Directing an alarm system straight to the Internet

[Scott] has a pretty nice alarm system at his house – it will give the operator at his alarm company enough information to determine if it’s a fire alarm, burglary, or just a cat walking in front of a sensor. [Scott] wanted to cut out the middle man and receive notifications from his alarm system on his phone. He did just that, with the help of a trusty Arduino and the very cool Electric Imp.

[Scott]’s build began with an Arduino attach to a Raspi to monitor state changes in the alarm system. Because the designers of the alarm system included a very helpful four-wire bus between the alarm panels and the part connected to the phone line, [Scott] found it fairly easy to tap into these lines and read the current alarm status.

Dedicating a Raspberry Pi to the simple task of polling a few pins and sending data out over WiFi is a bit overkill, so [Scott] picked up an Electric Imp Arduino shield to transmit data over WiFi. We’ve played around with the Imp before, and [Scott] would be hard pressed to come up with a cleaner solution to putting his alarm monitor on the Internet.

Now [Scott] has a very tidy alarm monitor that sends updates straight to his cell phone, no middle man required. A very neat build, and an excellent use of a very cool WiFi device.

23 thoughts on “Directing an alarm system straight to the Internet

      1. For over twice the price. The Imp is only $30 + a socket and ID chip.

        For what these things cost, someone, somewhere has got to be working on cracking it open and replacing the bootloader.

    1. Hear, hear.

      I’m willing to pay $50 for an imp equivalent that’s open-sourced, require no ID chip, and does not rely on the cloud.

      Too bad it’ll never happen.

      1. I read up a bit more on it and seems like an ID-chip-free version is in the works.

        Still not comfortable with a machine beyond my control running inside my network while maintaining an encrypted connection to the outside.

      2. Not subsidized, just made in quantity, and the server doesn’t even know the SSID or any other network details apart from your source IP when it accepts the connection.

      3. @rasz: not subsidized at all, just made in bulk.

        For the avoidance of doubt: the server knows nothing about your SSID and password. That stays local to the card.

  1. “Now [Scott] has a very tidy alarm monitor that sends updates straight to his cell phone, no middle man required.”

    But the Imp is now their new middle man…

  2. At ~$40 (incl. shipping) for a RasPi, isn’t that cheaper than the Electric Imp? And like the other comments, that would really allow you to cut out the middle man. You could then leverage a PBX system to dial out and let you listen in on a mic, maybe even yell out over a speaker, etc.

    1. and serve upa web page, and allow you to do ethernet arm and disarm… etc….

      Yeah the imp was a very wrong route to go. RasPi’s are dirt cheap and he could have skipped the duino completely… thereis a UART on the pins, and at 9600 bps your raspi will NOT miss the last communication

  3. There are a variety of WiFi SDHC cards that would work in place of this system. I think Toshiba has a few, and there is always Eye-Fi. I don’t think it can tell what the files you are ‘pushing’ are so it could theoretically be anything.

    1. Not really. This is not a wifi SDHC card it is more like a wifi shield/module in a SD housing. Actually it’s just the WICED reference design in an SD housing. Plus the cloud features.

      1. Actually it was designed before we knew about WICED – the first protos used a CSR wifi chip – but we use the WICED wifi drivers (though not the OS, TCP stack, TLS implementation or anything else!)

        We also have a nicer STM32 than the WICED modules do, optical config, etc :)

  4. Why wifi? you have a wired device, hook up ethernet. Second the RasPi is a better device for this. Making it vastly more expensive by adding an arduino and a special board is not making it better.

  5. So, if he’s got a DSC panel (which uses a very tidy 4 wire bus) he could just us an IT-100 with something to talk over serial (it has a well documented protocol from DSC, albeit odd) or IT-120 which connects via ethernet (which would be a really nice hack if someone figures out how). I can poll devices, arm/disarm, trigger alarms, trigger F/A/P, change date/time, etc using an IT-100 connected to a broken netbook (no screen) acting as a home controller.

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