A Home Network, Security System, And A Hidden Room Behind A Bookcase

Ok, now this is something special. This is a home network and security system that would make just about anyone stop, and with jaw hanging agape, stare, impressed at the “several months of effort” it took [timekillerjay] to install their dream setup. Just. Wow.

Want a brief rundown of the diverse skill set needed to pull this off? Networking, home security, home automation, woodworking, running two thousand feet(!) of cat 6a cable, a fair hand at drywall work for the dozens upon dozens of patches, painting, staining, and — while not a skill, but is definitely necessary — an amazingly patient family.

Ten POE security cameras monitor the premises with audio recording, infrared, and motion detection capabilities. This is on top of magnetic sensors for five doors, and eleven windows that feed back to an ELK M1-Gold security system which effortlessly  coordinates with an Insteon ISY994i smart home hub; this allows for automatic events — such as turning on lights after dark when a door is opened — to occur as [timekillerjay]’s family moves about their home. The ELK also allows [timekillerjay] to control other things around the house — namely the sprinkler system — via relays. [timekillerjay] says he lost track of how many smart switches are scattered throughout his home, but there are definitely 39 network drops that service the premises.

All of the crucial components are hidden in his office, behind a custom bookshelf. Building it required a few clever tricks to disguise the bookshelf for the secret door that it is, as well as selecting components with attention to how much noise they generate — what’s the point of a hidden security system if it sounds like a bunch of industrial fans?

An uninterruptible power supply will keep the entire system running for about 45 minutes if there is a power outage, with the cameras recording and system logging everything all the while. Not trusting the entrance to his vault to something from Batman, he’s also fitted the bookshelf with a 600lb magnetic lock that engages when the system is armed and the door already closed. A second UPS will keep the door secured for 6+ hours if the house loses power. Needless to say, we think this house is well secured.

[Via /r/DIY]

33 thoughts on “A Home Network, Security System, And A Hidden Room Behind A Bookcase

    1. On some high-rise buildings a floor (or more) are reserved for mechanical (heating, air conditioning, ventilation, electrical switchgear, communications, plumbing, fire alarm, equipment. On some buildings it is the 13th floor, which no one would rent because of superstition. The freight elevator(s) stops there, but the regular passenger elevators don’t.

        1. ahhh… good point.
          Then again, what is the fun in having a secret room if nobody knows you have it.
          Anyway, the closet closes the room up very nicely, you would not suspect something behind it if you didn’t know. A job well done.

    1. Hard to fish through a 2X8. The ceiling holes are going against the grain of the ceiling joists, if it’s a finished floor above, there’s nowhere for the tape to get to the next cavity, so you gotta cut the holes so you can drill access holes in the joists. They also make “installer’s bits” for drilling blind, but I’ve had them hit knots in the wood and wander. Ends up bottoming out and you’re a bay over and three feet from where it was supposed to come out because it’s going diagonally now. That’s why I prefer cabling commercial spaces over residential. Usually have at least a hung ceiling to work with.

  1. I’ve been a electrician for a very long time.

    Before I say anything. Did you run the wiring.
    If so then OK.
    But if you had a electrician run the wires I would of shot him.
    I have wired up more house’s then you can shake a stick at.
    and I’ve never done wiring like that.
    I must admit I really enjoyed wiring old house they were the most fun.

    What I’ve done is put all my network and home automation in a wall.
    I do wish that I made it a inch thinker. But still it turned out great.

    You guys & girls that are putting in these projects I take my hat off to you.
    Thank you for all your hard work.
    You people are the ones that keep HackaDay going.
    Thank you….

  2. I was thinking the same question, how do you keep this secret? I had workers all over my house, flooring, walls, doors. At list, the one on flooring was working so close to the walls so I can’t imagine he could miss the gap.

  3. “Building it required a few clever tricks to disguise the bookshelf for the secret door that it is…”

    Well, it’s not a secret any more, so good job. :)

  4. Nice work! A lot of work, and planning. Great showpiece and testament to your skills.

    UPS… Even if you have a generator, which is external and vulnerable to tampering, this installation looks perfect for a power “backup” system, rather than UPS. Consider an inverter/charger like often found for the RV industry with a large (100 AHr or more) battery. That will provide your system with hours of battery backup, and considerably more run time than what any common UPS can provide.

    Insteon… Great concept… my house voltage is 123V. Surges are not common (I have a whole house surge protection and a PMI Eagle 120 power monitor to prove things are OK). My ISY994i is now on it’s third Insteon PLC modem. And these 6-button Insteon switches keep failing. I’ve lost count of how many if these I’ve changed. Wish SmartHome would make them more robust. I’m getting fed up. Hope you do better.

    Question for the borg… how many of you would go to this effort to wire up all your windows? Or compromise with robust motion detection in key locations. I mean, if the house was new and subject to rough-in… sure.. Just wondering. For discussion.

    1. Most mag locks fail open. I’ve actually never seen one fail locked, you need power for the electromagnet to work. Now electronic strike plates are a different beast, and they can fail either direction, but if they fail locked, you have to have a push bar or knob to still be able to open the door.

      1. They definitely make mag locks that are “the other way around”… even for a lot of those that fail open (especially the really strong ones), the magnetic flux is created by a permanent magnet and the electromagnet just diverts it outside (or inside) of the assembly.
        If the flux is confined inside the magnet assembly, there’s almost none going trough the metal plate on the door and the door is free to move. Let the field lines out a little, they start going trough the plate and you’re not opening that door even with a crowbar.

        Shame nobody seems to be making electropermanent magnetic locks (they work like a flip/flop, you use electricity only to change the state)

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