Getting Into The Swing of Things

June 3, 2011

Our locksmith shop welcomes the challenge of supplying electronic access controls on exterior gates as it is a change of pace and another activity to add to our portfolio of indoor services.

Sometimes the requirement is for a total turn-key installation. Sometimes there will be an existing fence and a requirement develops for a controlled opening. The opening can be for a pedestrian gate or a vehicle gate.

As a full-service security provider the locksmith should be poised to participate in projects such as these in whatever capacity is appropriate for the situation.

For example, one client had an existing pedestrian gate which he wanted to be upgraded for entry and egress access control. A site survey revealed that the existing gate was not in good enough condition to install locking hardware on it, so we located a gate fabricator and we managed the entire project. A gate design had to be selected, the site had to be prepped for the new gates, and conduit had to be run out to the new gates for the card readers, gate position sensors and electric locking devices which in that instance were electromagnets; the many appurtenances needed to be selected, and the prep for these had to be specified. We had to be there on the installation day to coordinate installation and maintain site psychological hygiene.

In another situation, the owner had an existing gate which had already been outfitted with access control, but the locking equipment was worn and did not provide an acceptable level of performance. In other words, the locking hardware was not locking and unlocking reliably, and the gate itself was not reclosing consistently. A new gate was out of the question, so we had to retrofit to the gate.

Most recently we got a call from a client who was getting ready to break ground on a new building which was to house an office and serve as a gatehouse for vehicles coming into and off of their premises.

This was an unusual kind of business. Individuals and municipalities paid them to dump leaves and grass clippings on their site. This company then turned this organic material into mulch (by mixing it with manure, water and sunlight) and then sold it, often back to the same folks who had paid to dump the waste in the first place.

The gates were intended to help them control vehicle traffic and keep an audit trail for billing purposes.

This was a new installation, and the equipment required would be two (Entry and Egress) barrier arm operators, card readers, sensors, controllers and associated products. The client accepted our proposal and we got to work.

DoorKing was our choice of barrier arm operator. DoorKing has a wide selection of swing arm operators as well as sliding and swinging fence gate operators, which we have successfully installed and maintained for other clients. We knew the products were competitively priced, reliable, and that DoorKing provided great tech support.We specified the DoorKing #1601

The installation documentation provided by DoorKing includes templates and a variety of layouts for many typical configurations you might encounter. If your application is not covered in the downloadable Installation/Owners manual, a call to DoorKing tech support will get you whatever you need.

Our deal was for the client's contractor to provide the concrete pads required for the operators and card reader pedestals; posts and fencing by others, as well as conduit and trenching and wire pulling for power and data by others. We provided the wire.

This arrangement allowed the client to get the best pricing and maintain the most control over these system elements, and allowed us to keep our time on-site to minimum and be more profitable.

Fortunately the contractor and electrician did good work and the installation went smoothly.

We assisted in the planning of the pedestal locations, the conduit and cabling, the power that would be required, and visited the site when our presence was requested during the course of the construction.

DoorKing instructs that the pedestals for mounting the operators be level and placed four inches above grade. Besides for appearance, keeping things level minimizes bearing wear, enhances balance and being above grade will hopefully keep water out of the machine.

Our project controlled an entry lane and an exit lane of traffic. The entry and egress gates would be controlled by either a card reader or an activating button in the office. After the initial prepping was performed, the owners decided they wanted to also operate the gates via a keypad for entry and egress, but there would only be a limited number of individuals issued a P.I.N. to raise the gates.

It was also decided that at certain times it would be desirable to raise the gates and keep them raised.

We provided nifty keypads and toggle switches.

The DoorKing #1601 is a standalone product which has a good selection of accessories and features.

It is available with several choices of gate arm. The least expensive and most often used are the wood arms.

For our area of the country, venting and heating for the operator housing was recommended. These modules wire right into the operator’s line voltage supply and are thermostatically controlled.

Our installation required minimal wiring. We needed a line voltage feed from the building to each gate operator. This circuit would normally remain energized.

By assigning and marking the circuit breaker, it would be possible to cut power if maintenance were required.

We needed to send an open activation signal to the gate operator. This is a low voltage momentary closure. The DK has in internal timer which you set in the pedestal. It is a rotary control which can be set for open times up to 59 seconds.

We needed to wire in the safety sensor. We did not want a gate to lower onto a vehicle, so a photo beam was mounted on each operator directly under the gate arm. As long as the beam was blocked, the barrier arm would not lower.

We were sending the following four open commands to each unit:

  1. Card Reader - A valid credential would close a switch which actuated the gate to open.
  2. Wall-Mounted Button - We installed a momentary button on the wall. They could open the gate momentarily if someone did not have a credential.
  3. Toggle Switch - the toggle (on/off) switch could be used to open each gate and keep it open for as long as was required. The gate would lower after the switch was turned off.
  4. Keypads - The owners decided they wanted keypads to also be able to open the gates. This was after the cabling had been pulled and the pedestals had been fabricated. We added keypads and programmed them as requested.

The 1601 operator is designed for single-lane (14-foot maximum) vehicular traffic control in high traffic commercial and industrial applications. The 1601 operator is designed so that it can be mounted on either the left or right hand side of the roadway.  

Electronic limit settings control the full open and full closed position of the barrier gate. Magnetic sensors do not involve micro switches with levers and trippers, and thus there is no contact between the sensor switch and the movable gate mechanism; resulting in a more reliable design. These sensors can be readily readjusted by the installer if necessary.

Since DK #1601 operators are designed so that they can be mounted on either the left or right hand side of the roadway, if it is necessary, the installer can mount the barrier arm through the other side of the housing without exotic tools or specialized skills required.

The DK 1601 is available with a 14-foot aluminum or wood arm, or 12-foot plastic arm. A folding arm kit can be added for low headroom applications

The DK 1601 360-degree gear box rotation provides for smooth operation and even wear, increasing the life span of the operator. The gears remain immersed in oil. The gate goes from fully closed to fully open in about 1.5 seconds, and travels from fully open to fully closed in 1.5 seconds. The hold open time is a separate setting, and is controlled by other factors as already described. My customer liked the snappy performance.

To simplify installation and wiring, if loop detectors are required, they are modular and plug into the controller.

DoorKing 1601 Specifications

  • 1/2 HP continuous-duty motor.
  • 115, 230*, 460* VAC. (*230 and 460 volt units use a step-down power transformer to achieve 115 volt operating voltage.)
  • 40:1 gear-box running in a continuous oil bath.
  • Arm rotates 90 degrees in approximately 1.5 seconds.
  • Class II, III and IV applications.
  • Compliant with UL 325 and 991.   ETL Listed.   (Note: To be compliant with UL 325 and industry safety guidelines, additional secondary entrapment prevention devices may need to be installed with this gate operator. Your professional DKS system installer can provide you with more details on these devices and on current industry safety standards.)
  • Dimensions (operator only): 15.25"W x 39.5"H x 14.75"D.

Options available are:

  • DC powered convenience open.
  • 14-foot round aluminum arm.
  • 14-foot wood arm.
  • Wood arm folding bracket for low headroom.
  • 12-foot plastic arm.
  • Plastic arm folding bracket for low headroom.
  • Foam padding for aluminum or wood arm.
  • Plug-in loop detectors.
  • Heater kit.
  • Fan kit.
  • Surge suppressors.

For more information, contact your local locksmith distributor or DoorKing, telephone 800-826-7493, web site

To read additional Locksmith Ledger articles on gate operators, visit