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  • Security systems design software?

    I'm wondering what the pros use to design a system from scratch.
    No doubt only the huge national installing firms would be able to have on staff, the dedicated CAD experts et al, but how do the smaller companies cope with this component of providing security systems?

    Lets assume that one is supplied with a floor-plan and requested to submit drawings as part of the bidding process in a new construction or retrofit job, is it the norm for this work to be outsourced (probably a cost-prohibitive option) or do the installers/techs generally throw together something themselves?

    I've sought this information elsewhere to no avail. Several of the industries experts couldn't be bothered to respond to e-mails.
    One would have thought they would view addressing this humble question as aiding in advancing the state of the industry.
    But this student is not daunted. There are too many bright programmers and enterprising software vendors out there for a vacuum to exist in this regard. Although what I have in mind may be a bit far-fetched; I'm thinking of how a novice can put a design together with simple tools (minus the CAD learning curve) and perhaps transfer such drawing as an overlay on a copy of the floor-plan.
    Hmmmm.... I did mention it may be far-fetched.

    In a few words, how do the folks produce a visual preview?

    Looking forward to any kind thoughts on these questions.

    God Bless!

    Ian_agn.

  • #2
    Try looking into products such as Microsoft Visio (CAD / Layout), and open source tools such as Dia (Circuit Design / CAD / Whatever else). These days, most programs that do layout and org chart building are also capable of acting as full blown CAD programs. Visio is an excellent example of such, as you can go from creating an organizational chart one moment, to adding overlays to a floor plan (to scale), to free drawing vehicle graphics, to figuring out where your kitchen table can go in the mockup of your apartment.

    The issue, of course, is that you need industry standard diagramming symbols for electronic security systems, so that the General Contractor, Electrician, and others can make sense of your pretty Visio drawings.
    Some Kind of Commando Leader

    "Every time I see another crazy Florida post, I'm glad I don't work there." ~ Minneapolis Security on Florida Security Law

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    • #3
      I don't really do it the way you described. Mine method is a bit more "ghetto" for want of a better term.

      For instance, my company just opened two new buildings in Chicago. I did not have blueprints available, so I used AutoCAD to make a Q&D drawing of each building. Once I had what I needed, I drew sticks for the fixed cameras and circles for the dome (PTZ) cameras. Then I just added in the name and model numbers in the specs. Our installer knew what I was looking for.

      Some of the companies may have drawings all made up, ready to import into the program of your choice. You would have to check the equipment manufacturer's site to see if they have some available.

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      • #4
        Ian,

        It really depends on the scope and size of the project. For small projects, under $100,000.00 lets say that is mostly CCTV, there really is no need to make the process that convoluted. The important thing to get right are camera locations, cable raceways and head end configuration.

        As stated, Visio works well. There is usually not much money on these projects for much design work so it is much ad-hoc.

        For large projects, and especially government projects, an A&E firm will get the design to about 80-90% and we finish it out with as-builts. We either get them stamped by our PE or have them re-submitted to the A&E to get stamped.

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        • #5
          Appreciate your kind responses, folks.
          Three different takes on the matter and there is merit in each.
          I read a review on the Visio and it looks promising but as N.A pointed out, one would still need a 'plug-in' of industry specific diagramming symbols.

          Frankly Crinsol, I never considered cost as a factor with regard to small installations but you are right! Trouble is the contractor (who helps me out by recommendation) is asking for something, small job or not.

          Truth be told I know my forte and drawings, to put it delicately, aren?t my strong point.
          But I haven't given up. I?m willing to grapple with the fundamentals if pointed in the right direction.

          Regards,

          Ian_agn.

          Comment


          • #6
            2 Cents

            Not sure if you got your answer, but here's my 2 cents ~~
            Usually on anything other than a non-permitted remodel, someone has prints, whether they are electronic or paper. For existing buildings, or smaller office spaces, sometimes they have evacuation sketches/floor plans on the wall in picture frames or prints in a back closet somewhere gathering dust. If they are electronic, usually they are in AutoCad so get voloview express or it's successor a FREE download from the AutoCad site which has an annotation feature; you probably have to create some kind of symbol to denote the devices and put a legend. If the prints are paper based, see if you can borrow them overnight and take them to Kinko for copies or scanning - not free but cheap. The other option is see if you can get an 11X17 version and make copies of it as spares. You can download free a program called Efax (sign up for free Efax number (20 inbound faxes free a month) and use that to mark up the sketch NTS (not to scale) and either print it to a .pdf (free with ads from someone out there) or save it as a .tif file to be printed or emailed. If all of the above fails, get multi-colored dots from your office supply, set up the coding system, and mark the print that way. Give it back to the architect/engineer and let them draft it as part of their documents - make sure you review their rendition carefully, because like all of us they are understaffed and overworked and on impossible deadlines. Then make sure it makes it through the revision process to the bidders. If the building/job is large enough, request as builts to be part of the drafting requirement of the architectect/engineer and responsibility of the contractor to provide to the architect/engineer.

            Originally posted by Ian_agn
            I'm wondering what the pros use to design a system from scratch.
            No doubt only the huge national installing firms would be able to have on staff, the dedicated CAD experts et al, but how do the smaller companies cope with this component of providing security systems?

            Lets assume that one is supplied with a floor-plan and requested to submit drawings as part of the bidding process in a new construction or retrofit job, is it the norm for this work to be outsourced (probably a cost-prohibitive option) or do the installers/techs generally throw together something themselves?

            I've sought this information elsewhere to no avail. Several of the industries experts couldn't be bothered to respond to e-mails.
            One would have thought they would view addressing this humble question as aiding in advancing the state of the industry.
            But this student is not daunted. There are too many bright programmers and enterprising software vendors out there for a vacuum to exist in this regard. Although what I have in mind may be a bit far-fetched; I'm thinking of how a novice can put a design together with simple tools (minus the CAD learning curve) and perhaps transfer such drawing as an overlay on a copy of the floor-plan.
            Hmmmm.... I did mention it may be far-fetched.

            In a few words, how do the folks produce a visual preview?

            Looking forward to any kind thoughts on these questions.

            God Bless!

            Ian_agn.

            Comment

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