Please help me design an alarm system
October 12, 2007 7:14 AM   Subscribe

I need advice for designing and installing a modest home security system.

My house is old so it creaks and squeaks as it settles. My neighbors come and go at all hours, so I hear their car doors and house doors through the night. Although I live in a safe neighborhood, I'd be able to relax more if I had confidence that an loud alarm would go off when there really was danger. I have a dog, but she sleeps better than I do and I doubt even a burglar would wake her up, not that she'd scare anyone if she did.

To design and install a home security system that makes a loud noise and turns on some lights whenever someone other than me or my roommate enters the house whether through a door or window. I would also like discreet cameras pointed at the front and back doors that somehow hook into my TV or computer, so that I can see who is at the door even if I am in a different part of the house. It would be perfect if I could record\store these so I could see who may have come by during the day.

Other considerations:
It does not need to be wired into the police or an alarm company, because if I am not home, my insurance will cover any loss. If I am home, I just want something that will wake me up so I can call the police to check it out (while waiting in my bedroom with a shotgun in case the burglar continues burgling). I should be able to easily arm\disarm the system from a central location.

I could maybe go for professional design and installation, but not any ongoing fees. I am a decent carpenter, electrician, and crafty with computers, so I think I could probably do this myself with the right pointers. In case it matters, my house is 2 story with about 20 windows, and 2 doors. My budget is $750, but I am flexible.
posted by amfea to Home & Garden (6 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
There's an article here that discusses building a video surveillance system for under $300.00. You could probably do it without the ReadyNAS.

$750 with no monthly fees probably wouldn’t buy you a very reliable alarm system. The money might be better spent on some deadbolts and securing the windows. You can make windows a lot more secure with nothing more than a drill and some nails. Google around for “home security” and you’ll find some tips.

If you’re looking for a fun hobby, you can probably do this. If you’re looking to actually be secure, you really can’t. If you just want to feel more secure, you might be able to do this but you’re probably better off buying some Xanax.
posted by bondcliff at 7:29 AM on October 12, 2007

You might take a look at the SmartHome catalog - there are tons of video products in there, and you might be able to find something in your price range.
posted by jquinby at 7:34 AM on October 12, 2007

Oh come on- why not? He should totally be able to build a decent alarm for that, and have fun doing it. Particularly if he just wants to give himself some peace of mind.

A little googling found me this:

Also, it seems theres places that sell DIY kits for <$300
posted by jpdoane at 7:37 AM on October 12, 2007

Response by poster: bondcliff: My house is already pretty secure (deadbolts and all), but the point of the alarm is not necessarily to make it more secure, it is to notify me if that security is breached somehow so I will be ready to move to Plan B.
posted by amfea at 7:47 AM on October 12, 2007

How many doors/windows/rooms need protecting? You could accomplish everything by using cams and some movement detection software.
posted by zeoslap at 8:18 AM on October 12, 2007

Check out Mostly home automation, but lots of stuff on security systems too.

Also, check out WaterHobo. Obviously a different intent, but it seems to me that the process is the same (motion event triggers camera and an external action).
posted by Lactoso at 9:59 PM on October 12, 2007

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