DSC alarm system installer codes and user access codes
My new habitat came protected by a DSC alarm system. The system consists of a keypad, model RFK5501 in my case, and a control panel, PC1616 for me. The model number of the keypad is hidden in very tiny text on the top edge of the keypad. The control panel is the hub of the alarm system and is located within a metal box within an interior wall. I had to open the metal enclosure to find the model number of the control panel.
To change most settings one needs a user access code. For the PC1616, there are 48 user access codes numbered 01 through 48. Other models have more codes. Access code 40 is the master code. This code can be used to change all other codes. To change a user access code, one would enter *5[master code][code #][new code]. So, for example, if the master code is 1234 and one wants to add a second code (01) as 5678, one would enter *5 1234 01 5678. To change the master code to 5678, the sequence is *5 1234 40 5678. In the sequence, after each accepted entry, the keypad will emit three beeps. When an entry is rejected, it will sound one long beep. When finished, pressing # until the ready light comes back on and the screen blanks will return the keypad to normal operation.
Changing the master code is one important level of security, but there is an even more privileged code with which a person could compromise the DSC security system. This code is the installer code. With the installer code, it is possible to change the master code and all other settings. New systems come with a default installer code programmed, 5555 in the case of the PC1616. If the installer hasn't changed the installer code, it's a good idea to change it since it potentially allows anyone to have control over your security system. DIY'ers should change the code regardless to prevent unwanted access from even the installer.
The installer code is changed by entering the installer programming via the *8 command. The complete sequence is *8[current installer code]006[new installer code]. For example, the following sequence sets the default installer code (5555) to 1234: *8 5555 006 1234. Then the # key is pressed until the keypad returns to normal operation. In the case of entering the installer code, an accepted code is signaled by six short beeps instead of three.
If the new installer code is forgotten, the code can be reset to the default code following a hardware reset procedure at the control panel. For maximum security, there is an installer lockout feature that will prevent the hardware reset from resetting the installer code. If the installer code is unknown and the installer lockout is enabled, the only solution to regain complete control of the system is to replace the control panel with a new panel in factory default condition.
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