Putting Texecom Premier (not Elite) alarms online

RoganDawes

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Apr 18, 2007
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Hi folks,

I know Texecom panels are fairly popular in ZA, so I thought I'd share what I have done, and what I am working on.

Like many of you, I am too cheap to pay thousands for the official Texecom ComIP or ComWiFi, when there really isn't a whole lot going on inside them. Instead, I have used a simple ESP32 devboard to bridge one or more serial ports onto my home network via WiFi, using ESPHome. The ESP32 has 3 hardware serial ports, which makes this all possible. All that is required is a level converter of some sort. I know that some folks just use a resistor divider for this, but I decided to use an Adafruit TXB0104 that I had lying around. Due to the flexiibility of the ESP32, you can remap the serial ports on to just about any pins you like, so actual wiring discussion is not really that important, although I can share my wiring if anyone is interested.

ESPHome doesn't have a built-in UART to TCP bridge, but there is a handy gist here (https://gist.github.com/oxan/4a1a36e12ebed13d31d7ed136b104959) that does 99% of it. All I needed to do was update the .h file to allow me to specify the listening port in the constructor, to allow me to have more than one stream server running at the same time.

Hooking this up to both serial ports on my Premier 832 panel allows me to run Wintex on one port, as well as using my phone or other application on the other port, simultaneously, which is something that the official products are not able to do (to my understanding!). That other application could also be some sort of home automation, of course, which would still not interfere with running Wintex.

Which brings me to the next part of the problem, actually integrating a Premier (not Elite) panel with various HA controllers.

The main problem seems to be that the Elite panels support protocols such as Connect and Crestron, which is what most HA integrations use. Those of us with the non-Elite panels are left out. However! The Wintex protocol (as opposed to the Wintex software which uses the Wintex protocol) is quite capable of sharing the same information as Connect or Crestron. The problem is that there is no public (or NDA-covered) documentation for the Wintex protocol. As a result, I have started trying to reverse engineer it, to the point that I am able to log in, identify the panel, use that to determine how many zones, partitions, users, etc the panel supports, enumerate the zones, partitions and users, and even read and set the LCD panel text.

I have yet to get dynamic zone status decoded, and am not yet able to arm and disarm the panel, but that should not take too much more effort, hopefully!

One possibility I am considering is to implement a Connect-Wintex protocol translator inside the ESP32, so that the panel would simply appear to support Connect, even though it is only a Premier. Alternatively, implementing all of the logic inside an ESPHome custom component is also a possibility, so that it appears to Home Assistant as a multi-sensor device, with switches to arm and disarm the panel.

Here is my current minimal ESPHome configuration that provides two listeners on the network. Let me know if anybody needs more information, or is interested in exploring the Wintex protocol option.
 

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shebeen

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Sep 7, 2010
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just a quick question, I'm also too cheap to pay thousands, but the olarm unit at just over a grand has done all the hardwork for you with texecom support (or has it).

why did you not consider going this route?
 

RoganDawes

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"olarm unit" ? Not following.

I have a Premier 832 which was installed in 2008, before online alarms were a thing. As mentioned, I am too cheap to just shell out for the ComIP, and to be honest, I quite like the technical challenge of figuring out an undocumented protocol. My hardware approach is already more functional than the ComIP in some ways, in that it provides access to two serial ports, and consequently allows concurrent clients, which the ComIP does not.

While Texecom does have documented protocols shared under NDA (which I disagree with to start with!), the Wintex protocol is not one of them. And the Wintex protocol seems to be the most full-featured of them all, as evidenced by the fact that Texecom's desktop alarm configuration management app uses what I have termed the "Wintex protocol" to actually set up and manage the panel.

So, reverse engineering the Wintex protocol will actually make thousands of panels accessible to Home Automation solutions, which were otherwise out in the cold.
 

mrfanman

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Jun 15, 2007
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After some research, I can came to the same conclusion. Except that I have only just started, and have a pi zero hooked up with ser2net running on it. I guess the ESP32 would be better since it is cheaper then I can move the PiZero somewere else in my home.

Did you have any luck with decoding the Zone status? I almost started doing the same until I came accross this post.

I would like to integrate it into OpenHAB though, but I think that could use the same interface.
 

RoganDawes

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I got diverted onto other projects, unfortunately, and made no progress on this one, I’m afraid.

The other good thing about the esp32 vs a Pi or other embedded Linux board is that there is just less to go wrong! Most Linux distributions have the SD card mounted RW all the time, and therefore run the risk of data corruption should the power fail unexpectedly. This is something that happened to me a couple of times. This is not possible with the ESP, unless you happen to be in the middle of an update when the lights go out!

I’m happy to collaborate with you on pushing this forward, if you would like? What panel do you have?

There is some preliminary code here if you are interested. https://github.com/RoganDawes/WintexProtocol

wrt OpenHAB, it should not be a problem to integrate this. ESPHome supports mqtt, so exposing the panel in that way is certainly possible.
 
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