Home Security Project

Topics in this category pertain to planning. Discussions include how to prepare yourself, your family and your community for catastrophes and what you plan to do when they hit you.

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kyle
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Home Security Project

Post by kyle » Tue Aug 04, 2009 12:18 pm

I'm looking for advice for a DIY home security system for when I'm not home (that isn't a dog). I'm curious who out there has one and what their experiences/nightmares with them. There seems to be a million different options out there so I'm not sure where to start. There seemed to be a large array or way overpriced systems who are mostly selling a brand name (Honeywell, GE, etc) and really cheap Chinese crap.

Here are a few links I've been reading to educate my self:
http://www.do-it-yourself-home-security ... index.html" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;
http://www.diyalarmforum.com/" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;
http://www.diysecurityforum.com/" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

I'm torn between the reliability of a wired system but the ease of use of a wireless system. From what I understand a lot of the wireless systems are a lot more reliable now because they regularly check themselves to verify the state of the battery. The wireless options seem a nice way to avoid cutting up my walls to run wires. I'm open to suggestions.


I'm really interested in a system I can monitor/maintain myself remotely so it will need to have a a way to connect it to my existing web server and a battery powered GSM Cellular Adapter as a back-up in case the power and/or internet service fails.


What I think I'm looking for:

- A panel with multiple "Zones"

- An obnoxious alarm system and maybe some annoying blinking lights. Although, I'll need a way to remotely turn it off in case of a false alarm so my neighbors don't hate me.

- Sensors for the doors/windows and motion sensors inside the house that the cats are less likely to set off. For the windows, I've seen glass breaking sensors using sound and sensors that use a contact film around the window. Is one better than the other?

- A few cameras to monitor the place. I'm thinking of setting up a few hidden cameras and a few easy to see decoy cameras. It's good to let them know there are cameras but I don't want them to be able to easy disable them.

- A way to monitor if the house is on fire. That's always good to know.

- Motion sensing lights. It would be awseome to be notified via SMS message or something if they are set off but I'm not sure how easy or expensive that would be to set up. This is a very low priority.


Connecting the system to my computer network is a highly desired aspect as there are a lot of really promising free open source software projects for home automation and security monitoring that I'm interested in playing with:
http://www.zoneminder.com/" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;
http://misterhouse.sourceforge.net/" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;
http://www.linuxmce.org/" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;


I couldn't find a lot of info on the forum here about home security besides this one: http://zombiehunters.org/forum/viewtopi ... =6&t=12017" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

I'll probably go drop mugwug and email and pick his brain as well. I'll share what info he gives me.


I'm mostly brain storming here but if you guys have any advice for my home security/automation project, I'd love to hear it.

Yes, I know dogs are awesome for home security but that's not an option for me. I don't have enough free time right now to commit to training and caring for a dog.
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Re: Home Security Project

Post by Murph » Tue Aug 04, 2009 12:43 pm

I know a few "Home Theater" designers / installers in my area also do "run it yourself" home security systems on the side. Kinda makes sense... after buying $5+ G's of TV/Stereo, another Grand to protect it is nothing.

You might want to call around and see if there are any places that will give you a "free" quote and then just buy/install it all yourself.
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Re: Home Security Project

Post by crypto » Tue Aug 04, 2009 12:49 pm

kyle wrote: Yes, I know dogs are awesome for home security but that's not an option for me. I don't have enough free time right now to commit to training and caring for a dog.
And yet you have time to research, design, implement, debug, and maintain a homebrew security system?

All you have to do is keep the fish stick bag off the dogs head and he does the rest :D
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Re: Home Security Project

Post by thelight » Tue Aug 04, 2009 12:51 pm

Two threads to add:
http://zombiehunters.org/forum/viewtopi ... =6&t=37315" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;
http://zombiehunters.org/forum/viewtopi ... =6&t=23381" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

There are security equipment vendors out there that will sell you a panel and kit for $100-$200.
http://www.diyalarms.net/" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;
http://www.smarthomeusa.com/" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

I was looking at the ELK system a while back for home security and automation.
http://www.smarthomeusa.com/Shop/Securi ... m-Control/" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

I'd stick with a hard wire system just because of the central power and reliability. I'll also see if I can dig up this one online retailer that was very well priced and had a good inventory. Let us know what you come up with!
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Re: Home Security Project

Post by crypto » Tue Aug 04, 2009 12:52 pm

From what I've seen, incidentally, the battery powered systems are a pain.

I think I mentioned this earlier, but you should build a fanless mini-ITX PC that boots from a SSD to be the center of this system. Feel free to use a USB hard disk or something for bulk video storage, but you want the core functionality of the system to have no moving parts involved.

No cooling fans, no spinning hard disks, just solid state goodness. A cheap netbook would be perfect for this: you could set it to boot up whenever power is present, it's tolerant of running hot, comes with a 8GB SSD by default, and is compact enough to sit in a little equipment rack in your basement silently running for years.
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Re: Home Security Project

Post by Real_Ale_Act » Tue Aug 04, 2009 1:12 pm

My only experience with glass break sensors must have been the sound ones, little things you stick on the window?

They were installed in a vet clinic at which I worked solo graveyard shift and could be set off if you closed a door or drawer too hard (notice I did not say slammed) in the room. I set off the alarm several times that way.

I would say if you're planning to install those types of sensors you should check how much the window vibrates when you shut the room door...if the room is pretty air tight and the window is big or a single pane (or both) it may vibrate too much and set off the sensors. Likewise garbage trucks, buses, whatever large vehicles may pass near your house.
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Re: Home Security Project

Post by kyle » Tue Aug 04, 2009 2:00 pm

Thanks for the input, guys!
crypto wrote:And yet you have time to research, design, implement, debug, and maintain a homebrew security system?
The home security system set-up works around my time whenever I feel like doing it (and sometimes from work). I've had lots of dogs in my life and know how much time they require. They are attention whores and I'm a sucker for a cute face. Maybe I can just get a really ugly dog I can't possibly fall in love with. :)
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Re: Home Security Project

Post by bonanacrom » Tue Aug 04, 2009 2:44 pm

There are dog breeds out there that where breed to work without people around - so there not attention needers. A doggie door and an auto dog feeder and I don't see the problem. Other than having to clean up after a realy stupid one that decided to not listen to the warning bark and came in anyway.
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Re: Home Security Project

Post by Jamie » Tue Aug 04, 2009 3:12 pm

+1 to getting a dog...find a rescue dog that is past the puppy stage, and you'll have minimal hassles...

Nobody wants to go in a house with a dog barking on the far side of the door...OTOH, the best security system in the world depends on speedy response time by police or rent-a-cops...a sledge and a 5-minute grab-and-go is easier with one of the above choices...guess which?

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Re: Home Security Project

Post by whisk.e.rebellion » Tue Aug 04, 2009 3:24 pm

Glass break sensors are generally crap. They can be set off by vibration (think high winds, hip hop music blasting out of a car a down the street) or high pitched noises (glass breaking, chihuahuas, little girls squealing).

The wireless sensors are okay. My setup is a combination wired and wireless (it was really easy to wire the doors, not so easy to do the windows). Batteries shouldn't be an issue. All my wireless sensors run on a single AA battery. The panel does check the battery status of the sensors and will put a fault message on the control panel when the batteries get low. January will be 4 years since I had the alarm installed and I'm still on the original batteries. I'm thinking that I should probably change them out anyway.

There are some aesthetic issues with the wireless sensors, though. Most of bases (attach to the window/door frame) are about 2 inches high, 3/4 inch wide and 1/2 thick. The magnets that attach to the door or the window itself are considerably smaller. We are able to hide most of our wireless sensors with the header from our blinds. When we open the vertical blinds on the sliding door, the sensor is visible.

Another issue with the wireless sensors is that they're visible from the outside. There are tricks to bypassing sensors and knowing where they are (as opposed to guessing where the hardwired point are) makes it a little easier.

If you go with motion sensors, you're going to have to lock your pets up or deal with false alarms. There is no such thing as a "pet safe" motion sensor. Some are better than others at dealing with pets, but nothing is perfect. There's a filter that goes over the lens on a motion sensor that allows you to adjust how high and how wide the beams go out.

[long story short, I don't arm my motion sensors. amusing anecdotes follow]

We arranged the furniture in the living room (including the cat post) so that there was a clear shot from the door to the hallway. The beam is about 4 feet wide as it hits the wall at the hallway and it hits about 3 feet off the ground. I didn't like that because I could easily crawl past the beam without setting it off, but I conceded because my wife didn't want to lock the cat in the garage. Well, about a week after installation, the monitoring company calls me up saying that my living room motion sensor went off and local PD was dispatched. They found no forced entry. I'm guessing that the cat found a fly or just decided to jump up in the air. That happened twice more over three months. My local PD doesn't have a false alarm fine, thankfully, but I decided to start bypassing the living room motion sensor every time we put the alarm on "away."

A couple of months later, I get another call about my alarm going off. This time it's the upstairs hallway motion sensor (points right down the stairs). Again, local PD rolls out, finds no forced entry, all the doors and windows are locked. I get home and put the alarm on test. I crawl up the stairs and do not set the motion sensor off. The cat doesn't jump around at the top of the stairs (I think she's fallen down the stairs and learned her lesson), so I'm totally stumped as to how the sensor went off. A couple of weeks later, the same thing. Now I'm bypassing both motion sensors, but I still can't figure out why the upstairs one is going off. One morning, about three o'clock, I've got to get up and use the bathroom. Our bedroom door is wide open. I pull the covers back and throw my right leg out of the bed. I see a red glow coming from the motion sensor. I'm still kind of groggy, so I stop and think for a minute. I put my leg back in the bed and throw the covers back on. Red glow. Throw the covers off and throw my leg back out. Red glow. The sensor's beam was coming in to our bedroom. Our cat sleeps on the bed some times during the day. If she jumps on or off the bed from my side (closest to the door), she triggers the sensor.

Another silly thing: learn the difference between the sound of your burglar alarm going off and the sound of your smoke alarms. One night the battery in one of our upstairs smoke alarms got low. This particular smoke alarm doesn't "chirp" when the battery gets low. It goes off full volume, full duration. At three in the morning. I'd never been home when the burglar alarm had gone off, and I'd assumed that's what it was. I threw my cell phone at my half-asleep wife, grabbed my pistol and flashlight and was heading downstairs when she yelled, "it's the smoke alarm, stupid!"
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Re: Home Security Project

Post by whisk.e.rebellion » Tue Aug 04, 2009 3:27 pm

nfa wrote:+1 to getting a dog...find a rescue dog that is past the puppy stage, and you'll have minimal hassles...

Nobody wants to go in a house with a dog barking on the far side of the door...OTOH, the best security system in the world depends on speedy response time by police or rent-a-cops...a sledge and a 5-minute grab-and-go is easier with one of the above choices...guess which?

Jamie
And what do you do when you go somewhere for the weekend and take your dog with you?

I'd say go with both of them. The alarm won't stop serious thieves, but if it's just punk ass kids, it might.

I've had neighbors call me when my alarm's going off...I think people tend to ignore car alarms but not house alarms.
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Re: Home Security Project

Post by spacecase0 » Tue Aug 04, 2009 3:31 pm

I would solve the security issue with an internet enabled video surveillance system,
when it catches movement it emails you a picture, and also records the video to a hard drive.
so even if someone takes your system, you still have something.

if the system you get does not have video, I would add it.
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Re: Home Security Project

Post by Richter » Tue Aug 04, 2009 9:53 pm

whisk.e.rebellion wrote:This particular smoke alarm doesn't "chirp" when the battery gets low. It goes off full volume, full duration. At three in the morning. I'd never been home when the burglar alarm had gone off, and I'd assumed that's what it was. I threw my cell phone at my half-asleep wife, grabbed my pistol and flashlight and was heading downstairs when she yelled, "it's the smoke alarm, stupid!"
EPIC FAIL! I laughed my ass off...

but maybe (other than cameras) security doesn't need to cost you an arm, a leg, an eye and your daughter.... there are a few of Kip Kay's videos that are pretty interesting. Anybody could build some of his devices .

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=amHrKWXlQ-8" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

and

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t0FTzUhdg3w" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

and on the subject of cameras...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YWjer8Fhzh0" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

obviously.... you can tweek those set ups for any situation..... Hope that helped Kyle

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Re: Home Security Project

Post by AgentBlack » Tue Aug 04, 2009 10:13 pm

before you dump money in a system for after-the-fact break in, why not start with making your home an undesirable target? solid doors with good double keyed deadbolts, key locked windows, shatterproof window film, fake cameras on the outside, big ass ADS sign in the yard (they don't know you don't have a system), rose bushes under windows, shrubs and "cover" removed from the area, motion lights, gravel landscaping around the house (it's loud when you walk through it), important stuff locked up in safes, all your serial numbers copied down in several places, have a friend check in on your house when your gone, inside lights on timers, stuff like that. DYI systems are ok, but if the cops show up after the badguys are gone, then what's the point? the trick is to make a hard target so the bad guys just say "screw it" and move on to an easier house.
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Re: Home Security Project

Post by kyle » Wed Aug 05, 2009 9:19 am

AgentBlack wrote:before you dump money in a system for after-the-fact break in, why not start with making your home an undesirable target? solid doors with good double keyed deadbolts, key locked windows, shatterproof window film, fake cameras on the outside, big ass ADS sign in the yard (they don't know you don't have a system), rose bushes under windows, shrubs and "cover" removed from the area, motion lights, gravel landscaping around the house (it's loud when you walk through it), important stuff locked up in safes, all your serial numbers copied down in several places, have a friend check in on your house when your gone, inside lights on timers, stuff like that. DYI systems are ok, but if the cops show up after the badguys are gone, then what's the point? the trick is to make a hard target so the bad guys just say "screw it" and move on to an easier house.
I'm installing a big 6 foot privacy fence all around the house. Cameras (decoys and functional) are planned for the outside. I already bought a few stickers and signs indicating a security system. I own two big fire safes which contain serial numbers and other important paperwork - mainly in case of a fire.

Studies show that motion sensing lights do a world or difference for deterring random break ins as well. Those are getting installed the weekend I move into the new place. Alarms also deter people, which is why I want to install this crap. Most insurance companies will knock about 20% off your premium if you have a security system. The company I'm going with is one of those. That's a big appeal to me. Dogs can increase the premium but I think it's only certain breeds that are high risk to harm other people.

Shatter proof film is something Crypto recommended and I'm looking into it now.

The interior lights on timers is a good idea.

I also just spoke with a friend yesterday to house-sit my place while I'm out for a weekend next month (Dragon Con).


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Re: Home Security Project

Post by whisk.e.rebellion » Wed Aug 05, 2009 10:58 am

kyle wrote:Most insurance companies will knock about 20% off your premium if you have a security system.
Double check with your insurance company that it doesn't need to be a monitored system. When I wanted my discount, I had to fax a copy of the quarterly invoice from my alarm company.
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Re: Home Security Project

Post by jclaudii » Wed Aug 05, 2009 2:04 pm

I helped setup a surveillance system from smarthomeusa.com that was mentioned above. They were helpful and when we ordered the wrong wires, they sent some new ones asap. The wireless devices definitely help with the simplicity as for installing and setting it up. There are a several professional and free software that allows use of a computer to be your security system, dial your number or police/fire/medical first (depending on the trigger), or send you a text/e-mail in case of alarm trigger, offer remote monitoring (view cameras and recorded video over the internet) and a few other things like control lighting, turn ac/heat on/off, call you or someone in case a water sensor is triggered indicating broken pipe or rain, panic alarms, mood lighting (like when you turn your tv and dvd player on it automatically dims the lights), etc.

One system that was more of the media center with some of the monitoring and alarm functionality to play with is linuxMCE (Linux Media Center Edition) I played with it for a bit, but gave up. Most of the cameras and DVR's at smarthomeusa had "triggers" so you could technically use the camera as a motion sensor. You can set the sensitivity and be done with it. I think the standalone DVR was simple to setup and get started in a home security system that allows you network into it from anywhere and you could wire up a small DIY alarm to the "triggers" of the system.

Good Luck!

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Re: Home Security Project

Post by crypto » Wed Aug 05, 2009 3:13 pm

whisk.e.rebellion wrote:
kyle wrote:Most insurance companies will knock about 20% off your premium if you have a security system.
Double check with your insurance company that it doesn't need to be a monitored system. When I wanted my discount, I had to fax a copy of the quarterly invoice from my alarm company.

There's a ton of internet-based alarm monitoring companies that do it for cheap. You dont have to have Brinks or ADT monitoring via a dry pair phone line anymore.
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Re: Home Security Project

Post by ryan112ryan » Wed Aug 05, 2009 3:24 pm

I think you need to consider some things first off with either DIY wireless or wired

-most systems rely on calling out through telephone/internet: this can fail or be disconnected easily
-some have cell backups, but what if that fails/loses reception etc.
-What happens when the power goes out in PAW, the backup batteries run down and there isn't anyone at the security center anyway
-I personally have see some of the best security companies out there and their response time is pitiful, even those who phone police
-police don't take these seriously unless someone inside the house was actually on the phone saying " they are trying to kill me"


So other ideas that might help:

-actually lock you doors and windows (this is the #1 way people gain entry, even second floors)

-3m makes this clear sheeting "security film" that goes over windows, I have seen people try to break these with a metal baseball bat, a rock and a sludge hammer personally, the regular window with the film took about 20 wacks from a really big dude before he gave up.

-better deadbolts, door frames, locks. Cheap locks can be picked or bumped easily, higher end prevents this. Reinforce the lock reviver and door frame (metal frame that is solidly anchored). Just about any normal guy can kick a door near the dead bolt and rip the frame right open. I saw someone break into a neighbors house, he walked up like he was selling magazines, in stride kicked the door, it flew open he walked in and shut it behind him. It took literally 3 seconds and the door from the outside look perfectly intact.

-Dogs are unpredictable and can raise fear in anyone. For a robber its simply not worth their time dealing with a dog.

-reinforce sliding doors, my grandma once got locked out and she forced her way into her house through the sliding door, nuff said

-spare hidden keys: if you hide a key outside, don't do it in obvious places, have it hidden at the back of the house and enter from the back of the house. Where ever you do choose to hid it, place it in a key lock box, you can get them from lowes for $20.

-Inside, lock up your spare car and house keys. Lock your filing cabinet. bolt gun safe to studs and floor, I saw a video of a guy who ripped a gun safe that was just bolted to the floor in about 15 seconds, then throw it down the stairs and into the person's car, which he stole the keys from the spare key spot.

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Re: Home Security Project

Post by AgentBlack » Wed Aug 05, 2009 3:50 pm

kyle wrote:
AgentBlack wrote:before you dump money in a system for after-the-fact break in, why not start with making your home an undesirable target? solid doors with good double keyed deadbolts, key locked windows, shatterproof window film, fake cameras on the outside, big ass ADS sign in the yard (they don't know you don't have a system), rose bushes under windows, shrubs and "cover" removed from the area, motion lights, gravel landscaping around the house (it's loud when you walk through it), important stuff locked up in safes, all your serial numbers copied down in several places, have a friend check in on your house when your gone, inside lights on timers, stuff like that. DYI systems are ok, but if the cops show up after the badguys are gone, then what's the point? the trick is to make a hard target so the bad guys just say "screw it" and move on to an easier house.
I'm installing a big 6 foot privacy fence all around the house. Cameras (decoys and functional) are planned for the outside. I already bought a few stickers and signs indicating a security system. I own two big fire safes which contain serial numbers and other important paperwork - mainly in case of a fire.

Studies show that motion sensing lights do a world or difference for deterring random break ins as well. Those are getting installed the weekend I move into the new place. Alarms also deter people, which is why I want to install this crap. Most insurance companies will knock about 20% off your premium if you have a security system. The company I'm going with is one of those. That's a big appeal to me. Dogs can increase the premium but I think it's only certain breeds that are high risk to harm other people.

Shatter proof film is something Crypto recommended and I'm looking into it now.

The interior lights on timers is a good idea.

I also just spoke with a friend yesterday to house-sit my place while I'm out for a weekend next month (Dragon Con).


Thanks!
sounds like you have a good start except for the fence. once someone is on the inside of it they can move around without being seen, giving them time to defeat your other deterrents. i'd go with an 8' chainlik with razor wire top... :lol:
“Blessed be God, my rock, who trains my hands for war, and my fingers for battle.”
Psalms 144;1

kyleg
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Favorite Zombie Movies: Shaun of the Dead, Dawn of the Dead (2004), Diary of the Dead, Night of the Creeps.
Location: Seattle

Re: Home Security Project

Post by kyleg » Wed Aug 05, 2009 6:02 pm

Contacted the local 3M rep in my area and he quoted me a price on the sun blocking window film...bah copy and paste


Kyle,
I am a local 3M dealer representative located in Renton. Depending on film type cost to furnish and install sun control window film ranges from $8.50 to $11.00 per square foot. I will be more than happy to meet with you to provide you an estimate and show you samples. Please contact me at your earliest convenience.

Thank you,
Jerry Osborne
Sales Representative
Brower Tint and Graphics
TEL 425 251 6849
FAX 425 251 3263
jerry@tintandgraphics.com


I could only guess that the shatter proof stuff would be of similar price. I'll let you know.

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mk_ultra
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Location: Mpls , Mn

Re: Home Security Project

Post by mk_ultra » Wed Aug 05, 2009 6:32 pm

The easiest and cheapest thing you should do is replace all of the half inch screws on your locks and deadbolts with 2 or 3 inch wood screws . This way the mounting plates are actually secure in the door and frame .

This makes a world of difference in someone's ability to kick a door in .
This calls for a very special blend of psychology and extreme violence - Vyvyan

ZedR1
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Re: Home Security Project

Post by ZedR1 » Wed Aug 05, 2009 9:48 pm

I went with a friend of mine today to look at a car he wanted to buy.

We got to the place, which was a decent sized house in a suburban yet rural feeling neighborhood. We were there for 20 minutes or so before the owner/father got home. I am not mechanically inclined but I helped my friend look over the vehicle as best as I could during that time. (The son was present) Once the old man got home, we asked if we could go for a spin. 10 minutes later we were back in the driveway and the deal was about to go down. Add another 10 to 15 minutes for the signing of the paperwork, exchange of the money, and the deal was nearly done.

All this time I had been wandering back and forth between this guy's garage and the car, not particularly concerned about anything but making sure everything was kosher. After the completion of the transaction, the owner headed down the driveway to empty the last bit of medical supplies out of the trunk (wife is a nurse) and then the little light in my head clicked on, and I was thinking about ZS and FAKs and all that.

He was talking to my friend and I overheard that he was a lecturer, and we found out that he is an Adjunct Prof. at a couple of local colleges with a specialty in Computer Crime. This struck me as interesting as we continued the discussion on the way back to his garage.

It was only then as we went to leave nearly an hour after we had arrived that I began to notice a layer of his security preparations. In a pine tree on the left side of his driveway, not 10 feet from the left rear quarter-panel of the car, was a 4x4 that was sticking up, out of the ground about 5 feet. Mounted on this was 3 cameras. 2 cameras in those hardened enclosure type things that should scream "surveillance camera" to you. You know, the type you see in a bank. Each one was pointed down the street on either side of the house. There was also a ball shaped web cam mounted to the post, facing the end of the driveway. I'm not sure what purpose it serves, as its line of sight must be nearly identical to that of the one surveillance camera. I was somewhat dumbfounded. I could not believe that I had not noticed them earlier. A quick scan revealed to me that there was one additional camera mounted on the corner of the garage just under the eaves. There were probably more, but I didn't want to stand there and gawk at them, as the guy was still talking to us and we had to get to the DMV.

That guy is definitely alright in my book.

tl;dr
Obscuring camera positions buy placing them inside landscaping may be a good route to go by.

heathtardpoop
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Re: Home Security Project

Post by heathtardpoop » Wed Aug 05, 2009 10:19 pm

I looked into window film.It was about $400 for an average sized window.It turns out you have to get the film to wrap around the frame of the window or it will not work.I am now looking into burglar bars.

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