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Author Topic: How do you like OnAlert? Thinking of using it as my security system...  (Read 23623 times)

legarots

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I don't have a land line, but my computer is online 24/7. I could setup an alert to send an email to my cell phone in the event that an alarm is triggered, such as a door/window/motion.

What has been your experience with OnAlert? Will it work as I plan?

I understand that I will need ActiveHome Pro software as well, since OnAlert is a plug-in. Would you recommend that I also get one of the home security system packages, even if I won't be using the dialer?
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jtykal

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Welcome to the forum, legarots!

You can do this (and I have), but you should be aware that the CM15A and AHP/OnAlert can be fairly easily overwhelmed with input data. My unscientific experimentation has convinced me that generating more than one RF or powerline command per second will cause commands to be missed. YMMV, so try it yourself. Get a Palm Pad Remote and start hammering away at the buttons -- see if the CM15A and AHP can keep up. (I don't know if the security console can be similarly jammed with RF traffic -- never tested it.)

I figured that such an "X10 Data Storm" would be a fairly rare occurrence in my system -- unless someone was doing it intentionally. I only have a few day/night timers, (2) MS14A motion sensors, and (7) DS10A door/window switches.

I recently created a little AHP SDK application in Visual Basic 2008 Express Edition that I use to monitor my door sensors. I haven't programmed it to send alert info to my cell phone (yet), but I do use it as a local alarm of sorts. I have an indicator light that comes on whenever a door is open, and a remote chime to notify me when the garage door is open. I also have a couple of security settings that I can activate from the application window itself, or via a remote macro. I can set a "Silent Alarm" that just turns on a light in my bedroom when a door is opened, or I can choose a "Noisy Alarm" that sounds a Powerhorn Siren and flashes my lights, just like the security console.

I have two of the PS561 Voice Dialer Consoles. I don't use either of them anymore -- partly because I like to have a little more information (such as event timestamps) and control (such as audible notifications on only selected doors) than they provide and partly because they don't dial out on VoIP lines...

You can usually get a package deal from X10 on a security system -- it's usually (much) cheaper to buy one of their packages than to purchase just the sensors you need. For about $100, you can get a package with 10 door/window sensors, a couple of motion detectors, security console, lamp module, and a few remotes. Another $50 will get you the CM15A, ActiveHome Pro software, and all of the plug-ins.

Here's a screenshot of what my app looks like:
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jtykal

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...and one more thing. Be sure to check out Tuicemen's sticky "Tips and Helpful Suggestions" post in this OnAlert forurm! Lots of great ideas for how to best use the OnAlert plug-in and AHP with or without a security console!

http://forums.x10.com/index.php?topic=10441.0
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originalevil

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That was my plan, as well, and the plan failed.

First, the range on the CM15A leaves a lot to be desired. Even with an antenna modification, I had a 50/50 chance of missing signals from the sensors at the edge of my effective range (in a 1700 square foot house). I basically would go out through the garage, lock the door, and then walk around to a window to arm the system, since that was the "sweet spot" for the CM15A to pick it up.

Also, I'd often get blank messages from onAlert, which made me stop whatever I was doing and go home to make sure nothing had been triggered.

I like the console. I like the remotes and I even like the power horns (for indoor sirens, anyway). I like the fact that the wireless door/window sensors are less than $4 each when you buy them in a good deal from X10. They have a lot of uses, not just for your burglar alarm, as long as you can receive their signals.

Like Jytkal, I wrote my own software. Actually, I bought a V572RF32, disabled the CM15A's RF daughterboard, and THEN wrote my own alarm software. It is a big improvement over the old setup, but it does have its limitations. The software still requires the use of a CM15A, to receive powerline signals from the V572RF32.

The next version is going to use the W800RF32A to receive all signals directly, and will use a CM11A, but only for sending commands to devices (lights and sirens).

I monitor the heartbeat signals full time in my app, mainly because I'm writing a function to let me know that I should check the batteries if I go too long without getting an update from a sensor.

Here's a screencap of what the little crapplication looks like :)

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legarots

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Thanks for the comments and wealth of information. I also tried to write some code, but I can't read any "security" devices, using the ActiveHome SDK. Any advice?
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originalevil

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You're right. The ActiveHome SDK doesn't allow access to security devices. You need an additional receiver, from a third party company, to receive them.

I have the V572RF32 and the W800RF32A, both by WGL Designs.

The V572RF32 captures all X10 wireless signals and translates them to the powerline. The reception is far superior to the CM15A. You are limited to a total of 32 security devices (door/window sensors, motion detectors, and remotes). This device is "stand alone" and does not require a PC after you initially configure the security devices and transceived housecodes.

The W800RF32A does not transceive signals to the powerline. It is "receive only." However, you aren't limited in the number of security devices. This device requires a constant connection to a PC. When combined with a CM11A or a CM15A and your custom software, this device is fantastic.
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legarots

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It looks like jtykal has been able to pick up sensors using the AHP SDK. I'm wondering what he did or what I am missing. The RecvAction function only picks up power line non-security devices for me.
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Tuicemen

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legarots
There are a couple of ways to pick up the security signal from AHP, jtykaluses the phantom (dummy)module trick,
I use the windows command trick.
Basically you make macros for each sensor in the macro have it trigger a phantom module or send a windows command build your program to watch for one or the other!
If using the windows command option you'll need to also do the work around for the AHP window command bug! >*<
 >!
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jtykal

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With the OnAlert plug-in in AHP, you can write macros that are triggered by the Security sensors. In this macro, just turn a dummy module on/off. Your software responds to the powerline command that the CM15A sends out with the dummy on/off command.

I like originalevil's plan to cut the CM15A and AHP/OnAlert out of the equation. Something to think about going forward. The fewer moving parts, the better...
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Tuicemen

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The RecvAction function only picks up power line non-security devices for me.
:-[ I missed this earlier!
You should see non security RF!
Check your AHP settings (you still won't see security activity regardless)!
I originally set up my security system using On Alert without a DS7000 in the mix (wife didn't want the noise or pain of resetting)!
She now sees the benefit!  :)%
Note: If you have a DS7000 in your setup watching for dummy modules won't work reliably as the DS7000 sends out continuous PLC activity which could cause your dummy signal to be missed!
 >!
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legarots

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Re: How do you like OnAlert? Thinking of using it as my security system...
« Reply #10 on: March 20, 2009, 12:31:52 PM »

So is it actually the CM15A that won't report security devices? I wrote a quick a dirty program using libusb to display what the CM15A receives, but it never receives any RF from a security device...

But if that is the case, then how does AHP with ActiveAlert see the RF from a security device?
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jtykal

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Re: How do you like OnAlert? Thinking of using it as my security system...
« Reply #11 on: March 20, 2009, 02:41:28 PM »

Have you placed icons for your security sensors in a room in AHP?
Did you install the sensors successfully in AHP by triggering them while in "Install" mode? (and get the "Configuration Complete" message)?
Can you open/close a sensor switch and see the status change in AHP?
(Try the above with an unmounted DS10A right next to the CM15A before you try installing your remote, mounted sensors.)

If you don't see any security RF in AHP, you may be experiencing range issues. The unmodified CM15A only picks up RF from a DS10A at a distance of about 10-15 feet (in my experience -- YMMV). You'll need to do one of the many suggested antenna mods for the CM15A to get range throughout your house. Search the forums using keywords like "CM15A antenna mods" and you'll have a host of options -- some very easy and some rather elaborate...
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legarots

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Re: How do you like OnAlert? Thinking of using it as my security system...
« Reply #12 on: March 20, 2009, 03:29:12 PM »

I have it working! When I first tried using libusb to read data from the CM15A, it wouldn't pick it up. After I re-installed AHP and ActiveAlert on my computer, I can now read sensors (using libusb) from the CM15A, that aren't even setup in AHP, and with AHP not even running. I have integrated this with Java code, and am printing out the RF commands in my Java console.
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Tuicemen

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Re: How do you like OnAlert? Thinking of using it as my security system...
« Reply #13 on: March 20, 2009, 06:31:05 PM »

very cool!
I haven't tried libusb yet!
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