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Elk M1XIN input expander reset - too low voltage?

mikesm

Member
Hi.  I have an Elk 16 input expander in a poolhouse, that is connected by a couple cat5 runs to the M1 Gold panel in the main house.  It seems to work OK, but the logs on the ELK Rp2 show "1367 -SYSTEM START UP" errors every few secs on that input expander.  
 
I measured the voltahge at the expander and it shows 10.2 volts (it's aways from the main panel), and I assume that's the voltage drop over the run.  The manual says it needs only 9V or above, but I am wondering if this could be the source of resets.  I can put it on it's on power supply there, but do I disconnect the power from the main panel to do that?  Or just put DC there to boost it there?  Maybe just to test to see if the resets stop?
 
What else could be causing this?
 
thx
mike
 
 

RAL

Senior Member
If you want to run the XIN from an aux power supply, you should disconnect the +12V power from the M1 that goes to the XIN.  Leave the NEG wire connected between the M1 and the XIN.  You don't want the two power sources to be connected to each other through the +12V wire.
 
How long have you had this installed, and was it working ok previously and now these errors suddenly started?
 
How long a wire do you have between the two?  That's a pretty large voltage drop.
 
What type of cable do you have running out to the XIN?  Is it underground?  In conduit?  Is it rated for direct burial?

[Edit]:

Elk doesn't provide much detail about the causes of this error. But since it calls out the input expander, it most likely means that the M1 detected a restart of the expander, which could be due to voltage problems.

One other thing comes to mind... have you done a current draw calculation on the entire system to make sure you are not overloading the M1's power supply?
 

mikesm

Member
Thanks for the quick reply!
 
This has been happening since the system was installed.  It's a brand new house, and since it was easy to do all the wiring when all the walls were open, we had each window on it's own zone, and a bunch of wireless water detection sensors, etc...  It's a LOT of zones, and this is one of 7 expanders.  Needless to say, the elk PSU can't handle that, so I have a large altronix power supply that powers all the expanders, and also feeds the CAT5 links to the remote expander in the poolhouse.  
 
The voltage on the expanders in the main house is 12V, almost exactly.  The CAT5 is run underground through conduit, and I can't really see how water could get in there, but yes, it seems to be a large voltage drop, esp since it's 2 pair of wires carrying the DC.  The main panel is at the far end of the house from the poolhouse, and runs through the garage and up to a storage area above the garage on the way to the poolhouse.  I don't have a TDR, so I can't tell you this distance, but I can't see how it could me more than 300 ft of so.  
 
The expander manual says it can run on 9V, but I can't figure out anything else that could be causing these faults.  All the other expanders and wireless receivers seem fine.
 
Is there anything else I should be looking at besides the voltage issue?
 

RAL

Senior Member
300  feet (600' round trip) of Cat5 would have a voltage drop of about 1.0V with just the load of the XIN (at 65mA) using one pair of conductors.  If you used 2 pairs for power, that should reduce if to 0.5V.   Do you have other loads in the pool house in addition to the XIN that could add to the voltage drop?
 
Running cable in conduit is good, but electrically, it is a wet location. Even if it the joints are sealed well, moisture will condense in the conduit and it will keep the cable soaked.   If you ran regular Cat5 cable rather than a weatherproof/direct-burial rated cable, that could be causing problems.
 
Another possibility is a bad connection at the endpoints.  If you are using RJ45s and a M1DBH, that can be a spot to check for a bad crimp connection.
 
I'm a little puzzled that you measure 12V on the other expanders in the house.  I would expect to see something close to the Altronix output voltage on them, which should be about 13.5V.   Unless those also have long cables resulting in their own voltage drop.
 

mikesm

Member
Well, I use one of these: https://www.altronix.com/products/AL600ULACM to drive all the expansion zones.  It says 12V output, which is why I answered 12V before, but actually just measured the voltage on the expanders, and it says 12.75V.  Why did you think it should be 13.5V?  
 
I have ethernet running on those same cables, and they are clean with no errors running at 1 Gbps, so maybe there is a problem, but if so it's not affecting the other wires.  It may be gel filled CAT5 - I will have to ask my low voltage guys what they used.  
 
I will try switching to local 12V power at the expander and see if that helps with the resets...  
 
Thx
Mike
 

RAL

Senior Member
mikesm said:
Well, I use one of these: https://www.altronix.com/products/AL600ULACM to drive all the expansion zones.  It says 12V output, which is why I answered 12V before, but actually just measured the voltage on the expanders, and it says 12.75V.  Why did you think it should be 13.5V?  
 
I have ethernet running on those same cables, and they are clean with no errors running at 1 Gbps, so maybe there is a problem, but if so it's not affecting the other wires.  It may be gel filled CAT5 - I will have to ask my low voltage guys what they used.  
 
I will try switching to local 12V power at the expander and see if that helps with the resets...  
 
Thx
Mike
The AL600ULACM is a good charger, though ACM function is a bit of overkill if all you need is an aux power supply and don't care about the access control features.  The power supply board (AL600ULXB) is common to all the AL600 models.
 
We're straying a bit from your primary problem of the restart errors, but it's worth the time to talk about what proper voltage ranges should be.
 
To properly charge the battery, the voltage at the battery terminals should be in the range of 12.9V to 14.1V.  13.5V is right in the middle of that range.  If the voltage is too high (over 14.1V), you risk damaging the battery.  If the voltage is too low, it won't fully charge the battery, and can cause sulfation of the plates, decreasing the battery's charge capacity and shortening the life of the battery.
 
The DC output terminals of the AL600 will be pretty close to the battery terminal voltage - maybe a tenth of a volt different or so.
 
If you measure the voltage at the battery terminals and it is in the 12.9 to 14.1V range, then your power supply is operating correctly.  If the voltage at M1 input expanders is 12.75V, you're probably ok, but check it at the battery terminals to be sure.
 
If necessary, the voltage of the AL600 can be tweaked up or down slightly, using the trim pot that is next to the 12V/24V selection switch.
 
I agree with changing your pool house expander over to a local 12V supply and  seeing if that cures things.  It's an easy way to see if power is the cause of the problem.
 

mikesm

Member
Ah, I see the trim pot in the manual (though it's not described).  If the Elk can handle the higher voltages, should I turn up the voltage to 13.5 or so?  That may offset the voltage drop in the poolhouse all by itself...  
 
thx!
mike
 

RAL

Senior Member
mikesm said:
Ah, I see the trim pot in the manual (though it's not described).  If the Elk can handle the higher voltages, should I turn up the voltage to 13.5 or so?  That may offset the voltage drop in the poolhouse all by itself...  
 
thx!
mike
If your battery voltage is down around 12.9V, I would increase it to 13.5V, which is the recommended float voltage for a SLA battery.   Make the adjustment after the power supply has been on for a few hours to give it time to figure out the charge state of the battery and go into float charge mode. 

The Elk components are fine operating at this voltage.
 

mikesm

Member
Ok, I adjusted the pot to up the voltage to 13.5V, and that did increase the voltage on the panel feeders to the local expander connectors from 12.75 to about 13.3V.  Next job is to go to the poolhouse and see the voltage there, but the SYSTEM START UP messages are still occuring.  Maybe somewhat less often, but hard to tell.  Sometimes its once or twice every minute or two, and then ten minutes without anything, then once every 5 mins, etc...  No real pattern to it.
 

RAL

Senior Member
Here's something else you could try... since you have multiple XINs, you could swap the one in the pool house with one of your others and see if the restart problem moves with the XIN, or stays with the pool house. That would help narrow it down to a bad XIN, or a wiring issue.
 
The green terminal strips on the XIN are two pieces and allow the screw-down terminals to be separated from the board half. That makes things easy to swap out without having to disconnect and reconnect all the wiring.  After the swap, check the connectors to make sure you didn't knock any of the wiring loose.
 
And if you do swap them, don't forget to change the address switches on each one so your zone assignments stay the same.
 

mikesm

Member
Ok, adjusting the pot in the Altronix took the voltage up to 11.2V at the expander in the poolhouse.  But I am still seeing system start up errors reported.  I am wondering now if that isn't the problem in the first place....
 

mikesm

Member
RAL said:
Here's something else you could try... since you have multiple XINs, you could swap the one in the pool house with one of your others and see if the restart problem moves with the XIN, or stays with the pool house. That would help narrow it down to a bad XIN, or a wiring issue.
 
The green terminal strips on the XIN are two pieces and allow the screw-down terminals to be separated from the board half. That makes things easy to swap out without having to disconnect and reconnect all the wiring.  After the swap, check the connectors to make sure you didn't knock any of the wiring loose.
 
And if you do swap them, don't forget to change the address switches on each one so your zone assignments stay the same.
 
This is a good idea.  I'll try this and see what happens to the errors.

How would I debug an RS485 databus error in the Elk system? Are there tests that I can run that would flag something? As I said I have ethernet on parallel run CAT5 that seems to work fine. It could be a connector or wiring issue as well.
 

RAL

Senior Member
mikesm said:
 
This is a good idea.  I'll try this and see what happens to the errors.

How would I debug an RS485 databus error in the Elk system? Are there tests that I can run that would flag something? As I said I have ethernet on parallel run CAT5 that seems to work fine. It could be a connector or wiring issue as well.
The M1 doesn't really provide anything to debug RS485 problems. 
 
The bus uses a twisted pair of wires with differential signalling (similar to ethernet, but slower speed).  In theory, differential signalling is independent of the power to the devices at either end, but it can suffer from common mode voltage problems, where the ground level at one end is different from the other end.  So it's important to maintain a good ground (NEG) connection between the two ends for reliable communication. That will give the two ends a common reference point.  If you do try a separate 12V power supply in the pool house, make sure you keep the NEG wire on the data bus connected between the two ends.
 
I don't know if data bus problems could cause your restart errors.  I think a more likely symptom would be loss of communication errors between the two ends.
 
If you have an extra cable between the two buildings, you could try switching to a different cable to see if that makes a difference.
 
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