Fixing an Accenta/Optima Alarm Power Failure Troubleshooting

A long time ago our alarm box died and I thought it was time we diagnose an fix the issue.

DO NOT ATTEMPT TO COPY IF YOU DON’T KNOW WHAT YOU ARE DOING. CONTACT AN ELECTRICIAN OR ALARM INSTALLER.

We will be opening a delicate box with potentially live mains power and could cause damage to yourself or the panel.
Accenta Alarm Box with isolation switch above and LED light to the side.
Accenta Home Alarm Control Box (left)

As you can see, although our isolation switch is set to ‘ON’ the power light on the alarm box is not illuminated. This may be because,

  • The battery in the alarm has died.
  • A fuse in the alarm box has blown.
  • There is a fault with the incoming power to the alarm box.
  • There is a fault with the main board of the alarm box.

We know that there is no fault with the existing setup because the alarm used to work, so we can start to diagnose our four potential issues. I’ll also teach you how to reset your panel.

Opening the Panel

This step is the easiest but can be daunting for some. Remember, safety first. We will be dealing with a panel that may be receiving mains voltage.

Accenta / Optima alarm panel tamper switch

When we open the box, there is a small spring that pushes against the door, this little spring ensures that any burglars who attempt to open the panel, trigger the alarm. As our alarm is not working, nothing will happen but if the alarm does sound, then it may be a sign that your panel does not have a power issue, consider resetting your alarm. Unscrew the two front facing screws. Note that from here on out, experienced competent people should continue.

Accenta / Optima alarm control box with bottom section removed
Accenta / Optima alarm control box with bottom section removed

Now that we have taken the bottom section off completely, we need access to the top of the main board as well. There is a fuse we need to test in the top half of the alarm panel so we’re going to remove the top half as well, this bit is just as easy as the bottom half, but there is a speaker attached to the housing, we can remove the speaker by unscrewing the terminals or do what I did and simply let the top half dangle by its wires (lazy but effective).

Accenta / Optima alarm box completely opened exposing the components inside
Accenta / Optima alarm control box completely opened

Testing the External Power Supply to the Box

(If you are following along and have an Optima remote alarm panel, you may  need to find a box similar to mine, but it does not have any controls or lights - its also likely that your remote panel is not illuminated and the screen is off if it is a power issue.)
Power Light Not Illuminated

Firstly we need to test that the incoming power supply is working, this is where our AC Voltage tester comes in (fear not if you don’t have one but do have a voltmeter).

VoltAlert Wand

Using this wand we can see if there is power coming into the alarm. (If you don’t have one of these and are following along at home, you can set your voltmeter to AC or ṽ and place your black lead into the COM jack and red lead into the VOmA jack and when we open the alarm panel later put your test leads on the incoming supply chock block above the transformer, using the left brown and blue wire screws)

Place the wand near the incoming mains wire, if the wand sounds and flashes, congratulations. We have determined that the alarm panel is receiving power to its transformer.

VoltAlert want flashing and sounding with highligted testpoints for positive and negative terminals for voltmeter testing.

If there is no power, consider using a voltmeter as explained above to verify. If there is still definitely no power then a fuse may have blown in the isolation switch or the ring main RCD may have tripped, so consider diagnosing if they are the issue.

Testing the Alarm Battery

If you think that the Accenta / Optima alarm has stopped working due to a battery failure, we can test the battery by connecting test leads to the battery terminals on either side of the battery block or on the battery directly, you will need to turn off power to the alarm so that we don’t get the feed in voltage from the board. Do not put your voltmeter test leads in the red highlighted section. Make sure to set your voltmeter back to measuring DC voltage if you set it for AC earlier. Place your test leads on both screws on the green highlighted area.

Alarm Panel Power Block

If you don’t get a reading or a low reading (3V or less) then your alarm battery may have ran out because of power failure. If your battery reads ~12V then it is a good indicator that your alarm panel is faulty and will need to be replaced entirely, but I would suggest you check the fuses before doing so to verify.

Testing Fuses in the Accenta / Optima Alarm Box

If you have verified that the incoming power is working and your alarm battery is depleted then a fuse is a most likely cause of the alarm failing.

To test the fuses, you need to set your voltmeter to continuity mode and then test each side of the fuses contacts. Make sure the power is switched off before and during testing any fuses. If any are blown, replace like for like.

highlighted alarm panel shows red boxes highlighting fuse locations
Accenta / Optima alarm panel fuse locations

The fuses are as follows, from left to right; –

  • RKP or Remote Keypad
  • Internal Speaker
  • Bell / Strobe
  • Battery
  • Transformer

Resetting the Accenta / Optima Alarm Panel

To reset the alarm panel, remove power to the panel and short the SET output to the left PA input terminal. Then turn on the alarm and allow it to power up completely. After a few seconds, you can then switch off the alarm once again and remove the shorting wires. Make sure to replace any wires previously installed and then power up the unit again, the default 0123 code will now have been restored. Beware in doing this, you reset any zones, such as fire zones will have been reset.

Access Control in Daily IT Organisation Tasks

Many Businesses use IT to manage their accounts, documents and decision-making. It is, therefore important that Access Control be implemented in Organisations to prevent unwanted modification or prying eyes from being able to commit computer crimes, such as the ones outlined in the Computer Misuse Act. Using Access Control can prevent these people and operational staff from being able to modify information that otherwise is not their place to edit. Some common implementations of Access Control could be limiting the information available to a customer about Transaction Processing Systems or Management Information Systems not allowing Managers access to manufacturer prices.

Access Control in Strategic, Tactical and Operational Management

In order to implement these features a common method of maintaining strict control is through a permissions model, where it is outlined to the computer what permissions a login has access to, such that they are able (like a file system) to edit, read or write a file or piece of information. Here are some common examples of Access Control;

  • A Supermarket Employee is not able to alter the price of products.
  • A Manager is not able to create new users for a MIS (Management Information System).
  • A DSS (Decision Support System) is not able to commit to a higher level of privilege without presenting documentation proving that that decision is possible, a good example of this could be a bank requiring an account number to confirm that the account is active before allowing the employee to make changes or a support agent requiring a pin from a customer before being allowed to view the customers details.

Strategic Operational and Tactical in Access Control

The three levels of control is a common (but not de-facto) model for systems management, however often these levels of tasks can become obscured by other factors. These tasks can often be divided up among IT departments in formal organisations, such as ‘Ops’ and ‘Licencing’. The use of Access Control can be used to coordinate effective ICT teamwork on large projects and in other departments, such as accounting.

Using Hashlib to Securely store user passwords and credentials.

What is hashing?

Hashing a password means that users cannot have their passwords compromised when a database engineer is reading cleartext in user databases (to a degree, the passwords could be decoded, but hashing them makes them illegible to someone who is not doing anything extensive). And also prevents hackers from reading passwords in plain text and can be compromised by collision attacks.

Additionally when hashing a password a salt may be added to the password, this prevents a database from being attacked by dictionary attacks.

Why Hash Passwords?

Storing User credentials in Plain Text is generally as bad practice as it allows anyone who reads the file (or computer) to see the password, username or any other credential without any sort of protection, In some cases it is against the law, such as PCI SSC Data Security Standards which handles debit and other card types. The solution to this is to Obfuscation in the form of hashing. Hashing a password makes a standard password seem completely random.

How hashing works

When a user signs up for a website or any other form that requires secure credentials, such as a password, username, email address or address, that user will fill in a form that will ask these credentials, then the web server will both hash and store the hash, the server will ‘throw away’ the original password and keep the hash. In a more secure environment the user may also be given a salt, this may be unique to the user or unique to the application (The user will not know the salt, the salt is owned by the server and will be kept secret.). When hashing both the password and salt will be combined and hashed.

How to hash a string in Python

This tutorial uses Hashlib as its hashing encoder which uses the ever bug free OpenSSL…

First we need to import hashlib and encode the input, then finally we need to check for a match.

Adding Hosts to Godaddy

GoDaddy is a great Domain Registrar,  I have GoDaddy as my Domain Registrar.

When using domains and Subdomains you may want to have multiple websites on the same server, here is how to add hosts to your GoDaddy account.

 

First Browse to Godaddy and Login, It may be slightly different for you as I live in the UK.

First Click on My Account, then Visit My Account… You should see this page, Expand Domains.

Godaddy Main

On the domain you would like to Add a Host to, Click Launch. You should See this Page….

Godaddy Main 2

Please note some of my sensitive information has been removed…

To add a subdomain Click Host Names (Manage) In there click Add Hostname. The Hostname will be the Subdomain Name, The IP address will be the IP address of the web server(Or Application Server). Then Click Add.

Please note that it can take up to 48 Hours for a DNS Host to update through the Internet.

To Set the Domain Record, Click DNS Zone File, Click Add Record, Select A (Host), Enter the Host that will be the Domain or Subdomain, such as www (By Default this is already configured, so click edit rather than add record.) Then Click Points to, The IP address will be the IP address of the web server(Or Application Server), Then set The Time To Live (TTL), If you are unsure what to do, leave it as default. Then Click Add.

Please note that it can take up to 48 Hours for a DNS Host to update through the Internet.

 

You have now configured a new host!

 

If you want to add another, repeat the process.

How to Configure Apache to use Virtual Hosts

Using Apache is Good, but for one website is limiting its potential you can create multiple websites, domains and sub-domains with Apache, see below.

 

 

First you need to stop your server, you can do this on lunix by entering
[box type=”shadow”] $ sudo /etc/init.d/apache2 stop [/box]

into your terminal, this allows you to make changes to files in your server without breaking it, for windows you need to stop Apache using Xammp, see below.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Now Enable Mod_log_config browse here

[box type=”shadow”]xamppapacheconf[/box]

and in httpd.conf remove the # from this line

[box type=”shadow”]#LoadModule log_config_module modules/mod_log_config.so[/box]

to look like this

[box type=”shadow”]LoadModule log_config_module modules/mod_log_config.so[/box]

 

next using an FTP program or other method, go to your website’s root directory such as

[box type=”shadow”]/home/*/public_html/cgi-bin/[/box]

 

Or for windows

[box type=”shadow”]C:xampphtdocs[/box]

This is the base of your web server, and probably where your Index.html is located, create two folders, Domains and Subdomains, this is where your domains will be stored. See below

Domains, Subdomains

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In Domains, Place the dome of your website, replacing dots with hyphens like so

Domains, if

 

 

 

(Also add any other websites that you plan to host on the server)

Then copy the data that was in your root of the server into the domain folder on the server like this

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

then paste  into your domain folder like this

 

Paste

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

So your Server should now have the ‘root’ of the server in

[box type=”shadow”]WEBROOTDomainsinfinityflame-co-ukindex.html[/box]

or subsequent folders in Linux.

now you need to redirect traffic from your website to the correct folder, this is done with virtual Hosts’s, and is also how you add sub domains see below

browse to your Apache installation folder and go to httpd-vhosts.conf

[box type=”shadow”]apacheconfextrahttpd-vhosts.conf[/box]

 

and at the bottom add the following code replaceing my domain, with yours.

now test the website, start Apache and browse to your domain, you should see your site as you did before, you have now configured your website to use Virtual Hosts

now you need to add other domains and subdomains, See Here