Access Control Components: Getting Them All To Work Together

We modern locksmiths are working with a wider variety of technologies that ever before, so therefore when approaching installations and service calls, it is imperative that we put our thinking caps on and be extra observant so as to avoid issues associated with compatibility in integration. Here are a few examples.

Recently I was sent out of state to install an access control lockset, and wire in a new emergency door control system. Both needed to tie into the existing electronic access control system. I thought I had done my homework.

The standalone lock, a Schlage VIP, is truly a hybrid device. The model we were installing had an integral card reader and was designed to hardwire to an external PSU, and run data back to a host controller. We had to remove an existing ancient mortise lock, cross-drill the door, re-drill the door for the VIP, mount the door loop, get the wire up off the door over to the wall, then complete the wiring and programming.

I was instructed to bring a Schlage IC core, and zero bitted change key and core key.

We encountered the usual problems but managed to successfully install the lock, power it up and establish a connection with the head-end.

We had planned ahead, and had the data cable installed prior to our arrival. The data link was RS-422, so a two conductor shielded cable was used. I brought a switching type plug in power supply.

The major issues were getting the old mortise lock off (I used a saws all) and cross drilling the door (I brought a bunch of bell hanger drill bits)

Unfortunately the project manager failed to determine that the facility was on Corbin-Russwin, so we had to install the zero-bitted cylinder and tell facilities they would have to deal with the problem of either combinating the core and creating the change and core key, or locate an IC core with their keyway and master it to their system

Next we moved on to the emergency door release system. I had verified the theory of operation with the customer, got approval of the equipment by again emailing the client images of the hardware, established where the device would be mounted, arranged for them to pull the wire and communicated in painful detail the connection points and function with the project manager so the system could be programmed to provide the desired results.

I made a wiring diagram, preprogrammed and pre-tested the device, and threw it all in the van.

Installation and wiring went smoothly, and we performed a functional test prior to departing.

Then the client called to report issues with the operation of the system. I was able to determine from his responses to my questions that the hardware was working properly, and the head-end was receiving its input from my device and responding back to my unit with appropriate echoes. But the head-end was not controlling the doors as we expected.

I threw the ball back to the project manager, who after several hours of on-line programming and phone calls for factory support, reported that it was now working properly and we would not have to return to the site.  We support the system over the Internet from our office for routine programming issues and troubleshooting (adjusting holiday schedules, and troubleshooting malfunctions, etc all the time).

The problem traced back to a detail in the configuration. I asked the program manager if he had contacted the factory when he was initially setting up the project, and he said he hadn’t.

I sold a six-camera video surveillance system to a retailer. I offered her a great deal by recommending a 16 channel DVR with a 1 TB hdd, which we buy from a Korean manufacturer who has a distribution center and office in California.

Unfortunately we ran into problems when our tech tried to install the viewer application in the client’s laptop. It turns out the software is Windows OS, and the laptop was an Apple. I did not know the viewer app was Windows only, and also never asked the client about what kind of computer she planned to use with the system. This was the fourth of these DVRs I have sold, but the first time I encountered this problem.

I recently got a call from a facility management company who is a good customer. Someone had damaged the electric door entry on a residence which had been converted over to multiple-dwelling student housing.  I got there and the manager handed me a body bag containing the old door strike which was in pieces. The door had a cylindrical lock and the door and lock were fine, but the door frame was damaged in the area where the forced entry had dislodged the electric release. I noticed that the old strike had a label on it indicating the operating voltage was 16-24V. I told the manager I would see what we had in stock, but perhaps it would be necessary to order something. He said the sooner the better!

Where I messed up was that I didn’t bother to put my meter on the wires in the frame to determine the voltage or function of the strike.

Although the old strike was labeled, it did not indicate if the voltage was AC or DC. And without measuring, I was unsure precisely what the actual voltage was. Additionally, because I was in too big a hurry, I didn’t know if the strike was failsafe or fail secure.

A quick call to HES resolved all my concerns. The #5200 is field configurable for 12 or 24 Volts, and operates well in its 12 volt setting with a 16 V (AC or DC) voltage applied. Of course, the #5200 is also field-configurable for failsafe or failsecure.

We work with a variety of voltages in security. The Graphic Display of Voltage chart depicts several. When using a DC Power Supply, you hopefully are getting the nice straight line variety shown in the graph. Depending on the equipment, the voltage level and purity of the voltage will be critical for proper operation.

If you are using an AC Transformer, then you are hopefully getting the nice line wave shown in our graph.

When you are overloading your power source, you may be getting a lot of ripple on your supply, which is a mixture of DC voltage with an AC component referred to as ripple. A certain amount of ripple may be acceptable when operating locking devices, but if the ripple is the result of an overload condition on your power source, it is not allowable since you are stressing your power supply and a failure is inevitable.

If your voltage is fluctuating, all bets are off, since you’ve got issues somewhere in the circuit which needs to be addressed immediately. A loose wiring connection or a component beginning to six means there’s trouble ahead.

I have spent a lot of hours staring into an oscilloscope, the type of test equipment required to see these wave forms. However in an installation setting, it is not typically necessary to analyze voltage to this extent. But it doesn’t hurt to know what’s going on. For example, if you have a suspicion that there are problems with your circuits, you can diagnose pretty well with a professional quality digital multimeter. You can determine the voltage levels, whether you are dealing with AC or DC.

Many DVMs have an analog bar display along the bottom of the display so you can see fluctuations in real time. Those of us who remember the era where a voltmeter was a needle which swept across a dial probably based our troubleshooting techniques on the ability to track voltage fluctuations in this manner. The bar graph display is a carry forward of this feature.

You can also switch your DVM from AC to DC to gain a little insight. For example if you are metering a DC voltage and you switch your meter to AV and get a reading that amount to more than a minute level, you are looking at ripple or  noise component on your power supply which might be an indication of the problem mentioned above.

The other important issue is voltage drop. This is when the voltage present at the device (lock, card reader, etc) is lower than the operating specification for the particular device. Cameras, door locks and readers are sensitive to the voltage level they receive, and presenting too high or too low a voltage is not advisable. Voltage drop calculators are available at many web sites (Altronix and Securitron as two examples). If you are troubleshooting a system, keep voltage drop in mind as the use of too low a gauge wire, as well the weakening of power sources, and the increased loads caused by defective components are all common occurrences in real world adventures.