Posts Tagged ‘ access control’



How to Install Access Control Software Standard Server Version from IDTECK

Written By:
Wednesday, September 3rd, 2014

Access control is the ability to allow or restrict access to a place or to have the ability to deny or allow the use of a resource. The idea behind this is to control certain users and resources at a specific place so there is full control of how, when and where the resource is utilized.

Access control can be done manually or completely automatic, but how would you keep track of who, when, and how the resource was accessed? The short answer to that is Access Control Software.

Many access control devices are network capable, which means that they can be accessible over a web browser or through a software via TCP/IP. These devices can also have a Web Service Interface that can show you basic information such as logs, alarm events, etc. Most of these devices that have that capability are very limited on the things you can configure.

Every access control is different in the way they might require a specific set of settings to successfully connect with the main software. In this demonstration I will be showing you how to configure the Standard Version of IDTECK’s Access Control Software.

This software will require 2 sets of programs and setups. One is the server communication and the access control software itself. It is necessary to install SQL for the database of the software so it will be easy to export any database with settings later on. SQL Express comes with the Standard version for free so there is no need to acquire a greater version, unless there is a necessity to have advance settings on SQL. Other than that it should be straight forward.

NOTE: To make sure the installation runs smooth make sure that the following requirements are met:

1.- Windows 7 x32 or x64 bit
2.- At least 10GB of Space on your Hard Drive
3.- Make sure no other SQL Instance is running on your PC
4.- Minimum of 4GB of Ram and a Dual Core Processor with at least 2.00 Ghz.

Software installation

Download the Server version of the software from here: https://docs.google.com/uc?export=download&confirm=P8oW&id=0Bwe1rQdTv-n4YTNyQloteUtxZWM

Double click on the icon and proceed to install the software. Follow the prompt and install all of the necessary updates until you get to the section where you will need to named the Instance. See picture below

IDteck SQL Instance

After naming the instance of your SQL installation you have to make sure you remember the password because this will be required to configure the communication server. Click Next and the SQL process will begin by decompressing the files and preparing the installation process. When done, the following window will appear:

Customer Info

Type a name and a company name to continue the installation. Select all of the features on the list and click Next.

Database Selection

On this section make sure the database server is typed as shown in the picture above. Select SQL server authentication and use the following default username and password (sa) and (1234). Note: If you change the password then you will need to type that info under the password field. Click Next to begin the installation process:

SQL Finish Installation

Click Next to begin the installation. Check the following picture summary to make sure you have all of the SQL features that will be installed.

SQL Copying Files

When the installation is completed, the following 2 icons will appear on your desktop. These icons are essential to the software and a few more adjustments need to be made before we fire up the communication server.

Idteck Comunication and server

The next step is to make sure we have the software executed with administrative rights. To do this, right click on each icon and click on the compatibility tab, then select the “Run this program as an administrator”.

Run As

Double click on the IDTECK communication Server to begin configuring its settings:

Server Settings

After the software launches, click on server setup and the following settings will show as the picture above. Click on the Server IP and make sure that the IP is your computer name\IDTECK. The Database name will be STARWATCH_STD. Username is “sa” and password is “1234”. Authentication should be DB Authentication.

Note: if you change this (username and password) when installing the software then you will need to input the right information. Click OK when done and the result should be as show in the picture below:

Logview

Double click on IDTECK STANDARD Server Icon and input the username and password. The default username and password is admin.

Software login

After all this the software will open up and will display the following interface. From here we can prepare the software to communicate with the device you are trying to manage.

IDteck Software Interface

Note: This software is free with a limit of users and doors that can be run without a license. A pop-pop will show after the software is launched:

IDTECK Pop-up

 

Notice that because the software doesn’t have a device configured in it, the software will display certain errors. See picture below for reference.

No Comunication

To add a device go to “Device Setting Wizard” to configure the Default Site settings. Click the checkbox labeled “Whether to use” and click on the “Site Setting” button. A site settings box will display for you to type the communication server  IP address. The IP address will be the one your computer have. You can find out what IP address your PC have by going to command prompt and execute the ipconfig command.

SITE SETTING’S SCREEN

Site Settings

IPCONFIG SCREEN

ipconfig

At this point you will need to follow the steps to build your database for your access control and configure the connections between the software and your access control equipment.

For more information about this software play the video below to see a quick video demonstration of the operations and configurations of this software.

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Access Control Egress

Written By:
Tuesday, August 12th, 2014

firedoor2

The events that have happened in the news this past decade have ignited the security industry with many new devices to lock down your area of operation.  Since the expansion of security implementation across the planet there have been growing exponentially and confirmed concerns with access control usage such as people being trapped in burning buildings. Problems occur in the system design when implementing a system to secure the perimeter of a building and restrict egress from the building.  Access control methods such as using the employee badge or radio frequency key card (RFID) to enter and exit may not be appropriate in an emergency situation, especially since people have a tendency to panic.  Professional security access control companies can take steps to reduce or all together stop the negative impact that safety regulations require for egress of a building. Now let’s dive into how safety goals and access control security can be combined with exit points and alarm triggers.

Exit locations controlling access is the main concern from security professionals everywhere and creates strife between security and Fire safety regulators.  While it is allowed to lock your doors to prevent unwanted access to the building in fire code requirements, it is never allowed to inhibit egress from a building. National Fire Protection Association’s NFPA  Life states that every person within the building must be able to exit all doors in their path without use of tools, special knowledge, or effort for operation from the outside to open the door. In short, the path a person takes should be unobstructed to the exit and the door should be able to be open via a crash bar, lever, or very obvious huge button with large lettering that reads PUSH TO OPEN.

In most situations that address access control implementation dictates that door locks from the inside or egress side of door must open during events such as the activation of fire sprinklers or a fire alarm trigger. In most cases the door must remain unlocked until the alarms have been reset to a no-fault status.

The safety code does take into consideration that most false alarms come from smoke detectors. Since there is an understanding of the false triggers the code stipulates that the alarm can be triggered after more than 1 smoke detectors senses smoke there by triggering an alarm, or a combination of a smoke detector, heat detector, and pull station will trigger alarm. Systems for sprinklers and heat are more reliable, so the code requires evacuation when only one of these has its alarm triggered.

When companies want to have a system for access control to use card readers or other biometric access for tracking and restriction of movement in the building the company will have to have a way to address the fire code regulations for free egress in the event of an emergency. Specific hardware will have to be installed on the doors for exit. Panic hardware can come in different shapes and sizes. The main types of hardware are mechanical and electrical. Sometimes these can look like buttons label “PUSH TO EXIT”, or something like a crash bar which is just a bar to push to open the door. Mechanical actuation is from gears and hydraulics. Electronic actuation is with electric that opens or closes the lock. Such as the button to turn a mag lock on or off. Depending on the local municipality is if you will need one or both types of actuation. Most in not all areas are OK with using mechanical actuation as it does not fail in a power loss situation. The electronic actuation in many areas requires a back-up option to it such as mechanical or the door automatically becomes unlocked with no power.  Providing standardized panic hardware along the egress path normally used with access control is the best way to address the code’s egress regulations while still maintaining control at access points. The hardware will allow egress, however this can be used in conjunction with a security camera system to monitor usage in case of employees not following the badge out process policies. This would all be available for review at the Digital Video Recorder to determine if policies need to be changed or discipline action taken.

Types of panic hardware include electric and mechanical. The fixtures used will vary by location as different builders and floor plans will require. There is no one size fits all in this area. The most important standard to keep in mind is all equipment needs to be UL (Underwriter’s Laboratories) certified for use in a fire.

Certain businesses have circumstances in which they want to have personnel respond to the location before egress is allowed. This method of control can be critical to a company such as a retail outlet that does want to limit as much as possible the ability of thieves to perform a snatch and grab at their store by running out a unmonitored exit. The fire code allows for a delayed opening response from the door to prevent theft. The delay permitted is up to fifteen seconds without having to acquire a specific permit from your local fire marshal. After fifteen seconds you will have to prove need and get approval. You may request up to 30 seconds.  If you require a longer delay that will not be approved.  Also the code mandates that you will post clearly that the door does have a delay on it before opening to make the individual aware of it.

Implementing both security and safety in access control system design is not an easy task, and it does require advanced knowledge of the local codes in live setting in conjunction with access control. Prior planning is paramount for professional security experts to find inventive ways to work with the fire code to maintain control of the building for security. This will ensure a situation that will provide safety and security without code violations that turn into fines eating away at your bottom line.

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Designing Access Control

Written By:
Friday, July 18th, 2014
access-control

Determining the necessary equipment for building access can be confusing and one must decide if Access Control is the correct way to go.  I will point out what benefits an access control system will give you.

  • Access Control will simplify the way you gain entry or access your Building.
  • No more handing out keys that later Employees or contractors might lose.
  • Credentials can be given that are either permanent or temporary. Any guests, contractors or Employees can utilize these.
  • Typically if a key is stolen or lost there comes the daunting task of re-keying the whole facility to conserve security. The cost for lock cores can be between $30 and $75 or greater and a locksmith will charge for labor about $50 an hour or more. This can get really expensive with a location with multiple doors, especially if the key that was stolen or lost gives access to many doors.
  • Audit Trail: Using normal keys will not keep a log of who has gained entry to the building or location. A surveillance system will help but the daunting task of going over footage to find who gained entry is time consuming.
  • With the use of Keys in many facilities you are required to lock each door and unlock at every start and end of a business day.

What areas should I Secure?

After deciding as to why you want an Access Control System, you will ask yourself as to what assets to secure. You want to cover doors that will be used frequently. Doors that are not used frequently do not require hardware for access control unless there is are high value assets. These doors include areas such as a closet, non-critical offices, and mechanical spaces just to name a few.

Areas that Access Control is typically applied to are:

Exterior Doors:

access_control

Typically exterior doors are the first to be secured. This greatly simplifies the access to your building and this also means that your staff does not require any keys, while also keeping unauthorized persons outside of all entrances except those who you specifically allow entry. Any type of Visitor will be directed to a certain area. Typically this is handled in different ways. The first is a remote scenario where the Visitors find themselves in front of an intercom in some occasions as well as in front of a camera where they can speak to a Manager or Security Staff who will then release the door and allow them entry into the facility.

In a scenario where the guests are greeted by staff usually the front door is left open or there is someone to open the door like a Door Person and then speak with someone at the Front Desk. Usually this person will give the guest a temporary ID that will double as a key to gain entry to key points of the facility.

 Gates:

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In most cases Gates are added to access control systems. This will create a perimeter from the front door. This is great for High security locations or in areas where there is higher crime rates. It is also paired with Surveillance equipment that will allow Security to view all areas of the Property as well as any entry points at the gates.

HR and Accounting Areas:

DHRfront

These areas are key locations that will have sensitive information that need to be secured at all times.

Data Closets / Server Rooms:

network server room

There is an increase need for network security, access control data centers and IDF’s [Intermediate Distribution Frame]. Consider the server room is often the brains of any organization. There are specialized systems that are manufactured for security cabinets in larger or often multi-user Data Centers.

Classrooms:

crxxi3-lg

With thefts of electronic equipment being more often in schools nowadays it is best to keep the classrooms locked. Having Electromagnetic Locks or Electronic Door Strikes to keep these secure provides a lock down capability Also in emergency situations these Doors and any door that provides exit to the outdoors will go from a locked position to an unlocked position to provide anyone the ability to exit the building without the need of interacting with the system.

Cabinets:

Cabinet-Lock-for-Acess-Control

There are specialized locks in the market that will allow these locks to be integrated into your access control system, this is done so the access control may be added to the cabinet instead of a door that does not need access control.

Key Control Cabinets:

KWI_6-mod-vert_angled-resized

Many organizations will still keep keys in cabinets such as for their fleet vehicles, and other keys for cabinets etc. Often these keys are in an area where a criminal can gain access to them. Having access control on these cabinets will add an extra measure of security as well as keep a log of who has accessed the cabinet.

Forms of authentication and how many do you require?

The goal of Access Control is allowing the entry of people. To accomplish this you are required to choose how they are going to prove that they have legitimate access to gain entry. There are forms such as “Multi-factor Authentication” which is very popular among security installers. You can have your system setup where dual or triple mode authentication is needed where the users need a pin number and a card or the card and a finger print. If the two do not pass, the entrance to the location is denied. This is best since it makes it harder for the unauthorized user to gain entry. This can be inconvenient to users that misplaced their card or forgot their pin code. This will make the entry to this person a hassle each time they come in until they get a new card or a new pin code. Because of this, having multiple factor authentication will increase the overall level of security of the facility. For example condos are usually single factor, Military Bases are triple etc..

What type of lock should be used?

There are many types of locks that can be utilized for access control, all having their own application.

  • Electric Strike:  This type will replace the doors mechanism with its own. The plate is installed and once the strike is energized it will allow entry.
  • Electromagnetic Lock: This type of lock utilizes magnetism. It is also know as “MAGS”, it consist of a coil wire around a metal core which will produce a strong magnetic field. The magnetic field will attract both plates together enough to keep the door closed. This can be measured in pounds. Security Camera King carries MAGS from 600lb to 1500lb.

What Proximity Reader should be used?

The Proximity Card Readers allow users to send a request to unlock the door and they come in a variety of options.

Keypad:

rfk101v-srk101v-series-vandal-resistant-led-touch-keypad-proximity-59799lar

This is a very simple form for access control. The operator need to input his or her pin code to gain entry.

Card Reader:

rf20v-sr20v-series-vandal-resistant-proximity-access-control-reader-59798lar

There are many types of cards with their own type of encryption. Currently in the industry there are two – contact and contact-less.

Bio-metrics:

fingerprint-access-control-proximity-high-compatibility-readeraccess-control-readers-59862lar

Typically there are many of these readers and the most used is the Finger Print reader. There are others such as Iris, Geometry of hand and of course retina.

Whichever technology you choose to utilize, Form factor should be taken into consideration. Remember when I spoke about 3 Factor and single factor. Depending on the application is the reader that you would need. There are for example 12 inch square reader that may be positioned at the parking garage or miniature or thinner readers on aluminum door frames. Generally speaking the distance at which the card can be read increases with the size of the reader and type of card.

How are the Readers Connected?

While the readers need to be located in entry and exit points they are required to send the data back to a panel or server which will handle the data and choose what to do with it. There are a few different ways to accomplish this. Some are TCP/IP while others require a serial connection. There are others that are wireless but they are not as efficient as a hard line.

Traditional Systems will use serial connections to link up the readers to the control panel. This is the most common but technology is changing and most boards will have their own Server built into them allowing the use of your existing network.

Do I need anything else at the doors?

When adding access control one thing to consider is your local safety codes. One that stands out is the use of push to exit or for example PIR that will notify the system someone is exiting. In the US, life safety code requires that there be a means to physically break power to the magnetic lock. In some facilities this is not used, as guests or personnel are required to utilize their Proxy cards or form of ID to exit the building .

What will Power my Devices?

Power supplies are a must when designing your Access Control System. There are different ways to tackle having a centralized power supply and this method is popular as it is easier to troubleshoot, but if the power supply goes bad the entire system does too. You can implement ways to have multiple panels for different sections to help with this scenario. There is also PoE (Power over Ethernet). A lot of devices nowadays are PoE compatible where only a Category 5 cable is needed to connect the device to the network and provide it with Power to operate.

Special Considerations?

In some occasions the use of access control is going to be different, here are some that you might run into:

Elevators:

IMG_20120111_100947

There are two ways to restrict access to elevators. Restricting the call button to a card. This method will call the car only when there is a valid card used. This method will utilize a single reader outside of the elevator. The second one is a reader inside of the elevator and this method will allow the user to certain floors. Once the user has presented their card or key FOB to the unit it will light the floors in which this person can access and the floors that are not will not be lit, preventing the user from going up or down to these. This requires an interface with the elevators travel cable and it also requires every floors input / output to activate and deactivate each of the buttons.

Harsh Environments:

PHG003-20635D-A5-RGB_2_03

When utilizing access control in harsh environments the devices need to be explosion proof. This means that the device will not create a spark that can create an explosion. While there are many cards that are specifically designed for these environments, they are typically a reader inside of an explosion proof enclosure, readily available from electrical distributors, and easily fabricated in the field.

Mustering:

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This is a function of certain types of access control that will allow the count of employees exiting the building via a designated reader or group of readers. This is done in case of an emergency. Security and safety staff may see how many guests or staff is still in the building. There are also specialized wireless readers that will allow a security officer to swipe or read employees or guests credentials as they reach each mustering point.

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Access Control and Fire Doors

Written By:
Friday, July 11th, 2014

Access Control systems are important for keeping unwanted people from coming into your building and also tracking the access of personnel who are allowed into your building. There are many steps to consider when it comes to buying an access control system, and the one that I will be discussing in this article is how to be compliant in the use of access control and fire doors.

firedoor

The Office of Compliance in Washington DC states some areas where a Fire Door is needed. Any door that has an exit sign as in the picture above needs to have a fire door. Also, any door that goes into a hallway or a stairwell must also be a fire door. It is important for personnel and visitors to be able to evacuate the area quickly in the event of a fire and that is the reason to have a fire door that swings outward on any exit. If there is a crowd of people, an inward swinging door would not be able to open and everyone will be stuck at the door. Most fire doors will have a push bar as shown in the picture for easy unlocking of a door. But what about the fireman who needs to gain access when the fire door is locked on the outside?

Fail-Safe Electronic Door Locks

A Fail-Safe Electronic Door Lock is what is needed on a fire door for access control so that a fireman can enter the building from the outside to investigate/fight the fire. What happens is that when a fail-safe electronic door lock is connected to an access control panel or standalone reader and is also connected to the fire alarm system, the fire door will automatically unlock when the fire alarm goes off. Also, when the power goes out in the building, those fail-safe locks will also unlock so people aren’t stuck in the building. There are two kinds of fail-safe electronic door locks: Electromagnetic Door Locks and Electric Door Strikes with Fail-Safe option.

Electromagnetic Door Locks (or Mag Locks)

This is an Electromagnetic door lock. It needs to be connected to an access control panel or standalone access control reader in order for it to work. It will be connected to the “normally closed” relay output on the access control panel. It is normally closed because when the connection is closed electricity is being constantly supplied to the mag lock. When electricity is supplied the 2 parts of the lock will shut tightly just like normal magnets do. The MagLock that is shown above can withstand 1200 pounds of force when electrified making it a fantastic lock. On the flip side of a normally closed circuit, when the circuit is open, power will not be supplied to the magnetic lock and so the magnets will release. This will happen when an exit button is pressed, access is granted though an access control reader, when the power goes off or when a fire alarm goes off. That last one is the important feature in fire doors so that fireman can enter when the alarm goes off.

Electronic Door Strikes with Fail-Safe Option

The above picture is an example of an electronic door strike. They come in 2 “Fail” options: Fail-secure and Fail-Safe. Fail-secure is when the power goes off, the lock will stay locked (perfect in non-fire doors that you want to keep secure such as IT rooms and other high security areas.) Fail-Safe, as stated in Electromagnetic Locks will unlock when the power goes off or when a fire alarm goes off. Contrary to how the MagLocks are wired, these electronic door strikes will connect to the “normally open” relay output on the access control panel or access control reader. When there is no power being supplied, the door is locked. When an exit button is clicked or access is granted through a reader, then the electricity is sent to the electronic door strike and the door will unlock. When the fire alarm is triggered on this Fail-safe version of the electronic lock, the door will also release.

Conclusion about Access Control and Fire Doors

It doesn’t really matter if you use an Electronic Door Strike or Electromagnetic Lock in your Access Control Setup for Fire Doors. It is your preference and how you want to install the lock. The important thing to remember is that on a fire door, you need to use a fail-safe device, not fail-secure so that when the fire alarm goes off the door will unlock. Also, another feature about fire doors is that they don’t allow the flow of fire and smoke when closed on interior doors, so it is a fire hazard to keep these doors propped open unless they are held open by a an electromagnetic door opener that will automatically release when the fire alarm goes off. This is not for access control, but for the safety of those inside the building so that the interior fire doors can work properly in “breaking” the flow of hazardous smoke and gasses.

Whichever way you choose in your access control system, we are here to help and guide you. Whether you are putting together access control for 1 door or hundreds of doors, we at securitycameraking.com will provide you with the best solution possible and for you to be compliant. We have UL-listed Electronic locks for government agencies, large companies, and institutions to satisfy your inspections, and for those smaller companies and homes, we have more economically feasible access control devices that are not UL-listed. All of our equipment is backed by a great warranty and free tech support. We provide basic software, wiring diagrams and a wealth of knowledge.

Access control will give you the satisfaction knowing that only registered users can open your doors, and with the right locks in place you will be confident to know, that not only will you pass your fire inspection, but also know that a fireman can do their job in the case of an emergency. Can you imagine if the fireman was locked out of your building during a fire? That would be a catastrophe!

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Access Control Demystified

Written By:
Tuesday, July 8th, 2014

If you’ve never worked with or around an access control system, it may seem like a complex convoluted nightmare of wiring, circuit boards, card readers, and rather confusing software.  In the text to follow, I’ll explain and attempt to remove the mysticism that stands between you and access control wizardry.

One of the most important concepts to understand is that there are 4 basic components in play at every door: inputs, the controller, outputs, and the software.

An input lets the controller know that an event has occurred. For example, someone swiped a card, someone opened the door, someone left the door open, someone on the inside requested to exit, etc… Think of these as the eyes and ears of the system.

Then there’s the controller. Based on how you’ve configured your controller, it will take all the inputs related to a door and determine how to react. Keep in mind, the logic for how to react is usually software configurable. For example, when someone swipes a badge, it determines if it should unlock the door or keep it locked. Think of this as the brains of the system.

All that input and logic is practically nothing without the outputs from the controller. This is typically a relay that either turns a device on, or off. For example, mag-locks, door strikes, alarms, buzzers, lights, etc. The limit to what a controller can use for an output with today’s technology is really limited only by your imagination. Think of these as the hands, feet, and mouth of the system.

Lastly, there’s the software. This comes in many different forms. However, it is extremely important for you to master this component of the system. The software tells the controller how it should react to the various inputs. It also allows you to configure various options. I’ll go into this more later. In the meantime, think of this as the subconscious mind of the system that tells the controller how to react.

Access Control Inputs:

So you have a door you want to control, and you’re wondering what types of input you may want. There are a few obvious choices that come to mind rather quickly. Let’s start with those:

Basic Card Readers:

2 1 4 3

These come in a wide variety of colors, shapes, sizes, and even vandal proofing. However, there are other differences that you will find far more important than aesthetics.  For example, it is extremely important that you pair your reader with the appropriate card types.  For example in the four pictures above, the 2 brands of readers do not support each other’s cards. Furthermore, within each manufacturer you may find cards that work with certain models of readers and not with others. To make your life easier there are hybrid readers capable of reading multiple types. These are usually a bit more costly and only needed if you somehow ended up with an odd mixture of card types. For the most part, I encourage you to stick with 1 type of card and matching reader throughout your entire organization.

There’s also the protocol with which the reader speaks to the controller. Just like when you engage someone in conversation, it’s generally best if you speak a common language. Just like languages, some readers and controllers can speak in multiple. Among the most common communication protocols (languages) that readers can speak you will find Wiegand with varying “bits”.

While I could bore you to death with exactly how the Wiegand protocol works, I’ll cut to the chase and tell you that the most important factors are that both the reader and the controller are configured to the same EXACT protocol. It is also exceptionally important that they be wired appropriately.

Most readers will have between 6 to 8 wires coming out of them. There are some industry standards for color codes, but ALWAYS consult the manufacturer for proper wiring. Red is usually Positive, but if it’s not you could end up with unanticipated results (and that funny smell of burnt capacitors.) The wires you will typically find are:

DC Voltage Positive +, DC Voltage Negative – (also referred to as ground), D0 or Data 0, D1 or Data 1, Beep or Buzzer, LED control

As I mentioned, these will vary depending on the model of reader. Some may be present, others may not. You may even find additional options.

Advanced Card and Bio-metric Readers:

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These readers take things a little further than “do you have the right card?” In secure environments you may want to authenticate a person based on something beyond the physical card. For example, do you have the card AND do you know a pin code. You may also have a situation where you need to give access to someone without ever meeting them to give them a physical card. Perhaps you want to allow their cell phone to be their key or just a combination of numbers. Maybe you need extra security and you want an access card to be present, a finger print to be matched, AND a code to be given. The possible combinations are limitless. These advanced readers require a little more effort to configure and enroll your users. However, in the right situations they are definitely worth the extra effort. These typically have the same inputs and outputs as normal readers but they use special programming to configure the additional features.

Request to Exit devices:

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So you’ve got all that fancy reader stuff in place to keep unwanted individuals out. However, you need a way to allow those who have entered the building to exit.  Some controllers will allow you to place a second reader on the inside of the door to allow egress. However, in all but the most secure environments, you will find that fire codes require you to allow simple and quick egress. Most installations will require a “Push to Exit” button and a “Request to Exit” PIR/Motion sensor. These devices usually require very limited wiring. Most likely you will need power (commonly 12v DC, but consult the devices manual) and a simple 2-wire connection to the controller. Most commonly the controller expects this circuit to be normally open and will react by opening the door the moment the circuit becomes closed. Many controllers allow you to configure the functionality of this input to be either normally closed or normally open. They may even allow you to specify a delay in reaction time. In addition to the PIR and Push to Exit you can use a wireless relay to toggle door release. You could use almost any device that has a relay to trigger a door event. These devices can be wired directly to the locking mechanism if desired. However, this prevents the controller from logging how the unlocking event was triggered. I only recommend this if you have no need for a record of when someone exited the building.

Door Contacts/Closure Sensors:

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These things are very simple switches that tell the controller if the door is open or closed. This can be useful in certain controllers for triggering an alert or an alarm if a door is left open beyond a specified amount of time. This will discourage people from leaving a door ajar and allowing a potentially unwanted visitor to wander in.

These typically only require a 2-wire connection to the controller and are generally wired as normally closed. If someone tampers with or disconnects the wires from the contact it will consider the door to be open.

Not all contacts are attached to the door in plain sight. Many are built into the locking mechanism. Door strikes often have a relay that senses if the door is latched are not. Mag Locks tend to have a closure sensor that detects when the plate is firmly pulled to the magnet. These make excellent closure sensors.

It should also be noted that you can wire a closure sensor to a buzzer or an LED without the need for a controller. You may need a relay to accomplish your desired result, but the only limit is your creativity.

Access Control Outputs:

So you’ve got all these fancy entry/exit devices in places to tell the controller what’s going on. Now it’s time to give it the ability to interact with the door.

Electronic Door Strikes:

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Door Strikes are typically used on doors that have a mechanism that allows egress by simply turning a door handle or pushing on a push bar. These are often used in environments where you need the system to “Fail-Secure”. Fail-Secure means that in the event of a power failure the door should remained locked. Some Strikes can be configured to either “Fail-Secure” or “Fail-Safe” but the most common use is in a Fail-Secure environment. Fail-Safe is the opposite of fail secure, in a power failure the door remains unlocked allowing entry/exit to anyone.

Door strikes are typically wired to the Normally Open side of the door controller relay. This means when the door should be locked, no power is sent to the strike. When the door is supposed to be unlocked, power is applied and the latch is released allowing the door to be opened.

Most door strikes only have 2 wires (for power when activated). However, others may contain a closure sensor as mentioned in the Inputs section. This makes the strike both an input and an output device for the controller.

Mag-Locks:

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Mag Locks are large electromagnets with a lot of force. They commonly come in 600lb, 1200lb, and 1500lb of pull strength. The amount of force that would be required to pull a door open is not something a normal person can achieve easily. This makes them ideal for a locking mechanism. Although they are usually fail-safe devices as they only have strength when energized with electricity.

Mag-Locks typically only have 2 wires that need to be attached to a Normally Closed relay on the door controller. This means that when the door should be locked, the circuit remains closed and power flows to the mag-lock. When the door should be opened, the circuit is opened blocking the flow of power and releasing the magnet.

Many mag locks will also have closure or bond sensor which can report the door status to the controller. This would make them both an input and output device if used.

LEDs, Buzzers, Sirens, DVRs, NVRs, Alarms, The endless possibilities:

Controller boards can be used to control a wide variety of equipment. Usually this is done through the door relay or through an alarm condition relay. It is important to note that you may need to use an external relay (as in not the one built on to the board) if the voltage of the device your trying to control differs from the other devices the on-board relay is controlling.

While it may seem complicated, it’s very simple. A relay is a switch that is controlled by another device. If you apply power to a relay, it switches from its “Normal” state to its “Abnormal state”. If you wire a device to “Normally Closed” then it will allow electricity to flow to the device until power is applied to the relay at which point it will stop the flow of electricity to the Normally Closed side. Conversely, if you attach a device to the “Normally Open” side of a relay it will prevent the flow of electricity to the device until power is applied to the relay, at which point it will allow the flow of electricity to the device.

With that being said, you can wire almost anything to a relay. Some common uses you will see include LED’s and Buzzers to alert that a door is open, an input on a DVR/NVR to trigger the taking of a snapshot or video of an event, connection to an alarm system to warn of after-hours door openings, etc… again, the possibilities are limited only by your imagination and willingness to wire in the devices you want.

Network:

It is also worth mentioning that many controllers support connectivity to a network. They can use this for outputs. Such as sending an e-mail when a door is left open or when a disabled card attempts to gain entry. Consult the manufacturer of the controller to determine what your options are.

Access Control Boards:

These come in a massive variety of functionality. Once you’ve settled on the manufacturer you like, it’s time to determine what your requirements are.  Most commonly this will be determined by the number of doors you need to control and the end users expectations of functionality.

While I could show you a lot of different examples, for the purposes of this document we’re going to look at a single door controller and briefly examine its functionality.

DX Series Single Door Controller:

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Starting at the top left is a connector for a reader. You may notice, there are 2 of these. As I mentioned previously, you can control egress in certain situations by placing a reader inside the door. This controller allows for 2 readers at a door. This is not a requirement, 1 reader is sufficient per door in most cases. The pins on this board for the reader are as follows:

+12 = Positive (+) 12V DC

GND = Ground or Negative (-) 12V DC

D1 = Data 1 (One of the two connections that Wiegand uses to communicate)

D0 = Data 0 (The other connection Wiegand uses to communicate)

LED = Controls the LED on a reader to let people know they were granted access. This can also be tied to the beeper or buzzer in a reader to give an audible sound or both to provide audio and visual indication.

The second reader connection is the same as the first. So I’ll skip the second 5 pin connector.

The 2-pin connector facing up is intended for 12V DC power for the board

The 2-pin connector facing to the right near the top  is for the door contact or door closure sensor.

The 3-pin connector is a relay for controlling the outputs at the door. Remember, unless otherwise told by the manufacturer, you should wire mag locks to the N/C or Normally Closed side of the relay and Strikes go to the N/O or Normally Opened side of the relay. The common goes back to whatever polarity of power is needed to activate the device.

And the bottom right facing connector is for your push to exit/request to exit devices. You can tie multiple devices into this allowing the door to be released in a variety of ways.

This board also contains an RJ-45 jack (difficult to see from this angle, but it is the silver box looking component near the center of the board. In this instance the RJ-45 is for connecting the controller to a network for programming. It should be noted that there are some controllers on the market that use RJ-45 connectors for low voltage and not just data communication, you should always consult the manual before connecting one of these boards to a switch or other networking equipment.

Access Control Software:

Software is an area that I will only briefly discuss because this is probably the most diverse area of an access control system. Some controllers use built in software on a web interface, some require a computer running a commercial piece of software, and still others require Enterprise class software with large scalable database support. Make sure you understand the needs of your users, the capabilities of the software, and the requirements of the software before purchasing a controller. Software prices range from free to extremely expensive. So make sure you factor this into your design.

At its core, the software is usually merely a method for telling the board what users get access to which doors and at what times. This can come in the form of adding a card or setting a pin.

Depending on the controller, the software may also provide additional features such as setting egress delays, or specifying alerts via e-mail, or even changing the way inputs/outputs work. Keep in mind this will vary between manufacturers, controllers, and software options.

More advanced software can provide additional functionality such as time and attendance reporting and integration with CCTV or alarm systems. Consult your manufacturer for an accurate list of features and functionality.

The End:

While there are additional aspects and details that can be involved in access control, We have covered the basics of an access control system and the interactions of the various components.

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