A rather simple premise: the Simplex 4100u (and probably the 4100ES; I dunno) is an awesome panel and I want one. But I know there would be no shortage of obstacles in the way of programming it and getting it running, including…
Getting the software
Running the software (dongles and whatnot)
Gaining access to the panel (passwords and whatnot)
I’m pretty confident that I could (legally, of course) acquire a panel and learn how to program it. (It is, in fact, the extensive capabilities of the system that draw me to it, especially the apparently-very-customizable voice / message playback features. I want to turn my fake voice evacuation system into a real, self-contained, fully-supervised one, and the AFP-200 is just not up to the task.) So assuming that I have those in the bag, would it still be a trail of endless frustration?
The 4100U is a very complex system. Even if you got the basic unit you’d still need cards such as zone, NAC, and SLC cards in order to actually make a working system. Finding the cards you would need to do voice evac would be a very difficult task to do, and expect to pay a lot of money per card…
The AFP-200 can do a lot more than you think, FYI. However it was intended to be a basic addressable system for small buildings. You can hook up a standalone voice panel but you will not get any customization with tone and message playing.
If you really want to try doing a real digital voice evacuation system, I’d recommend you try looking for a Notifier AFP-300 or AFP-400. You will need a VCC-1 voice evacuation tone/message generator and an AA-30 audio amp. Why I am recommending you try using Notifier is because you do not need a laptop at all to program the system, the parts are more readily available, and you already have addressable devices. Now if you found an NFS series system with voice evac I’d be annoyed. lol.
Here are examples of things I’d like to be able to do.
Turn on the outside speaker only if the fire alarm has been going off for more than 60 seconds, so as not to annoy the neighbors if I’m just fooling around.
My voice evac amp has a trouble contact that activates immediately when the output falls below a certain threshold. I want this to cause a system trouble, but only if the output has been silent for more than about 20 seconds. Otherwise the system would rapidly go in and out of trouble every time a message played.
When the upstairs smoke detector detects smoke, I want the whole-house fan to turn on for a minute, just in case the smoke is the result of someone burning food in the kitchen. If there’s still smoke after the 60-second timer is up, the system would go into alarm.
Activate conventional noisemakers along with the whoop tone on the voice evac amp, and then have the conventionals temporarily go silent as the message plays.
In other words, what I really want is custom control algorithms. Why do I want to make things so complex? Same reason I bought all this fire alarm stuff in the first place: it’s fun! I want a high-rise-grade panel to serve as my own giant, specialized Arduino. Maybe the AM2020 or AFP1010 would fit the bill.
I’ve kinda hit a limit with the AFP-200. I actually managed to get speaker zones and speaker selector switches working, something it’s not even designed for. (Speaker selector switches were achieved by tying MMX-101 modules to speaker zones, which are supervised and switched by CMX modules.) Now I want to take it up a notch.
The big limitation, AFAIK, with most of the Notifier voice hardware is that it’s really only capable of playing one or two messages. Boring! I want to play all kinds of messages for all kinds of system events, such as the smoke warning in this video. Except I’d like the entire voice playback system to be supervised. Right now I’m using a Raspberry Pi as a message player, and there’s nothing stopping it from erroneously activating the press-to-talk circuit (overriding the fire alarm tone) and then just outputting silence, and I’d have no idea.
I know of one other (supervised) system that can play back a practically unlimited number of messages, and that’s the Wheelock VoiceLink (now a legacy system). I actually bought one on eBay a number of years ago. Unfortunately, it now appears to have an internal fault and doesn’t work anymore. Maybe I could concentrate on getting that working again.
What you want to do is kinda crazy, lol. You can have more than two messages on the larger Notifier voice evacuation systems, and you can make them go for different events. However you will need more message cards. What you want to do is eventually going to get VERY expensive! You are correct about the AM-2020 or AFP-1010 to do what you want to do. Two other panels that can do what you want to do are the AFC-600 and the NFS2-640. However there is a catch here… Notifier did not design these panels so you can program the boolean logic equations on the panel – you have to use VeriFire Tools. VeriFire for the AM-2020, AFP-1010, and AFC-600 might be able to be found online and downloaded. Those versions of the program originally came as a CD package you ordered separately. VeriFire for the NFS2-640 requires a valid license from Notifier. In order to obtain a license you have to be factory trained and certified by Notifier.
The way Boolean logic works on a Notifier system is they have what is called a Logic Zone. Essentially you program this logic zone with some sort of equation and set it to a software zone with outputs. When this logic zone goes true, it turns on the software zone and that turns on the outputs. For example, you can set ZL1 to go true if 1M001 AND 1M002 are alarmed. Then you can set that logic zone to software zone 64. Then you can set NAC 2 to software zone 64, and when ZL1 goes true, software zone 64 turns on, and then NAC 2 turns on. What is nice about this is you can use a logic zone in more than one place. It is kinda like a Boolean function in object-oriented programming.
If you could get that working again you could use a card that Notifier used to make – I do not remember what it is called but it wires to the ACS annunciator bus on the AM-2020, any AFP panel, the AFC-600, and any NFS panel… What it is is a card that has eight relays that can be individually controlled by the panel using software zones.