PC-Based Home Security: Do It Yourself

Surely there must be more to home security than cameras, right? Fortunately, there is. Famous lock manufacturer Schlage, now owned by Ingersol Rand, went far beyond what anyone else had on the market and in 2010 released the Schlage LiNK home management system. The core element of LiNK is its $299 Deadbolt Starter Kit.


The Starter Kit is comprised of the main wireless keypad lock, a wireless controller (also called the bridge module), and a remote control light switch. Schlage also sent us a WCW100 wireless camera ($179) and a Trane Remote Energy Management Thermostat ($149). We’ll discuss these last two in a bit. We’re going to give a little more space than usual to LiNK since it’s fairly unique in the mainstream home security market, plus we hope that by helping increase awareness of the product’s inner workings, other vendors may be inspired to follow suit.

Now, truth be told, there are other somewhat related options. For example, there’s Home Automation, Inc. (HAI, www.homeautom.com), but most of HAI’s products deal with lighting control and integrating with an existing security system. To give you an idea of pricing, HAI’s app for letting mobile devices (preferably based on Windows Mobile—yes, that Windows Mobile) currently lists for $115. Pass. Hawking Technology (www.hawkingtech.com) makes a series of far more affordable cameras, sensors, and controllers for home automation, but the company never returned our several calls and emails for more information (always a bad sign). X10 (www.x10.com), perhaps one of the oldest and most prominent of the consumer home automation companies is still around and still selling really cheap gear from a Web site buried under pop-up ads, but ultimately we passed on X10 as well because our goal was to cover security options more than home automation, and Schlage has the best kit available today. Kwikset (www.kwikset.com) seems to be the only company around with a motorized lock, but Kwikset lacks the broader, PC-based implementation of Schlage. It merely has a few models enabled with ZigBee.

We hope to show you more about ZigBee later in the year. ZigBee is a wireless mesh networking protocol that is designed to work alongside powerline networking protocols. Most of the attention on this technology now revolves around “smart energy usage” in homes. The idea is that you’ll be able to monitor and control most any electronic device in your house. However, ZigBee is still gathering steam and isn’t really a mainstream play yet. So today, let’s look at LiNK and hope for more similar offerings from other vendors soon.

William Van Winkle is a freelance editor and tech journalist who has been writing for more than 20 years. His work has appeared on Tom's Guide, Tom's Hardware, Tom's IT Pro, AMD, Seagate, Computer Shopper, and more. He is also an author, writing poetry, short stories, and science fiction and fantasy books.

  • thegreathuntingdolphin

    Cool article. I have been looking into security cameras for the home, especially ones that are outdoor or pointed outdoor (some noobcakes have been hitting cars and driving off in my apartment complex). I am a bit dissapointed that most of these don't really seem good for outdoors or for long distance night recording (I know some of these said up to 20 to 30 feet but in my experience that means they are really only clear at 10-15 feet). Foscam has a number of cheap IP cameras with pan and tilt, are for outdoor use or longer night vision use. Do you have any experience with them?

    The Schlage system is looking good. Hopefully others will jump on the bandwagon and get more products out. I am glad the Schlage deadbolt is not motorized like the Kwikset one since it greatly improves the battery life. Whenever I get a house I am definitly going to do something like the LiNK system.

    I too am disappointed in the current IP-based offerings. The perfect IP-based camera seems illusive. Too many have half the features. Most the N wireless ones seems to lack really good night vision capabilities and the ones with good night vision capabilities usually are G only or have N are stupidly expensive.
  • Nice article!
    It’s interesting how IP cameras and emerging technology, such as Jabbakam.com enable average people to transform a home surveillance system into a shared camera network that can be accessed by whoever is invited by the camera owners, to view the footage via an online account accessible from anywhere at anytime.
    Jabbakam is a system where you have complete access to your footage, to manage and share as you want. You can easily create a network (public or private) and invite your friends or neighbours to join and add their cameras so that you all have access to the footage of the cameras as a group.
    You can set up alerts so that you will be notified by email or sms if your camera detects something happening in front of it, and you have peace of mind that your camera is doing its job and working, thanks to a monitoring system that checks your camera status every few minutes. The Jabbakam website offers users a lot more functionality besides. Check us out, and join us on Facebook.com/jabbakam and Twitter (@jabbakam). We’d love to hear from you!
  • It is still an annual subscription of $80 a year it is only very well hidden by Logitech (just try and buy it and you will figure it out).
    The hiding of subscription cost itself is terrible, but also that they sell you just part of a product is outragous. It makes me mad and takes some of the joy of owning such a cool (and expensive) product.
  • I'll never buy a product that requires a subscription or is dependent on another site or "the cloud". Excellent article, except for the WPS thing.. WTH is that?