Update: Locks

I ordered a Danalock for the back door. It’s pretty nifty.

Before I ordered it I asked them if it would work with my Medeco lock. They responded that they didn’t have experience with Medeco, but their lock was designed to work with most locks, and also came with a lock so you could install it no matter what.

Turns out it does not work with Medeco.

So a few words about how a lock interacts with the bolt and with the lock on the other side of the door:

When you turn the key in your lock, it turns a piece called the tailpiece, which is a flat strip of metal that threads through a hole in the bolt mechanism and turns it, which extends the bolt. The problem is that there has to be a similar bit on the other side so you can turn that side and extend or retract the bolt. And the key side isn’t turning without a key in.

So what to do?

What Medeco does is to make the two tailpieces just long enough to extend halfway through the bolt. The hole in the bolt is sort of butterfly-shaped so that either tailpiece can stay rigidly in place while the other one is turning the bolt. Both tailpieces are firmly attached to their respective cylinder or thumbturn.

What most other lock manufacturers do is make the tailpiece long enough to go all the way through the door and fit into a slot on the part on the inside. The hole in the bolt is a slot as well. But the tailpiece itself is not firmly attached to the lock; It is free to swivel about 90°. So the thumbturn can turn the tailpiece and the bolt without the cylinder moving. This is called a “lazy tail”.

The Danalock, you will have guessed, is made to receive the end of the lazy tailpiece of that sort of lock; it is not designed for and does not have any way to attach a short fixed tail of its own. My locksmith and I spent a good long while fiddling with a Medeco lock, the Danalock, various screws and bolts, etc., trying to figure out how to get it all to work together, and it just would not. (Needless to say, the lock that came with it was…inadequate. Crap. Cheaply made and flimsy.)

So I had to buy a different lock for the back door than the front. I went with a Schlage mechanism, but a different cylinder that doesn’t have all the pick-proof, drill-proof, etc. of the Medeco, but does have key control. Just like Medeco, I have to go to the locksmith myself and sign for any new keys. Which as I said was the only part of the Medeco security that really matters to me. If I find that it makes me happy, I will in time replace the front door lock with another like this (including a second Danalock) and then I will again only have one key for my house. But for now I have two keys.

Anyway, All of that is tangential to the point of the post, which is about the Danalock.

The Danalock part of the installation was simple enough. It comes with a round plastic escutcheon that you bolt into the lock instead of the thumbturn. Then the Danalock screws to that with three little screws.

You create an account on the web page, then log into the app on your phone, and you’re in control of the lock. On the Z-Wave half, you put the lock into Inclusion Mode, pair it with your controller, and it appears as a lock on the controller interface.

One thing you can set it to do is automatically lock again after it is unlocked, after a delay you specify. So the house will automatically be secure.

Once it’s synced to your phone, you can make your phone wake it up and unlock any time you approach. I’ve had mixed results with this; it worked a few times, and then didn’t work once. I suspect that was because I had rebooted my phone whilst away, and so the app wasn’t logged in and authenticated. We’ll see. But when it worked, it was very cool: I approach the door, and it unlocks for me.

All in all, a very cool toy.


A guy in his early 50s, living more or less alone in a 90-year-old house, trying to keep it all together.

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Posted in Cutting edge

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