CENTURION Mini Product Catalogue

Friday 30 December 2011

The ghost of gate motors past...

As the year draws to a close and with Yule tide still fresh in our memories, we thought it might be fun to take a look at how home automation has evolved over the past few years.

Gate automation was born out of necessity.  The public at large were starting to become increasingly more security-conscious as stories of break-ins and house robberies haunted the media, walls grew taller and guard dogs grew larger and more ferocious.  A universal cry was uttered for some technological means of safeguarding ourselves against crime while at the same time relieving us of some of the burdens associated with suburban living. 

The very first gate motors – the great granddaddies of home automation, as it were – were mostly AC-driven behemoths that used limit switches for position control.  Although they undeniably filled a gap and tentatively lulled us into a sense of security, they often proved unreliable as power failures would cause them to stop working (remember, they were powered by the mains) and micro switches frequently failed.

The realisation that gate motors needed autonomy in the event of a power failure led to the advent of the now-familiar concept of battery backup being developed.  This crucial feature – one which CENTURION helped pioneer in South Africa – is today a staple of gate automation and one which helped keep homes secure even when the load shedding of recent years threatened to plunge us all back into the Dark Ages (pun definitely intended). 

With power failure protection taken care of, there was still the issue of accurate and reliable position control.  As we mentioned earlier, micro switches frequently malfunctioned back in those early days, and this meant that gates would either be sent hurtling into the endstops like runaway trains or the motor would stop working altogether.  This led to another bold step being taken, and the Digital Origin Seeking System, or DOSS, being developed.  This novel system allows the operator to “sense” the position of the gate by making use of an optical counter to count the number of pulses in each direction.  Many of you will be familiar with the gate-mounted origin magnet; this essentially acts as a point of reference for the motor, hence the name “origin magnet”.

Our very own D5 sliding gate motor – a tried, trusted and beloved stalwart of home automation – not only boasts battery backup and reliable position sensing, but has undergone a complete transformation in recent years.  The CP80 controller has been replaced with an intelligent LCD interface that makes setup and diagnostics exceptionally easy, and space-age features such as Intruder-detection Alarms and onboard timer functionality come standard with the aptly-titled D5-Evo.  When it comes to gate automation, this model is evolution at its most visible.

Of course, evolution does not only apply to sliding gate motors.  Try as we might, who can forget the days of garage door motors with clunking chains that sounded more like the ghost of Jacob Marley slowly dragging himself along to confront the miserly Ebenezer Scrooge?  Fortunately, operators now exist that are fast, reliable and whisper-quiet.  There will be no more imagining yourself in a Charles Dickens tale every time the garage door is opened.

Gate automation has become an integral part of our lives, and we trust in it as much as we do in our loyal guard dogs.  It offers convenience and peace of mind, and we are confident that it will keep evolving to suit our changing needs.

Thursday 22 December 2011

CENTURION revolutionises house-sitting

With the festive season in full swing, many of us will be trading our offices and cubicles for the seaside, our laptops for fishing rods and our suits and ties for shorts and slops.  We’ve slaved away for 12 long months and now it’s finally time to go spend that well-deserved Christmas bonus.
But what happens to your house while you’re away?  There’s nothing worse than having a 1000 kilometres of highway behind you and then suddenly realising you’ve forgotten to arm the alarm or switch off the geyser.  It’s a sinking feeling, and one that most people are all too familiar with.  On top of that, there is always the worry that someone may somehow gain access to your property by some devilish means or other.

Fortunately, past experiences, though sometimes unpleasant, often drive innovation – and what can possibly be more innovative than being able to monitor the goings-on at home even when you’re half a world away?  Rest easy, weary traveller, for CENTURION provides the solutions you seek.

Some time ago, we introduced the G-SWITCH-22, a GSM module with two inputs and two outputs for monitoring and controlling various electrical devices.   While many probably opt to use this novel little device for opening their gates at home – which, let’s be honest, is a great feature – the G-SWITCH can also be interfaced with common household appliances such as fridges and geysers, affording the user great peace of mind and convenience.  With the wind in your hair and the smell of the ocean in your nostrils, you need only give the G-SWITCH a missed call or send it a text message for it to take care of that one crucial thing that slipped your mind.  And the best part, perhaps, is that it’s a two-way relationship.  Your G-SWITCH can be set up so that it notifies you via text message when your gate is activated, the power trips, the alarm is set off, etc.  Whatever happens on the home front, you will be in the know.
But let’s not forget the all-important security factor.  What ways are there of safeguarding your property and preventing unauthorised access?  Well, you’ll be glad to know that CENTURION operators come standard with a unique Holiday Lockout feature that allows you to electronically lock your gate automation system and bar any remote controls other than the one that invoked the lockout, from activating the gate motor.  This means that, should a particularly crafty criminal somehow devise a way of circumventing the security measures already in place and learn his own transmitter into the system, he would still have no way of using it on your gate since only your remote will be able to disable the lockout.  If you don’t trust yourself to remember to enable the feature before you embark on your journey, you can always wire up your G-SWITCH to the lockout input and enable it from wherever you are, using your mobile phone.

So now, with everything taken care of back home, all that’s left for you to do is to kick back and soak up the sun.      

Friday 16 December 2011

Sticking it to messy cables

In a perfect world cell phones would make us coffee, our cars would run on water, and everything would be wireless.  But in reality we still have to drag ourselves out of bed, shuffle into our slippers and go make our own coffee - and very often we are faced with an ugly snarl of cabling staring at us like Medusa’s head.  With security and convenience being the buzzwords of our modern age, not only have our walls become higher, but our collective outlook has become increasingly more techno centric.  And with technology comes wires.  Lots and lots of wires.
Whether you are an installer of gate automation equipment, alarm systems or you fit electric fences, chances are good that you frequently need to join cables.  It is not enough to simply have a working system, you need to make it aesthetically pleasing and, above all else, safe.

Of course, cable joints have been on the market since the need for them first arose with the advent of technology as we know it today.  But the most popular among them usually require the mixing and curing of chemicals and resins, which is oftentimes a daunting task since the majority of us last attended science class in high school and we weren’t very fond of it back then either!  Jokes aside, chemical joints can be unreliable in that they can leak or cure improperly, rendering them useless.  They also take long to cure which is a waste of valuable time and, by extension, money.
So, if the use of chemical joints is moot, what is an installer to do?  There is insulation tape, of course, but its reliability is equally as debatable – the first October downpour would make it soggy and cause it to lose its adhesive properties.       

That’s where GELJOINTs come in.  This revolutionary cable joint takes all the hassle – not to mention the unsightly mess that usually ensues – out of any job requiring extensive wiring to be done.  The unique gel compound, together with a completely waterproof plastic enclosure, forms a protective layer around the cables, efficiently safeguarding against the ingress of dirt and water.   It is quick and simple to install, can handle up to a 1000V, and can accommodate two and three core cables which makes it the perfect choice for mains.  By simply inserting the cables needing to be joined into the connector provided, clipping the two halves of the waterproof enclosure over it and tightening the hexagonal nuts on either side, you will have a joint that is not only protected against the elements, but looks good, too!
In an age sadly marked by crime, many gate automation installers have found themselves faced with the rather unpleasant task of repairing and extending the short bits of broken cable left in the wake of a stolen gate motor.  GELJOINTs will turn even that most daunting of jobs into a hassle-free and, dare we say, pleasurable experience. 

GELJOINTs boast an abundance of additional benefits, including:
·         No mixing or curing is necessary - they can be put to use instantly

·         They are extremely well-priced

·         GELJOINTs are robust and cannot be easily pulled apart – improved security

·         The gel compound does not dry out if left outside – suitable for outdoor installations

·         They boast a heat tolerance of up to ninety degrees Celsius

·         They are rust-resistant - a great benefit for installations in coastal areas

·         GELJOINTs do not have a limited shelf life so they can be used months and even years after purchase!

With such an impressive range of features and benefits – not to mention the vast array of possible applications – the name GELJOINT is bound to “stick” with you.

GELJOINTs are available at CENTURION and leading security distributors.

Tuesday 13 December 2011

Add that extra level of security to your entrance!

In an increasingly security-conscious world, many home-owners choose to secure their automated gates with chains and padlocks at night for fear that intruders will pry the gates open using crowbars or by some equally nefarious means. This often has the unwanted side-effect of users forgetting about the padlock and consequently trying to activate the gate while the lock is still in place, causing consideraable damage.  Enter the ARMADA electric gate lock.

Gate automation is the final bastion when it comes to keeping criminals out of your property and safeguarding you and your family.  But how secure is your automated gate really?  Modern criminals will stop at nothing to get to your valuables, they have become smarter and more resourceful and a truly failsafe system is needed to ward them off.
The word “Armada” means armed.  It conjures up images of the proud and nearly indestructible Spanish naval fleet and it has always been associated with the military, with dedicated task forces, with defence.  But without the mettle to back them up these words are just that, words.  That is why the ARMADA gate lock, constructed from tough Grade 304 stainless steel and capable of withstanding up to 750kg of applied force – making it much stronger than the more traditional magnetic locks - is all the security your automated gate will ever need.  It has become all too easy for intruders to pry open both sliding and swing gates using crowbars or other instruments, and equally easy for them to simply lift your gate off the rail or bend the rack straight.   This has left many home- and business owners resorting to bulky padlocks and chains to secure their gates at night; a method that is not only unsightly and in most cases unreliable, it can also cause severe damage to  your gate motor if it is inadvertently left on and the motor activated. 

The ARMADA’s design allows for it to be incorporated into your existing swing or sliding gate, it is completely inconspicuous and as dependable as gravity!  The slam lock action means that the lock engages the moment your gate is closed, and all it takes to release it is a short pulse from your existing remote control.  Besides the amazing security and peace of mind offered by the lock, it offers a host of other features and benefits:
  • It only draws current when activated, which means there are no expensive electricity bills
  • The lock is supplied with  a key operated, failsafe manual override incorporating in case of a power failure
  • Fitting the ARMADA to sliding gates eliminates the need for anti-lift brackets
  • Stainless steel construction - ideal for coastal regions
  • Not reliant on automation – also suited for manually operated gates
  • No additional interfaces or relays necessary
  • Unlocks just before the gate is opened and re-locks when the gate closes
  • Bolt action ensures secure locking of double leaf or single leaf, swing gate systems
  • High-volume capability, so it is ideal for both residential and commercial, as either new or retrofit installations
  • Low-force lock engagement ensures reliable operation even at the tip of a wide gate
  • Models available for swing gates and sliding gates in both left hand and right hand configurations
  • 12V DC operation with optional power failure protection
  • Instant security as lock automatically engages when gate is closed
  • Optional mounting box for easy installation onto gate frame
Installers used to be wary about installing any sort of solenoid lock because of their rather dubious reputation for burning out when exposed to a long pulse, but they can now rest easy knowing that the ARMADA comes with a current limiting interface already installed. 

Armada Electric Gate Locks are available from CenturionSystems and leading security distributors.

Wednesday 7 December 2011

Introducing the D10 Turbo!

We recently released our fastest gate motor yet, the D10 Turbo.  Have a read of the below article to see how turbo-charging your gate could potentially benefit you.

The need for speed.  The inherent desire - the craving - we feel for all things fast.  We look on with white-knuckled excitement as Formula One cars tear along the track at breakneck velocity, we install miles of fibre optic cable to enhance the speed of our internet connections, and the Gautrain bears testimony to our inborn yearning to be the fastest things in the universe.  Even Science is not exempt from this yearning, with countless years and funding going towards study and research that will hopefully one day allow us to achieve that most elusive of all speeds – the speed of light.

The CENTURION D10 Turbo sliding gate operator is one device that will definitely satisfy this need, while at the same time bringing maximum security and convenience to your home or business.  We’ve all heard of opportunistic hijackers and other criminals hiding in the bushes, just waiting for the homeowner to drive up to the gate so they can make their move.  We become sitting ducks for these evildoers.  Now imagine if your gate could open at 50 meters per minute and close at the same blistering speed the moment that your safety beams have been cleared, leaving the would-be intruder pondering what went wrong while you are safe and sound inside your property.  Unless the attacker is a comic book superhero (and perhaps even then), chances are he will be left in the dust by this turbo-charged operator.

But why stop at speed?  It’ll do no good beating around the proverbial bush when it comes to the safety of you and your loved ones.  That is why CENTURION has introduced two world-first innovations, namely the Break-in Alarm and Ambush Alarm facilities, both of which bring hi-tech intruder detection to the home front.  Interfacing your infrared safety beams with an external alarm or buzzer allows you to be notified via an audio output the moment the beam lenses are obscured or stop working.  What does that mean to the average home or business owner?  Well, it means that you’ll know when someone is loitering outside your gate or when a criminal covers your beams (the MO of many a would-be burglar or carjacker) with the intent of gaining access to your property.
You can also expect Herculean endurance from the D10 Turbo.  That mythological hero was given twelve tasks to complete, but the very real D10 Turbo can handle up to 750 – every single day!  This mean feat is made possible by twin 7Ah batteries, which allow the operator to pack a powerful 24V DC punch.  Just some of the other features contained within the D10 Turbo’s intelligent controller are adjustable ramp-up and ramp-down distances, adjustable crawl speed, an automatic closing facility, and innovative world-first timing technology.

So if it’s Extreme Speed, Extreme Reliability, and Extreme I.Q. that you’re after, rest easy in the knowledge that the D10 Turbo takes all of these things in its (turbo-charged) stride.

Tuesday 6 December 2011

Accurately testing a gate motor battery

Yesterday, we offered some tips and guidelines for dealing with false collisions and poor intercom speech quality, and today we'll be focussing on one of the more prevalent fault conditions, namely the battery low condition.

Simply measuring a battery’s voltage under static conditions is generally not sufficient to determine whether the battery is truly flat.  It is more effective, and considerably more accurate, to measure the voltage while the battery is under load, the load in this case being a gate, garage door or boom pole.  This short guide will assist the user in accurately diagnosing a flat gate motor battery.

Required tools

·         AVO meter or volt meter

·         Terminal screwdriver

·         It is useful to have an extra pair of hands standing by to assist with the testing


·         Disconnect the two motor wires from the controller (PC board).  The motor wires are generally rather thick and black and blue in colour, though they can be any colour.  The terminals on the controller where the motor wires are connected will be marked ‘MOTOR’ or ‘MTR

·         Switch off the mains supply or unplug the charger from the controller.  In CENTURION gate motors, the charger is normally situated directly opposite the battery and may be black or greyish-green in colour.  The reason for eliminating the “charging voltage” is so that the voltage you read from the battery is not biased

·         Engage your gate motor

·         Now connect the motor wires straight onto the battery terminals.  It doesn't really matter which colour wire you connect to which battery terminal, as the polarity of the motor wires simply determine the motor direction.

·         Unless the battery is completely depleted, the gate should start to move the instant you connect touch the motor wires to the terminals.  Don’t be startled – this is what it’s meant to do!

·         This is where the extra pair of hands comes in.  Ask your assistant to measure the voltage across the battery terminals while the gate is moving, i.e. while you are holding the motor wires to the terminals

·         The battery voltage should at no stage drop below 11V DC under load.  If it does, it is safe to say that your battery needs replacement

·         A rule of thumb when dealing with a faulty battery is to also check the charging voltage.  To do this, reconnect the charger or switch the mains back on, but now disconnect the battery (thick black and red) wires from the controller.  Measure across the two terminals on the controller where the battery would normally be connected.  For a 12V motor, this voltage should be approximately 14V DC, and approximately 27V DC for a 24V motor

“Welcome to the world of...futuristic gate automation!”

Long gone are the days of gate motors serving a singular purpose:  that of opening and closing your entrance gate.  Mammoth strides have been made in the fields of gate automation and access control, with automation equipment being tailor-made to suit a plethora of applications, and offering the user hitherto unknown functionality.

“Welcome to the world of tomorrow”.  This is an oft-quoted phrase in science fiction movies and literature.  It conjures up images of hover cars and teleportation devices, cities in the sky and Artificial Intelligence – sentient devices that answer to our every beck and call.
Is it then such a great stretch of the imagination to say that we have already arrived there, in this proposed “world of tomorrow”?  With the space-age innovation that CENTURION has brought to the world of gate automation and access control, it doesn’t seem to be a stretch at all!  CENTURION strives to boldly go where no gate automation company has gone before, to paraphrase another sci-fi staple.

There has been a lot of talk of the so-called “Digital Age” of late, and we have incorporated the philosophy of a digitised – yet personal – approach to security and convenience into our range of gate automation and access control equipment.  Nowhere is this more evident than in our D-Series operators – revolutionary gate operators that make use of an intelligent controller complete with LCD display for easy setup and diagnostics.  The features inherent in the D-Series operators would be quite at home in any number of futuristic settings; especially the ChronoGuard timer functionality which allows the user to set auto-activations right through the year as well as time-barring inputs and outputs for greater security.  The Ambush Alarm and Break-in Alarm also enable the user to turn their infrared safety beams into hi-tech intruder detection devices.
Of course, the D-Series operators aren’t the only innovations that set CENTURION apart from other gate automation companies – far from it!  Only recently we launched the G-SWITCH-22, a GSM-based module designed with those seeking the ultimate in security and control in mind.  Mere years ago no-one would have imagined that it would be possible to monitor and control a gate from halfway across the world, but the G-SWITCH-22 has made this a reality.  By simply initiating a missed call from your mobile phone you will be able to control up to two different electrical devices.  Our fast-paced lifestyles dictate that we also be able to monitor certain appliances remotely and again this almost unimaginable convenience is made possible by the G-SWITCH-22’s dual inputs. 

Apart from safety, it really is convenience that we as human beings living in the 21st Century are after.  We demand ease of installation and ease of use.  CENTURION has once again stepped to the forefront of innovation with the recent launch of the SMARTGUARDair completely wireless access control keypad.  The SMARTGUARDair works in much the same way as a remote control transmitter, with the added benefit of being able to activate 15 different channels, and is powered by two AA alkaline batteries.  From the moment that the keypad is powered up to when it is completely set up and ready to use should take no more than a minute or two, which will without a doubt prove invaluable in an age where time has taken on a certain monetary value.

Other products available from Centurion Systems include intercoms, proximity tag readers, traffic barriersand traffic barrier accessories.       

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 home 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!

Monday 5 December 2011

When gate motors collide...

Faultfinding a recalcitrant gate motor can be a frustrating and time consuming process, and it is often unclear exactly what one should be looking for.  Our latest blog post aims to assist the individual user in accurately diagnosing, preventing and rectifying a false collision condition.

So you’ve finally decided you’ve had enough of getting out of your car in torrential downpours, sleet and snow to open your gate, and your medical aid is refusing to pay for another visit to the chiropractor brought on by pushing half a ton of steel up and down.  You’ve had a gate motor installed and you’re already revelling in the wondrous sensation of dry clothing and an unstrained back when suddenly...

Oh no!  You’re trying to close your gate behind you but the thing just moves half a meter, stops and reverses like it’s performing some strange mechanical dance.  It repeats this bizarre jig three or four times before coming to an abrupt halt in the open position, leaving your driveway a gaping maw, unguarded and unsafe.  There is a sinking feeling in your belly as you re-add both the drycleaner and chiropractor to your speed dial.  Your gate motor has encountered the dreaded false collision and it’s the end of life as you know it, or is it?
Fortunately CENTURION is here to help you prevent these frustrating and incapacitating false collisions from occurring and ensure that you enjoy many hassle-free years from your gate motor.

First off, a visit from Captain Obvious.  Right off the bat you need to make sure that your gate motor has been properly installed according to spec and that all relevant site considerations have been taken into account.  These considerations include things like the weight of the gate, the force needed to set the gate in motion, whether the gate is installed on an incline, etc.  A good way to check the pull force – which really is key when selecting a gate operator – is to use a fish scale to pull the gate, then reading the value off and comparing it to the specifications given in the motor’s documentation.  An installer should always leave all relevant documentation such as user’s guides and installation manuals, with the end-user.
Okay, so we’re satisfied that the installation is indeed a good one.  Now what?

Well, now we can start looking at the possible causes of the false collision circuitry activating.  The most arbitrary of things such as stones blown onto the rail, a missing tooth in the rack or an uneven piece of welding, can all cause this condition.  Captain Obvious makes his appearance again and tells us the best way to check for the aforementioned hindrances is to actually open and close the gate by hand a number of times and seeing whether it sticks or jams at any point.  Ensure that the rail is clear of stones and debris, that the rack is not pressing down on the pinion (the toothed gear that moves the gate along its travel), that there are no bad rack joints or missing teeth and that the rail is completely even. 
In addition to this, many gate operators have adjustable sensitivity settings which can be adjusted to a lower level so as not to give false collision readings.  Keep in mind, though, that the collision circuitry is there for a reason and if you have kids or pets it is always advisable to have the operator as sensitive as possible.

Ensuring that your gate has a smooth road to travel on is the first step towards a lifetime of good service from your motor, and may just save you going to the angry chiropractor with hands fashioned from granite!

Sunday 4 December 2011

Do your remote controls provide you with the security that they should?

Today, we'll be looking at a rather contentious issue that's been garnering a lot of media attention lately, so-called "signal jamming" by criminals.

A recent article that appeared in an Mpumalanga newspaper and various emails that have been doing the rounds have been causing quite a stir.

The article detailed how some remote controls may interfere with vehicle remote controls, which arm the car’s alarm and opens and closes the central locking systems. It is claimed that these remotes are responsible for jamming the vehicle’s remote control frequencies, thereby making it easy for thieves to help themselves to the contents of a car once an unsuspecting driver walks away. The car owner presses his remote control to lock his car, assuming his car is locked and the alarm is armed. Only to return to find all of his possessions left safely in his ‘locked’ car missing.

There has also been a fair amount of finger-pointing at particular brands of remote controls as being the culprits. There is also a huge amount of misinformation and confusion surrounding this issue, so CENTURION decided to clarify the misconceptions and help you understand how these incidents may have occurred, and what to do to ensure that it never happens to you.

Let’s start by delving into the technology that resides inside high-security remote controls. Any modern high-security remote control should have rolling-code technology. Essentially, this means that every time that you press the button on your remote control it changes it’s code (or identity) and the receiver in the car, gate motor, etc. that it usually talks to, correspondingly rolls its code to stay in synchronisation.
This means that your rolling-code remote control for your car or access automation system cannot be copied or cloned – providing you with great peace of mind.

However, the vast majority of vehicle manufacturers, and other manufacturers of remote controls such as gate and garage automation, produce remote controls that operate on a frequency of 433MHz issued by ICASA, the regulator for the South African communications sector. This results in this frequency being very busy with many, many remote controls utilising this airspace.

Typically what can happen is if two remote controls operating on the same frequency are activated simultaneously and within range of each other, the signals that they are transmitting can interfere with one another. The result could mean that the receiver doesn’t recognise the ‘strange’ interfered-with signal from its know transmitter remote control. What happens? Nothing – the receiver simply doesn’t react. This is fine if you’re trying to open your gate – your home is still secure, and you just press your remote again and your gate opens.

Now you can imagine that in the instance of locking your car you would want to know that your car really is locked when you press your remote control. If a car owner in your vicinity presses their remote at the exact same instant as you, or for some reason is holding their remote button down,
for example to automatically open all of their car windows before getting in to let all of the hot air out (nice feature!), then this will certainly interfere with your car’s remote control signal.

This doesn’t have to be another vehicle remote control; it could be any type of remote control operating on the same 433MHz frequency that can cause interference.

This is why most cars will give a visual and/or audible verification on receiving a remote control signal. Typically the indicators will flash, or the car will beep, once for locked and twice for unlocked.

The bottom line is that any remote control from any manufacturer is vulnerable to being jammed, or having its signal interfered with. Thieves may try to take advantage of this by flooding an area with remote control signals in the hope that you might simply walk away from your car without actually checking that it did lock and arm.

So please safeguard yourself and look for the telltale flashing indicators, or listen for the confirmation beep, which will reassure you that your car is locked and your goods are safe.

For further information or advice concerning remote control security please feel free to call any CENTURION branch or our customer service line on 0860 236 887.

Friday 2 December 2011

Improving remote control range

Okay, let's kick things off by taking a look at one of the most common complaints in the world of gate automation, remote control range.

Remote control range is a lot like the shock absorbers on our cars.  When our shocks go bad, we adjust our style of driving and handling to accommodate the sudden bumpiness of the ride.  Similarly, when we have to drive right up to our gate or garage to get it to open, we oftentimes simply learn to “live with it”. 

But did you know that there are ways of improving the range of your remote receiver? 

But first, let’s look at the technology that makes opening your gate remotely possible.  The device you are holding in your hand right now – what we commonly refer to as the remote control – is actually a “transmitter”, meaning that it transmits a signal that will be picked up on the side of your gate operator by the “receiver”.  Now, the receiver is really the integral part of the whole setup, since this little electronic device is what essentially tells your gate to open.  When you program a new remote into your receiver’s memory, you are giving the receiver a very specific set of instructions.  With rolling code receivers (such as the CENTURION NOVA range), the receiver needs to receive a whole set of codes before it will send a “trigger” signal to the gate controller, making it the more secure option by far. 

The technology behind it all is called RF, or “radio frequency”.  The receiver connected to your gate motor will have an antenna to pick up on the RF transmitted by the remote, and uses a basic circuit called a resonator to tune out all other frequencies not associated with it.  In South Africa, the frequency most commonly used for radio communication is 433 MHz.

Okay, now that we’ve briefly discussed the technology, let’s take a closer look at what we can do to improve the current range on your remote receiver.

RF can, generally, be propagated through walls and other structures but will have a very tough time going through steel structures.  Therefore, it is always advisable to mount the receiver in a spot not obscured by any steel objects.  Remember, much like a cell phone, the receiver relies on its antenna – and more specifically the antenna’s “affective aperture” or “capture area” - to pick up any transmitted signals, and for that reason many installers choose to mount receivers high up on walls or polls (preferably not ones containing too much steel!).  It is not necessary to mount the receiver especially close to the motor it is meant to operate, as long as the wires connecting it to the controller are of a sufficient thickness to compensate for any voltage drops.  Interestingly, studies conducted by CENTURION’s own engineers have conclusively proven that manually extending the antennas or using range extenders, do not improve, and in some cases actually worsen, the range.  Nevertheless, the orientation of the antenna is of the utmost importance as far as range is concerned.

Moisture in the ground can be a major factor in poor receiver range.  When it has rained, and the ground has become saturated, the range may suffer as a result, especially if the receiver has been mounted close to the ground.  This is due to the radio waves being reflected from the surface of the earth.

One thing that most remote users don’t realise is that the signal sent out by their hand transmitters is comparatively tiny, and can easily be swamped by interfering signals from other equipment.  Transmissions from devices such as DSTV remote extenders, wireless credit card machines and cell phone towers can all potentially overpower the signals from standard handheld remote controls.  Unfortunately, the only way to accurately determine whether that is indeed what is causing your range issues, is by using sophisticated radio wave detection equipment, of which a spectrometer is a prime example.

But, while we’re busy hunting for all sorts of high-tech culprits, the underlying problem may very well be much more mundane.  For instance, when last did you change your transmitter’s batteries?  Some remotes, such as the NOVA range, have a clear indication when the batteries start to run low.  On NOVAs, the green LED on the transmitter’s front panel will flash rapidly when the battery is flat and, on the SupaNOVA and SupaSMART complex receivers, three dots will appear on the 7-segment display.
So, in conclusion, don’t be satisfied with poor remote control range!  For more information on improving your range or on any other CENTURION products, please feel free to contact our Technical Support Team on 0861 1003 123 (Sharecall).

A word of welcome

Hi there

This is a platform where we will discuss everything you ever wanted to know about gate motors, home automation and security in general but was afraid to ask.  Or maybe you just didn’t know who to ask? 
Everything, from current trends in automation and perimeter security to new products being introduced to tips and tricks for getting the most out of your gate motor, will be discussed here, on the official Centurion Systems blog.

We’ve taken the wealth of knowledge gained from our dedicated technical support team and, armed with this, we intend making this the definitive source of information for anything related to gate automation and access control. 

Even if you don’t have a gate motor, chances are you have a recalcitrant intercom at home or a garage door that just doesn't want to cooperate – whatever the case may be, be sure to check in here for the latest news and guidelines.  After all, the sole intent of automating a gate is to make life easier for you, and it is in keeping with this ethos that this blog was created.

We like to think that we need no introduction, but for those unfamiliar with Centurion Systems, allow us to tell you a little bit about ourselves.

Centurion Systems is a leading South African manufacturer of gate automation and access control equipment.  We offer our clients, in over 50 countries worldwide, unparalleled service, and a wide range of award-winning products for domestic, light industrial and industrial automation applications.
These include:

·         Swing gate motors

·         Sliding gate motors

·         Intercom systems

·         Traffic barriers

·         Inductive loop detectors

·         Garage door motors

·         Proximity card readers

·         GSM modules

·         Keypad access control.

Over the past 25 years, CENTURION has established itself as The Automatic Choice in access automation. Our ethos of “continuous improvement” is at the heart of our company, we are committed to bringing our valued clients products that offer unmatched physical security and convenience and service to match.
Also, don’t forget to leave your comments, suggestions and queries in the comments section.