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Elk M1 Gold Clock & Automation Troubleshooting


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#1 SteveInNorCal

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Posted 27 July 2018 - 09:58 PM

Hi. I've got an ELK M1 Gold I installed about five years ago. I use a combination of wired and wireless sensors (glass shock and glass breakage acoustic). Everything has worked well until recently when the timer and clock started going bad. I started some basic troubleshooting today and found:

  1. The clock was set to August 7, 2018 (instead of 7/27/18) and about four hours ahead. This is consistent with our house lights starting to go off about four hours too soon. The XEP board is connected to an NTP time server, so I'm puzzled why the time is off. The dates and times on the log entries are correct, though.
  2. I have a rule that turns all the interior lights turn on when a zone is violated while armed. Now, when I disarm the system, that rule seems to be erroneously firing turning on all lights upon disarm.
  3. I have about 21 glass shock sensors (Honeywell 5800ss). Three of these had weak or dead batteries (I plan to change all of them tomorrow) and were causing supervision errors. Now I'm getting a "Transmitter Lost" error on the M1G which I think may be caused by one of the batteries having gone dead.
  4. I put the CS into "test" mode yesterday and tripped the system with a motion detector. The ELK called my phone (a rule) about 20 times in succession. I could not get it to stop calling my phone until I power cycled it.

I power cycled the Elk, but that hasn't helped much that I can tell. I manually reset the clock today rather than depending on the NTP time server and that seemed to restore timed functions ok (lights went on tonight 20 minutes before sunset per a rule). The NTP time server was always reliable before.

 

Any thoughts on what is going on here and how to fix things? How can I trouble-shoot the M1G to figure out where the problem lies?

 

The unit has run reliably for about five years, but these problems are causing havoc now.



#2 RAL

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Posted 27 July 2018 - 10:23 PM

An easy thing to try would be to replace the CR2032 battery on the M1 board.  While you are at it, also check the 12V backup battery.  If it is 5 years old, it's due for replacement if you haven't done so already.  Aging batteries sometimes cause strange behavior.



#3 SteveInNorCal

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Posted 28 July 2018 - 09:30 PM

Thanks, RAL. I completely forgot about the CR2032 battery on the M1 board. I'll replace that tomorrow.

 

Today I replaced the CR2 batteries in all 21 Honeywell 4800SS Shock Sensors on the windows. Wow, at $11 each, that was over $230 in batteries. The original Panasonic batteries were about five years old and still going strong, but I thought it would be good to change them. The "Lost Transmitter" error seems to have originated from three 4800SS I was going to use on my living room sliding doors. I configured them, but I didn't install them because they wouldn't fit on the sliders (too thick). For some reason, those three were issuing supervisory errors which then led to a "Lost Transmitter" error. I think that error was cleared after taking those three 4800SS out of service in RP.

 

I also found that the original Elk 8 AH batteries are six years old. I ordered two replacements from JMAC which will arrive next week. I'm hoping JMAC sends original Elk batteries - people have complained on Amazon of getting generic batteries from them.

 

I also read an interesting article about DDoS attacks using NTP time servers which led to 99% of NTP servers being pulled from service. See:  Best Practices for NTP Services. "In 2014, there were over seven million abusable NTP servers. As a result of software upgrades, repaired configuration files, or the simple fact that ISPs and IXPs have decided to block NTP traffic, the number of abusable servers dropped by almost 99 percent in a matter months, according to a January 2015 article in ACM Queue." Sure enough, the NTP server I was using is no longer operating, so it looks like the ELK clock drifted over eight days due to no time server and (maybe) due to a dead or dying CR2032.

 

I only log into the M1G about once a year with a cheap Dell laptop I specifically bought for that dedicated purpose (I didn't want to run Windows on my MacBook Pro). It usually takes about a full day to get the Dell running again with all the OS updates and patches. I spent most of Saturday getting it running. It slows to a crawl while updating - every simple operation takes 30 seconds or more. Today I updated the firmware on the M1G and the various expansion boards and radios, then I updated to the latest RP software. I'm always nervous about FW updates, but everything went smoothly and the unit came right back up.

 

After all the updates and new batteries, I did a complete walk-through test and every sensor was working well.

 

My household lights should be coming on shortly -- keeping fingers crossed all is working as planned. 



#4 RAL

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Posted 28 July 2018 - 10:02 PM

Sure enough, the NTP server I was using is no longer operating, so it looks like the ELK clock drifted over eight days due to no time server and (maybe) due to a dead or dying CR2032.

 

Ok, the fact that the NTP server you were using is no longer in service helps explain how the time could get so far off.  I was puzzling over how that could be if the time was regularly being corrected via NTP.



#5 SteveInNorCal

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Posted 28 July 2018 - 10:18 PM

Yeah...lesson learned. Check to see if your NTP server is still in service. I can't believe 99% of them went out of service! Wow. There must be LOTS of people similarly affected. And you don't get any notice that the server has disappeared. 

 

I am quite surprised that the ELK M1 was off by over 8 days. That's a huge amount of time drift. I have been away from our house for 10 weeks and all was working fine when I left. It got that bad in something less than 10 weeks. Might be a combination of NTP out of service and a dead main board battery.

 

BTW, the porch and interior lights came on on-schedule tonight, 20 minutes before sunset. Yay!



#6 SteveInNorCal

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Posted 29 July 2018 - 12:57 PM

An easy thing to try would be to replace the CR2032 battery on the M1 board.  While you are at it, also check the 12V backup battery.  If it is 5 years old, it's due for replacement if you haven't done so already.  Aging batteries sometimes cause strange behavior.

I just checked the M1G Installation Manual to find the clock battery on the main board. The word "Battery" shows up on 22 pages well over a hundred times. 99% of the "battery" terms refer to the 8AH backup battery. I searched for "CR2032" and, buried on page 6 under "Wiring & Hookup Diagram," is ONE lonely, almost hidden citation for the clock battery. That citation doesn't even say what the CR2032 is actually used for (other than "clock") nor does it say what happens to your system if this battery fails or dies. This is really weird; you'd think ELK would cover this in more detail.

 

Worse, the battery is hidden behind the cover, so it is not exposed for an easy visual reminder to change it. Owners should flag this change-out requirement somewhere so they won't forget it. Maybe put a reminder in your computer calendar program or put a flag on the cover of the manual with the date you should change the battery.

 

Lithium 3V "Clock" battery, Varta #CR2032 located in upper left corner behind cover. Battery has a life expectancy of approx. 10 years. Replace ONLY with exact model available at most electronics and camera retailers.

 

Thanks again for telling me about this. As I said, I had completely forgotten about it -- "out of sight, out of mind."



#7 RAL

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Posted 29 July 2018 - 02:38 PM

... buried on page 6 under "Wiring & Hookup Diagram," is ONE lonely, almost hidden citation for the clock battery. That citation doesn't even say what the CR2032 is actually used for (other than "clock") nor does it say what happens to your system if this battery fails or dies. This is really weird; you'd think ELK would cover this in more detail.

 

I'm glad your system seems to be working again!

 

I agree, Elk does a poor job of explaining the purpose of this battery.  The fact that they call it a "clock" battery in quotes leaves you to wonder if its purpose is really to power the clock or not.  It left me thinking that since this type of battery is frequently used in clocks, it was just a descriptive term, and the M1 might use it for something else.

 

The Elk has flash memory to store configuration data and codes, so the battery isn't used to preserve that data.  Otherwise, you could just remove the battery to reset everything to the default values. 

 

So that makes me think that the sole purpose of the battery truly is to run the time of day clock.  It would be nice if Elk just said that in plain language and made it clear that it needs to be replaced periodically.



#8 SteveInNorCal

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Posted 29 July 2018 - 06:12 PM

I agree, Elk does a poor job of explaining the purpose of this battery.  The fact that they call it a "clock" battery in quotes leaves you to wonder if its purpose is really to power the clock or not.  It left me thinking that since this type of battery is frequently used in clocks, it was just a descriptive term, and the M1 might use it for something else.

 

Thanks. I'm excited to have it working correctly again. I just wish it didn't take a full day or day and a half to get my Windows machine running every time I set it aside for 6 or 12 months. It's just pathetic.

 

The other thing -- ELK specifically says to use a Varta #CR2032. There are many manufacturers of CR2032 including the normal cast of characters - Panasonic, Energizer, Ray-O-Vac, Sony, Duracell, Maxell -- as well as another dozen off-brands and store-brands.

 

Do I REALLY need a Varta branded battery? Or will any old CR2032 lithium 3V cell work? Why in the world does ELK specify the brand? Just to err on the safe side, I ordered a Varta CR2032 on Amazon today.



#9 RAL

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Posted 29 July 2018 - 06:49 PM

Any name brand, good quality CR2032 battery will work fine.  One thing I've run into, though, is that there are a lot of junk and counterfeit batteries out there.  Some of the batteries I've bought on eBay and Amazon had very short life times.  Not sure if they were real Energizer batteries that sat on the shelf for too many years, or whether they were counterfeit.   Unfortunately, Energizer doesn't put recognizable date codes on them.

 

As a result, for things like the M1, I buy them at Home Depot or a store where I can be reasonably sure they have good inventory turnover. It costs more that way, but I'd rather not have problems in important equipment.



#10 SteveInNorCal

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Posted 30 July 2018 - 11:37 AM

Any name brand, good quality CR2032 battery will work fine.  One thing I've run into, though, is that there are a lot of junk and counterfeit batteries out there.  Some of the batteries I've bought on eBay and Amazon had very short life times.  Not sure if they were real Energizer batteries that sat on the shelf for too many years, or whether they were counterfeit.   Unfortunately, Energizer doesn't put recognizable date codes on them.

 

As a result, for things like the M1, I buy them at Home Depot or a store where I can be reasonably sure they have good inventory turnover. It costs more that way, but I'd rather not have problems in important equipment.

 

Thanks, RAL. Brad Weeks at ELK responded to my query about the clock battery and pretty much said the same thing. Here's Brad's response: "The 3V battery in the upper left hand corner of the M1 Main Board holds the Date and Time when the M1 is powered OFF. When the M1 is powered up the time is kept through a real time clock circuit. When replacing the 3V Clock Battery I’d recommend using the Varta #CR2032 or a CR2032 from a good quality manufacture."



#11 RAL

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Posted 30 July 2018 - 12:05 PM

Thanks, RAL. Brad Weeks at ELK responded to my query about the clock battery and pretty much said the same thing. Here's Brad's response: "The 3V battery in the upper left hand corner of the M1 Main Board holds the Date and Time when the M1 is powered OFF. When the M1 is powered up the time is kept through a real time clock circuit. When replacing the 3V Clock Battery I’d recommend using the Varta #CR2032 or a CR2032 from a good quality manufacture."

 

Brad's answer is interesting in that it says the battery is only used to maintain the time when the M1 is powered off.  If that's so, it leaves the question as to why your system lost so much time if it was powered on.  Unless the real time clock circuit is way off in its time keeping accuracy and a working NTP is the only thing that kept it from getting too far off.



#12 SteveInNorCal

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Posted 30 July 2018 - 11:29 PM

Brad's answer is interesting in that it says the battery is only used to maintain the time when the M1 is powered off.  If that's so, it leaves the question as to why your system lost so much time if it was powered on.  Unless the real time clock circuit is way off in its time keeping accuracy and a working NTP is the only thing that kept it from getting too far off.

I just relayed your excellent question to Brad.

I have 21 Honeywell Glass Shock Sensors (5800SS1) in service. I configured another three and set active zones up for them, but they wouldn't fit on the sliding glass doors, so I tossed them in a drawer in the house. I removed them from the premises on May 16. I started getting Supervision errors for those three sensors, then the keypad started showing "Lost Transmitter" but no zone ID. I deactivated these three zones yesterday. Is there any way the physical loss of those three RF transmitters could affect timing? That seems like a long shot.

 

I changed all 21 5800SS1 sensor batteries yesterday and changed out my two 8AH backup batteries today. I'll change the CR2032 clock battery tomorrow. All the local stores (Ace Hardware, Target, Walmart, etc) only carry the Energizer brand; Fry's also carries an AC Delco battery which is a real odd-ball! I have the actual Varta CR2032 on order with Amazon. I'm going out of town again, so I'll change to an Energizer CR2032 tomorrow just to be on the safe side.



#13 rexwilson

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Posted 08 August 2018 - 06:37 AM

Brad's answer is interesting in that it says the battery is only used to maintain the time when the M1 is powered off.  If that's so, it leaves the question as to why your system lost so much time if it was powered on.  Unless the real time clock circuit is way off in its time keeping accuracy and a working NTP is the only thing that kept it from getting too far off.

Does anybody have instructions for how to remove the cover on the M1 to find this CR2032 battery? My system loses its time setting when I power it off briefly to do maintenance. It is 6 years old, and, thanks to this thread, I now know why. I want to replace it, but have never removed the cover on my M1 controller, and don't want to mess things up. Is this an easy process?



#14 RAL

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Posted 08 August 2018 - 07:45 AM

If the M1 is hanging on the wall, on the downward facing edge of the cover, there are long narrow ventilation slots.  There are also two small holes towards the left and right sides that have retaining clips.  Stick a small screwdriver in the holes and press against each clip while prying up gently on the cover.  Once you free both clips, the cover will lift right off.



#15 rexwilson

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Posted 08 August 2018 - 08:29 AM

RAL, that's fantastic. Thank you very much.






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