Product Review (July 2005) - Elk Products
M1 Gold Cross Platform Control - System 4

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.

Interface Diagram
The M1G unit has a connection diagram on the top of the module that helps considerably when making connections to the terminal blocks. The upper left side handles all 16 zones and the lower left are used for the power interfaces including the 16.5 VAC power input. Each of the 16 zones is designed to have a 2200 ohm end-of-line (EOL) resistor so that the system can be used with both normally open and normally closed switches for detecting violated zones. Basically an open or short across any zone can be detected as a violation. Zone 16 can be also be configured to handle smoke detectors if desired. The right side has interfaces for a telephone line, an RS232 PC connection and a PLC (Power Line Carrier) module. The OUT 1 connection is designed to drive a speaker (4 ohms min) and is used for both voice and siren. The OUT 2 connection can be configured to drive a speaker (4 ohms min) or output a voltage for a light or siren. If OUT 2 is not used, then it is recommended that the installer put a 2200 ohm resistor on the terminals to avoid an error condition with the output. Also included here are the programmable outputs, siren, speaker and the LCD keypad interface. The PC connected to the M1G uses a standard one-to-one RS232 cable for communication. Only three wires in the cable are required for communication.

Optional M1 Products
The M1 System is designed to be flexible and supports several add-on products for increased capabilities and expansion. Support products include additional LCD keypads, input and output zone expanders, ethernet port expanders, serial port expanders, proximity readers, two-way listening devices and relay boards. For us, additional LCD keypads were paramount in adding flexibility and convenience. We also decided to include a remote temperature sensor and some additional speakers for distributing the voice announcements. The system is also designed to support 4 wire (any zone) and 2 wire (zone 16) smoke detectors.

Zone Temperature Interface
We came up with an application that relied upon the ELK-M1ZTS M1 Zone Temperature Interface. This product is designed to monitor temperatures remotely using a simple three wire interface to the module. We installed the temperature sensor in the attic to monitor the heat level. The module uses a National Semiconductor LM34 precision temperature sensor installed in a RJ45 jack. The main unit includes an embedded microcontroller that communicates the temperature information to the M1. The three wire interface allows the module to work from a distance of up to 1000 feet using inexpensive CAT-5 cabling. The ELK-M1ZTS can use any of the 16 zones available on the M1. We assigned it to zone 15. Placing this sensor in the attic allowed us to control remote attic fans based on the temperature, time of day, and day of week. By instrumenting various locations in the house, the user can make decisions based on the temperature data and other factors.

System Installation
Installation of the M1-Gold is similar to other security products with lots of wired interfaces connecting to the main unit. AC power comes from the 16.5VAC, 45VA (ELK-TRG1640) wall transformer. In the event AC power is not available on site, the installer can short out two terminals to prevent the unit from detecting the absence of AC power. The 12V, 8AH lead-acid battery provides backup power to the unit in the event power to the system is cut off. The main power switch is located near the input power connection with onboard LEDs for system status. We made use of some of our existing security system wiring since the interface of the two systems were similar. The M1 can work with either normally open or normally closed contact switches. We also connected a separate garage door switch to help alert us when the door is open. The p
owerful “Whenever/And/Then” rules programming allows any user to define the logic behind any action. We have our system remind us if the garage door is open after 9pm. The 500+ word vocabulary makes it easy to assemble useful phrases to address the homeowner.

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.

ElkRP Software
The ElkRP software is designed to be a state-of-the-art environment for maintaining different setups of customers’ accounts. In our case we had a single account, but it is designed to handle a large number of differently configured systems, which would be typical for a professional installer. The software also supports multiple users with different levels of access. The installer can modify the M1 system while connected to the unit or has the ability to modify the system off-line and then synchronize it later. We connected the M1G system to our PC using the RS232 serial cable. A network interface is also available, but we did not have it on hand for the review. A great feature is the ability to detect configuration differences between the the M1 system and the PC database. Resolving those differences is simple and can be done individually or all at once.

Conclusion
Elk Products has produced a very powerful home security and automation product with their M1 Cross Platform Control. Having been familiar with our existing home security system, the M1 was a fairly easy transition and offered far more capabilities in a tidy package. Our review review is long overdue, yet we felt that it was important to understand the many details the system had to offer. Elk Products also offers M1 training to their dealers who sell the product to cut down on the learning curve. This would have helped us get better acquainted with the product in a shorter amount of time, but instead we spend time going through the manuals, working with the software interface and reading the support website. In time, we eventually figured out how the system worked.

- Kevin Nakano

Special Thanks to Trudy Hammer for her support.






OneCall: Your Home Theater, Digital Camera, and HDTV Experts



Review at a glance


Elk Products - M1 Gold Cross Platform Control - System 4

Specifications
Automation ("Whenever/And/Then") Rules Capacity:528
Serial (RS232) Port Supported:8 w/expanders
Phone Number Capacity:8
Number of HVAC Thermostats Supported:16
Total Number of Outputs Supported:205
Advanced Lighting Options (Pre-Set Dim, Extended, Levels, Scenes):Yes
Analog Zone Definitions Supported:Yes
Additional Capacity for Transmission of Serial ASCII Strings:Yes
Larger Capability for Events (Time/Date), Task, Lights, Outputs:Yes

Features

  • Menu driven, full text keypad programming - no manual required!
  • Voice Announcement of alarms, zone descriptions, status, etc.
  • 500+ Word/phrase Vocabulary
  • Link up to 6 words/phrases per announcement
  • 10 custom recordable word/phrases
  • 13 On-board Outputs: 1-voice/siren, 1-siren, 1-form "C" relay and 10-50mA outputs
  • Supports 4-wire (any zone) and 2-wire (zone 16) smoke detectors
  • Includes fire alarm verification routine
  • Can be partitioned into 8 separate areas and account numbers
  • User Codes: 99 (4 or 6 digit) with assignable authority levels
  • Arm levels: Away, Stay, Stay Instant, Nite, Nite Instant, Vacation
  • Plug-in terminal blocks make service and pre-wires a snap!
  • Hardware "watchdog" and nonvolatile EEPROM memory
  • Supervised phone line, alarm output and aux. overcurrentAdditional keypads
  • Optional Accessories

  • Additional keypads
  • 16-zone input expander
  • 16-output expander with 8 voltage outputs and 8 relay outputs
  • 16-output expander, voltage only
  • Relay board with 8 form "C" relays
  • Data bus wiring hub
  • Ethernet port expander/interface
  • Serial port expander
  • Mini proximity reader for keypads
  • Two-way listen in module with 3 microphone inputs
  • Speaker and mic for two-way listen-in feature at keypad
  • Temperature sensor fo -40 to 150 degrees F
  • PC programming software - included with first purchase
  • Package Contents (ELK-M1GSYS4)

  • ELK-M1G in a 14" x 14" Box with lock and hardware (ELK-M1GOLD)
  • Transformer (ELK-TRG1640)
  • LCD keypad (ELK-M1KP)
  • Battery, 12V 8Ah (ELK-1280)
  • Speaker (ELK-73)
  • RJ31X Jack & Cord (ELK-RJSET)

    Company Information
    ELK Products, Inc.
    PO Box 100
    Hildebran, NC 28637
    Phone: 828-397-4200

    Part Number: M1G
    MSRP: $545.93

    URL: www.elkproducts.com/products/m1/elk-m1.htm

  • Any comments or questions regarding the LAAF Web Site should be forwarded to webmaster@laaudiofile.com

    Copyright © 1985-2005 L.A. Audio File.