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Improve Your Intercom’s Speech Quality

Improve Your Intercom’s Speech Quality

Naturally, access control is not restricted to gate motors and, in fact, intercoms form an integral part of the access automation mix. As part of our feature on faultfinding and diagnostics, we offer you some tips on getting the most from your intercom system.

Many of us who have intercoms at home or at work have become accustomed to the voice on the other end being garbled, distant or unclear. Oftentimes intercom speech quality can be improved by performing a few simple checks and alterations, enabling you to get the most out of your intercom system. Most of these checks require at least some technical knowledge, but with a standard AVO meter and a little know-how, you too can get crystal clear speech from your intercom.

Some things to check for are:

  • What is being used to supply power to the intercom?

For the sake of convenience, many installers power the intercom straight from the gate motor power supply (assuming, of course, that you have a gate motor installed). This is not a bad practice, but some gate motors use so-called “switch-mode” power supplies which may cause interference on an intercom line. Such power supplies usually have the letters “SM” printed on their identification labels. In such cases, you or your installer need simply fit a smoothing capacitor between the common and earth connections. This should dramatically increase speech quality.

  • Is your power supply properly earthed?

Bad earthing is a major bugaboo when it comes to distorted intercom speech. Ensure that there is a clear path to earth, i.e. the power supply ground is attached to a piece of metal. If you are powering your intercom directly from a gate motor, one tried and true trick of the trade is to wire the power supply earth to a common connection on the gate motor’s controller.

  • At what level is the volume dial?

An oft-overlooked factor is the volume level, both on the side of the handset and gate station. If the volume setting is too high, the tiny microphone will pick up background noise and this will in turn be deposited right into your eardrum! Turn it down!

  • Is the microphone/speaker insulated?

The microphone and speaker are the two vital components that make the transfer of sound possible in intercom systems. If either or both of these components are allowed to short-circuit against metal surfaces (such as the inside of the intercom housing), speech quality will be adversely affected. Most intercoms are supplied with sponge or rubber grommets that are meant to insulate the dynamic duo that is the microphone and speaker. Make sure the grommets are intact and that all supply wires are also sufficiently insulated.

Happy buzzing!

 

Posted in: CENTSYS, Intercom Systems

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D5-Evo: The Apex Predator of Gate Motors

D5-Evo: The Apex Predator of Gate Motors

It is not often that the worlds of natural science and access automation meet, but I do think that I have, quite by accident, found a parallel.

It was while channel surfing recently, perhaps sub-consciously scouring for material for our next blog post, that I happened upon a show about apex predators, and it got me thinking about our tried, tested and perfected sliding gate motor, the D5-Evo.

Here is something that has been designed to be the absolute best in its class: purpose-built, tenacious and completely unstoppable.

So what exactly is an apex predator?

Apex predators have been defined as predators with no natural predators of their own, thus residing at the very top of its food chain. To me, that sums up the D5-Evo perfectly. This superior sliding gate motor exists in a world of many competing operators, each vying for a place at the top of the access automation food chain, each snapping at the ankles of the powerful D5-Evo – the apex predator – but never really finding purchase. The D5-Evo remains the dominant operator.

It’s a bold claim, I know. So let’s take a quick look at why the D5-Evo is the saltwater crocodile (or tiger, or killer whale) of the access automation arena.

1. Advanced diagnostics

This feature goes a long way towards establishing our benchmark motor as the undisputed alpha dog in its pack. A futuristic LCD display provides detailed information on everything from the battery and charger voltage to the amount of current being drawn when the gate is in motion to the ID number of the last remote pressed.

2. Intruder-detection Alarm Modes

We’ve written a great deal about this functionality, and with good reason. Enable the Break-in Alarm, and you’ll be notified the moment that someone loiters in front of your gate thanks to the controller’s onboard alarm being triggered. Similarly, the Ambush Alarm will notify you should the beams remain interrupted for a pre-defined period of time, so criminals won’t get away with sticking insulation tape over the beam lenses. Remember, you have the apex predator standing guard!

3. Multiple operating features

One characteristic of an apex predator is that it has evolved to adapt remarkably well to its environment. In much the same fashion, we have designed the D5-Evo to be fully configurable to suit any site conditions. From adjustable ramp-up and ramp-down distances, to Positive Close Mode and ultra-safe collision sensitivity, the D5-Evo is the master of its environment.

4. Onboard timer technology

This feature is one of my favourites. Those of you with a working knowledge of ancient Greek will know that the word “chronos” means of or related to time, and it makes a fitting prefix to our built-in, ultra-advanced timer technology known as ChronoGuard. ChronoGuard allows you to set automatic activations for certain times of the day, month or year and even includes a time-barring feature whereby certain inputs can be barred from working after hours, during public holidays, etc. This is absolutely groundbreaking functionality as far as the marriage of access automation and perimeter security goes.

What can we say? The apex predator has brains!

Posted in: Welcome

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Important GSM Module Settings

How cool is GSM technology? Way cool, we reckon. The ability to open your gate with a (free!) missed call from your mobile phone – from anywhere in the world no less! – is something straight out of science fiction. And this is but one of a myriad of possible functions that you could use one of our GSM devices for. The future is here, ladies and gentlemen.

And we’d like to make sure you get the most out of this wonderful, space-age technology. To this end, we’ve documented in this communication two easily overlooked yet mandatory setup procedures that you need to ensure you’ve covered in order to get your GSM product up and running quickly and conveniently.

1.    CLIP must be enabled on each phone

CLIP, or Caller Line Identification Presentation, is basically what allows the device being called to “see” or “recognise” the number calling it during the ringing signal, or when the call is being set up before the call is answered.

On any GSM device, you need to ensure that CLIP is enabled on all mobile phones learned into its memory. An easy way to check is to ring any number from your phonebook and, if it comes up as “unknown” or “private number” on the other party’s phone, your CLIP is not enabled and your GSM module will not react to it. It makes perfect sense when you get right down to it. After all, you wouldn’t open the door for someone if you didn’t know who was on the other side of it!

But what you may not know is that, on contract SIM cards, you also need to enable CLIP on the SIM card going into the GSM module. This you’ll have to do by first inserting the SIM card into a phone and enabling CLIP before inserting it into the GSM module.

2.    Airtime must be loaded on the GSM device SIM card

In order for a GSM device to communicate with an online portal such as G-WEB, from which units are administered, it needs to at least have a little bit of airtime loaded onto the SIM card since synchronisation is a data transaction. It is important that the unit is topped up with actual airtime, not SMS or data bundles, since the latter two usually expire within a month of being loaded.

CENTSYS manufactures the infinitely useful G-SWITCH-22 GSM device, and the advanced MyGSM range.

Posted in: Automatic Gates, Driveway Automatic Gates, Electric Gates, GSM Devices

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Why we do things the DC way

Why We Do Things the DC Way

A long, long time ago there was a very heated, very public battle of wits between DC disciple Thomas Edison and his AC adversary, Nikola Tesla. Their feud was what started the age-old power struggle (literally) between direct current and alternating current, and while there has since been numerous accusations that the Father of DC’s character was less than savoury, there can be no doubt that this method of power distribution has made the world a better place (as has AC!).

In fact, DC has made such an incredible impact on the world that it has become a fundamental part of CENTSYS’s design philosophy. But why exactly has direct current become the preferred method of power distribution? Why is it that so many appliances nowadays has a built-in transformer and rectifier circuit to change the input AC voltage to low-voltage DC? And why do we at CENTSYS bank on it with our own products?

Well, we’ll tell you…

It’s More Cost-Effective to Implement

This is true for a number of reasons. Firstly, DC devices have only two conductors (namely positive and negative) versus the three (live, neutral and earth) needed for AC equipment. Since DC allows us to operate at much lower voltages, less insulation is typically needed which in turn leads to reduced costs.

Also worth noting is that DC circuits are generally less complex and require less components and yet they provide superior motor control to AC (another benefit – especially from an access automation point of view where one can accurately adjust running speeds for enhanced safety and security  requirements).

Reliability and Autonomy

This point is probably a bit hackneyed, but we all know that it’s true. When the Dark Knight does rise (we’re talking about power failures, in case that metaphor was a bit obscure), it’s important that your appliances carry on working despite the sudden loss of mains power.

Direct current makes this a possibility. You’ve all heard the term “battery backup” being used – now, the battery being a staple of DC power distribution – is what allows your gate motor to dutifully carry on serving you even during lengthy power failures.  AC machines can still be outfitted with backup, but it requires costly additions such as DC converters. Backup is native to DC machines.

Lightning Protection

This point ties in very closely with the one above. Since DC operators gives you a mechanism to fairly easily decouple yourself from the main utility grid using solar power and other energy generators, you are effectively putting another level of protection between you and possible lightning damage.

Higher Starting Torque

While it’s true that AC motors produce higher running torque, think in terms of gate automation. What is more important: setting your gate in motion or keeping it that way? If you guessed “setting your gate in motion”, congratulations! You know your stuff.
DC motors produce superior starting thrust, which is what you need especially if your gate is slightly on the heavy side. Once it’s on the move keeping it that way is, well, automatic.

Improved Collision Detection

DC machines have been found to be more sensitive than their AC counterparts from a collision detection perspective. This is an important feature to have in your automated system, especially if you have kiddies or pets around.

In a nutshell, the load speed profile of DC motors is such that they tend to slow down when obstructed whereas AC motors are synchronous and only slow down when they literally stall against the load. It is quite simply easier to electronically detect a DC motor hitting an obstruction which in turn allows us to apply more sensitive anti-crushing protection.

It Allows Us to Operate in the Safe Zone

Edison once notoriously performed a public demonstration involving an elephant to show the dangers of alternating current, but that’s kind of a cheap shot (not to mention utterly inhumane) and we won’t resort to that here. Besides, at high voltages DC can be much more dangerous than AC.

The fact is, the DC we employ in our gate motors is of the low-voltage variety (typically around 12-24V) which means that it is much, much safer than the AC alternative.

Please note that our aim is not to slate AC in any way. On the contrary, one of our most robust operators – the A10 – is an AC mean machine and offers myriad benefits such as a higher duty cycle and improved running torque that a DC unit might not be able to provide. Our goal is simply to provide you with some insight as to why DC is such an important part of our design philosophy.

Posted in: Automatic Gates, Electric Gates, Welcome

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Choosing the right gate motor

Choosing the Right Gate Motor

Let’s say, hypothetically, that you have finally grown tired of your old jalopy and you’re in the market for a new, more reliable, mode of transportation. Naturally, there are a number of factors you would consider and things you would weigh up before finally settling on a car.

Is safety an important consideration for you? Are you in the market for a family sedan or a sports hatch? Are you looking for something with superior fuel economy?

Similarly, when you’re preparing to have your world rocked by the amazing security and convenience provided by a gate motor, there are some things you need to think about to ensure that you get one that’s right for your application. But don’t worry, with some handy tips from your favourite access automation company you’ll be wielding that remote like a magical sceptre in no time.

AC or DC

We’re not referring to the Australian rock band of course (although our gate motors have been known to rock!), but rather to the form in which electric power is supplied to your operator. AC, or alternating current, means that the gate motor is being powered directly via the 230V mains supply from a distribution board in your house.

DC, or direct current, on the other hand, is a method of power delivery relying on some sort of “power store” such as a battery. You’ll find that the vast majority of CENTSYS gate motors are DC-operated.

And there’s a good reason for that. Power delivery, especially in South Africa, is unfortunately quite unreliable and we’ve all borne the brunt of load shedding before. Your gate motor, being the holder of so many titles – security guard, butler, etc. – needs to be on duty around the clock, and DC units are able to continue operation even during lengthy power failures, whereas AC gate motors are not.

On the flipside of the coin, AC motors have a virtually unlimited duty cycle and will work tirelessly as long as they are being fed mains. Both of these modes of power delivery have their virtues, you simply need to decide which is best suited for your application. If you live in an area where power outages are commonplace, a DC unit is probably the best bet.

Weight of the Gate

Unless you’re an ant or former Governor of California (and sometimes actor) Arnold Schwarzenegger, you probably can’t carry much more than your body weight. But through the miracle of engineering gate motors are able to relatively effortlessly lug around several hundred times its own weight.

But that doesn’t mean it should be unrealistically loaded. Subjecting it to that kind of abuse will invariably lead to problems down the line, so first get an approximation of what your gate weighs before selecting a motor. The good news is that gates are usually much, much lighter than we think. For example, if you can lift one side of your gate to about the height of your shin, chances are it doesn’t weigh much more than 250kg.

Pull Force

This is more an extension of the previous point than a whole new heading. Pull force plays a monumental role in what gate motor you install, and has a direct impact on both the reliability and the service life of the operator. If you struggle to open and close your gate manually, be sure to choose a device rated for a high push force such as a D10.

The easiest and most accurate way to determine the weight of the gate is to use a pull scale as found in any angling goods store.

Swing or Slide

This one might seem fairly obvious if you already have a gate fitted, but if you’re looking to install a gate where there isn’t currently one this might warrant some thought. The truth is that both swing and sliding gate motors are equally rich in merit and which one you choose to fit simply depends on preference or, in the case of an existing gate, what the setup necessitates.

If you are going with a swing gate, remember to take into account factors like the length of the individual leafs, wind loading, etc.

If you follow these few simple selection guidelines you’re assured of a gate motor that’ll faithfully serve you for years to come. And if you do get stuck, remember that our technical support centre is open Monday to Friday from 7am until 6pm. Their number is +2711 699 2451.

You’ll also do well to check out our awesome access automation selection guide. Or download your swing gate operator selection chart, or yoursliding gate selection chart!

Posted in: Automatic Gates, Driveway Automatic Gates, Electric Gates, Gate Hardware

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