Review (July 2005) - Elk Products
Home security and automation have become an integral part of today's modern home. Helping pave the way is ELK Products, a company that designs and manufactures electronic equipment for the professional security and home automation installer/contractor. Their product line includes indoor and outdoor speakers, sirens, relays, timers, programmable controls, telephone equipment, amplifiers, recordable units, batteries and much more. Elk Products has recently taken a bold step with the introduction of their new M1 Gold Cross Platform Control Systems. The M1 is designed for home security as well as home automation and does it all in one package.
Installation is simple for the installer or capable do-it-yourselfer and the ELK-RP software included with the M1 gives users full control of the features and functions available in the system. The M1 is designed with nonvolatile flash memory, so that the system firmware can be upgraded anytime a new version is available. The M1 LCD Keypad can also have its firmware upgraded in the same manner through the Elk-RP software. The comprehensive 72-page Installation and Programming Manual covers all technical aspects of the product including detailed interfaces with the optional M1 products. We found the manual quite helpful during our review and a must for any installer. Elk Products also offers training and based on our experience with the system, we would have benefited from a class or two. The learning curve is not unmanageable for the novice techie, but it does take some time to read through the manuals if you really want to explore the capabilities of the system.
We received the M1 Gold (System 4) package, which includes the main ELK-M1G Control Unit with terminal blocks, power transformer (ELK-TRG1640), LCD keypad (ELK-M1KP), 12V 8Ah back-up battery (ELK-1280), interior speaker (ELK-73), RJ31X TelCo jack and cord (ELK-RJSET), all housed in a 14" x 14" metal enclosure with lock and keys. The enclosure comes with a detachable door, making it easy to access the internal control unit wiring during installation and setup. The all-in-one packages are designed to get the installer or do-it-yourselfer up and running in a short time and includes all the basic items. Most users will want to add to the system to increase the capabilities, particularly M1 LCD keypads, temperature sensors and other input/output expanders. We decided to add two additional LCD keypads, a 12V siren and a Zone Temperature Sensor (ELK-M1ZTS). The Zone Sensor is capable of reading temperatures from -50 °F to 140 °F. Other accessories are also available including zone in and out expanders, two-way listening devices, relay boards, a data bus wiring hub, a lighting/thermostat interface and an ethernet port interface. We would have liked to try more of these products, but our budget would not allow it.
The M1 Gold offers 16 onboard monitoring zones and can be expanded to 208. Up to 48 wireless zones are supported with an event log (up to 512) with time/date stamp history. The M1 has a 500+ word vocabulary allowing the user to create up to six word phases per announcement such as "The garage is open". The M1 Gold version also offers advanced lighting options (Preset dim, extended code, levels, scenes) using the X10 protocol. We installed an X10-PRO PSC05 two-way powerline interface module to handle the home automation interface to our X-10 products. This is a valuable feature included in the M1 that gives users control over X-10 compatible lighting and power products.
The main user interface to the M1 is the LCD Keypad that gives users a large backlit LCD display for easy reading. Up to 16 LCD keypads can be connected to a single M1 Gold (M1G) Cross Platform Control Unit. The design offers full navigation buttons next to the numeric keypad to access the menu system. Simply press the ELK key and the menu text will guide you through the options. Some prior knowledge of the system is required if the manual is not handy. Function buttons (F1 through F6) can be used to initiate an alarm condition such as Fire, Police or Medical emergencies or can be programmed for other functions. The backlight goes to full brightness when a button push is detected making it easy to see in the dark. After several seconds, the backlight level changes to a level defined by the user in the ELK-RP software. The Ready light illuminates when all zones are secure and the system is ready for arming. If the user attempts to arm the system with a zone violated, the display will indicate the number of zones violated. The Armed light goes active if the Exit or Stay buttons are pressed. The Exit button illuminate upon activation and indicates the system is armed with no occupancy. The Stay button illuminate upon activation and indicates the user is occupying the premises. The Chime key will go active if a chime or announcement has been defined for any of the zones, otherwise the light will be off. The Bypass button only illuminates when a zone is bypassed, otherwise the button is off.
The LCD keypad measures 6-7/8" wide, 5-1/4" tall and 1-3/8" deep and mounts to a detachable plate that installs on the wall. Only four wires are required for power and communications to the M1 unit. Two additional wires can be used for the supervised zone input and a programmable voltage output. The Glacier White color is an off white that should work in most homes. The keypad contains a built-in temperature sensor and can be programmed to display time, area and temperature. User can interface an optional Plug-in Prox Access reader (26 bit Weigand format) if so desired.
Each LCD keypad needs to be set up with a unique address so that the M1 controller can communicate with it. Bus Module Enrollment is required once the keypads have been wired into the system and programmed with the new addresses. Each keypad is automatically identified and can then be accessed through the software. Elk Products recommends using a Data Bus Hub (ELK-M1DBH) when connecting more than two keypads or expanders on the bus. Proper bus termination is required for reliable operation over the RS485 interface.
We connected an X-10 PRO two-way powerline interface (Model PSC05) to the PLC port built on the M1 controller which allowed us to command our extensive X10 devices already installed in our system. The software made it easy to have conditional rules to activate the X10 lighting and appliance modules based on sunset/sunrise times and sensor inputs.
- Kevin Nakano
Special Thanks to Trudy Hammer for her support.
|Review at a glance|
Package Contents (ELK-M1GSYS4)
Part Number: M1G
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