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January 10, 2013
A driveway alert system needs to work reliably, and this requires a lot more design effort than many people are aware of. Proper water and insect proofing, condensation control, good wireless range, UV resistance, two-way connectivity and diagnostics are all things we have carefully developed and fine-tuned since the inception of Parabeam® in 2003.
One documentary film company in Canada (Q-Films) purchased our system for use in sub-zero temperatures in the snow. Why couldn’t they have bought something local? No product had the sufficient performance needed.
We know other brands struggle because customers tell us when they call to buy our product. Jaded by many years of annoying false alarms and erratic performance, some people admit they have gone through as many as three other systems over the years and tell us they are ‘ready to do it properly now’
One customer began with a $35 unit purchased off an auction site and progressed up to a $199 system, then finally a $400 system. The $35 unit never worked, the $199 model failed within months and his last Chinese made unit failed six months outside of its 1-year warranty. He was told by the supplier it was “not a serviceable item” and it had failed too far outside of its warranty to be replaced at no charge.
Parabeam® is designed and individually assembled in New Zealand and we are confident it has the best performance for any wireless product of its kind. This confidence is based on a 10-year track record and backed up by our 3 Year Warranty.
Parabeam® systems are repairable outside of warranty and we will not be telling you to “buy a new one” unless your system has been badly damaged.
May 1, 2012
Beach-front properties can make easy pickings for burglars or squatters because they have ready access from the beach and can sneak onto the property with less chance of being seen. Many owners are nervous about this and are understandably frustrated by the fact they can’t always be there as often as they would like to make sure everything is safe and secure.
One customer, not content with her standard indoor home alarm system, which of course only does something after the home has already been entered, commissioned us to supply an outdoor deterrent system that monitored both the road-front and beach-front sides of the property with two Beam-sets. One Beam-set covering the road side and another 35m wide Beam-set was to span the entire beach-front side of the property.
The system had a different twist in that if any intruder crossed one of the detection beams it would announce a stern warning through horn speakers located either side of the home – the frightening announcement strenuously recommended immediate departure.
The owner would also receive a text message to her phone whenever either of the beams was triggered so she could remotely tell how often events of this kind were occurring – thankfully she never received a dreaded second text message advising her that her home had been entered.
Whether any actual intrusion would ever have occurred is impossible to know, but the system is doing its job of deterring anything from the outset, as well as relieving anxiety for the home owner. Whenever the owner stays at her holiday home she deactivates the outside warning function and the uses the much quieter beeping from the base receiver to warn her whenever a visitor arrives.
April 10, 2012
A text messaging device allows you to receive SMS alerts to any mobile phone whenever one of the inputs is grounded momentarily. You can also switch something on by sending the device an appropriate command.
The popular model we supply connects to our base receiver has two ‘zone inputs’ so that whenever one beam-set is triggered you will receive a customised SMS message like: ‘Gate 1′ / ‘Gate 2′ or whatever you like.
The unit has a GSM ‘engine’ inside, the same as you would find inside any mobile phone, except there is no keypad, screen or microphone etc. Its sole purpose is sending pre-determined SMS messages to pre-determined recipient phone numbers whenever something triggers the alert. It may also be used for controlling something from your phone.
A pre-pay or on account SIM card is first purchased from Telstra (Australia) Vodafone or 2 Degrees (New Zealand) then activated and inserted into the devices SIM card holder. The unit is then programmed by serial interface with a suitable PC. We usually program the device for you and test it to your phone before it leaves our factory, however you may also configure it yourself if you feel confident to do so.
Phone numbers are easily changed, deleted or new ones added by simply sending the correct command by SMS from any phone.
The device doesn’t have to be part of a Parabeam® solution. It is useful for many other industrial monitoring applications – whenever you need to be immediately alerted to an even via your phone.
Also incorporated are timers that can be set up to switch something on for a certain length of time whenever one of the inputs is triggered or whenever you send a special SMS instruction to the device from your phone. There are two controllable outputs available.
The outputs are low-voltage ‘open-collector’ type so if you want to switch something that is mains-voltage rated you would need to have a qualified electrician connect a suitable relay or contactor to the device.
The device has a low operating cost, particularly if you have purchased one of several bulk-texting plans offered by the various service providers. For example the plan we typically set up for our customers is the TXT NZ plan through NZ Vodafone and costs $12 per month for 2500 TXTs to any NZ mobile. One thing to be careful of is to always ensure there is adequate prepay balance on the devices SIM card so that whatever TXT plan you are on automatically rolls over every month automatically.
Top-ups can be done on-line providing the SIM card has been registered, or by credit card over the phone (select the ‘top-up a different phone number’ option) or the case of Vodafone at any Westpac ATM.
March 22, 2012
Kangaroos wander feely in many parts of urban and rural Australia and they can be a bothersome cause of unwanted activations for outdoor security sensors. We receive regular calls from Australia asking whether our Parabeam system is immune to kangaroos setting it off.
As it stands our system is immune to dogs and smaller animals because of the ability to precisely determine the height of the detection beam above ground – but unfortunately, if the animal is above waist height it will activate a Parabeam system when it crosses the beam – a large animal is indistinguishable from a person.
The Parabeam® design team have been kept on the hop with this issue and will be releasing a solution by mid June 2012 that allows vehicle detection while ignoring anything else above ground.
The new product makes use of a buried magnetic probe close to the driveway to detect a disturbance in the earth’s magnetic field as the vehicle passes. There will be three main components to the new kit: A magnetic probe, a ‘switch-link’ communicator and a solar panel.
The solar panel to supply power for the device will be larger than the standard 120x65mm panel used on our beam-sets because of increased energy requirements, but will still be relatively small.
When triggered by a passing vehicle, the base receiver will respond with an audible alert in the same way as a standard beam-set alert. You will also be able to mix and match sensor types. You could have a magnetic probe sensor on one zone and a standard beam-set on another.
If you are interested in this product please let our sales team know and we will contact you when it becomes available.
February 4, 2012
If you have a lot of pine trees on your property you will be only too aware of how much of a mess their needles make as they endlessly fall, covering any flat surface nearby. The solar panels provided with our Parabeam® systems are not immune to the accumulation of fallen pine needles, so over time you can imagine how the system may not receive an adequate solar charge and the internal batteries may gradually run flat.
Our older systems had no way of giving you advanced warning of this problem and the only way you would know something was amiss is when the system just did not work anymore or started giving intermittent service.
Thankfully the diagnostics on the new 700-FSK means there is very little mystery anymore; this model will tell you if one of the beam-units is not receiving adequate charge and allow you to pinpoint the problem easily in the majority of cases.
For example, if you should ever see a red flashing light on say ‘zone 1′ instead of the usual green light, this will tell you to go and check that the solar panel on the ‘beam emitter’ side is clear of any debris like pine needles or grime from a dry dusty road. Once clear, the battery charge will pick up to normal in no time and the red light will return to green by itself.
Another diagnostic indicator is the ‘solid amber light’ – should you ever see this it means something may have permanently fallen in the path of the IR beam, or a vehicle has parked itself there. In this case you would hear the normal alert sounds first, followed 20 seconds later by a series of short chirps. The normally green ‘zone’ light will show solid amber instead, telling you to go and see what object is blocking the beam.
The zone light can indicate four different kinds of ‘trouble’ making it very easy to go straight to the issue and resolve it. Should any issue show up that you are unable to resolve yourself, we will be able to help you resolve this over the phone with the help of the diagnostic indicators.
For more detailed information please read the 700-FSK installation manual.
February 3, 2012
“How Can I Be In Two Places At Once?”
Around 25% of customers come to us because they run a rural business of some kind and need a solution that will allow them to effectively be in two places at once.
They may to be out in the field tending to their orchard or vineyard, or in the pressing room, workshop or nursery and this means they can’t always be aware when customers, guests or other visitors arrive on the property. They report their productivity is considerably reduced as a result of having to constantly be on the look-out.
Without a system like Parabeam, extra staff would be needed to constantly hold the fort and be ready to greet a visitor whenever they arrive, while productive work continues uninterrupted.
Though most of our customers are in rural situations, a huge number are not. For example a family run home-stay or motel in town has the same kinds of needs, as do boarding kennels, catteries and some car sales and timber yards. Even keen gardeners who own a large section want something to tell them when a friend has arrived for coffee.
After installing a Parabeam® system with one of its many kinds of alert options, customers report a huge increase in productivity and a reduction in anxiety, often commenting they are no longer on-edge listening for vehicles arriving or visitors ‘yoo-hooing’ as they wander about the property looking for service.
A Parabeam® Beam-set can cover an entranceway or yard area up to 40m wide with its precise detection beam. Whenever someone crosses the beam, an alert is sent to an office or home base-receiver, which produces a difficult-to-miss beeping sound. If there is a second entrance, it too may be monitored to the ‘standard’ base receiver.
The alert may be forwarded on in to a pocket beeper or mobile phone in the form of an SMS (text-message) or phone call.
The receiver can also ring an outdoor bell for 4 seconds. Some favour this option because they don’t always want to carry extra devices while they work, or they may not want to have to delete a large number of SMS messages from their phone after a busy day’s trade, although these can be switched off easily from your phone.
The bell produces a less offensive sound than a screeching siren and it carries further because of the lower-pitch tones.
What may be a ‘customer alert’ during the day, often becomes an ‘intruder alert’ after hours and many people report they would never be without the system once they have it.
From a customer service point of view Parabeam can be seen as another communication tool; being able to greet and serve a customer in a timely way is a cornerstone of excellent service.
January 26, 2012
A Parabeam® Beam-set is excellent for generating a reliable alert signal whenever a vehicle or person has passed through its precise detection beam – the base receiver will also tell you visually and audibly that whatever interrupted the beam is still there. For example a car may have stopped mid-way through the beam, blocking it and preventing it from restoring.
But what if you want to know whether a gate on your property is open or closed right now? A beam-set is not really appropriate for a few reasons.
Stock may need to wander nearby and would continuously activate it, and even though you could in principle use an open gate to block the detection beam, the beam could never tell you that the gate is fully closed against the gate post. It would need to be so close to the gate as to be vulnerable to being set off on a windy day.
A better solution is a magnetic reed switch attached to the gate and gate post to sense whenever the gate is opened and left open. Our new switch-link communicator has been designed to handle this very application, and any other application requiring real-time monitoring of any binary state: open-closed / on-off.
When a gate is open the zone LED at the base receiver changes from Green (closed) to Amber (open) – an output also switches on for as long as the gate remains open. You can use this to switch on some kind of audible or visual alert that continues until the gate is closed. This could be something like a strobe light or buzzer.
You can also reverse the polarity of the sensor with a simple jumper (link) inside the ‘switch-link’ unit, so that now the output at the receiver is active when the gate is closed and vice-versa.
The connectivity range of the switch-link communicator is the same as a standard beam-set: 800m maximum, but may be extended dramatically with boost antennas or signal repeaters. Many kilometres connectivity range could be achieved using a combination of repeaters and boost antennas if needed allowing you to tell whether a gate is open or closed right now.
The current model base receiver will monitor two gates, and a switch-link communicator can be enrolled to say zone 1 while a standard beam-set is enrolled on zone 2.
November 26, 2011
“We have poor Vodafone coverage – will your SMS unit work on the Telecom XT network?”
The short answer to this question is no – SMS devices compatible with the New Zealand Telecom XT network are very hard to source and expensive if you can.
However, all is not lost. If you can get useable coverage outside your house on the Vodafone network – and particularly if you can get good coverage in an elevated location such as on the roof of your house, then there should be no problem making our system work on your property.
In these situations we would supply the SMS unit in a watertight outdoor enclosure. This is supplied with a 15-20m long 6-core alarm cable and incorporates a mounting bracket similar to that of a small television antenna (U-Bolt/V-Block arrangement).
Why can’t the SMS unit stay indoors and we connect an outdoor antenna to it instead? The answer to this is: You can but there will be little advantage and several disadvantages to this approach.
Outdoor cellular antennas are expensive and specialized. Signal losses in the coaxial cable connecting to an outdoor antenna mean only short lengths are recommended or you will lose some of the gain from the antenna itself – this limits the possible mounting locations of the SMS unit.
Coaxial cable at cellular frequencies tends to be very thick and rigid making it difficult to run, whereas thinner, flexible alarm cable can be run much greater distances with ease and is more forgiving if there are kinks in the cable.
In summary, the outdoor SMS is the best solution providing you have first checked for reasonable signal strength at the intended mounting location. The SMS unit has a superior antenna than the one inside your phone, which is designed more for aesthetics than function – this means it will automatically have better coverage than your phone.
If you require more clarification please contact us.