Author Topic: Contemplating opensource alarm system  (Read 2816 times)

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Offline jpyeron

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Contemplating opensource alarm system
« on: March 26, 2022, 07:40:15 pm »
Kinda frustrated with the insecure, featureless, overpriced choices in the industry.

Does anyone have useful thought to persuade me towards or away from this endeavor?

Goals:

1. Secure
2. Extensible with integration points
3. compliance / certifiable (e.g. UL - aware of $$$)
 

Offline pqass

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Re: Contemplating opensource alarm system
« Reply #1 on: March 26, 2022, 08:01:41 pm »
Wired?  Wireless?
Type of sensors?  eg. contacts, shock, PIR, smoke detector, ...
Type of output? eg. horn, strobe, internet connectivity, ...
Remote admin/monitoring?
Integration with existing commercial sensors/output devices?

It can be as simple as a current loop (zone) with end-of-line resistor, contacts, cat5 wire, bix block, Arduino, power transistor, horn, keyswitch, low-voltage PS.
 

Offline jpyeron

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Re: Contemplating opensource alarm system
« Reply #2 on: March 26, 2022, 08:14:14 pm »
Wired? 

Yes - primary use case.

Wireless?

Not one of my goals - but there is no reason to exclude it.

Type of sensors?  eg. contacts, shock, PIR, smoke detector, ...
Type of output? eg. horn, strobe, internet connectivity, ...

Existing (UL listed) sensors, this is more of the control panel, communications, keypads, etc.

Remote admin/monitoring?
Integration with existing commercial sensors/output devices?

remote admin - this is a big area for discussion. Most panels support remote programming, but some installation disable it.

remote monitoring is a must - by UL listed central stations (note: I work for a company that provides such services)

It can be as simple as a current loop (zone) with end-of-line resistor, contacts, cat5 wire, bix block, Arduino, power transistor, horn, keyswitch, low-voltage PS.

Any capabilities that are not (capable of being) supervised will be a non-starter. The questions then lead to how complex or simple should it be.
 

Offline pqass

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Re: Contemplating opensource alarm system
« Reply #3 on: March 26, 2022, 08:50:55 pm »
Given your need for all the peripherals (sensors and output) to be commercially available, it sounds like you're really only asking about the magic box (in the central panel) that ties everything together. That is, what are its i/o capabilities?

a. # of channels: current loop sensing (for contacts, keyswitch, etc.),
b. # of channels: relay dry contacts (for horn, strobe, etc.),
c. # of channels: TTL or RS232 UART or SPI for Bluetooth, or WiFi interfaces for local admin via phone, keypad, house WiFi to access Internet,
d. Ethernet interface to access Internet via house switch,
e. # of channels: independent power supplies to light up the current loops, power for output devices if needed, and for magic box itself,
f. battery and charger

Work things backwards. Identify all the commerical perpherals that you need or eventually want.  What interfaces do they require? Is my wiring topology compatible with those interfaces, The magic box should have all those interfaces.  Is there an existing platform that has some or all of those interfaces? Can I add shields to make up for the missing functionality.
 

Online 2N3055

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Re: Contemplating opensource alarm system
« Reply #4 on: March 26, 2022, 09:20:12 pm »
As someone who worked in industry for few years, my advice is not to got down that rabbit hole.

1. Connection to sensors is easy.
2. You cannot reuse any peripherals or modules (keyboards, readers or such) from current equipment. Protocols are proprietary. No standard there. No documentation. Reverse engineering them is no fun.
3. Central station communication... Good luck with that. Dozens of protocols on outdated POTS, and some TCP/IP. Some documented some not. Lots of proprietary stuff.. Ademco, Surgard, DSC, Bosch etc.....
4. Compliance? 150k - 250k USD per product... Not only all the UL and ISO EMC, low voltage, but also all security and/or fire standards and codes..

You can throw together something that can read standard sensors with relays, with tamper supervision, arduino, horn (use commercial one), some keyboard and alphanumeric LCD. Add in  Raspbery Pi and touch screen interface, and web display status. For your own fun and use ...
More than that, no way you keep your sanity with open source based full product.
You will get certifiable long before your alarm panel...

You're seriously underestimating time and effort needed.
 

Offline jpyeron

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Re: Contemplating opensource alarm system
« Reply #5 on: March 26, 2022, 11:10:20 pm »
There's nothing wrong with starting to develop this if it is of interest for you do to so.
But if your goal is to just make a small number of systems then build vs. buy is not likely to be cost effective.
If you just want to advance the state / capabilities of the systems out there by making one more flexible or modern or whatever then great even adding a little to the status quo is still progress.
Work things backwards. Identify all the commerical perpherals that you need or eventually want.  What interfaces do they require? Is my wiring topology compatible with those interfaces, The magic box should have all those interfaces.  Is there an existing platform that has some or all of those interfaces? Can I add shields to make up for the missing functionality.

If end design does not result in a hardware design that "could be UL listed" then it is a non-starter. Just because it does not get certificated/listed (due to funding), I think it could be a benefit to the industry / state of the art.

As someone who worked in industry for few years, my advice is not to got down that rabbit hole.

1. Connection to sensors is easy.
2. You cannot reuse any peripherals or modules (keyboards, readers or such) from current equipment. Protocols are proprietary. No standard there. No documentation. Reverse engineering them is no fun.
Given your need for all the peripherals (sensors and output) to be commercially available, it sounds like you're really only asking about the magic box (in the central panel) that ties everything together. That is, what are its i/o capabilities?

Correct, not looking to re-use "magic boxes".

3. Central station communication... Good luck with that. Dozens of protocols on outdated POTS, and some TCP/IP. Some documented some not. Lots of proprietary stuff.. Ademco, Surgard, DSC, Bosch etc.....

Ademco Contact ID and several others, especially the IP based are very well documented. Albeit many aspects are covered by NDAs.


a. # of channels: current loop sensing (for contacts, keyswitch, etc.),
b. # of channels: relay dry contacts (for horn, strobe, etc.),
c. # of channels: TTL or RS232 UART or SPI for Bluetooth, or WiFi interfaces for local admin via phone, keypad, house WiFi to access Internet,
d. Ethernet interface to access Internet via house switch,
e. # of channels: independent power supplies to light up the current loops, power for output devices if needed, and for magic box itself,
f. battery and charger

The design intent would to allow scalability. Add "modules" as needed. You see this in some panels / keypads where additional zones are added on to a supervised bus.

4. Compliance? 150k - 250k USD per product... Not only all the UL and ISO EMC, low voltage, but also all security and/or fire standards and codes..

Hopes (pipe dream?) would be to demonstrate product design vaibility and partner with an existing OEM.

More than that, no way you keep your sanity with open source based full product.
You will get certifiable long before your alarm panel...

You're seriously underestimating time and effort needed.

Meh, it could be fun.
 

Offline pqass

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Re: Contemplating opensource alarm system
« Reply #6 on: March 26, 2022, 11:48:38 pm »
By "magic box" I mean that thing you're getting UL listed to glue all the commercial bits together.  The more commercial components you can buy, the less of that "magic box" you'll need to design/build, the easier/faster it will get done.

Is it a PCB sitting in a metal box in a home basement or in the wiring closet(s) of a 10 story building?
Scale matters to the design and you haven't quantified that.  It could be multiple custom controllers scattered over multiple floors with local area communcations to a central controller or a Beaglebone with protocol converts (current loop to SPI) and relay banks on a DIN rail.
 

Offline Bassman59

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Re: Contemplating opensource alarm system
« Reply #7 on: March 28, 2022, 07:56:37 pm »
Kinda frustrated with the insecure, featureless, overpriced choices in the industry.

The home-security-alarm industry sells a service. Often the hardware is given to the customer in exchange for signing a contract of some non-trivial term.

The money's in the monitoring service.
 

Offline Leiothrix

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Re: Contemplating opensource alarm system
« Reply #8 on: March 31, 2022, 10:41:34 am »
Insecure?  Featureless?

Alarm panels are made to attempt to be everything to everyone, you just need to program them properly to do what you want.

Overpriced perhaps, but that's individual.

By what metric are you using to judge the first two?  How will your version be better?  And how will your version be cheaper, especially with the time invested?
 

Offline jpyeron

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Re: Contemplating opensource alarm system
« Reply #9 on: April 02, 2022, 04:36:41 pm »
By what metric are you using to judge the first two?  How will your version be better?  And how will your version be cheaper, especially with the time invested?

Need to reflect on that.
 

Offline 50ShadesOfDirt

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Re: Contemplating opensource alarm system
« Reply #10 on: April 03, 2022, 01:18:52 pm »
Are you after a system that you can assemble yourself, lego-like? No black box for a "controller", no proprietary pieces, standard kinds of wiring, etc? Standards (of some kind) throughout?

Sounds like: ONVIF (for cams, other sensors), ethernet wiring & ip-based (for any sensor), software (on any hardware platform) that controls everything. Solutions for relays & other specialty requirements, such that you assemble & wire your own "devices" to do something, and tie it back into security system.

I looked at this a few years ago, and at that time, it was possible to assemble an entirely open-source security system, bypassing the usual proprietary commercial vendor/suspects who only wanted to sell a black box system managed by their installers (like the home market suspects). Install your own cams from any vendor, your own door locks & access software, wire everything with ethernet cabling.

The controller software was sold by many vendors, with the usual "free piece" (controls X number of devices), then "paid piece" (controls unlimited, etc). Ran on any platform (windows, linux, etc). A few entirely open-source controller software packages (should be more these days, given Github & such).

Is this the goal? And for home use only, or commercial?
 

Offline jpyeron

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Re: Contemplating opensource alarm system
« Reply #11 on: April 09, 2022, 08:54:33 pm »
Are you after a system that you can assemble yourself, lego-like? No black box for a "controller", no proprietary pieces, standard kinds of wiring, etc? Standards (of some kind) throughout?

Standards and avoidance of proprietary pieces are a strong motivator. "Yourself" may have too much of a connotation.

Is this the goal? And for home use only, or commercial?
Seems a close summary. Both home and commercial.

Opensource hardware. Open firmware - but assuming certified (e.g. UL) firmware would possibly be closed source...
 

Offline johnboxall

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Re: Contemplating opensource alarm system
« Reply #12 on: April 12, 2022, 11:40:32 pm »
Does anyone have useful thought to persuade me towards or away from this endeavor?

Why would anyone buy an alarm system whose design and firmware is made public? The smart crooks would be all over it.
Books - https://nostarch.com/search/boxall
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Offline bitwelder

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Re: Contemplating opensource alarm system
« Reply #13 on: April 13, 2022, 01:32:02 pm »
In modern security one motto is: "don't roll your own cryptography"
(because it's easy to miss the weaknesses of a newly-invented algorithm when it doesn't have a chance to be analyzed and 'peer-reviewed' in the open by others)
So, at least in terms of security, I think that making an alarm system into an open-sourced design, using proofed logical blocks, has the chance to offer a better value over propriatery 'black boxes'.
 

Offline jpyeron

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Re: Contemplating opensource alarm system
« Reply #14 on: April 23, 2022, 06:29:57 pm »
Does anyone have useful thought to persuade me towards or away from this endeavor?

Why would anyone buy an alarm system whose design and firmware is made public? The smart crooks would be all over it.

I think that is backwards. The smart crooks "hack" the non-public and keep their hacks as secrets to themselves. The smart non-crooks are blissfully unaware of the vulnerabilities.

In modern security one motto is: "don't roll your own cryptography"
(because it's easy to miss the weaknesses of a newly-invented algorithm when it doesn't have a chance to be analyzed and 'peer-reviewed' in the open by others)
So, at least in terms of security, I think that making an alarm system into an open-sourced design, using proofed logical blocks, has the chance to offer a better value over propriatery 'black boxes'.

Agreed.
 


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