- Frequently Asked Questions
Q: I just had keys made at the local home improvement store and they don't work right, do I need new locks like the clerk suggested, when I went back to complain?
A: No, more likely you just need keys cut by a properly adjusted key machine, operated by a trained technician. Key machines in proper adjustment will cut keys to a tolerance of +/- .001". Poorly adjusted key machines or worse yet, poorly trained clerks, can cut a key with a tolerance of +/- .012"!
Q: I am moving into a new home, should I rekey the locks? They seem to be working properly.
A: the answer is YES! Everyone has someone that they trust with their house keys, this does not mean you can trust them. How many neighbors, old baby sitters, cleaning people are walking around with the key to your home? Change the locks and then give keys to people you and you alone trust.
Q: Why do I have to wiggle my keys in the lock to make it work?
A: As locks age over time, the pins in a lock cylinder tend to "wear" down causing your keys to stick and forcing you to "jiggle or wiggle" the key in the lock to make it work. Most likely the keys you were given have probably been "copied" several times and this, plus pin wear, can cause your lock to act like it is breaking.
Q: Why do you recommend locks that seem so expensive?
A: We have found through experience that you get what you pay for, nothing hurts more than having to replace a cheap lockset that has worn out prematurely. We here at Columbus Security believe that you should only have to pay once for your security needs. Purchasing the very best hardware you can afford, will keep your security needs cost effective.
Q: Should I change locks after an employees leaves?
A: Yes, Yes, Yes, not only are you protecting your assets, but you are also protecting the ex-employee. If you have a problem and you did not change the locks who do you look at? You cannot narrow down the list of suspects to only those in your employ. If you change the locks then you can eliminate the ex-employees as suspects, and concentrate on current key holders.
Q: Why would I want to install cameras in my workplace?
A: Not only will cameras help protect your property, but they could head off potential lawsuits (you could catch someone faking a "fall"). Theft and vandalism problems tend to decrease after cameras are installed. Your employees will begin to feel more secure in their environment after they realize that trouble makers will have a harder time sneaking in.
If you have any questions not covered here, just call us.
And when you're ready for a locksmith estimate or to book a date for your locksmith project, our friendly and professional staff will be there for you.
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Safe - Frequently Asked Qestions
Q: Why do I need a special file? My everyday files are metal - they won't burn.
A: Everyday metal files may not burn, but they will directly conduct the fire's heat inside, where your records will ignite and burn. In a sense, your metal files become incinerators.
Q: What good is a product that is rated Class 350 or Class 125? Fires get much hotter than 350°F or 125°F.
A: The UL class rating signifies the maximum internal temperature allowed during the fire test. Depending on the length of the UL fire test, the external heat to which the product is subjected will range from 1550°F to 2000°F; yet the internal temperatures cannot exceed 350°F or 125°F- for paper or computer media, respectively.
Q: What good is a product that is only rated for one hour? Fires last longer than that.
A: The average fire burns at around 800°F. As it passes through the building, the fire's intensity changes as flammable items are consumed. Fires usually average only 20 minutes in any location. This intense burn is comparable to the burn portion of the UL test. After the flammable items are consumed in the fire, the overall temperature decreases, leaving items inside the fire to absorb the radiant heat. This part of the fire is comparable to the cool down portion of the UL test. Depending on the product being tested, the cool down portion of the test can last as long as 15-25 hours, during which the internal temperature and humidity levels cannot exceed the standards set forth by the test. Most products that fail the UL test fail during this cool down period. Be wary of marketing hype that says "tested to UL standards" - tested doesn't necessarily mean the product passed the test. A one-hour rating means the product will also survive the cool down period.
Q: Why should I buy records protection products? After all, I'm insured.
A: Fire insurance is available, but many fire sufferers found out the hard way that insurance will only pay on losses that can be documented. If your records are lost, you must still be able to document to the insurance company exactly what was lost and what it was worth before they will pay. Fire sufferers have also found out that some items can never be totally reconstructed, even if insurance pays. Vendor/client files, contracts, personnel files, engineering blueprints, accounts receivable and payable - can you and your staff remember or recreate all the information for all these categories? Personal records such as wills, passports, wedding/divorce papers, birth certificates, baby pictures, household goods inventory, tax records, and personal treasures (such as art masterpieces by your child) should all be protected at home.
Q: Why do I need a special product for computer media? Don't fire files and safes protect everything
A: Fire files and safes are available with different ratings, because paper and media require different forms of protection. During a fire, paper is more durable than media and can tolerate heat up to 420°F before igniting. However, paper will dry out and become brittle when exposed to heat. So, the paper rated file or safe is designed to release a little steam inside to combat the heat's drying effect when the internal temperature nears 300°F. Media such as diskettes, CDs, and tapes cannot tolerate either the higher temperature or the humidity levels found in the paper rated products. They must be stored in an environment that will stay below 125°F and 80% humidity in order to be protected.
Q: Does the insulation ever lose its effectiveness?
A: Some insulation loses its effectiveness over time. All insulation designated as "wet", "oven-baked" or "oven-dried" loses its free-floating moisture over time, thereby compromising its fire-resistant capabilities.
Q: After a fire, do I need to wait to open the file or safe? Is spontaneous combustion a concern?
A: You should wait until you can comfortably rest your hand on the product before you try opening it after the fire. Spontaneous combustion is a concern, and if the product is opened before it has had a chance to naturally cool down, the hot records could ignite when exposed to fresh air. Artificially cooling the outside by pouring water on the product will shorten the cool down period, but may give a false impression of how cool the insides are, so be careful!
Q: Can I reuse the insulated product after a fire?
A: Once the product has been in a fire, the insulation loses its protectiveness. There is no way to reinsulate the product, and it should be discarded.
Q: Are fire proof safes/files also waterproof?
A: UL does not test for water resistance. Prior to being in a fire, all insulated products are not tightly sealed. If they are submerged in water, water will seep inside. After the insulated product is exposed to heat, the insulation expands, forcing all joints to tightly seal and keep water out.
Q: Are these products theft or security rated?
A: Fire resistant products generally use relatively light weight steel to reduce heat transference, which in turn prevents the products from attaining a security rating. No matter what type of lock is used, the products can be broken into. Security locks are useful if you want to prevent someone from breaking into your file or safe without leaving obvious physical proof. Generally speaking, the lock on an insulated product is to keep honest people honest and stupid people out. Safes that carry both fire and security ratings are called "composite safes" and are available in the market. Their UL fire protection will be labeled just like a regular insulated file or safe, but the composite safe will also carry a UL security classification. UL rated safes that carry the RSC label offer protection from tool attacks against the door of the safe for five minutes. Safes that carry the TL-15 and TL-30 classification offer protection from tool attacks against the safe's door for 15 or 30 minutes, respectively. Safes rated TLTR-15 or TLTR-30 offer protection from tool and torch attacks against the door for 15 or 30 minutes, respectively. Safes that are rated TLTRX6-15 or TLTRX6-30 offer protection from tool and torch attacks against any part of the safe for either 15 or 30 minutes. Of course, the price increases with the protection level. If you are not sure what level you need, ask your safe dealer or insurance company for a security assessment.
Q: Are these products really fire proof?
A: The actual UL classification is for fire resistance. No product on the market has been tested and proven to survive against every possible fire, so UL will only issue ratings based on a product's proven ability to resist fires of specific temperatures and lengths.
Regarding Gun Safes:
Q: Won't my guns get damp inside my safe with all that insulation?
A: If you store your guns in a record safe you will probably get some moisture on them. That is why most American Made gun safes use gypsum board for an insulator. Gypsum board is fire resistant but not made with water like the insulation in record safes and filing cabinets.
Q: Why is the fire rating in a gun safe 1/2-hour at 1400 degrees?
A: Although gypsum board is an insulator it will not insulate for as long or for temps as high as a record safe or fire proof filing cabinet.
One of several gun safes available that will offer 90 minutes of fire resistance at higher temperatures is the Lincoln Series Liberty Safe.
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Safe - Ratings and Fire Resistants
• B1 — Theft resistant (minimum security)
• B2 — Underwriters’ Laboratories Residential Security Container label
• B3 — Non-rated anti-theft (incorporates features of high security safes
without a UL rating)
• B4 — Underwriters’ Laboratories TL-15 label
• B5 — Underwriters’ Laboratories TL-30 label
• B6 — Underwriters’ Laboratories TL-30X6 or TRTL-30 label
• FR — Fire resistant unrated insulated safe
• 1/2 hr — UL class 350. Protects valuables for up to 30 minutes with outside temperature of 1550 degrees.
• 1 hr — UL class 350. Protects valuables for up to 1 hour with outside temperature of 1700 degrees.
• 1 hr+ — UL class 350. Protects valuables for up to 1 hour with an outside temperature of 1700 degrees, plus survived drop test from 30 feet.
• 2 hr — UL class 350. Protects valuables for up to 2 hours with an outside temperature of 1850 degrees.
• 2 hr+ — UL class 350. Protects valuables for up to 2 hours with outside temperature of 1850 degrees, plus survived drop test onto rubble from 30 feet
UL Underwriters' Laboratories (UL) - UL is a non-profit, non-bias agency that tests and rates the safety and performance of consumer products. Safes that have earned specific UL ratings will carry a UL label which designates the product's security and fire-protection ratings.
• Net Working Time - This is the UL term for testing time which is spent trying to break into a safe using tools such as diamond grinding wheels, high-speed drills with pressure applying devices, or common hand tools such as hammers, chisels, saws, and carbide-tip drills. If a safe has been rated with a 30-minute net working time, (TL30), the rating certifies that the safe successfully withstood a full 30 minutes of attack time with a range of tools.
• Theft resistant - This rating means the safe provides a combination lock and minimal theft protection.
• Residential Security Container rating (RSC) - This UL rating is based on testing conducted for a net working time of five minutes, on all sides, with a range of tools.
• TL-15 rating - The TL-15 rating means the safe has been tested for a net working time of 15 minutes using high speed drills, saws and other sophisticated penetrating equipment.
• TL-30 rating - A product carrying the TL-30 security label has been tested for a net working time of 30 minutes with the same types of tools mentioned above.
• TL-30 x 6 - The TL-30 (30-minute) test is conducted on all six (6) sides of the safe.
• TRTL-30 - The TRTL rating designates a safe which successfully resisted 30 minutes of net working time with a torch and a range of tools which might include high speed drills and saws with carbide bits, pry bars, and other impact devices.
Test and Class Ratings
• Impact test - The UL impact test calls for the safe to be heated to 1550 degrees for 30 minutes (1638 degrees for a 2-hour fire rated safe) then dropped onto concrete rubble from a height of 30 feet. The safe is then turned upside down and reheated for another 30 minutes (45 minutes for a 2-hour fire rated safe). During this process, it must maintain its integrity and protect all contents in order to pass the UL impact test.
• Explosion hazard test - All UL fire-rated safes must undergo this test, during which the unit is inserted into a pre-heated 2000 degree oven. If the safe is not constructed properly, the rapid heating will likely cause an explosion.
• FR - Fire resistant, unrated insulated safe - This product is awaiting UL approval.
• Class 350 1/2-hour fire rating - During this test, the safe is heated for one-half hour to reach an exterior temperature of 1550 degrees. Because paper will begin to char at approximately 400 degrees, the unit being tested must maintain an interior temperature of less than 350 degrees during heat-up and cool-down testing in order to earn its rating.
• Class 350 1-hour fire rating - To earn this rating, the safe is heated for one hour to reach an exterior temperature of 1550 degrees, then put through the cool-down test. During this time the safe must maintain an interior temperature of less than 350 degrees.
• Cool-down test - This procedure is a key part of UL's fire testing procedures. After a one- or two-hour fire rating test, the safe is left in the oven for cool-down time with the heat turned off. Because of the intensive heat of one- and two-hour tests, the temperature inside the safe will continue to rise for up to one hour after the oven is turned off. To pass UL testing, the safe's interior temperature may not exceed 350 degrees at any time during heat-up or cool-down procedures.
• Class 350 1-hour fire & impact label - The safe has passed both UL impact testing and Class 350 1-hour fire testing (see above).
• Class 350 2-hour fire rating - The safe is heated for two hours to reach an exterior temperature of 1550 degrees and must maintain an interior temperature of less than 350 degrees to earn this rating. Class 350 2-hour rating and impact label - The safe has passed both UL impact testing and Class 350 2-hour fire testing (see above).
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- Frequently Asked Questions
Q: How does my alarm system work?
A: The alarm system may be armed in the "Away" or "Stay" mode. Once the system is activated, each monitored zone has the ability to recognize a violation. Once a zone has been violated, the alarm system then dials and transmits the message through a telephone line. Once the signal is received, the alarm system will wait to send another message if another zone is tripped. Entering the code and turning off the system will end this process.
Q: Why is my motion sensor providing false detections?
A: A motion detector may activate falsely due to improper installation of the device above a heater or furnace. Movement of objects such as balloons, blinds, and curtains within the range of a motion detector may also trigger an alarm activation. The motion detector may require relocation or adjustment by a technician.
Q: Why does my keypad display "no ac"?
A: An alarm panel will normally display "no ac" when the system has lost electrical current. The outlet should be checked to verify that it is operational. If the outlet is working properly a service call will be needed.
Q: Why does my alarm system take so long to notify the monitoring station?
A: The alarm system provides a delay period for the user. This delay period allows the user to disarm the system in order to prevent an alarm activation. The delay period can range from 30 seconds up to 3 minutes.
Q: Why is my system not communicating correctly?
A: An alarm system may lose communications for several reasons. The telephone line the system communicates through may be inoperable or equipment on the alarm system may not be functioning properly. Operational malfunctions within your phone company or monitoring station may also be possible reasons for communications failure.
Q: What should I do if my technician does not show up as scheduled?
A: Your time is important and our technicians strive to arrive promptly as scheduled. If we miss an appointment and have not contacted you, please call 706 327-5625 and ask for the Alarm Section to inquire about a pending service request. A Columbus Security service dispatcher will quickly assist you.
Q: Why does my keypad display "not ready"?
A: Your keypad is informing you that the alarm system is not ready to turn on (arm). Common reasons for this are that a door or window is not completely closed, a motion detector may be sensing movement, or a previous alarm has not been cleared out of the memory. Correct the condition and the alarm system will be ready to arm.
Q: What is an undefined signal?
A: Your alarm system is capable of sending many types of signals to the monitoring sttion, which is why we spend a lot of time during the installation testing the alarms. Very rarely a system will send a signal that is not clearly defined in our database and requires us to update our information.
Q: Why does my system show that Columbus Security is "still working on it"?
A: If a technician or installer is not currently working on your alarm system, your system was left in a programming mode. Call Columbus Security and speak to a technician for instructions on exiting the programming mode.
Q: When my system was installed, I wrote a check to Columbus Security, but it's not reflected on my first bill. Is there a problem?
A: Sometimes, because of billing cycles, your first bill is issued before the payment has been posted. The payment will appear on your next bill; if not, call Columbus Security.
Q: If I move, will I have to pay again to put a security system in my new house?
A: If you've already enjoyed Columbus Security services for at least two years, Columbus Security will provide you with a $100.00 discount on the installation of a system in your new home.
Q: Can I extend my warranty?
A: Yes. Columbus Security offers a special Extended Limited Warranty Agreement which will cover the repair or replacement costs of the equipment for just a few dollars each month. To get the service plan for your alarm system, call 706 327-5625.
Q: I have call waiting on my phone line. Can that affect my service?
A: No. The alarm system is designed to seize your phone line in order to call the monitoring station. It will then release the line in order for the customer monitoring station to notify you that an alarm signal was received.
Q: How do I change the people listed on my call list?
A: Just call Columbus Security at 706 327-5625, fax it or email the information to alarms.columbussecurity.com with your changes. Include your password or pass code in order to make your changes. Make sure to tell everyone on your call list what to do in case they receive a call from the monitoring station.
Q: What if my system isn't working right?
A: Columbus Security will be happy to investigate any problems you're having with your equipment. Just call 706 327-5625 for any service-related issues.
Q: If there is a problem, can you turn my system off from the office?
A: No. Your system is an independent unit and can only be turned off at your control touchpad.
Q: My alarm went off accidentally, but I quickly put in the code and shut it off. I expected a call from the monitoring station, but no one called. Why not?
A: The system allows a brief period for you to turn off your system before an alarm signal is sent to the monitoring station. This gives you enough time to cancel the signal and prevent a false alarm.
Q: What happens when I press the panic or fire alarm buttons on the touchpad?
A: If you hold down the panic or fire alarm buttons on the touchpad for 3 to 5 seconds, an alarm is transmitted to the monitoring station, and emergency services are dispatched immediately. An alarm received in this manner cannot be canceled.
Q: If I lose electric power, will my alarm system still work?
A: Yes. In case of a power loss, the back-up battery will activate to maintain your alarm protection for several hours. In the event your battery is low, a low-battery signal will be sent to your Customer Monitoring Center so you can be notified.
Q: If I have an emergency, should I call Columbus Security first?
A: No. If you have an emergency, call 911 first. If you are unable to call 911, then depress the panic or fire alarm button on your touchpad, and the monitoring station will request emergency services.
Q: Am I responsible for testing my system regularly?
A: Yes. It is your responsibility to make sure that your system is in good working order. Columbus Security regularly initiates a communications performance test. It's easy to test your system; just refer to your owner handbook. If you find that a part of your system is not working properly, call Columbus Security at 706-327-5625 to request repair service.
Q: Will VOIP work with my security system?
A: The answer to this and other important VoIP/Digital Phone questions can be found HERE.
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CCTV - Frequently Asked Questions
Q: How do I choose the correct camera for my application?
A: This in general is a comparatively difficult decision. Many aspects of the installation must be taken into consideration in order to obtain the correct performance that meets your requirements.
A high resolution camera should be considered where greater detail of scene is required. E.g. Color 460 TVL, Monochrome 570 TVL. Choosing a more sensitive camera will improve reproduction in poorly lit areas. The sensitivity of a camera is indicated by the minimum amount of light in order for the camera to produce a usable picture. e.g. Color 1.0 Lux at F1.2.
A conventional camera produces a pale backdrop when an object is shot against a bright background. BLC (Back Light Compensation) will counter strong light sources retaining picture quality.
Concentrated light sources directed towards the camera (e.g. car head lamps) can be inverted by an optional peak white inverter or an eclipser function. This has the effect of bringing detail to areas and making an object clear, that would otherwise be shadowed.
Q: How do I set up a camera and lens for use in Low Light conditions and or with Infra Red Lighting?
A: When setting the back focus of a Color camera for low light conditions you should place an ND1 (Neutral Density) filter in front of the lens. When setting the back focus of a Mono camera for low light conditions you should place an ND3 (Neutral Density) filter in front of the lens. When setting the back focus of a Mono camera fitted with I/R lighting for low light conditions you should place an IRP (Infra- Red Pass) filter in front of the lens.
Should you not have any of the above filters you may have to attend site during the hours of darkness.
Q: I have installed a new camera and lens why am I unable to obtain a sharp image?
A: The most common resolve to this is to ensure that both camera and lens are the same mount i.e. ‘CS’ mount lens on a ‘CS’ mount camera and a ‘C’ mount lens on a ‘C’ camera.
Q . What are OSD cameras?
A: OSD (On Screen Display) cameras have a menu system within the camera assembly that can be accessed in order to set functions such as Iris levels, AGC on/off and most features of standard and advanced cameras.
Q: Why do I have a clear sharp picture during the day and it is out of focus at night?
A: This is due to the depth of field changing as the light conditions change and can be easily overcome by following set procedures.
Q: When can I use a manual iris lens?
A: A general rule of thumb is only to use a MI lens in an internal application. This is because you are reliant on the electronic circuitry of the camera compensating for light changes in the scene and this is not able to compensate to the same degree as that of an Auto Iris lens.
Q: How do I back focus a camera fitted with a fixed focal length lens?
A: This is achieved by following five simple steps.
• Set the physical focus of the lens to infinity (clockwise from the front).
• Aim the camera at the subject to be viewed.
• Release the camera back focus mechanism.
• Adjust the back focus to obtain the best possible picture.
• Secure the cameras back focus mechanism.
Q: Can I fit a 1/3" Lens to a 1/2" camera?
A: The simple answer is NO.
Q: How do I connect an Auto Iris lens to a camera?
A: This is usually performed by a simple plug-in connection to the rear or side of the camera. However you should always refer to the relevant camera handbook.
Q: What is the difference between Auto Iris and Direct Drive Lenses?
A: An Auto Iris lens is one that automatically adjusts its iris for changes in the scene lighting levels. The motor that opens and closes the iris is driven by an Amplifier that processes a small electronic signal changing with the light level.
A Direct Drive 'DD' lens does not have this Amplifier and can only operate with a camera fitted with one.
A camera specification will indicate the available output options.
Q: Does the ‘f’ stop matter when choosing a lens?
A: Yes, lenses are usually specified as having a minimum and maximum ‘f’ stop rating; the ‘f’ stop is a measure of how efficiently the lens allows light from the scene, to pass through the lens and onto the camera CCD sensor. The maximum aperture (when the lens is fully open), is the minimum ‘f’ stop number and the minimum aperture, (just before the lens completely closes) is the maximum ‘f’ stop number.
A low minimum ‘f’ stop number means that the lens can pass more light through during dark conditions, which will produce better pictures at night.
A high maximum ‘f’ stop number may be necessary where there is a high level of light or reflection. This will prevent the camera ‘whiting out’.
How do I Back Focus a camera fitted with a ZOOM Lens?
This can be achieved by following these steps.
• 1. Set the lens to full wide angle view.
• 2. Set the physical focus of the lens to infinity (clockwise viewed from the front).
• 3. Aim the camera at an object at least 30 Metres away.
• 4. Release the camera back focus mechanism.
• 5. Adjust the back focus to obtain optimum clarity.
• 6. Zoom the lens in to full telephoto and focus on a nearby object.
• 7. Keep this object in view as you slowly zoom out and if all is set correctly it should remain in focus (track).
• 8. Secure the back focus mechanism.
Q: How do I set up an Auto Iris lens?
A: An Auto Iris lens has two ‘pots’ on the side commonly marked ALC (Automatic level control) and LEVEL.
The ALC control has settings of PEAK and AVERAGE (P+A).
The LEVEL control has HIGH and LOW settings ‘H+L’.
The adjustment allows control over any bright areas in the scene e.g. sun reflection through windows, street lighting etc. There are two settings PEAK and AVERAGE.
If set to PEAK, bright areas in the scene are taken into account more, reducing the contrast in the surrounding area. This allows more detail to be seen in the bright areas.
If set to AVERAGE the lens takes the bright areas less into account which usually causes over brightness or flare in these areas, but raising the contrast of the surrounding area.
The only correct way to set the VIDEO LEVEL is by the use of an oscilloscope, for most Engineers this is not an option.
A more practical method is to use a service test monitor and a camera that you know has been set up correctly to 1 volt peak to peak.
Put the video output from this tested camera into the test monitor and adjust the contrast and brightness until you are satisfied with the picture. Mark the contrast and brightness controls so that you can set them to this position again.
Set up each camera adjusting the ALC (as above) then adjusting the LEVEL to obtain a picture similar to that achieved with the test camera. (Making sure that your test monitor is set to your marked positions)
NB: On most zoom lenses the ALC adjustment is a speed control for the Iris motor and is best left in the mid position. The Amplifiers on Auto Iris lenses are sensitive; so adjust the LEVEL and ALC with a proper trimming tool instead of an ordinary screwdriver, which can induce small voltages.
Q: What size monitor should I be using?
A: The correct size monitor is dependent on its use e.g. the number of images to be displayed at any given time, the viewing distance and the available space.
Q: What is Video Termination?
A: This is the end of line resistance of any CCTV system and this should be set to 75 ohm. Should you encounter any double image or ghosting this is more often than not caused by two pieces of equipment in series both having the 75-ohm switch set on. Only the last piece of equipment should be set at 75-ohm.
Q: What camera housing should I use and at what IP Rating?
A: Camera housings come in various shapes and sizes. With regard to the correct IP rating protection, this will range from dust and water ingress. This system is governed by a number of European and British standards.
• Protected against dust - limited ingress.
• Protection against low pressure jets of water from all directions – limited ingress permitted.
• Protection against dust - no ingress.
• Protection against low pressure jets of water from all directions – limited ingress permitted
• Protection against high pressure water from all directions - limited ingress permitted.
Q: What is the difference between simplex and duplex multiplexers?
A: Video multiplexers are designed to allow recording of several cameras onto one recorder.
A simplex machine is best suited to applications where recording only is the priority. Simplex machines cannot display multi screen images (i.e. quad, 9 way and 16 way split) while in the record mode.
If an operator is monitoring the system (i.e. security guard) then a duplex machine is more suitable. A duplex machine can provide screen splits and user selectable images without affecting what is recorded onto the recorder. Should you use two recorders, it becomes possible to record and playback simultaneously.
Q: What is the difference between Standard VHS and SVHS recordings?
A: In general the main difference apart from cost is the increase in overall resolution. A standard VHS machine may achieve in the region of 300 TVL (mono) whereas S-VHS machines may achieve in the region of 400 TVL. However this being achieved will depend on the correct ancillary equipment being used.
Q: Which pan and tilt unit should I use?
A: The choice is wide and varied dependent on the system requirements. You may require Top mount, Side mount, 230V AC or 24V DC to name just a few.
• Pro: Can fit two IR lamps on the side of the Pan/Tilt. These act as a counter balance enabling you to use a lighter duty Pan/Tilt head.
• Pro: Compact size.
• Con: Restricted tilt often -45 to 0 dependent on the housing fitted.
• Con: Cannot be inverted.
• Pro: Can be inverted.
• Pro: Often cheaper.
• Pro: Large tilt often +or- 180
• Con: Difficult to mount IR lamps.
• Con: Generally large size.
Q: What type of illumination can I use with color cameras?
A: Only lighting within the visible wavelength should be used with color cameras. Tungsten Halogen is often the recommended source of lighting.
Can I use I/R Lamps with color cameras?
The answer to this is a definitive NO. Color cameras are typically fitted with an IR cut filter and will not allow IR light in excess of 700Nm to pass resulting in the camera performing poorly in these circumstances.
Q: What is an ISDN Telephone Line?
A: An ISDN (Integrated Services Digital Network) Line is a digital system allowing a camera to be updated at a rate of 15 frames a second.
Q: What is a PSTN Telephone Line?
A: A PSTN (Public Switched Telephone Network) Line is an analogue network allowing a camera image to be updated every few seconds and is therefore slower than that of an ISDN network.
Q: What is an ADSL Line?
A: Also known as Broadband, an ADSL (Asymmetric Digital Subscriber Loop) line is a form of Digital Subscriber Line in which the bandwidth available for downstream connection is significantly larger than for upstream. Although designed to minimise the effect of crosstalk between the upstream and downstream channels this setup is well suited for web browsing and client-server applications as well as for some emerging applications such as video on demand.
Q: What is a Leased Line?
A: Leased Line, sometimes known as Kilostream, Megastream or Private wire. This is NOT a dial up line but is connected 24hrs a day and is usually subject to an installation charge and a quarterly bill.
Q: What is full picture update?
A: Full picture update is a technology that enables a transmission system to update a high quality full picture refresh at very fast speeds.
Do I have to use a Regulated Power Supply?
In general the answer is yes. Most manufacturers will recommend the use of such power supplies as standard with their equipment. You should always consult the manufacturers specifications prior to the connection of any power supply.
Q: What is the maximum distance I can run 12vdc when powering a camera?
A: This is a commonly asked question and there is no simple answer. Some manufacturers may recommend that their cameras can be run over (X) distance with (Y) cable. This however should still be considered as a general guide. Cable conductor size and installation route must also be taken into consideration. If you are unsure, we would recommend that you contact Technical Support for guidance.
Q: What is the difference between RG59 and URM70 Coax?
A: In general there is little difference. However RG59 is a hard drawn conductor and is best suited to fixed camera installations. URM70 has a multi stranded centre conductor and is more suited to installations such as PTZ cameras.
Q: What is a ground loop?
A: An AC current that can be produced in a cable. This is usually caused by parts of the system being fed from different electrical sources resulting in different earth potentials at each end. The result is interference on the signal, usually in the form of dark bands across the monitor and on occasion tearing in the top third of the image.
Q: How can I eliminate ground loop faults?
A: This can be achieved in a number of ways, the easiest of which is the installation of a Ground Loop Isolation Transformer. This is best installed at the monitor or recording end of the system.
Q: What is the correct level for a video picture?
A: The correct level is 1 volt peak to peak. This can only be accurately set either with an oscilloscope or with a video level meter.
Q: How often should I replace my video tapes?
A: In general it is recommended that all video tapes should be replaced after a period, no greater than 20 passes of each tape. That being 10 record and 10 play back. This will also be dependent on the quality of tape being used and that the recording equipment is in good operational condition.
Q: Manual or Auto Iris Lens?
A: The iris is the part of the lens that determines how much light falls upon the camera CCD sensor.
The Manual Iris 'MI' lens has this fixed at the time of installation. As the light levels change in the scene, the lens can do nothing to prevent either too little or too much light entering the camera. Virtually all cameras employ an Automatic Electronic Shutter 'AES' to compensate for these variations when fitted with an MI lens. However they are only able to cope with a relatively small change in light levels.
An MI lens should never be used in an external situation, as the camera will be unable to cope with large changes in light levels. Use an Auto Iris ‘AI’ lens in this case, or indeed anywhere where large scene illumination changes take place.
The advent of new sensor technology such as PIXIM may result in a change to this situation in the future.
Q: How often should I replace my IR Lamp Bulb?
A: Installers and end users are often disappointed by the life they get from Halogen bulbs.
Manufactures quote life expectancy figures as 'Mean Time'. They are not a guarantee of the bulb life. This simply means that on average after a number of hours quoted by the manufacturer HALF OF THE BULBS WILL HAVE FAILED. If the 'Mean Time' of 4,000 hours is quoted, half the bulbs will fail within that 4,000 hour period (5.5months).
Matters appear worse during the period of October to March, obviously because of the longer hours of darkness. During this period, lamps may be on as much as 16 hours each day. A simple calculation may be used in order to provide adequate maintenance on these systems.
If you have 5 external cameras each with 2 lamps that gives us a total daily lamp usage of:
10x16hr = 160 hours per day.
If the lamp has a mean life expectancy of 4,000 hours, this means that you can expect a bulb to fail every:
4,000/160 = 25 days.
You should make sufficient provision for this within a maintenance contract.
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