Setting up DSC alarms without pain

It's time to set up my new alarm system, after moving everything to a location downstairs and wiring up everything using Ethernet (see structured wiring for DSC). I have a DSC PC-1864 alarm, and here are some notes about setting it up. And it turned out to be not at all scary, once I found the right software!

First, I needed to ensure that the alarm is back in the factory configuration, this is easily done by shorting the PGM1 output with Zone 1 input (while the alarm unpowered) and then connecting the board to power for 10 seconds. After the reset, you can check that everything is working by getting into the installer mode using the default password (5555): "*8 5555". Now it's ready for the zone setup.

There is a nice blog from Chris Schuld detailing the alarm setup for his home. I did something similar before, but it's completely unintuitive and error-prone. But it turns out that DSC produces (a somewhat crappy) Windows-based software that can be used to set up their alarms using a visual UI.

It's called DLS-5, and it's a free download that is normally locked on the installer-only section of their website. Fortunately, it can be bought for $40 from The panels are region-specific, so I made sure to get the North America (NA) version.

I also bought a PC-Link cable, CredexAlarmSystems sells them, but I found one much cheaper on eBay. I also bought one of the “PC-Link Adapter” cables from eBay for around $25, after failing to make the DLS work: PC-Link Adapter

Ultimately, both cables worked fine, after I found (by accident) the correct way to connect them, see below for the details.

These cables are simple pass-through serial cables, so you should be able to just connect any other USB-serial adapter, but I had no luck connecting my RaspberryPi adapter with female ferrule-style pins.

Connecting the DLS

System setup

Setting up the zones

Setting up partitions


#dsc #homesetup