I have a co-worker that picked up an old DSC PC5010 alarm panel (for free, you can’t go wrong right…) and since I had fun writing about the Honeywell Lynx Touch Backdoor, I figured I’d give this a go and see what happens. The problem… the panel had installer lockout enabled.
You can tell when a panel has installer lockout enabled because you will hear a distinct 8-10 clicks from a relay when the panel is initially powered up (see video directly below). When the panel is locked out like that it blocks the ability to default the panel back to factory (even by hard wire reset), so unless you have the installer code, you’re SOL…
My panel is locked out, am I really SOL?
Maybe not. We actually have a tool at my workplace called “The Instant Unlocker” with the sole purpose to unlock panels. It consists of a device you place on top of the microcontroller on your panel which will allow it to “decode the installer code” and unlock your panel. The problem? This device isn’t cheap ($170USD for the starter kit) PLUS you need to purchase “unlock charges” at $35 per unlock (sheesh, everyone has their hands in your pockets these days)! So scratch, I’m too cheap to pay that much!
So what is option two?
Option two involved 3 names I stumbled on throughout forums. Apparently there
is was only 3 people at one point (not including DSC themselves) that were capable of unlocking these panels. These days, I could only find 1 of those 3 people with an “active” website (I use the term “active” lightly, the site is hosted on a sympatico.ca subfolder and looked like it was made in the early 90s). That being said, the site has a HUGE amount of electronic security information on it, which is just awesome, feel free to check it out here. They charge $20 per board to unlock, which is reasonable. My problem with this place (aside from the outdated website) is they won’t do just 1 board, and have a MOQ of multiple boards to do unlocks for you.
OK so are you going to tell me how or what?
I’m sorry, I know I get carried away sometimes. The great news is, there’s an alternative to bypass installer lockout on the PC5010 (and possibly others) for FREE. Yes. FREE. All you need is a small piece of wire, and an IC clip.
The PC5010 has a microcontroller made for DSC alarm panels (DSC R333200666V202). Now finding a pin out for that chip was near impossible. Though I stumbled upon some information that pin 25 on that IC is a data pin. Someone else claimed that grounding that data pin on power up will make the panel think that its brand new. To my understanding, this works by blocking the microcontroller from being able to read the EEPROM data on power up, therefore reverting to a “like new” state in which it’s not locked out and the installer code is reset to default (5010). I figured the panel was no good as it sits, so might as well give it a try.
The process is simple. Connect your IC clip to pin 25 on the DSC micro controller chip, and connect the other end into any of the common ports by your zones.
Power up the panel (if it works, you should NOT hear the installer lockout clicking). Enter installer mode using the default code (*8 5010). This next part needs to be done fairly quickly. Disconnect the IC clip to allow the chip to write to the EEPROM again and change your installer code by entering 006 (for section 006 obviously) and typing your new installer code. Exit programming by hitting # a few times. You can confirm this worked by powering down the panel, when powering it back up, try your NEW installer code to get into programming.
Note the panel will still have installer lockout enabled at this point, you CAN disable it. To do this, enter Installer Programming again (*8 and enter your NEW installer code that you picked above). Enter section 991. It will prompt for your installer code again, enter it, then press 991 again. Installer lockout should now be disabled!
Here’s a full uncut video showing that this does indeed work.
Update January 30/2016
I can’t believe how popular this post has been, so thanks to everyone who has visited, and hopefully this has helped you in some way! As a small update, I would like to confirm that this exact same method also works on PC1555 boards as well!