WHEN John Peterson founded DSC in his basement way back in 1979 he was convinced he could build a better alarm panel than could the big manufacturers of the day. As an electronics engineer, Peterson believed he could see ways to enhance the functionality of alarm panels – ways to make them more functional elements in the lives of their commercial and domestic end users.Peterson’s original concept risks being branded mere marketing hype in today’s more cynical times but even a cursory examination of the PowerSeries feature set shows the influence of his ideas. Features like phone connectivity, phone line monitoring, bell circuit supervision, chimes on all zones and auxiliary outputs were all introduced by DSC. Importantly, new functionality has made the latest panels even more flexible than those that came before. The DSC/Siemens roadshow was chaired by Siemens Building Products’ John Marinucci with the product side handled by DSC’s Mark Nesmith. The DSC/Siemens connection might be a little hard to follow for newcomers but therelationship is one of the local industry’s oldest and it dates back to a time when Alarmcom sold DSC prior to its acquisition by Siemens Building Technologies.“We have a 20-year history selling DSC in Australia,” explains Siemens’ John Marinucci. “DSC is still our primary control panel and we are certain that thanks to our long experience and close relationship with DSC, we’re second to none in terms of distribution – not just in Australia but globally.“We have even advised the factory on ways top better meet the needs of the local market and we’re strongly committed to bringing the new PowerSeries alarm panels to the widest possible market,” says Marinucci.Enhanced functionalityWhen it comes to DSC, Mark Nesmith is an enthusiastic man. He joined DSC very early on and his belief in the product’s inherent strengths of design are infectious. As Nesmith points out, DSC is one of the few major brand names of the 80s to survive the rationalizations of the past 10 years. It’s a fact that reflects great credit on the goodwill attached to the brand.“It’s true that DSC is owned by Tyco but the company remains a separate entity and when I think about all the other major brands of the 80s and 90s that have disappeared I believe this is because the DSC product is exceptional,” Nesmith says. “The fact is we are still DSC and the product remains DSC and I’m very proud of that.” Important to bear in mind is that alarm panels have become increasingly competitive in price. What DSC brings to market is as competitive as anything available from quality makers yet the company’s engineering team has managed to squeeze a great deal more functionality into the product for the same dollars. The improvements come in 2 strands – ease of installation on the one hand and improvements in end user functionality on the other. That second part is important because DSC has always gone out of its way to build alarm panels that are easy to sell. Reflecting the company’s attitudes, all DCS’s gear now complies with ROHS – reduction of hazardous substances standards that are demanded by the EU. All DSC gear uses components that are friendly to the environment – including lead-free solder. Nesmith says that the decision to make these changes in some ways was a springboard for the new PowerSeries. Reflecting the times, DSC’s PowerSeries panels are hybrid hardwired/wireless and they can all be supported by DSC’s very neat T-Link, which allows the panels to function on dedicated LANs and WANs. For remote sites there are now GSM and GPRS units available. Nesmith says that a strong feature of the PowerSeries panels is auto-arming by partition with a 7-day schedule.“With the 864 that’s 8 partitions – we are getting into something a bit different with this feature,” Nesmith explains. “The way I see it is that there are burglar alarms and there are life safety and security systems. The burglar alarm makes a noise and a phone call. “But the lifesafety and security system gives more – it handles the security side but it offers greater functionality – it arms itself – a pre-alarm chirp allows the auto alarm to be deactivated before it alarms if the user is still on site. “What’s more a lifesafety and security device can detect if there’s no activity in a partition for a set period of time and the system will auto-arm,” Nesmith says.Other enhancements make the PowerSeries even better at what it has always been good at. “We’ve increased our bell output, increased our auxiliary power supply, we’ve gone to a switched mode power supply. There’s a 500-event buffer,” Nesmith says. “DSC has always had telephone line cut monitoring and it has always had bell circuit supervision. What’s important here is that many of our competitors still fail to offer these vital features.“For installers there’s flash memory upgrading of the PowerSeries just released and another strong feature is a delinquency code which is sent when the panel detects a lack of movement in an area in which there’s usually movement. It’s a feature that ideal for the elderly and only works if the system is not being activated.“What’s useful about this feature too, is that it allows monitoring stations to get a feel for which customers are not using their alarm panels any more,” Nesmith says. “This feature allows you to be proactive and to check whether users are happy with the system if they’ve stopped using it.” PowerSeries panelsThe PowerSeries range launched at the DSC/Siemens roadshow consists of 3 panels, the PC1616, the PC1832 and the PC1864. It’s a powerful, compact and modular range, designed to give installers intuitive understanding of small and large systems through common programming and simplicity. It’s modular in another way too. There’s a range of user interface options that allow installers tailor front ends to suit budget, taste and the needs of their customers.Depending on the sort of performance required the new PowerSeries range can be kitted out with a bunch of different comms and expansion modules. This means that although the PC1616 has 16 zones, the PC1832 has 32 zones and the PC1864 has 64 zones, there’s a degree of flexibility through activation of wireless options. In terms of basic variations, the PC1616 features 6 onboard zones, 16 hardwired zones via a single PC5108 expander and 16 wireless zones. There’s keypad zone support, the ability to handle 8 keypads and 2 area partitions. Meantime the PC1832 has 8 onboard zones, 32 hardwired zones through3 PC5108 expanders, 32 wireless zones, and support for 8 keypads and 4 areapartitions. And finally there’s the PC1864, with its 8 zones onboard, 64hardwired zones from 7 PC5108 expansion slots, 32 wireless zones, 8 keypads and 8 area partitions. Aside from these few differences, the PowerSeries panels are virtually identical with a degree of plug and play customisation possible thanks to that broad range of keypads mentioned earlier. One thing all these panels share is their ability to integrate with other systems. DSC calls this “future-smart”. The panels seamlessly integrate with T-Link Internet and network alarm communicators, GSM universal wireless alarm communicators, the VVM110 visual alarm verification module, Skyroute wireless alarm communicators and other comms and home automation expansion modules, including wireless devices and structured cabling solutions. Importantly, DCS has recognised that the rapid development of electronics and solid state software operating systems is going to mean that security products must be optioned to handle anything the next few decades might throw at them. All PowerSeries panels have an onboard 500-event buffer, 32 user codes as well as master codes and full backward compatibility with existing DSC alarm panels – not just in the field – the programming is the same too, so there’s nothing new installers need to learn. A particular capability of the PowerSeries panels that deserves explanation for local readers is CP-01 compliance. Driven by the American security industry’s SIA association, this CP-01 compliance seeks to eliminate false alarms entirely by pinpointing their causes and designing panels, sensors, keypads and functions in such a way that unwanted alarm signals are minimised. The result of CP-01 compliance is that PowerSeries panels have an Entry and Disarming consideration – an entry delay feature. This minimum 30-second delay between the opening of the designated entry door and alarm activation gives people the time they need to get to the keypad and enter their user code. Yes – it all sounds simple enough but minimising false alarms means reducing unwanted traffic at central stations as well as ensuring end users are not threatened by a security system that’s poorly configured during installation. Other CP-01 design features ensure the panel won’t send an accidental alarm if the keypad is brushed up against or knocked during normal business activities. There’s also a unique duress code that guarantees users won’t inadvertently cry wolf during the process of arming or disarming the system. CP-01 systems also allow users a minimum of 45 seconds to leave a premises before they arm. The remainder of the shared features lists of these PowerSeries panels is extensive. Some of these features, like the night zone, are uncommon and greatly enhance overall security of a residence. A night zone allows PowerSeries alarm panels to be armed during the night when homeownersare asleep and vulnerable – most volumetric alarm systems cannot be left onwhen owners are home unless an expensive perimeter detection solution has been installed. Other PowerSeries Features include programmable daylight savings time, partitionable auto-arm timer, T-Link support, user walk test, user enable installer’s code, anti-takeover architecture, RF delinquency option, audible wireless zone fault alarm when armed and day zone. There’s also audible RF jam, no activity arming, partitionable PTMs, 24-hour non alarm zone, bypass recall function, delayed fire and burglary output, late to close and local mode.New keypad rangeDefinitive to the PowerSeries range of alarm panels is a big range of keypads each with a comprehensive range of features. As mentioned earlier, this keypad range is designed to give installers more flexibility in terms of their installation designs and costs. Starting with the basics, there’s a pair of low cost of keypads which feature backlit buttons. One’s an LED unit and offers 8 zones and support for a pair of partitions, while the other’s a 64-zone LCD unit designed to give low cost but full support to the biggest PowerSeries system. With this latter unit you get 8-partition support, multiple chime support, a wire channel, dual tamper, an input/output terminal and 4 programmable function keys. The LCD display allows intuitive symbols, including an AC status icon. The keypads input/output zone can be programmed as a low temperature sensor.There’s also an LED 16-zone keypad that has multiple door chimes per zone, adjustable backlight and keypad buzzer, AC status icon, a programmable input/output terminal and a wall-mount and cover tamper switch. The RF version of this keypad offers similar features and supports 32 wireless zones and 16 wireless keys. An 8-zone version of this keypad offers the same features, including support for 32 wireless zones. Supporting the big systems is the PK5500 64-zone LCD full-message keypad. This unit offers 8 languages, global partition status, 32-character programmable phrases, 5 programmable function keys and intuitive clock programming. There’s also a programmable input/output terminal, a wireless channel, adjustable backlight and keypad buzzer, multiple door chimes per zone, support for 32 zones and 16 wireless keyfobs and dual tampers. Next in line is the 64-zone LCD picture icon keypad which uses universal icons to make operation easier, while offering all the same features as the PK5500. At the top of the heap as far as PowerSeries keypad options are concerned is the PK5590CL colour touchscreen. This interface is a very slick looking unit and it combines basic keypad functionality with intuitive touchscreen. This makes handling everyday functions like arming/disarming, zone bypass and general system configuration simple. The GUI of the touchscreen can be customized to incorporate the name of the installation company and there’s a range of coloured faceplate designs. It’s also possible for the user to customize functionality. This unit is available in English and French and it’s compatible with PC1616, PC1832 and the PC1864 panels. The touchscreen is flush-mount and offers prominently displayed FAP keys(with blue LED background), intuitive LED indication of system status,auto-adjusting CCFL (cold cathode fluorescent lighting) backlight, and infobutton with Help Desk and a high-contrast colour touchscreen QVGA display.