
  • HOLD TIME 1 sec. to 40 secs. (Adjustable)
  • CURRENT - LEDs are ON 40mA (Idle), 60mA (Active)
  • LEDs are OFF 10mA (Idle), 40mA (Active)

You can also remove the electronics module from the stainless plate and install it on your own plate; for example a double gang plate.

Additional Accessories

The client wanted to move the router into this new room out of the master bedroom because the blinking lights were distracting.

I got a single gang network plate and tapped into the broadband feed. Be sure you wire the jack to the same protocol as the existing jack or the router won’t be able to establish a connection with the service provider. Theoretically there is a protoco for residential and another for commercial, but don’t assume the original installer followed the rules.

They also needed room lighting and since this was a retrofit and I wanted to provide a high-end feel to the room, I recommended LED downlights which can be programmed onsite for one of three popular lighting temperature ranges, and a Lutron Maestro Dimmer (LED version, MACL-153M-WH). A couple of my favorite features are:

Tap on to favorite level, tap twice for full on, use rocker to adjust the light level to suit any activity.

Programmable fade gradually turns lights on, allowing your eyes to adjust to the change in light, and gradually fade off, allowing time to exit a room before the lights turn off

LUTRON is a pioneer in custom lighting.  I was controlling the downlights from a single location, but LUTRON also offer models for three-way installations. Be sure to check that the dimmer is compatible with the lighting fixtures you are using.

More Information:

The installation was very successful and well received.

About the Author

Tim O'Leary

Tim O'Leary is a security consultant, trainer and technician who has also been writing articles on all areas of locksmithing & physical security for many years.