Posts Tagged ‘Security’

Door Access Control System

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Access Control

Access control can be used in a variety of different ways from a lock on a car door, to a PIN on an ATM system, to a door control reader granting or denying access to a building.

In the door control industry, a credential, such as a badge containing an RFID tag, is presented to a reader.  The reader sends the information to a control panel, a highly reliable processor, and compares the credential’s information to an access control list and either grants or denies that person access to the building.

Door Access Control DeviceMaster RTS

Within these access control applications there is a need to bridge the serial communication of the door controller into the network.  Comtrol’s DeviceMaster® RTS takes the serial information from the door controller, converts it and communicates to the control panel via Ethernet.

Companies depend on reliable and accurate access control to provide the safety and confidentiality that they need for their employees.  The DeviceMaster RTS makes a good fit for door control applications because of its software-selectable RS-232/422/485 communication modes, ease-of-use and reliability.

If you are looking for more infomation on Comtrol products click on the link below.

MORE information on Comtrol’s DeviceMaster serial to Ethernet device servers

SERIES: Power over Ethernet Features – Part II

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Monitoring power consumption of a device that is connected to a managed RocketLinx® Power over Ethernet switch

Power over Ethernet device power consumptionWinter is setting in, the days have gotten shorter, and the nights longer.  After a long cold day you find yourself lying in bed staring at the ceiling.   You start thinking about the day’s events and as you drift off somewhere between consciousness and sleep, you start to think about a project that you did this past summer where you deployed several outdoor 802.3at PoE+ cameras for a good customer of yours.  The thought of a summer project brings warm thoughts of fishing, camping and swimming… and your mind goes back to the project.  You wonder, how are those cameras holding up as each passing day gets colder and colder?

You bold upright in bed in a cold sweat.  Did I ever check to see if the cameras’ heaters came on??


SERIES: Power over Ethernet Features – Part I

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PoE benefits that you rarely hear about: What do these mean for your next IP surveillance project?

Power Over Ethernet Surveillance As a security project integrator, you find yourself in the beginning stages of a surveillance project and you have determined that using IP cameras are the way to go.   You sat down with your customer to identify all the security needs, consider what types of IP cameras to use, determine where best to place them, study and select the most feature-rich and easy-to-use VMS (Video Management Software)…and you are ready to go!

Now somewhere in this grossly oversimplified scenario, you and your customer have decided to use PoE powered cameras to make for an easier, more flexible and cost-effective deployment.  No doubt both of you have read some of the information floating around the web that commends the cost saving benefits of deploying a PoE powered network, or you have had past experiences installing PoE cameras and know well enough from those experiences.

Here are some of the lesser known benefits to deploying a PoE network provided you use a managed switch to power your cameras, and more specifically a Comtrol RocketLinx® PoE switch.

Ability to cycle PoE power or use PD (Powered Device) Status Detection to reboot a camera

>>> Fast forward.RocketLinx Power over Ethernet Switches

Your customer is thrilled with the increased resolution and all of the other advanced features the IP camera and VMS system are providing after the surveillance system is installed.  You then get a call to hear that the VMS has sent an email alert saying one of the cameras is down.  Let’s say this isn’t your first rodeo, and you know that the VMS you selected will proactively sever the data connection and reconnect in the hopes that it will restore a good connection with the camera. That did not work.

Not to worry, you are a bit more tech savvy and have learned that you can send a reboot command to your IP camera via FTP; however, that too does not work.  Rebooting via FTP fails because using this method requires a communication link with the camera.  During camera failure a link may not be established, therefore leaving FTP communication impossible.

Now what?  You quickly dispatch a tech who drives for a half hour or more, climbs a ladder, pulls and then reinserts the PoE cable on the camera, and the system is operational again.  Crisis averted – but how much money did you just spend sending out that tech?

When a camera is completely non-functioning, reboot methods that rely solely on data communication (VMS and FTP) may not always work.  In these cases, the most effective method may be to cut the power, just as a tech would after yanking the PoE cord.  How can you avoid sending that tech to cycle power?  You can do the same thing with Comtrol’s managed switches remotely.  All of our managed RocketLinx PoE switches give you the ability to either manually or automatically cycle the PoE power per port.  When the PoE power is cycled on a camera it acts as if you just physically unplugged the camera.    The camera completely starts over and refreshes itself, much like holding down the power button on your PC when your initial attempts of pressing CTRL + ALT + DELETE while cussing has proved fruitless.

To cycle the PoE power through our switches per port, all you need to do is log into our switch via the simple web interface, scroll down to the ‘Power over Ethernet’ menu, open the ‘PoE Control’ menu and toggle the switch from ‘Enable’ to ‘Disable.’  That will manually cycle the power to the camera or device connected to that port.

Power over Ethernet Control

Or better yet, you can set Comtrol’s switches to do this automatically. You will also notice in the ‘PoE Control’ menu that there is a PD status detection menu.  To enable this function when you are creating your network, be sure to put the specific IP address of your camera in the ‘PD Status’ window and set your cycle time to tell the switch how often you want it to check to see if the camera is “alive.” Hit ‘Apply’ and ‘Save settings to flash’ and you are ready to go.

Most basically an “alive check” is just the switch pinging the camera.  If no reply is sent back after three tries, it will automatically try to reboot the device by cycling the PoE power on that given port.  Additionally, you can configure the switch to send you an email stating that it rebooted a particular port (this process will be explained in a future post), or and or be configured with the internal dry contact relay to trigger an event at a local alarm panel upon camera failure.

PoE PowerNow there are some instances where a camera can be pinged and it’s not sending video.  This automatic feature will not attempt to reboot the camera.  In this case it’s likely one of the other fail-safes within the VMS would have caught and corrected that initially, or you will have to still toggle the port power via the manual method outlined above.

If none of this works, then it’s time to send out the tech! However, simply utilizing our switches’ ability to cycle the PoE power remotely in your next deployment could more than make up for the cost of sending out a tech once to do the same thing manually.

Expect More from an Unmanaged Ethernet Switch

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Comtrol provides alarm conditions with dry contact relays! 

– Joe House

Comtrol’s RocketLinx® line of unmanaged, industrial Ethernet switches are bringing new features to unmanaged switch users.  A typical unmanaged Ethernet switch is expected to do one thing – provide Ethernet connections – which is a job most any switch can do.  As the number of Ethernet devices is growing daily and expectations of the networked device continuing to rise, we believe the unmanaged switch should do more.

Dry Contact Alarm Relay

Whether in an industrial control panel connecting Ethernet based sensors or PLCs, or in a surveillance application connecting IP cameras, the truth has become simple… expect no failure, and demand a quick fix.  Each time an Ethernet device is offline, the resource is wasted.  A camera is only as useful as the ability to connect its image to the user – an electrical connection that requires, at the bare minimum, power and physical connections to the transmit.  If power in the switch is lost, the image won’t make it past the camera.  If an Ethernet connection is lost from either end or even cut in the middle, the image will quickly disappear.

Dry Contact - Port Alarm Relay - Ethernet Switch

How can you quickly, easily and economically protect against the above problems? An interesting application of the age-old concept: Dry contacts.  Every unmanaged Comtrol RocketLinx switch has the user-configurable capability to set a dry contact alarm via DIP switch selection.

Is it really that simple? Yes, by toggling a port’s associated DIP switch to the “ON” position, you have created an alarm condition specific to that port.  Pull an Ethernet cord from either device – circuit closes. Cut the Ethernet cord in the center – circuit closes.  Main power supply failure – circuit closes.

What can you do once the circuit is complete? The RocketLinx dry contact alarm circuit is rated up to +24VDC at 1Amp, so you can power any physical device such as a bell or light stack to indicate the exact port of failure, or even wire in the output into an alarm panel where your options really open up.  Dry contacts are simple; so is this system.

How much does this feature cost? These contacts are included on every unmanaged RocketLinx Ethernet switch. Ask your Comtrol sales rep to try one today!

[email protected] or 800.926.6876 | 763.957.6000

Download PDF version here

Need more network management? Check out our managed RocketLinx switch line!

Transportation & Bus Surveillance: Mobile Security

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As public transportation is becoming more popular in North America, following successful models used in foreign transportation systems can help guide our decisions and processes concerning public safety initiatives.

Adding surveillance to improve the safety of public transportation is one such example.  A European bus company was looking for an industrial Power over Ethernet (PoE) switch to connect critical components of its mobile security system.  Installations on the bus included six security cameras, a network video recorded (NVR) and a Wi-Fi router, that all required communication and power.  Devices used in transportation surveillance systems such as on buses or trains have a unique set of requirements and specifications that are crucial to operability and efficiency.  Devices must be compact and rugged to maximize available space, reduce crowding and survive extreme temperature conditions and harsh environments.

power over ethernet mobile security RocketLinx voltage boost

Comtrol’s RocketLinx® ES7110-VB (voltage boost) switch is used in this security configuration to ensure quality system performance and to meet the system specifications. As cameras send data and video to the NVR, it is transferred wirelessly from the bus to a remote monitoring room via the Wi-Fi router.  The RocketLinx ES7110-VB has eight 10/100BASE-TX PoE injector ports for directly powering remote equipment and reducing wiring and installation costs, and two Gigabit uplink ports for megapixel video transmission and high-quality streaming data and video.  Additionally, the switch provides a 12/24VDC power input boost to 48VDC, eliminating the need for a separate power supply or voltage converter to conserve space and cost.

Featuring a DIN rail mount and measuring less than two inches in width, the ES7110-VB works well with limited space and other equipment placement in a surveillance system.  Dual redundant power independent power inputs for potential power loss enables a backup power supply to compensate for loss of main power and maintain camera operation.  The rugged IP30 enclosure protects the switch from vibration and shock, while the -25° to +60°C operating temperature allows for installation in a variety of environments.

Comtrol’s RocketLinx Power over Ethernet switches are engineered for industrial applications such as IP video surveillance or wireless broadband, where the power source is not conveniently located.  With rugged, drip-proof housings, redundant power inputs and performance command-line interfaces, these PoE switches provide reliable networking solutions.

With both managed and unmanaged models available, the RocketLinx ES series of switches provide cost-effective networking solutions delivering the industry’s best rugged Ethernet switch technologies.

Download PDF here >>

Laser Tag

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By: Ray Coulombe

(from Security Technology Executive, TECH TRENDS, August 2012 p.20)

(videos and photo courtesy of Comtrol Corporation)

Miles beyond photo-electric, here’s how the technology can be applied in a security environment.

Remember the days of the simple photo-electric cell?  Using either a transmitter-receiver or a pair or a single TX/RX with a retro-reflector, the interruption of an IR beam would trigger an alarm, stop a process, or simply act as an input to another process.  We have come so far!

Today using laser technology, a beam can be emitted into free space, reflect off an object, and, upon returning, provide the input to calculate distance of the object based on its flight time.  Compound that with the fact that the beam is scanning continuously over a pre-determined arc traveling at 386,000 miles per second and you’ve got something interesting.  Some refer to this technology as LIDAR (Light Detection and Ranging), based on the same concept as RADAR, but using laser light instead of radio waves.  Because laser light is higher in energy and shorter in wavelength than radio waves, it reflects better from non-metallic objects and provides mapping advantages over RADAR.

Already, there are high-profile applications where laser ranging technology is considered a baseline technique for measurement, such as geo-spatial imaging.  In conjunction with GPS, laser scanners from an aircraft can accurately determine the height of the ground, peering through foliage and atmospheric moisture to provide a detailed profile of a geographic area.

Those pulses being shot from a state trooper’s speed gun that didn’t register on your radar detector – you guessed it, that’s LIDAR.  Our future society have have autonomous self-driving vehicles where laser technology helps them calibrate distance to adjacent objects, drawing a virtual map of its surroundings.

The puzzling thing is that this technology has been available for years – it has been used in U.S. industrial and traffic applications ranging from gauging to tolling – but it is not mainstream in security.  However, the laser’s distance capability creates several intriguing possibilities for security sensors.

Coupled with software that paints virtual boxes in an area to be scanned, a system can tell if someone has entered an area, just by whether or not there’s a reflection of a scanning beam that meets the box’s flight-time criteria for reflected energy.

laser scanner, perimeter security, theft deterrent, theft detection

The radiated energy can be over a range of wavelengths, but, for security, infrared is obviously better (remember the old spy movies where the bad guys crawl under the photo-electric beams to steal the museum masterpiece). A laser manufactured by the German company SICK, sold by Comtrol Corp., in the United States, uses 905nm – slightly higher than the 850nm commonly used in fiber optic systems.  Maximum range is typically expressed as that where there is 10 percent reflectivity and can reach about 200 feet over an arc of 180 degrees.  Outputs can be contact closures, serial or network-based.

Indoor security applications would usually be volumetric, although the laser effectively creates a two-dimensional “slice” of the area.  If, for example, the laser was ceiling-mounted, shooting towards a wall, anything breaking the slightly angled plane of the beam would be a candidate to register in the accompanying software.  If the laser scanner was mounted to scan parallel to a wall, it could determine if someone were reaching for any object on the wall – making it useful for retail applications, museums, art galleries, etc.

The technology also has applications in people counting and monitoring of restricted or hazardous areas.  The advantage of the laser vs. PIR or microwave is the ability to determine the intrusion and it’s position. The advantage is further enhanced by the accuracy and granularity of the sensor, as well as multiple zones.

A scanner head can sell for several thousand dollars, depending on range and software options, but costs have come down over the last several years.

Outdoor applications can be volumetric or linear, such as for placement along a perimeter.  Because these sensors can be environmentally hardened, they have already found use in applications such as tolling barrier on highways.  Based on the positioning of the scanner, they can detect objects or people only above or below a certain height, eliminating ground clutter and small animals.  While range is limited, scanners can be complemented by other technologies such as video surveillance.

Perhaps because of my own background in fiber optics, I was able to quickly see, from a technical standpoint, how these laser sensors could be quite useful in security.  Given their use in security applications across Europe, as well as in domestic non-security applications, I’m quite surprised this technology has not been mainstreamed here for security.  The opportunity is there.

Ray Coulombe is Founder and Managing Director of, enabling interaction with specifiers in the physical security and ITS markets; and Principal Consultant for Gilwell Technology Services.  Ray can be reached at [email protected], through LinkedIn or followed on Twitter @RayCoulombe. 

For any questions about SICK/Comtrol laser scanners, please contact Mark Pikkarainen at Comtrol:  763.957.6137 or [email protected] 

Comtrol Intrusion Detection Experiment

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Intrusion Detection

How Encapsulation of ASCII data into Modbus or EtherNet/IP for easy connection to PLC, SCADA, HMI, or other Industrial Protocol Enabled Devices Taught Me That An Office Cubicle Does Not Make a Good Bank Vault

One of our engineers here at Comtrol decided to conduct an internal training experiment using paper currency, Comtrol’s DeviceMaster® UP, a Gyphon barcode scanner, a SICK MLG Light Grid, an Allen Bradley MicroLogix 1100 PLC and a Beijer iX touchscreen HMI to simulate an intrusion detection system.

DeviceMaster industrial Ethernet gateway intrusion detection


Combat Training Facility IP Camera Monitoring

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IP Camera Monitoring

Defending the United States of America is held with utmost importance by our government, states, communities and citizens.

Our troops require and maintain rigorous training schedules to keep prepared for war, developing new strategies that endure technological advancements and improved combat systems. Monitoring soldiers’ actions is crucial for effective training, and facilities are beginning to deploy enhanced monitoring tactics such as IP camera surveillance within their structures.

A large training facility located on a military base in Missouri chose to integrate IP camera monitoring into their training system. The base contracted NetWatch Inc., a surveillance systems integrator, to create a solution for their monitoring needs.

RocketLinx ES7528 -  IP Camera Monitoring

Comtrol’s RocketLinx® ES7528 Power over Ethernet (PoE) switch was chosen for use in the structure, as its rugged enclosure and wide operating temperature range met the required specifications. In addition, the intuitive management features helped NetWatch easily configure and deploy the switches, providing a robust and reliable solution while enabling an average of ten IP cameras per switch.

Read more about how this solution works >>

Industrial Security Monitoring

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Industrial Security Monitoring

Establishing consistent industrial surveillance through network camera control

Securing property such as manufacturing facilities and perimeters is essential to any industrial company’s asset protection system. Ideally, personnel would be monitoring the property consistently. However, combining essential pieces of equipment to form a comprehensive security system customizable to your surveillance needs provides a cost-effective solution to protecting valuable goods from theft.    

RocketLinx PoE Industrial Security Monitoring

Providing network video security solutions to a surveillance system can improve loss prevention by:

  • Automatically capture video when a perimeter is breached
  • Placing surveillance in areas not accessible to personnel
  • Accessing real-time video, even from remote locations
  • Identifying potential intruders

Using industrial outdoor cameras or network cameras with pan, tilt and zoom features in conjunction with Power over Ethernet (PoE) switches to control a security system greatly increases opportunities to utilize power and communication.

View integrated surveillance system by Comtrol and Axis Communications >>


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