Forgot your password?
Security Crime Software Technology

Ask Slashdot: State of the Art In DIY Security Systems? 248

Posted by timothy
from the real-time-pictures-not-after-the-fact-beeping dept.
An anonymous reader writes "For geeks that want to secure their home, it seems that the choice of Do It Yourself solutions are limited. And in case you prefer to use a company, most of them require to subscribe to a contract for 3 years that costs at least $20 a month. In case you want to make a DIY security system without a monthly fee, few options are available. Some products (such as ismartalarm, Lowe's Iris system or also the fortress security) let you install your own system but seem not to be very mature (for some the alarm is not loud, for others they do not use the internet and only a land line, etc.). Is there any recommendation for a basic DIY home security system for monitoring the house and just have notification by e-mail or through a mobile application? Is there any open standard for home automation and security devices? Any suggestion about how to build something simple, affordable and efficient?" How to top the big-name subscription-based security companies is a recurring question, but one worth exploring every once in a while, as sensors and software both advance, and especially as more and more people are carrying around phones well-suited as remote monitors for in-house cameras. (And here's a preemptive link to ZoneMinder.)
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Ask Slashdot: State of the Art In DIY Security Systems?

Comments Filter:
  • If I told you, I'd have to thrill you.

  • Insurance? (Score:2, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday January 04, 2014 @12:09AM (#45863181)

    DIY security systems are nice, but your insurance policy will dictate what you must have. Once you pass a certain threshold of personal property, they'll require you have a monitored system with specifics. What equipment and who you pick comes down to whether or not you want to fight the insurance company when you file a claim.

    This means most of us sign with the 3 letter well known company since we know it'll be rubber stamped.

    Posting as AC since my one flaimebait post from 5 years ago would bury this post. It'd be nice to have decaying karma.

  • by Trepidity (597) <> on Saturday January 04, 2014 @12:19AM (#45863225)

    Have you looked into X10 []?

  • by steppin_razor_LA (236684) on Saturday January 04, 2014 @12:19AM (#45863227) Homepage Journal

    I used their system for a while. It worked adequately enough although if there was a break in, I'm not sure what I would have actually done...

  • Blue Iris (Score:5, Informative)

    by roc97007 (608802) on Saturday January 04, 2014 @12:19AM (#45863231) Journal

    Google "blue iris security software". I think it's $50 for the full version. It supports a wide variety of security cameras, including those pan and tilt wifi models.

    I paired Blue Iris with a 4 channel capture card (about $100) and four Bulldog wired cameras (about $28 apiece) and a few minutes work with dyndns and the built-in web server, and I can monitor my house from anywhere I have network access, and any movement will send snapshots to my phone and record an AVI that gets sent to a secure server. The software supports configurable "dead zones", so if you have a tree that trips the motion detector in the wind you can block it out.

    To my knowledge, this is the absolute cheapest you can go and have a usable configuration.

    • by i.r.id10t (595143) on Saturday January 04, 2014 @12:37AM (#45863321)

      You can do the same thing with motion and some creative scripting. So... old box, some webcams, some time...

    • by AHuxley (892839) on Saturday January 04, 2014 @12:37AM (#45863323) Homepage Journal
      Yes roc, depending on your country and laws, thats the neat way set up :)
      Great software on fast a i5 or i7 cpu with 24/7 server quality HDs and a way to get the data when alerted to another external system.
      No use having the person walk out with the only recording :)
      Another tip would be to read up on any HD cameras - some have more unique password and port settings for their HD stream, others just work :)
      Read up on test sites about night use, not all are great at night for the price.
      • Re:Great advice (Score:5, Insightful)

        by fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) on Saturday January 04, 2014 @01:26AM (#45863565) Journal
        It's also worth remembering (since the objective is to be more secure by the time you've finished) that the firmware of IP cameras is largely crap. Maybe I'm doing some Chinese OEM slave factory whose owner's savant cousin actually cares about the firmware a disservice; but you can't afford to assume that any networked camera, wireless or wired, is anything other than a nasty infection waiting to happen. We are talking 'firmware builds even worse than the ones on $20 routers, except much more enthusiastic about sending video of your house to the internet' here.

        You probably will find that (unless you really love running coax), IP devices, some of them wireless, will end up being what you go with; but whatever you do, segregate that crap on its own network with no direct access to the wider world. Any offsite storage/monitoring/messaging goes through a properly configured computer only, not the devices directly.
        • by drinkypoo (153816) <> on Saturday January 04, 2014 @11:37AM (#45865201) Homepage Journal

          You probably will find that (unless you really love running coax), IP devices, some of them wireless, will end up being what you go with; but whatever you do, segregate that crap on its own network with no direct access to the wider world.

          This is really necessary for pretty much everything, hence the rise of the application-level gateway. For instance, there's lots of remote vulns in VoIP products. Put them behind an asterisk server and keep it updated, never permitting direct connections, and you'll reduce your attack surface substantially.

      • by AmiMoJo (196126) * <> on Saturday January 04, 2014 @06:11AM (#45864177) Homepage

        I think you have to ask what are the cameras actually for. In an ideal world they would get a nice clear image of a burglar's face, which you could give to the police who would then quickly identify and arrest the suspect. Your stuff would be returned intact, they would go to jail.

        In reality you will probably get a partial shot of their face, assuming they don't just cover it. The police won't give a shit, most burglary goes unpunished even if you give them evidence. Even if they do catch the guy by then your stuff will be long gone or trashed. All you really need is a basic camera to prove that you were in fact robbed so that the insurance company pays up quickly, and to act as a deterrent.

        Some cameras support notifications when movement is detected in a certain area. Expect masses of false positives as the neighbours cat sniffs around your garden or the headlights of a car light up the driveway for a moment. Some kind of break-in alarm is best, on windows and doors.

        • by roc97007 (608802) on Tuesday January 07, 2014 @12:49PM (#45888505) Journal

          No, that's actually not true at all. As I alluded to in my original response, Blue Iris (the software I'm using) has sensitivity adjustments for how much motion causes the motion sensor to trip, and it allows you to block out certain areas where motion is common, like trees in wind. After a bit of adjustment, my system would not trip on a cat (although it'll trip on a dog if it's large enough). I had close to zero false positives, but I'd get an alert on my phone with a photo if, for instance, someone dropped off a package at the door.

          We had trouble in the neighborhood with someone going around letting dogs out of people's back yards. I thought I knew who it was, and caught her doing it to us on camera. Got a clear shot of her face and a clip of her doing the deed, turned it into the homeowner's association. Their lawyer apparently contacted her and she doesn't do it anymore.

          When my daughter was in grade school, there was a time when she was a latchkey kid, as her bus got her home an hour or so before wife got home. (I work in IT, which means late hours.) It was important to me to get that alert and see daughter enter the front door. I'd text her "welcome home".

          In summary, the important thing to me wasn't necessarily the alarm itself, but immediate information on what was actually going on at the house. That's worth much more to me than a trigger on a window that doesn't convey any information except that it has tripped, and could be circumvented. It's hard to disable a camera when you can't approach the house without tripping the motion sensor.

    • Re:Blue Iris (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Jah-Wren Ryel (80510) on Saturday January 04, 2014 @01:46AM (#45863635)

      Google "blue iris security software". I think it's $50 for the full version.

      Nothing on Blue Iris, but the mention of closed-source security-video monitoring software got me thinking about government black-bag jobs and software backdoors.

      Maybe this is movie-plot stuff, but wouldn't it be (technically) cool to put QR-code recognition into the software such that if you walked up to the camera with the right QR-code the monitoring software would disable the alarm, erase the last 10 seconds of footage and replace it with a static scene as if you were never there? When you are done, just show the camera a different qr-code to re-enable everything.

  • by FridayBob (619244) on Saturday January 04, 2014 @12:25AM (#45863259) Homepage
    Our site uses Zoneminder together with Axis M1054 cameras. However, although these IP cameras can produce 1280x800 dpi images at 30 fps, we run them at only 1 fps because of the high load that this would otherwise put on the local server's CPU. So I suppose the program could be further optimized, but otherwise we are quite happy with it.
  • by smjespy (786886) on Saturday January 04, 2014 @12:36AM (#45863311)
    The 2GIG systems can be installed yourself, but you have to prepared to research. They are big enough that third party monitoring companies support them, but they are really designed for installer use, so a DIY installation requires a bit of know-how. I replaced my ADT system when they bought Brinks, and I really didn't save a lot of money, but I got a degree of control, and avoided the monopoly. Pleased.
  • by alanshot (541117) <rurick.techondemand@net> on Saturday January 04, 2014 @12:44AM (#45863347)

    I work for a company that installs alarm systems. Dont want the insane mothly monitoring with a contract? Dont let them install "free" systems. You are paying many times over for the life of the contract for that "free" system.

    Pay for the T&M up front, and many local companies will do the monitoring for as little as $10/month. (ADT and other national companies wont, but odds are you have a locally owned company that will.)

    And beware DIY systems; If you dont do it RIGHT, you can end up paying more due to false alarm fees. Many municipalities charge per alarm after so many alerts. So if you dont know what you are doing and end up sending in multiple false alarm calls the the police, you could end up paying hundreds per incident in penalties.

    • by RabidReindeer (2625839) on Saturday January 04, 2014 @09:52AM (#45864685)

      I'm pretty sure that my alarm master controller is available via retail channels.

      These days, a single Arduino board would probably meet or exceed its functionalities, which are:

      1. 6 binary zone inputs (12 DC switches wired in series on each zone).
      2. Autodialer for phoning the monitoring company
      3. Relay control for the alarm horn
      4. Keypad decoders for the local security panels

      Of the lot, only the actual telephone interface would require extra circuitry.

      The software is essentially this:

      1. zone monitors (if zone opens AND armed AND zone not disabled, fire the alarm)
      2. Keypad decoding logic, which is the most complex part. Arms/disarms alarm based on security codes, enables/disables zones, resets alarm, displays status.

      It's relatively easy to make a system that can be relied on to function as expected as long as you are just doing the above. It's when you start wiring in the coffeemaker and the landscape lighting that things get more complicated.

  • Many options (Score:5, Informative)

    by pirodude (54707) on Saturday January 04, 2014 @12:50AM (#45863367) Homepage

    You are looking for either the HAI Omnipro II or the ELK M1 gold. Check out [] for all the information you will ever need.

  • by Paul Carver (4555) on Saturday January 04, 2014 @12:51AM (#45863377)

    I haven't looked into it lately but it used to be that composite analog video (i.e. NTSC/PAL) quality was the only standard. Any higher quality video was proprietary and often required Internet Explorer. The only other option was using something like zone minder or motion to grab jpegs as quickly as possible and create videos after the fact.

    Has the situation improved? Are there cameras available that provide live realtime HD quality video without a dependence on the camera vendor's software or a web browser plugin?

  • by rueger (210566) on Saturday January 04, 2014 @12:53AM (#45863387) Homepage
    Our client base is primarily in West Vancouver BC - the richest municipality in Canada. The kind of town where a $3 million house is a "starter", and will immediately be pulled own to build a 20,000 ft McMansion.

    In many years of working with clients in WV, I can recall TWO that actually ever turned on their alarms, and would estimate that half of our clients don't even lock their doors.

    If nothing else they demonstrate that Vancouver's criminal class is either really dumb, or can't afford a bus pass.
    • by AlterEager (1803124) on Saturday January 04, 2014 @07:45AM (#45864363)

      Our client base is primarily in West Vancouver BC - the richest municipality in Canada. The kind of town where a $3 million house is a "starter", and will immediately be pulled own to build a 20,000 ft McMansion.

      In many years of working with clients in WV, I can recall TWO that actually ever turned on their alarms, and would estimate that half of our clients don't even lock their doors.

      If nothing else they demonstrate that Vancouver's criminal class is either really dumb, or can't afford a bus pass.

      Or maybe the clients have blown all their money on the McMansion and there is nothing inside worth stealing?

    • by swb (14022) on Saturday January 04, 2014 @08:57AM (#45864517)

      You laugh, but I think a lot of resistance to mass transit expansion/funding is from people in affluent neighborhoods who don't want "poor people" able to get to their neighborhoods easily.

    • by rmdingler (1955220) on Saturday January 04, 2014 @09:42AM (#45864659)
      A resident in a neighborhood such as you describe is likely to employ a maid, landscaper, and an occasional contractor. Someone is always home, cleaning, repairing, and so on, so the alarm is seldom armed.
  • by chazchaz101 (871891) on Saturday January 04, 2014 @12:55AM (#45863399)
    I had a good experience building a DIY security system based on a M1 controller from Elk Products. The documentation was clear and there are add on options for connecting it to the internet and interfacing with other home automation equipment. []
  • Build your own... (Score:5, Informative)

    by Slick_W1lly (778565) on Saturday January 04, 2014 @12:55AM (#45863403)

    I have done just this. After ADT refused to 'update' the installation I had done about 12 years ago, and wanted to charge me $800 or so AND continue to charge me the $50 a month for monitoring.

    So, I junked their old (crusty and mostly non-working) system and bought all my own kit. You'll find you can *always* buy better than what they give you in their 'free' package anyway, and tailor it to your own needs. You can find a monitoring company for around $10 a month. My insurance company doesn't care who does it, as long as it calls the police, alarms for fire, etc etc etc.

    So. Here's what I got :

    Vista20p panel. It's what most 'big name' companies install, except YOU get to set the 'installer code' and the ability to change / add stuff you hook up to it.
    Honeywell 6120RF keypad. You'll need a 'keypad' to program your panel. This one also takes care of wireless sensors.
    Various door sensors, heat / smoke sensors, break-glass sensors, Pet Immune movement sensors.
    Don't forget the siren :P

    If you have a landline, you can hook it up to this panel and have it call your monitoring-company-of-choice when an event trips. If you don't, you can get wireless addons which call them via cell-phone.

    All this stuff is easy to order, easy to physically install. The programming for the Vista20P is a bit arcane and reminds me of programming assembly from my youth, but a day or two with the manual and some judicious googling and you should be set.

    One of my requirements was that it hook up with the z-wave stuff I'd started installing, and I'm a fan of gadgets. So I *also* bought some touch panels with pretty graphics and stuff on them. They're expensive, mind (about $400 a pop) and their z-wave capabilities were limited. I ended up not using them for that and got a Vera-lite anyway. The wife, however, likes them.. so I consider the investment worthwhile (they can also display security camera feeds).

    Note: NONE of this stuff allows you to monitor without a contract to a company. If you want to do that, then you can buy the add-on daughter board for the Vista20P called the Envisalink3. Hook that up to your home network and it can send you mails and stuff when things occur. Also note: if you do that and your power goes out, and you don't have battery backup for the internet gateway it sends through, you'll uh.. not get notified.

    All this stuff I bought from 'the home security store'. Which is a haven for DIY'ers. They have a very helpful forum, very helpful staff and their prices are reasonable. I bought my bits a year or so ago and I've been a very happy customer.

    Links follow :

    Vista20P : []
    Wireless Keypad : []
    Touchscreen pads : []
    Glass break sensors :*ava=0%5D []
    etc etc etc

  • by Jeremi (14640) on Saturday January 04, 2014 @12:58AM (#45863423) Homepage

    A half dozen or so ought to be enough.

  • by EmperorOfCanada (1332175) on Saturday January 04, 2014 @01:09AM (#45863475) Homepage
    There are two better uses for that $20 per month. You could either bump up your dataplan so that you are sent lots of pictures to your phone of any vaguely interesting activity. Or if you have a good data plan then you could use $20 per month to get a data only plan for your security system so that it can communicate via your internet connection or via a cell data system as backup.

    My sister has me as a contact for her security system. So I have driven across town more than once only to find one of her family has set it off and the phone is turned down or off the hook. It would be great to just get a snap of whomever set it off. Neice. Nothing. Nephew. Nothing. Guy in balaclava with sack over his shoulder, call the cops and give them a blow by blow description of who is exactly where.

    So a DIY security system should not only be as good as traditional ones but should be way cooler.

    On a side note, don't mount the cameras up high looking down. All you will get is an image of the robber's hoodies or baseball cap logo. Mount the cameras in a concealed location at eye level. This way you basically get a mug shot. If you want cameras for deterrent you can get fake cameras to mount up high. The only cameras you want up high are to capture the over all picture. I will tell you that you will be sorely disappointed if your security camera only provides enough evidence to say that a guy(race unknown) 5'4" to 5'10" wearing a Blue Molson hat, a grey sweatshirt, jeans, and black sneakers took all your stuff. Get a good enough picture at eye level and the police will drive right over to the halfway house and arrest him 20 minutes later.
  • Elk M1 (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Miamicanes (730264) on Saturday January 04, 2014 @01:21AM (#45863539)

    If you don't care about out-of-the-box sexy experience, it's hard to beat the Elk M1 as a DYI'er. Their view of DIY'ers is largely ambivalent... they won't go out of their way to solve your problems, but the moment you furnish them with a valid M1 serial number, they'll give you access to the same training materials, downloads, firmware, and accessories as their pro installers. It's a strategy that works for them, partly because lots of those prosumers who buy one to install themselves end up starting companies to get certified officially and install the same alarm systems for other people.

    Just one thing... do... not... even... THINK... about buying a cheap TCP/IP-UART bridge for ~$20 on eBay and connecting it directly to both the internet and the Elk serial bus. Make sure you have some kind of middleware sitting between the internet and Elk serial port that can only do specific things, like indicate an active alarm, arm the system, etc. And if you don't understand what I just said & want your alarm to be internet-connected, pony up the cash and buy a proper M1-XEP interface for it. The Elk RS-232 bus was NEVER designed to be directly exposed to attackers over the internet, and mostly depends upon being inside a locked box for security. If you interface it to the internet in a way that allows arbitrary values to get blindly relayed straight to the RS-232 bus after reading this, you deserve whatever happens to you for being a complete idiot.

    The only thing it really lacks, IMHO, is the ability to implement Boolean logic for triggering alarms. For example, monitoring the state of the glass-break sensor, the door-shock sensor, and motion-detector and triggering an alarm ONLY if at 2 out of 3 fire within 20 seconds. And having similar logic in other rooms. The firmware in my controller allows you to "sort of" do something like that for a single zone, but IMHO it needs the ability to independently do this in multiple zones.

    The nice thing about the M1 is that thanks to Arduinos w/Ethernet and the RPi, you can actually extend its logic pretty easily by using the M1 as your low-level sensor interface, and moving higher-level logic to a Pi or Arduino on the Elk RS-232 bus (relaying events from sensors as they happen to that serial bus, and triggering things like alarms by sending events back to the controller via that same serial bus).

    Kludge-tip: if you're in a hurry to set up the system, don't feel like pulling wires right away to each room, and have an unused landline phone cable with 6 wires buried in the wall to hijack, you can buy input expanders and use the 6 repurposed phone wires to daisy-chain the Elk bus to strategic points in your house (1 pair for RS-485, 1 pair for +12v, 1 pair for ground). I had my own Elk M1 wired that way for almost 3 years, before I finally got proper conduit and wires pulled throughout the entire house. I had one M1XIN hidden behind the TV in the living room & plugged into the phone jack (which obviously wasn't used for an actual landline phone), and a second one upstairs behind the nightstand in the master bedroom, along with the equally-kludged keypad. Amazingly, it actually worked (if I had voltage issues, plan B was to add DC-DC converters to boost the voltage from 12v to 48v as it left the box, then drop it back down to 12v at the living room & master bedroom. Fortunately, everything used very little power, and the only time I ever had an issue was around year 4, when the backup battery finally died and the voltage started sagging.

    Oh... also... Elk's M1 can interface directly with X10, Zwave, Insteon, and some other standard that escapes me at the moment. The MSRP of their expansion boards is pretty high, but you'll never actually pay those prices anyway because there's ALWAYS somebody selling them for a relatively small markup on eBay. However, make sure you buy the main alarm controller itself from an authorized dealer. Elk DOES track serial numbers of main system units, and if a serial number is reported as 'stolen' by a vendor, they'll re

  • by erth64net (47842) on Saturday January 04, 2014 @01:22AM (#45863541) Homepage
    What are your goals? Deterrent? Watch/record? Catch a thief? Glass breakage and/or entry detection?

    For us, we wanted to catch a thief, and to record their actions while onsite. If they hear a siren, maybe they'll leave sooner, maybe not. With a camera and well secured recorder, we'd hope to have a good shot at identifying a thief. Adding battery power and offsite wireless transmission of data helps even further. Pay-as-you go WiMAX services like help keep those costs down.

    Also check out for an excellent list of 2MP+ PoE enabled IP cameras (they recently reviewed a nifty 10MP fisheye camera). Stay away from the wireless cameras, as they tend to be less reliable than hard-wired (and you'll still need to run power to them anyways).
    • by Eskarel (565631) on Saturday January 04, 2014 @03:24AM (#45863859)

      A security system to catch a regular old burglar is a complete waste of time and money. Your odds of getting any usable footage of the guys face is fairly low to begin with, the odds that the police will be able to identify the person on the video is even slimmer, and even if they happen to know who it is finding the guy and proving it is even less likely.

      The purposes of an alarm system are as follows.

      1. To minimize the amount of time the thief spends in your house and in doing so minimize the damage and amount of stuff stolen.
      2. To make your neighbours house seem easier to break into(though you actually only need up to date alarm stickers for your windows to accomplish this, not an actual alarm system.
      3. To potentially reduce your insurance costs.

      Attemping to achieve any other goal is a long shot and a huge waste of time and money.

      • by Mr D from 63 (3395377) on Saturday January 04, 2014 @09:52AM (#45864683)
        This is the first truly thoughtful post I came across, so I'll add my input here.

        You can go to a place like and find all the pieces and parts for just about anything. I installed a simple hardwired system with a keypad, alarm board/box, battery backup, internal and external sirens, and two motion sensors inside place strategically so that you would have to pass in front of one of them to get from room to room. Cost was a few hundred bucks for a basic setup. (Mine was DSC brand). You can add phone connection or email alert features if you desire. Cameras are nice, but not as useful IMO.

        Get a sign and stickers. That's the first deterrent. If you can see through your front or other entry door, mount the keypad in plane sight. This is another deterrent. My theory is that many thieves know exactly the time response for the bigger companies. If they see a non-standard alarm system, they become less certain about what to expect.
  • by dbIII (701233) on Saturday January 04, 2014 @01:31AM (#45863583)
    Computers, sensors, webcams, wireless, batteries, mobile telecommunications networks and big dirty stinking bass speakers.
  • by raymorris (2726007) on Saturday January 04, 2014 @01:33AM (#45863589)

    I've messed around with a few things. It turns out the traditional method gets two things right and one thing wrong. Simple wired sensors are good. Changing batteries in wireless ones sucks. Monitoring is also good. What sucks is the traditional marketing strategy, where you pay $50 / to cover commissions for various middle men and that "low cost" alarm.

    There are companies that provide the same monitoring service for about $5 / month. You may already own the alarm system. If not, you can buy a traditional alarm system at low cost. Of course you can also build one with something like a Raspberry Pi.

    This is one area where geek hacks don't end up making a lot of sense. China cranks out well designed alarm panels cheap and $5 / month for monitoring can't be beat.

  • by Fnord666 (889225) on Saturday January 04, 2014 @01:34AM (#45863593) Journal
    Timothy, Timothy, Timothy. When will you ever learn? "Ask Slashdot" posts belong in the "Ask Slashdot" section so that those of us who choose to filter out those stories can do so. It doesn't work though if you keep posting "Ask Slashdot" stories in other sections.
  • by FuzzNugget (2840687) on Saturday January 04, 2014 @01:44AM (#45863625)

    I've thought about doing something like this. I'm sure something could be rigged up with a few Raspberry Pis along with sufficient tinkering and script fu.

    Setup a number of them with camera modules and wifi adapters. Each camera Pi has a cron job to take pictures as frequently as you want and uploads them to a "master" Pi that acts as a web server for remote access and uploading to a remote server outside your home (in case it's stolen, you have captures to potentially identify burglars)

    I know I've seen motion detection utilities available for Linux. Set a cron job to switch on motion detection and alerts overnight. The server Pi could run apache to host a secured, web-based control and viewing system (there's your remote access). This can easily include controls for configuring any part of the system, ie.: toggling motion detection.

    Find out your cell phone carrier's SMS email gateway (they all have one) and have it send you a text when it detects motion that breaches your configured threshold.

    No, it doesn't have home integration or break-in detection. Maybe there's something that could be done with the Pi's GPIO, but I have no idea.

    Anyway ... state of the art / DIY & cheap / easy setup. Pick two.

  • by drkim (1559875) on Saturday January 04, 2014 @01:50AM (#45863653)

    There are some cheap wireless Chinese systems you can get fairly inexpensively.

    Some offer GSM/Cel phone dial out/listen in capabilities, multiple zones, and a variety of sensors: PIR, mag-contact, water leak, smoke detect, gas detect.
    They have remote, cel, or panel control.

    You can just add stuff until you get all the parts you want.

    No monthly fee. You can't have it dial the police directly (legally) but it could call you, you could listen in, and then you could call the police if you hear people breaking in. [] []

  • Security Checklist (Score:5, Informative)

    by ShanghaiBill (739463) on Saturday January 04, 2014 @02:06AM (#45863701)

    Maybe this is a good time to review some anti-theft tips. Keep in mind the 4 D's:


    * Install motion sensor lights on the front and back of your house.

    * Install a fake camera. For deterrent value, a fake camera will work as well as a real camera, but will cost far less. It should have a bright blinking LED to make it more noticible. You can buy realistic decoy cameras for less than $10 on Amazon.

    * If you install a real camera, make sure it is good enough to actually identify the perp. Otherwise, what's the point? Install several fake decoy cameras as well. If the perp is trying to avoid the fakes, he is more likely to be seen by the real camera.

    * Put a "Beware of Dog" or "Vicious Dog" sign on the gate to your back yard, whether you actually have a dog or not.

    * Put up a security alarm yard sign and window stickers, even if you don't have an alarm system. Yard signs and stickers are available on Amazon, eBay, etc.

    * Get some old, well worn work boots, size 14 or larger. Leave one pair on your front porch, and another by your back door.

    * When you leave home, leave a radio playing on a talk station. Set the volume so it is slightly audible from outside your home.

    * Set up timers to turn lights on and off when you are not home.

    * If you have an alarm that frequently goes off accidently, get it fixed. Otherwise your neighbors will ignore it.

    * Valuables should not be visible from any door or window.

    * Put wood dows or PVC pipe in the slide track of each window and sliding door. These should fit snugly, so they are not easy to dislodge by someone reaching through the broken window. Make sure everyone in your home knows how to remove the stop in case of a fire.

    * When not home, lock internal doors. This will prevent an intruder from moving quickly around your home.

    * Leave out some decoy valuables, such as an old laptop with no HDD, or some fake jewelry. Decoy valuables should be left in a conspicuous place, but not visible from outside.

    * Frost or laminate your garage windows, so a perp cannot see if your car is gone.

    * If you have a safe, bolt it to the floor with a bolt that is only accessible from inside the safe. Cut the bottom out of a cardboard box and put it over the safe to hide it.

    * If you have a an unused safe or lockbox, fill it with bricks, lock it, and put it in a conspicuous location.

    * If you have a second story, don't store a ladder in your yard or shed.

    * Trim any trees that can be climbed to reach a second story window, or make sure those windows are secure.

    * Use plants with thorns, such as roses, in front of your windows. Keep them trimmed below the window sill, so neighbors can see anyone breaking in.

    * Go through your wallet and purse. Do you really need to carry more than one credit card? Write down the account number and phone number for each card, so that you can cancel them quickly if they are stolen.

    * Make your possessions easy to identify. Paint the handles of your tools orange or lime green. Laser etch a custom design on the back of your phone or laptop.

    * Take photos of your valuable possessions, and record any serial numbers.

    * Scan any important documents, and save the images off site.

    • by John.Banister (1291556) * on Saturday January 04, 2014 @07:59AM (#45864395) Homepage
      Here's a couple of other thoughts:

      If you have a security system and put up a security system yard sign, put up one for a different manufacturer's security system, so it takes a little longer for them to figure out what to defeat.

      Don't put up a "Protected by Smith & Wesson" sign, as thieves often target those houses when they're empty, hoping to steal guns.

      If you store account numbers & phone numbers for cards, keep them in a password vault so that some ex-friend can't cancel your cards when they're pissed at you.

      Have it set up so that the cameras start recording to remote storage (The security system could start emailing clips to an email address hosted with unmetered storage and also broadcast to a local wireless battery powered recorder hidden somewhere.) when an alarm is triggered.

      Have a heat recovery ventilator or two on the ground floor, so you're less tempted to have (and then leave) a window open.

      Have a foyer between your outer door and your secure door. This way you can let people in out of the cold who you don't want to let into the rest of the house, and it's easy to slowly fill the foyer with something intolerably stinky (eg. anhydrous ammonia) if your alarm says someone is making a serious attempt to break in past the inner door. It also gives people who came to visit but can't get in someplace warm to wait while you come home. You could also have a "local calls only" phone in there so that someone who needs to borrow a phone doesn't need to come into your house to borrow it.

      A friend who spoke to a thief in prison told me that multi-point locks and an inflexible door frame are beneficial for doors that you want to be secure.

      You could also use Soss or Tectus hinges and make it difficult for a stranger to determine which way the door opens.

      If you're recording serial numbers, for devices that connect wirelessly, you could record Mac Address & IMEI numbers, since those can't be quickly scraped off.

      Help bolster world honeybee populations by keeping bees at home and put a DC solenoid under the hive that the security system can connect to AC power.
  • by aaarrrgggh (9205) on Saturday January 04, 2014 @03:38AM (#45863889)

    I wanted to get the fancy schlage remote control lock for our vacation home to be able to give friends a limited access code. So, I figured I needed an alarm system as well to make sure it was working, maybe a camera too... Then I took apart the schlage lock. You could bypass it with a little knife and maybe a dremel if you wanted to go all wild and crazy.

    The bottom line is that your security strategy needs to be proportionate to the risks. Reduce risk first, then make a solution that places your home at a competitive disadvantage compared to neighbors when someone is scouting the neighborhood.

    Nothing is really secure, and you will go mad trying to make it better. One example-- friend's home broken into, thieves took the dvr for the security system. Cops said it was standard procedure... ADT suggested remote recording for an additional fee...

  • by onceuponatime (821046) on Saturday January 04, 2014 @05:12AM (#45864059)

    I developed Hydra Control Freak as a result of a personal security problem I have involving a stalker. It's been evolving over a period of more than 6 years now but for 2-3 years it's been available in product form. I still have problems with the stalker (which is why I'm trying to keep my name out of the main stream a bit) which takes up far too much of my time but it has helped developed the product to be extremely effective.

    From a commercial perspective it's been a complete failure, as I don't have the financial resources to market it as product properly and I'm rubbish at marketing (I will be trying to present it from a more grass roots perspective this year targeted more for the self installer). From the perspective of it working as a security device it's extremely effective and it's very flexible. At my place I have a great many cameras and many different kinds of sensors, both wired and wireless. You only need to enter my property a couple of meters and I'm alerted by E-mail alerts, notification systems, wired rows of led lights that blink (One per sensor so I know instantly where people are), piezoelectric beepers and video displays that load up automatically, showing both live and looping event views. At night, the TV turns on automatically as I wired a Phidget to a universal remote control, it switches to the AVI channel and by using a simple javascript program that is subscribed to the websocket interface the HCF provides it dynamically loads the cameras and the looping event view. All I have to do is look at the tv and slam the panic button if it's a bad guy. The system allows you to link devices in the same way over the wan, so I also monitor some clients places via the same system. If someone comes onto their property, their system tells my system, my system loads up their cameras (Triggered by the websocket interface) and my panic button triggers their sirens etc.

    The Hydra Control Freak is built as a standalone device into a Sheeva plug. It's written in Java and runs on tomcat7, but I've made it a self contained, plug and play product and not a user hackable product (It supports remote software updates though). It supports the following devices:

    * Legacy X10 controller (Started with this)
    * rfxtrx433 home automation transceiver from rfxcom (Fantastic for Europe, not usable in the US)
    * Phidget I/O controllers, really useful for wired sensors and wired control, can add several of this to one device
    * Cameras (Reads MJPEG streams continuously so you have instant alerts with activity that happened prior to the trigger
    * http, both inputs and outputs to propagate events, interface to external systems such as iPhone alerting apps and to expand the
        monitoring over the WAN

    I tried to make this device so that it was simple to use. To this end I don't support a scripting language for programming it's behavior,
    rather I have a state machine/event engine with declarative configuration via web-based guis. However, this is also a failure. In the sense
    that it appears that this is not really simple for people, you have to be quite geeky to think well in terms of state transitions, although
    my most success has been with just non-tech users where I configure the system for them.

    The websocket interface is one of the most exciting features I've added recently. Using that and ajax and you can make pretty much any
    kind of dynamic display you like. The HTTP actions can pass over handles on the events to remote devices so that the websocket interfaces
    there no how to load up the cameras from the source in response to the events. By using HTTPS I can have a small window open on my machine inside the corporate network and my cameras loads up automatically instantly (In addition to the alerts).

    SSL hides the websocket
    protocol from the firewalls so that it works flawlessly

    If you want to know anything more about the product, you should contact me directly at this point. The website is not updating at this time as I consider how I restructure the sales approach. (tech development with updates is continuing however).


  • by Zedrick (764028) on Saturday January 04, 2014 @07:36AM (#45864347)
    Please don't even consider Zoneminder (unless you want to develop it). It's hopelessly outdated, has very limited support for modern surveillance cameras, and is more or less useless compared to commercial alternatives. Unfortunately - I really wish there was a good open source alternative

    You're better off buying Axis- or Sony-cameras and using their monitoring software.
    • by Lumpy (12016) on Saturday January 04, 2014 @10:02AM (#45864751) Homepage

      And it's still better than any of the utter crap sold as a "security DVR" out there.

      And better off buying Axis? Did he say he had $2500 just for the license for the software that goes on the PC? Axis is only for extremely rich people, their cameras are nearly 10X the cost of normal cameras and are simply re branded junk. We were an Axis dealer for years, I have seen inside all of their products.

  • by multimediavt (965608) on Saturday January 04, 2014 @08:10AM (#45864409)
    A shotgun and a dog. Dogs are an organic, renewable resource and shotguns make that sound all criminals know to run from when you chamber a round. Plus, both work without batteries or AC power. If you're that worried about a break in while you're not home, maybe you live in a bad neighborhood and should move. Your insurance would most likely go down once out of the rough neighborhood. The dog would probably be happier, too.
  • by Lumpy (12016) on Saturday January 04, 2014 @09:58AM (#45864729) Homepage

    Honewell or other real security system purchased from a wholesaler then DIY install it. Alarm installers are not typically very smart, so most people can do what they do, BUT getting a real alarm system with the installation and programming documentation is the trick. Alarm companies try to keep that stuff hidden to protect their dealer network and try and force people to pay for alarm companies.

    Also to hide the fact that most do not set up the alarms correctly. I installed my own Honewell Lynx Touch system with the touchscreen, and every other one I have seen installed by "professionals" had the default codes still programmed in them so I could easily get in to disable the alarm.

    Do research, pick a popular alarm (Honeywell Lynx Touch L5100) and learn all you can about it before you buy even try to get the installer and programming documentation first. and when you do buy the alarm, be damned sure it is a NEW one that will have a default installer code so you can program it. Used alarms are garbage unless they will provide you with the installer code and 100% refund if the installer code is wrong.

  • by Gim Tom (716904) on Saturday January 04, 2014 @12:29PM (#45865493)
    Down here it is usually enough to just leave a sign on the door that says something like this.

    Hay Bubba, better wait on tha porch till I geet back. Jest run to the store for more ammo. I ain't fed the dogs yet and them are locked inside and hungry so u better stay on the porch.

  • by holophrastic (221104) on Saturday January 04, 2014 @01:32PM (#45865795)

    Did I leave the oven on?

    I'm becoming more and more disappointed in home security systems. And this just makes it worse. "smart" home monitoring systems seem to provide all of the features that security systems were designed to eliminate long ago.

    Did I leave the oven on?

    The whole purpose of an alarm system isn't to be able to monitor my own home.

    Did I leave the oven on?

    The purpose of an alarm system isn't to be able to check on my posessions, children, dog, or delivery man.

    Did I leave the oven on?

    The purpose of an alarm system, is for someone else to monitor my home.

    Did I leave the oven on?

    The purpose of an alarm system is specifically to NOT worry about my home when I'm away.

    Did you leave the oven on?

    Constantly caring (i.e. worrying) about my home when I'm away means that I'm not really away. That's always been considered an O.C.D. disorder -- not being able to let go and relax. I have an alarm system. If someone trips it, the monitoring company will call me. So long as the monitoring company doesn't call me, I'm happy on vacation. "Piece of mind" doesn't come from checking every ten minutes. It's comes from not checking at all.

    If you're going to build your own alarm system, make sure you put a sensor inside the oven.

Kill Ugly Processor Architectures - Karl Lehenbauer