Almost all modern alarm systems are designed with one primary purpose in mind: to notify a central monitoring station when an emergency occurs. Virtually no professional installation is done today that does not follow this configuration. A competent do-it-yourselfer does have other options, although the forum's official policy is to recommend that systems be installed and used as the manufacturer intends, namely WITH central station monitoring. That said, if a homeowner does not choose professional monitoring, he/she could:
1. Simply use the system as a local alarm, with a loud siren or bell to scare away intruders and alert neighbors or passersby.
2. Connect a voice dialer that will call several phone numbers and play a voice message.
3. Use the system's dialing capabilities to call a cell phone or pager.
Not all systems allow option #3, but DSC does; that is the focus of this article.
Before providing instructions, it would be irresponsible to not list, as David Letterman would say, "The Top Five Reasons for NOT self-monitoring with a Cell Phone."
5. No matter what wireless companies claim, cell coverage is not perfect. There are still plenty of spots in the good old U.S.of A. where there is NO SIGNAL.
4. Although you may believe that you can ALWAYS hear and answer your phone, the truth is that you probably occasionally take a shower, go swimming, mow your lawn, fly in an airplane, or engage in some other activity that would prevent you from hearing or answering the call.
3. The call to your cell will provide very little information about the nature of the emergency. Although the new DSC dialer format called "Private Line" can tell you, through a series of beeps, which zone has tripped, do you really want to stand there counting nineteen beeps while your house is burning down?
2. If an intruder breaks in while you are home, the system will call your cell, tying up both your land line and your cell line, preventing you from calling for help.
1. If, as in scenario #2, you are asleep when a break-in occurs, your cell phone will ring in a few seconds. Ask yourself what you want to hear on the other end of the line: an operator asking if everything is all right or your alarm system saying beep.......beep......beep......
All right, with that out of way, if you still want to set up your Power Series system for self-monitoring, here's what needs to be done:
**Section 301 - Telephone Number - Place the number of your cell phone here. Be sure to include the area code if your local dialing procedure requires it. The number must be preceded by a HEX D to make the system wait for a dial tone, but you do not need to enter it; it will already be there, so the first digit you enter will be the beginning of your phone number. Likewise, AFTER your number, the remainder of the available 32 digits must be HEX F's, but they too should already be there, so you can simply exit the section with a # when you have entered the number. If, for any reason, the HEX D and F's are not there, please refer to the FAQ "Programming DSC Wireless" for an explanation of HEX entries.
Section 160 (old PowerSeries 632 and 832) or Section 165 (old Power Series 864 and new PowerSeries -1616, 1832, 1864) - Maximum Dialing Attempts - This determines how many times the system will dial if the call is not successful. The old default is 008 (8 attempts), the new default is 005 and cannot be increased. You may decide to simply leave this at default.
Section 161 (old PowerSeries 632, 832) or Section 166 (all others) - Post Dial Wait For Handshake - This determines how long the system waits for an acknowledgement after dialing. The default is 040 (forty seconds) for both old and new Power Series systems.
**Section 310 - Account Code - (Old PowerSeries calls this "Partition 1 Identifier Code") Since the system is not calling a monitoring station, it doesn't matter what digits you enter here, but you do need to enter something (1111 is suggested).
**Section 320 to 323 - Alarm Reporting Codes - (The new PowerSeries, as well as the old 864, has 16 zones in each section. The old 632 and 832 have 8 per section. Check your manual to be sure.) You MUST enter a code for each zone or event that you want to trigger the communicator. Again, since it will not be calling a monitoring station, you can enter any codes you wish (the suggestion is 01 for zone 1, 02 for zone 2, etc.). Remember, a zone that has not been given a reporting code will NOT cause the communicator to dial.
**Section 360 (old 632 and 832) or Section 350 (all others) - Communicator Format Options - This tells the dialer which communication method to use. All PowerSeries panels support Pager Format (05), and most support Residential Dial (06). In addition, the new PowerSeries supports Private Line (09). The installation manuals explain in detail how each of these formats works, so they will not be explained further here. Do not choose any of the other formats; they are designed for central station communications and will result in a trouble condition on your system.
Section 361 (old 632 and 832) or Section 351 (all others) - Communicator Call Directions - This determines which number will be called for alarms in Partition 1 (other partitions will be enabled in other sections; check your manual if you are using more than one partition). The default for all partitions is Telephone Number 1 ON, Telephone Number 2 OFF.
Section 370 (old 632 and 832) or Section 377 (all others) - Communication Variables - You probably won't need to change the defaults for these settings.
Section 380 (all systems) - First Communicator Option Code - Make certain that option 1 (Communications Enabled) is ON!! (The default is ON.)
While this may appear to be a lot of programming, chances are you will only need to enter the telephone number, the account code, the reporting codes and the communicator format to make it work. Everything else is optional and can probably be left at default.