March 2009 Tech Talk Online Q & A

Q: I find myself constantly having to screw in alarm devices at an awkward angle and trying to juggle the screw getting in correctly. Is there a special driver bit or other tip to make my install life easier?

A: A couple of things here. You can take a moment and magnitize your drill bits and screw drivers. Simply take an old heavy duty door contact magnet you have laying around and stroke it is one direction against the driver shaft many times. This should make the screwdriver shaft magnetic. You can also get a magnetizer from hardware stores or places like Labor Saving Devices that will make the job easier. Another tip is to make sure you have an awl with a sharp point to make a quick starter hole for driving screws in wood and soft metal. 

Q: I often have customers complain when I test there alarm system and the siren goes off all the time. Any suggestions on how I can test the system without bugging my customer too much? 

A: The first thought would be to just disconnect the siren lead, but this would not be testing the entire system, including the local audible on all alarms (is the hold-up silent?) One suggestion is to have use a 12 volt sonalert device for testing. This will give you a tone to test the output on all zones and not blast the customer out of their home. If you service the account on a regular basis you can install a simple SPDT switch and then you will not have to remove the leads every time you test the system. I have actually modified an old pair of walkie-talkies to send the sonalert tone over a longer distance when testing a system.

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