Communicating from a Distance: Fire Alarm Upload/Download

Fire-Lite Alarms offers the capability to transfer data to and from most of its fire alarm control panels for convenient setup or troubleshooting. Typical applications include downloading configuration data to a panel for a new installation, and uploading data from an existing panel to view status, buffer history or capture existing panel configuration files.Honeywell

There are a few different ways to connect to a Fire-Lite panel for local programming as described below:

  • Local connection to the Fire Alarm panel using a serial communications port or a USB port
  • Remote connectivity to the Fire Alarm panel’s DACT over phone lines
  • Remote connectivity to the Fire Alarm panel over IP when using the IPDACT and the Teldat Visor Alarm Receiver

How To
When performing an upload or download to a fire alarm panel, Fire-Lite’s PS-Tools programming software automatically configures a computer’s serial or USB port settings so it can communicate to the fire panel. If a serial communication interface is required to make a connection to the panel and the installer has a laptop that is not equipped with a serial port, Fire-Lite tech support can provide a list of compatible serial-to-USB converters that can be used. Once the connection is made, the installer can begin communicating with the panel to start the programming or troubleshooting process as needed.

Having the capability to check the system status of a panel and read the buffer history remotely can help make troubleshooting faster and allow an installer to bring the right tools or equipment to the job. When connecting to a fire panel from an off-site location over phone lines, Fire-Lite’s Upload/Download software kit  (PK-CD) is required along with a computer running Windows® XP or greater. Fire-Lite Alarms specifically recommends using the US Robotics 56K USB Modem, Model Number USR5637 to successfully dial into the fire alarm panel and perform an upload or download as needed. Typical upload or download speeds vary based on baud rates and the type of fire alarm control panel that an installer is connecting to.

Connectivity Over IP

In addition to having the capability for remote upload/download over phone lines, Fire-Lite Alarms also offers connectivity over IP when using the IPDACT and Teldat’s VisorAlarm Plus receiver. A typical configuration for utilizing this feature is a local computer running PS-Tools that is connected to the serial ports of a VisorAlarm Plus receiver. The serial ports (VA-UD) on the receiver will emulate a modem that is being connected to the local computer and will allow the PS-Tools configuration software to capture data remotely through the IPDACT from the fire alarm control panel. This configuration helps provide the same remote connectivity to a fire alarm panel, but instead utilizes the internet to move data between the panel and the computer with the PS-Tools software.

One thing to keep in mind is that most codes require an Installer to be on site if there are any changes to the fire-alarm system programming. Be sure to check with your local AHJ to make sure that those requirements are met.

In a world that is becoming more connected, there are a few different options for transferring data to and from your fire panel locally or remotely. Deciding which technology to use is the first step in utilizing Fire-Lite’s advanced Upload/Download capabilities to help reduce installation and service time on a job.


About the Author:
Ken Gentile is a Product Manager for Fire-Lite Alarms and Honeywell Power. Using his more than 15 years of marketing and engineering experience, Ken’s primary focus lies in the development of new products.


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