Signal Boosting? And a Few Other Questions.

(1) Two-Way Communication (with the Monitoring Station) has always seemed to me an essential feature, one of several ways the 2GIG panel seems to outperform the ‘Napco Gemini’ hard-wired/landline system that was set up in our home 8 years ago, and with the Napco it has probably been over 6 years since we let our Monitoring Station contract lapse (though impressively, 8 years later and without maintenance, all of the hard-wired motion sensors appear fully functional). We’re very much interested in the 2GIG, so just to confirm: In the event that a burglar has someone captive when the Monitoring Station personnel comes online and asks for feedback, there is a designated ‘fake’ password that the personnel are trained to treat as a tacit plea for help, correct? Or perhaps the personnel ask for a password, and if the real password is not spoken (i.e., silence or some fake password), the police would be alerted?

(2) Is it possible to add your Signal Booster to an initial order, prior to the installation/testing phase? Are there any other types of upgrades out there, perhaps a alternate antenna for the Verzion/2GIG Control Panel?

(3) Do you have any experience with the Verizon/Samsung Network Extender (SCS-2U01) – compared/combined with your own Signal Booster – for 2GIG Panels that use the Verizon communicator? Can one actually use both your Signal Booster and the Samsung Extender, at the same time? Would that be beneficial, do you think? Or perhaps with either the [Verizon Communicator + Extender] or [Verizon Communicator + Extender + Booster] option, would there instead be a greater chance of problematic dropping/switching/etc. compated to [Verizon Communicator only], given there will often be 3 Verizon mobile phones active in the house as well? Are there precautions we can take to prevent such problems (e.g., place Booster and/or Extender in same room as router/modem and 2GIG Panel, place them all in an upstairs room, etc.)? Would you guess that the Samsung Network Extender for Business (the SCS-2U3100 - two of these units can supposedly be linked for seamless hand-off) be a better option for this reason (or for any other reason)? [Comparison / Some Remarks]

(4) In short, what do you think would be the best/most reliable configuration (a) for a residence rated as ‘Verizon: Full Coverage’, but (b) where there are definite dead spots, © the signal is rated 2/5 bars or less everywhere in the house, and (d) we have been thinking of getting the Extender anyway, to improve call quality/stability.

(5) For a residence without pets, with a stable interior temperature, and where images are not needed (already have non-alarm.com cloud-based storage of motion-activated snapshots), are the motion detectors functionally about the same? Is the reduction of false alarms entirely due to pet-immunity, or is there some other way that the 5898 (or the IMAGE1) is functionally better than (for example) the PIR1-345?

(6) Perhaps I’m missing something very obvious, but I’m not sure I see the separate store page for the optional/sold separately “extra door sensor” that is mentioned in the description of the “MyQ Garage” Controller.

Thanks for making the Blog/Forum such a helpful resource!

(1) You can optionally have a duress word. If we come on 2-way voice and you give us the duress word then the operator will act like you gave the correct password and disconnect, but they’ll dispatch the police and report it as a hostage/duress situation. If you just give the wrong password, or no password at all, then we’ll tell you it’s the wrong password and give you a chance to try again before dispatching the police. So in a hostage situation you should use your duress word.

(2) Not at the moment. None of our DIYers have ever used an active cell phone antenna amplifier. We’ve only used them for full service customers where we did the installation. I won’t be able to look into that until the installation office opens on Monday. There are a couple additional passive antennae available as well. One is similar to the default antenna that comes with the cell module but it has a 10ft long cable so you can run it up the wall into the attic to hopefully get a better signal. The other antenna actually mounts on top of the 2GIG panel but it’s bigger and often works better than the default antenna. The active cell booster is not cheap, it’s in the hundreds of dollars. The passive antennae are much lower cost in the $20-$40 range.

(3) I personally have no experience with the Verizon/Samsung Network Extender. I doubt that it would work because in the setup instructions it says “Place your Verizon Wireless phone within 15 feet of the Network Extender to register your phone. Dial #48 to confirm registration and set up completion.” You wouldn’t be able to dial #48 on the Alarm.com communicator. I’ll ask around to see if anyone has direct experience with this. You wouldn’t want to use both Verizon’s extender/repeater and our amplifier at the same time anyway, I don’t think that would add any benefit.

(4) I think the best option would be to try it without the expensive booster first and add the booster afterward if necessary. 2 bars is probably enough for normal operation but it’s not enough for reliable 2-way voice. We recommend 4 bars for reliable 2-way voice. You’re right, even if it says “Verizon: Full Coverage” that’s not a guarantee, it’s more of a guideline. There can be pockets in that coverage area that don’t have great service.

(5) The images sensor (2GIG-IMAGE1) isn’t any better than the 2GIG-PIR1-345 at simply detecting motion. The Honeywell 5898 is definitely better a avoiding false alarms but if you don’t have pets, you keep cobwebs away from the motion detector and you don’t mount it pointing at a heating vent then the 2GIG-PIR1-345 should be good enough. People use the 2GIG-PIR1-345 far more often than the 5898.

(6) The extra door sensor for the MyQ Garage hasn’t been added to the DIY store yet but it’s on the TODO list and it will be there soon.

Here’s the MyQ Garage extra door sensor.

Thanks for your help with this!

(2) For $20-40, I wouldn’t mind picking up at least the bigger passive antenna (to compare with the default one during installation), though as you advise, it would definitely make sense to wait and see what happens during installation, before picking up the active booster.

(3) I just set up the SCS-2U01 here at home, and it looks like the above-mentioned portion of the setup instructions may have been a bit misleading: once the Extender was set up (status lights are all solid blue), I found that I did not need to dial #48 on a phone, in order for it to connect to the Extender: “Users can verify that they are on the Verizon Wireless Network Extender network by dialing #48 (and receiving an audio announcement). You will also hear a short double tone on your wireless phone when making or receiving a call while on the Network Extender network.” Link / Link /

#48 just gives a verbal verification that your phone is within range and connected to the Extender: After setting up the Extender & before making any calls, as I walked up to the Extender for the first time (i.e., reduced my distance from the Extender, from 25 feet to 5 feet, with a Verizon phone in hand), a new icon suddenly appeared on the phone, next to the Signal Strength Indicator (1st verification of connection to the Extender). I then placed a regular call, heard the ‘short double tone’ (2nd verification), then hung up & dialed #48, then got the verbal ‘audio announcement’ (3rd verification). Not sure if the ‘within 15 feet to register’ step is a one-time process or not.

Just in case, perhaps it would be best to locate the the 2GIG Panel within 15 feet of the Extender; that is, if it turns out (as I am hoping) that the 2GIG Verizon Communicator is in fact able to connect to the Extender in the same way that Verizon phones do. One disappointment so far is that, contrary to what I was told in the store, one does not see confirmation of the Signal Strength improvement in terms of an higher number of bars: the phones all still show 2 bars out of 5. There is a new icon that is displayed next to the Signal Strength bars, indicating/confirming that the phone is connected to the Extender, but the number of Signal Strength bars remains the same.

One other thing I’m wondering about is the possibility of giving the 2GIG Panel ‘priority access’ to the Extender: “Your device is set to Open Access by default, allowing six devices to connect to the Network Extender without restrictions. Designate Verizon Wireless callers to receive priority access to the Network Extender network. By setting your network up in My Verizon for managed access you can designate as many as 50 Verizon Wireless numbers.” Does the Verzion Communicator in the 2GIG Panel have a telephone number that is associated within it? If so, it is probably possible to give the Panel priority access.

(4) Good to know, and hopefully we’ll get a chance to test the 2-way voice during the course of the installation. Planning to go ahead with my 2GIG order soon.

(6) And thanks for the link to the additional Garage Sensor!

(7) A technician from my Cable ISP will be coming tomorrow, and I am thinking of rewiring/relocating the Modem/Router (and thus also the Network Extender, which must remain connected to the router) to the master bedroom, which we understand is usually the best location for the 2GIG Main Panel.

I think the last 10 digits of the ADC Number are a phone number. The ADC number is the serial number we use to connect to your system. On the older 2G modules the last 10 digits were actually an 800 phone number but with the Verizon 3G modules that 10 digit number begins with 951.

If you’re going to use an actively powered booster or repeater make sure you power it using an UPS in case the power goes out. Years ago I accidentally installed one without an UPS and when the customer’s power went out they never received a notification because the power outage turned off the antenna amplifier.

Just a thought, placing the panel in bedroom may cause an issue with your sleep habits if light bothers you when trying to sleep. There is currently no way to disable the LEDs on the front of the panel for the Emergency and Home buttons. I don’t personally think they’re a huge problem, but I know people that have had trouble with it after installing the panel in their bedroom.

(1) I will try giving the 2GIG Panel ‘priority access’ to the Network Extender, and will hook up the modem/router/Extender to a UPS. I have enough UPS units to back up the 2GIG Panel & TS1’s as well.

(2) Level 2 technical support at Verizon revised the statement of the in-store rep: ‘Signal Strength’ indicators on the newest Samsung devices actually only display 4G signal strength, if a ‘residual’ 4G signal is detected. Technical support indicated this is the case for all 4G phones; but actually, I found that the latest Motorola 4G phone does correctly display ‘1x’ (CDMA - EV-DO Rev. A) signal strength, when you go into the settings/status page; it is also more accurate (updates more frequently) than an old 3G phone I activated (for testing purposes).

(3) On both the Motorola 4G phone and the old 3G phone: A signal of -75 dBm or above is rated as 5/5 bars, between -76 dBm and -85dBm is rated as 4/5 bars, and -86 dBm or below is rated as 3/5 bars (or less). Placing the phone next to the Network Extender’s antenna gets the signal up to -36 dBM.

(4) The modem/router/extender are in a room where we get 5/5 bars (up to -36 dBm); in the location I had in mind for the 2GIG Panel (within 5 feet, through one wall), it seems to fluctuate in the range of -60 dBm (still 5 bars). At some point before installation, I will have to turn off the extender and see if it still gets a decent signal in this location (in the event that the internet goes down). If the signal is really bad without the Network Extender, I may have to move the internet connection once again, to try to make sure that signal strength is maximized, both with and without an active Network Extender.

(5) Does the secondary TS1 panel have two-way voice? If not, does it have a listen-only mode?

(6) So to ensure the two-way voice in the master bedroom is as reliable as possible, may have to (a) move the modem/router again, this time directly into the master bedroom (so that I can get up to -36dBm with the Network Extender; really should’ve done this when the Cable technician was here the other day), (b) settle for just the TS1 in the master bedroom, © settle for two-way voice in the adjacent room only, (d) experiment with the passive antenna that can be placed in the attic, or (e) experiment with the active signal booster. If the internet were to go down (taking the Network Extender with it), I’m guessing only the active signal booster would be able to pick up enough slack to enable two-way voice (changing the location of the Panel alone, would likely not be enough, for my location); but I’ve not yet measured what the exact signal strength is in the bedroom, when the Network Extender is disconnected.

(7) Thanks for the tip about the LED’s: the wall I have in mind is pretty far away from the bed and is facing another direction, but something I’ll have to keep in mind.

2GIG’s TS1, the secondary screen, does not have two-way voice or the listen only capability.

I see, thanks for the quick feedback. A few other questions occurred to me just now: Does the current version of the 2GIG Main Control Panel have built-in POTS line support? (If not, is it compatible with the 2GIG POTS add-on module?) By default, would the POTS line be a back-up to the cellular connection, or would it be primary? Is this an adjustable setting: assigning the POTS line to be the primary/secondary means of communication with the Central Station? And if there is indeed POTS line support in the version of the 2GIG Panel that is currently available at SuretyDIY (either built-in or through an add-on module), is it compatible with VOIP telphone systems like Vonage/Ooma/OBiTALK?

The cntrl1 (cp1) has built in pots, the cntl2 (cp2) doesn’t, but you can add the POTS module (runs about $20). You can tell which panel you have by looking at the emergency button…if it has symbols you have a cp2, and will need the module, if it says ‘emergency’ its a cp1 and built in.

POTS is unreliable in VOIP, and you can use cellular with POTS backup

My understanding is you can’t do cellular primary with POTS backup, you can only do POTS primary with cellular backup. So we recommend not even bothering with POTS because it just slows down sending the signal a great deal when it’s primary. I could be wrong though.

2GIG is releasing a WIFI bridge very soon which should allow for dual path IP/cellular communication. They were showing it off last week at ISC West. I hope it works with Alarm.com.

Ahh, that may well be very true. I never used the POTS myself. Good to know.

I confirmed that the 2GIG WIFI bridge is fully compatible with Alarm.com and will both send alarm signals and send/receive interactive services commands so it will add a redundant communication path for reliability and the IP communication should decrease the latency of interactive commands. It’s a win-win. Looking forward to it’s release!

(1) I see, sounds like I’ll need to skip the POTS module for now, thanks for the feedback. And the Wifi Bridge definitely sounds like it would be helpful.

(2) On a tangentially related note: is there currently an unofficially compiled, tentative feature/compatibility list for the upcoming (late 2014?) GC3 Panel from 2GIG?

(3) I am thinking of going ahead and purchasing the current 2GIG-CNTRL-2 Panel, along with a bunch of Honeywell movement sensors and glass break sensors, the MyQ garage and tilt sensors and so on, so I’m wondering: is it likely that I will be able to still make use of all/most of this equipment, if I were to replace the CNTRL-2 with the GC3, once the GC3 becomes available at Surety in the near future?

(4) On the GC3, is there an unofficial/tenative plan for path redundancy & strengthened stability/reliability for folks in low 3G-signal areas? Perhaps Wifi/ethernet, perhaps multiple cell radios or carriers for reliable communication with CS, perhaps alternate/4G radios, perhaps ability to toggle (primary/secondary/tertiary) POTS/Wifi/ethernet/Cell-Radio-1/Cell-Radio-2? Do we yet know for sure if it will/won’t have any of these features?

(5) Have 2GIG commented on any possible exclusivity for this model? Hoping the panel will remain available to all dealers.

(2) Not that I know of. At this point it’s just hearsay and things may change before they launch the new panel.

(3) Yes the GC3 will work with existing 2GIG and Honeywell 5800 series sensors. The MyQ stuff doesn’t go through 2GIG anyway, it’s directly linked to Alarm.com.

(4) Dual path cellular and IP. I think the GC3 will have IP communication built in but if not, it will at least work with an external IP bridge module like they’re doing with the current Go!Control panel now.

(5) It is planned to be available to all, not exclusive to any dealer.

By the way I think I misspoke when talking about the WIFI bridge. The more I’ve heard about it I think it is just wired Ethernet bridged to the 2GIG 900MHz transceiver. I’m not sure yet whether it will also work with WIFI. It doesn’t really matter though since it’s communication with the 2GIG panel is wireless you can just install the Ethernet IP bridge right next to you router and plug it in.

These are now available.


http://suretydiy.com/product/alarm-com-cellular-signal-booster-kit