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FTC Trouble (Failure To Communicate) - FTC Trouble (Failure To Communicate) - General Tips For Troubleshooting



Hey, guys. Hayden here again from alarm system store. And today we're going to be going over the FTC trouble. So FTC stands for failure to communicate, which is exactly what you would think if you have services for your system. The system is unable to communicate with the services. So this can show up for a lot of different reasons depending on how your panel is setup to communicate.

The most basic setup, which is what they've used for many, many years, is phone line access. So phone lines through a landline, essentially you just program the number into the panel and it sends a signal out through the phone line terminals on the system. However, when things started going to cellular and Internet based communicators, things got a little bit more complicated. As far as failure to communicates go, usually with communicators nowadays, there are very simple ways to diagnose what's going on and why you're getting a failure to communicate. But it could be a lot of different things depending on how your system is set up.

Okay, so essentially what I did is went through and set off an alarm after programming in some phone line stuff. Obviously with my panel, I don't have a phone line hooked up. So now we have a trouble condition. So this is what you're typically going to see whenever you go into the star two menu. You're going to see communications, and then if you hit star, it's going to say TLM. That's because I had to turn the phone line on. But you'll also see, this is what you would normally see with any communicator is FTC treble receiver, and then it's going to have a star there.

And if you hit star, it is going to tell you what receiver had the failure to communicate. So this is where it can get a little confusing because the system has multiple receivers. And whenever you set the system up to communicate using a different communication path, either the communicator determines what receivers it's going to use or whoever set up your panel is going to do. So as you can see on my trouble there, I had a failure to communicate receiver one. So that means that because I set up receiver one's phone number, that's where it tried to send the signal out.

Now, whenever you are using a phone line, you're generally going to use receiver one and sometimes receiver two as a backup. If you're using a communicator, though, depending on whether it's IP or cellular, IP generally uses receivers one and two. Cellular usually uses receivers three and four. Some communicators are dual path, however, and can use all four receivers. So you may see any one of four receivers show up for this trouble. This is where it comes in really handy to know what type of communication method your system is using, and that way you can properly diagnose what's going on.

And once you know where the problem lies, or at least have a suspicion, you can clear the FTC. The only way to make an FTC clear from a panel on its own is to have your panel successfully send a signal. To do that, essentially you need to solve whatever is going on with the communicator phone line, whatever the case may be, and test the system so that it sends out a successful signal. You can, however, temporarily clear the FTC by power cycling the panel. If you do so, just know that if your system still cannot communicate, the FTC will reappear the next time the system tries to send out a signal.

So even if you power cycle it, you do still have to troubleshoot and make sure and test whether or not your signals are going to go through. All right, so I'm going to show you guys a couple of options for troubleshooting. So first thing we're going to talk about is phone line, because that is generally the simplest to troubleshoot. And with phone line, you have a couple of things that you can physically check. And then one thing that you'll have to check either with your phone provider or if you know how to test for a dial tone, you may do so. But essentially with a phone line on an alarm system.

So generally on a phone line, you will see these terminals here, which is going to be ring tip r one and t one. That is where your phone line is going to be hooked into your panel, and that is where it sends those signals out. With a phone line, you may also have one of these. This is an RJ 31. Essentially, it acts as a type of splitter that allows the alarm system to override what might be happening on your phone line. So if you have a dial tone on your home phone, or if you know how to check for a dial tone, otherwise, then come to the panel and check your RJ 31. This has a phone line port in it here. And then you'll use four wires from inside here that are going to connect to the panel itself. So check all those.

And each one, like the ones we carry, have instructions inside here. It's a little bit hard to see on the camera, but essentially they will all have a wiring diagram to follow. So make sure that none of your wires are loose. Make sure that everything is properly connected, snug down, there's no broken wires whatever. And then you should be good to go on a phone line. So once you have checked for a dial tone on your phone line and you've checked the wiring at the panel, as well as an RJ 31, if you have one, test with central station and see if they receive a signal.

And what I'm going to show you guys for the cell and IP side is going to be an alarm SEM module. And this is a dual path communicator. So it does do both. But I'm going to show basically the two individual options. Which one is going to be the cellular side: This is the antenna. You can see the SIM card there. And then you also have an Ethernet port for Internet

So the very first thing you want to check on a communicator is its connection to your system. So a lot of them use this right here, which is basically just a bus connection. This connects in the same way that a keypad would to your alarm system. There's going to be four wires here that run to the mainboard in your system, and that is generally where your system them provides power, and it also provides a data connection to the communicator. So if you've made sure your ethernet is plugged in, you got cellular in the house. Everything seems okay on that side. Go to the wiring for the communicator itself.

Some communicators use a lot more wiring. Some of them will have this along with a phone line connection, because it interrupts your phone line and essentially captures that signal for you to send it where it needs to go, et cetera. There's too many options for me to explain them all, but essentially your panel will always have a physical connection to the communicator some way, shape, or form. Generally, it's just going to be wiring. Check that wiring. Make sure that everything's good. No broken wires, no loose wires. Make sure everything's tightened down.

From there, we'll cover the Internet side. Make sure that your router is pushing out Internet, so you can do that by checking your Wi-Fi. If you have a computer hooked up to your router, make sure that it has Internet. If you do, come and double check and make sure that your Ethernet cable is plugged all the way into this port. If it is, and you're still having issues, you might try a new Ethernet cable. Sometimes they just wear out. I don't really know what causes it, but as with anything, things just get old. They wear out. Sometimes they stop working. Try a new Ethernet cable.

If that doesn't resolve it, then you may have some issues on your router, in particular with it allowing the device to get Internet. So a lot of that I can't give you advice on. Everybody has their own style of router. You're going to have to call your Internet service provider and see what you can do to make sure that your Internet is getting through to your communicator.

Now, with cellular, I don't generally recommend messing with these, but this type of connector right here is what you'll see on a lot of devices. It's small, but basically it is a little push connector that attaches the antenna to the communicator. Now make sure that that's seated. Generally you can see whether it is or not, this is what it looks like when it's seated. And if you have another style of antenna, you can look up antenna connectors on Google and it'll show you all the different types of antenna connectors that are available. So just make sure that they look proper. And that's really the only physical thing you can check on a cellular communicator.

Sometimes if the Sim card is slid one way or the other, that could also cause it. So just kind of visually inspect. I don't really recommend messing with too much of this because those antenna lines and these type of connectors are easy to break. So if you're having cellular issues, just make sure that your Sim card looks like it's seated properly and make sure that your antenna is still connected. If you're still not getting cellular connection after that check through Google, you should be able to look up your provider like this is for example, at&t. Look up at&t outages in your area. Sometimes they will post whenever they're going to be working on a tower, if the tower is going to be down for a certain number of days or whatever the case might be, and see if there is an outage in your area.

If there is, unfortunately you just have to wait until the cellular becomes active again. Now with this particular type of module being dual path, generally you don't get ftcs on these because the way they are designed to work is they have a primary path. In this case it is cellular and they have a secondary path which is going to be Internet in this case. Basically, if one fails, it goes to the other. Now if by chance both are out for whatever reason, you will get an FTC and basically you just need to fix one or the other to make it communicate again.

Now from there, unfortunately, there isn't much else I can tell you just because there's so many options for communicators out there. So that is kind of a rundown on 99% of problems you're going to run into. Now occasionally you might have a bad device or whatever the case may be, but essentially if you've done everything you can to diagnose it and for some reason you're still getting an FTC call, whoever your service provider is, and a lot of times they'll be able to at least give you an idea of what to look at. That's really all there is to check for FTC's. They're not super in depth.

Basically, like I said, it's just your panel not being able to communicate and it's telling you that. So whenever that happens, the main thing is making sure that your system can communicate again. So diagnose whatever issues you can physically from your side. Make sure that everything seems okay. And then once you've done that test with Central Station until you get a good signal, and that way you know you're covered again. So that's where I'm going to cut it off. Hope this was informative and at least points you guys that are having this issue in the right direction. And I will catch you guys on the next one.