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Is it possible to download WAV directly to Elk-M1 Gold?


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#1 ReasonablePerson

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Posted 09 July 2012 - 12:44 PM

I haven't figured out for sure if there is a way to download WAV files directly to the elk-M1 for custom sounds or it is only possible to use the telephone to record. From what i can tell, all of the elk voice/recording seems to be antiquated compared to others and at this point in time it should be able to accept sound files through ElkRP directly --- Am i missing something or how do i accomplish a direct *.wav download?

thanks

#2 DELInstallations

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Posted 09 July 2012 - 01:43 PM

No direct download, however how you send the sound into the panel can be accomplished a few ways.

IMO, it keeps the panel from being as easily corrupted by not accepting any input or file formats other than what is internal to the system.

If you're dead set on dropping a specific file or sound into the panel, or being controlled by the panel, and it must be a computer based input, install an Elk 120 or 124 and use that for the specific sounds you want and use the M1 to trigger that.

#3 ReasonablePerson

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Posted 09 July 2012 - 02:19 PM

DELInstallations--Yes, i have looked at the 120 and 124 but i would like to integrate the custom sounds as part of the speech output. Does anyone know if there is an easy and passive way to "sum" the output of multiple amplified devices (like the M1, 124, etc.) to drive a single speaker without using an actual audio mixer/amplifier? if i go the route of the 124, it would be nice to use the same speakers the M1 is using.

On a related question, am i correct in inferring that the Elk-M1TWA sound output is only via the listen in function or can the M1 send sound out this device as in a PA system. Basically, it would be handy to use the individual voume control for speakers at keypads so they can individually be volume controlled or muted.

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#4 DELInstallations

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Posted 09 July 2012 - 02:53 PM

The TWA can shunt or connect speakers by a rule, however you're going to be limited to 3 zones of audio. What is driven out the speakers would be done via rules.

The only way I can see how you're going to accomplish what you want is to record the audio into the M1 via the methods it can support, while I'm sure others may have a "hack" I think the work isn't going to justify the end result.

#5 Work2Play

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Posted 09 July 2012 - 04:20 PM

The M1 does have a few channels of audio which can be programmed by the end user, but the only way to get the audio into the M1 is to record it via the phone. Of course holding a phone up to the computer is going to sound terrible; but this device will let you plug directly into the soundcard and play back over the phone. I've used them often both to collect recordings and to play them back over the phone.

However, when it came to my Elk, I didn't even bother - I hooked an Elk 124 in parallel with the existing speakers and it works just fine. There are a few more complicated ways to go about doing this using relays and sensing when the M1 is using the speakers, but I'm going on 5 years with them just both hooked up in parallel to the same speakers. If they were to both try to use the speakers at the same time, there's potential to over-drive them, but that only happens for me when I first power the system on and it fires off the startup announcements and the first channel of audio that's in the 124. I bought the additional computer recorder module - the instructions for that are more complicated than they should be, so if you go that route I'll scan them over and see what I did different. Some hookup examples show using capacitors inline - I've been meaning to order some and try that to see if it makes any difference.

I love the result - I have custom doorbells, and I always have fun around halloween with custom sound effects; a custom doorbell, and even alternating special sound effects that fire off when the door is open (it cycles between a couple different ones). My next experiment will be to record grandfather clock sounds and the hour chime as we've found whole-house time announcements to really help the toddlers who don't like our schedule.

#6 ReasonablePerson

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Posted 09 July 2012 - 05:07 PM

Work2Play--

yes it was one of your posts from about 2008 that got me thinking about this. alternatives for door chime, etc. the little tele-recorder adapter looks like a good find and useful for this application. Since i presume you don't need the separate triggers and such, what prompted you to use the 124 rather than put the sounds into the M1 itself? more recording space? it is a shame to have all the capabilities of the M1 sitting there and then stick a 124 onto the side and waste M1 outputs to trigger the 124; so i know you must have some good reasons.

are you using the Elk-129 to download the recordings to the 124 or did you find a better way?

as for connecting the two output amplifiers together, i didn't even think about over driving the speakers i was thinking more in terms of feeding power back into the opposite amplifier. if the amplifier is actively trying to drive its output to a value (even if that value is zero) and the other amplifier starts playing with the combined output, then the first amplifier would start to fight. however, if the elk amplifiers can only source current (and not sink) and they don't have feedback from the output, perhaps each amplifier just wouldn't care what the other was doing. Based on your success, i suspect this is the case. But I'm not sure how the amplifier in our whole-house audio will think about this however.

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#7 Work2Play

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Posted 10 July 2012 - 02:03 AM

To be honest, I can't remember exactly why I chose the 124 rather than at least attempting the recording onboard, considering I have a half-dozen of those phone recorders sitting around. I think it had more to do with the better quality from hooking directly into it and bypassing the phone, and the fact that instead of 10 6-second recordings, I have 8 1-minute recordings. Maybe one day I should experiment with the onboard ones purely for the fact that they can be use in with any other spoken commands. On the other hand, I can silence non-alarm voices yet still have my custom sounds play regardless - vital for doorbell operation and certain other sounds. For example, my wife often leaves her phone in her car, and we work opposite hours... so if I need to reach her during the day, there's no way to - I've been meaning to program in a "Please answer your phone - I need to reach you!" message - another one I wouldn't want silenced.

Anyway - I bought the Elk 124 and the Elk 129 recorder module. I just scanned through the instructions and found the part I did different... They talk about using some WaveLoader software - but, I wasn't loading WAV's and I wasn't using a PC - so I figured out that you can get very precise recordings from any audio source with a 1/8" jack by pressing and holding the record button on the 124 at the same time as playing your source, then release when you want it to cut off. It immediately plays back what was recorded, so you can tell if you need to adjust volume or timing or whatever. Since then, I've been loading sounds just from my iPhone as desired.

As far as outputs go, the system has plenty - and I find little use for the voltage-only ones. Of course I could've easily put an M1RB on the onboard outputs, but most of my outputs are in the garage sub-panel on an M1XOVR/M1RB combo. Now I am thinking of adding more outputs onboard at the main panel, but I can always add an M1XOVR and get full outputs. The 124 came with the right ribbon cable to plug it directly into the onboard outputs making the install very clean.

The whole backfeeding thing doesn't seem to be an issue. There was another thread here where some of us dug up some really old elk hookup examples (related to now obsolete products) and they showed just hooking them both up in parallel and using a capacitor on each + and - on both sources... I'm not sure exactly what they do, but I didn't use them out of laziness - and the only problem I ever saw was during power up, when it would fire the startup messages and fire the doorbell (my CH1 sound) at the same time - but I only ever power cycle my system less than once a year, and no damage has been done... for such short periods, I doubt there'll ever be concern unless someone repeatedly rings my doorbell while my house is in an alarm state... but at about $5/speaker and going on 5 years of successfully running in parallel, I'll keep riding that $30 gamble.

I'm not sure where the whole house amplifier you reference comes into play - earlier you mentioned wanting to drive both sources through the Elk speakers; if a whole house amplifier is coming into the mix, at what capacity? Does it have its own speakers? Are you trying to drive elk sounds through a whole house amplifier, or drive whole house amplifier sounds through your elk speakers?

#8 ReasonablePerson

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Posted 10 July 2012 - 12:06 PM

Ah--very good point about being able to silence voice alarms but still have the doorbell announce. this alone is a deciding factor.

using one of the listen-in boards pretty well consumes the voltage outputs on the main board, so for me all other outputs need to be on expansion boards -- reasonably priced per channel, but $ just the same.

I too thought about having little announcements for the Mrs. regarding her cell phone and such--but i am sure there is an inverse function between how much it would annoy her and the length of my leash (read freedom to spend $ on home automation)

for the whole house audio i was trying to use the same in-ceiling speakers for both the audio and then have the elk voice-over. I may just put in another speaker in certain places and keep them separate. I think the whole house audio (HTD Lync) has a PA input that i may try but it would probably require writing a little code to put it in PA mode through the serial port.

thanks for your input.

#9 Work2Play

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Posted 10 July 2012 - 04:43 PM

Couple things -
First - even though the cable connects all the voltage-only outputs to the TWA board, it's only using 4 of the 10; there are 6 remaining. You can daisy chain off the TWA to get access to them, or get creative in your wiring.

2nd - the HTD Lync is one I looked at before, and I'm pretty sure it does not have a PA function as it sits... Just for kicks I emailed them to see if they have a way to rig it, but for the moment, it doesn't appear to. It does however have a trigger to mute it, which would be wise when the alarm is making announcements - there's a rule for when the Elk's amplifier turns on that you can use to trigger the mute.

3rd - it actually is perfectly doable to use your in-ceiling speakers, but it'd take some work and you'd have to really want it. To do it right, you'd want to wire all your speakers through dpdt relays and have them default to the Elk (so that even in power outage, etc - the Elk will work). The elk alone probably isn't enough to drive the speakers; and the TWA only has 1/2 watt of power, but the Elk 800 has 10 watts and you can use as many as it takes to accomplish your goal. Of course this would probably require an auxillary power supply once you attach all these accessories to your system, just to keep that in mind. It's not a cheap solution, but it's about as good as you can get for even volume distribution, ultimate in flexibility, best possible sound quality, etc. If I had the whole house speakers in right now, I'm sure I'd do it in a heartbeat.

#10 Work2Play

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Posted 12 July 2012 - 05:01 PM

for the whole house audio i was trying to use the same in-ceiling speakers for both the audio and then have the elk voice-over. I may just put in another speaker in certain places and keep them separate. I think the whole house audio (HTD Lync) has a PA input that i may try but it would probably require writing a little code to put it in PA mode through the serial port.

Since I'd seen this question come up a couple times and I was curious myself, I contacted HTD about it directly. Currently there is no PA function, nor do they think one could ever be added to the current hardware - in order to do it, you'd basically have to script out putting the unit into PARTY mode, setting the volume in each zone, and selecting the dedicated source, then playing your announcement, then having to put all the zones back where they were. You couldn't do this all fast enough when the Elk calls for audio to not miss part of the message unless you were continuously monitoring the Lync and already know the status of all the zones before initiating this party mode so you knew what to put it back to.

The tech I spoke to said the best bet was either the relay method I'd already suggested, or possibly using the more costly stereo speakers and basically wiring one side to the Elk and one side to the Lync, and using the Mute trigger on the Lync to shut it up while making announcements. This would be more costly, but definitely allows to completely separate uses of the same speaker installation - simultaneously even.

So for what it's worth, that's the official answer from them. They also did state that they currently don't know of any integration that's been done with any 3rd party HA systems - just some individual scripting some homeowners have done.

#11 ReasonablePerson

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Posted 12 July 2012 - 05:43 PM

Work2Play--

Yes, this is what i was thinking of doing, i.e., read the input status for all the zones, send the commands to switch them to an input dedicated to the Elk, and then switch them all back individually. I was just looking at the command structure for the HTD and there is not a command to just read the inputs; it basically does a complete status dump of all the zones including volume, etc. I had pretty much came to the same conclusion about continually monitoring the HTD so we knew beforehand what all the zones were using for their input.

I also thought about just keeping the messages and sounds i want to play as MP3. the HTD can play from a USB stick rather than sending the output from the Elk to the HTD as an audio signal. The serial command set has the ability for the computer to play the MP3, but the zones would still have to be put into MP3 as the input. so the same problem with respect to bandwidth but would now have unlimited number of recordings and length. (well, not quite unlimited). I need to just see how long it takes to get and store the existing configuration before switching to the MP3 input.

The idea about using the dual-input speaker is excellent. I have some in my bathrooms and utility room and they effectively mix the R and L into a single output. They could still be used as one side (R or L) of the whole house stereo for their zone and then the second input used for PA. yes, indeed this idea has some subtle elegance. The problem is that i already have the speakers.

I am pushing HTD to make an effort to play together with Elk and other HA systems. They have been helpful but they do not have a corporate decision to embrace HA yet. If anyone talks to HTD, pressing them to add a PA command to the interface would be worthwhile and a sweet little feature for HA.




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