My M1 experience (long).


Active Member
Well, I finished the install of my M1 yesterday (cleanup was today). I thought I'd share my experience.

So, I replaced a large Europlex 3GS system (88 input zones - 8 on the main board plus ten 8-zone expanders, 5 cans with two zone expanders per can, 2 dialers, Elk-124 voice system, 3 outputs, 3 keypads) with an M1 Gold plus 3 additional keypads (I added a keypad in the basement close to the M1 to simplify the installation), five XIN zone expanders, one XSP serial port, one XEP ethernet port, one Elk P624 1-amp power supply, one databus hub retrofit, and one 28-inch box in addition to the 14 inch that came with the system.

Thanks to the removable connectors, the transfer of 200 plus wires only took about four hours. I replaced the main can that held the Europlex with the 28-inch Elk can and I placed a XIN expander in each zone can.

The Europlex has a ring type of bus that uses 4 wires, so I was able to use the existing bus wires to connect all the expanders. The keypads where all home-run to the main panel, so just putting the databus hub there made installing the keypads a piece of cake.

Once everything was in place. I connected only the M1 controller, a speaker and the newly added keypad and used the keypad to bring up the initial system, then the serial port to check it out. The 4-wire smokes (14 of them across 3 zones) came up in trouble mode and after some head scratching I discovered they had the wrong EOL resistor value and NO termination relay.

I then added zones, one XIN at a time. After connecting all the inputs, my current reading was .90 to 1.1 amps, so I ordered a P624 and didn’t connect the other 3 keypads or the serial interface until it showed up a few days later.

I should point out that the Europlex requires 2.2k resistors on all the zones, but the resistors were installed at the panel, not at the sensors. And there's some weird stuff I didn't quite understand where on the sensor zones there are two 2.2k resistors. These are both connected two one leg of the sensor and one resistor is inserted into the zone input and the other into the zone neg. So when the zone is closed the voltage is 7.1 volts and when the zone is open the voltage is 9.4 volts. Anyway, the right thing happens, 9.4 volts causes a violation and the appropriate action is taken.

I did go and fix all the gas and carbon monoxide detectors to have their resistors in the proper place at the detector rather and cobbled up in the panel and not really serving their purpose. I then added four new zones - each of my garage bay doors. The wires were run to the doors, but no sensors where in place because the installer didn't want to spend the time figuring out how to get a longer exit delay for the garage doors. But with the M1, I can treat these as non-alarm and write rules to handle the case of garage doors open for more than 4 minutes, etc. I put EOL resistors on the new sensors, so I get 7.1 volts when closed and 13.6 when opened.

The Europlex used 3 outputs. One to open the gate in case of an alarm, I'm using output-3 on the M1 and rules to accomplish that. One to reset the smoke detectors. This is built into the M1. And one to control the Elk P624 voice module, which isn't needed with the M1.

And the serial port is connected to my litetouch system. The rules are rather simple at this point; my main desire is to "strobe" the lights in the master bedroom, theater, and gate when the alarm sounds. This helps my wife who is hearing impaired and slept though a carbon monoxide alarm when I was away on business (she did wake up seconds before the fire department arrived). Note, this one feature justified replacing the system with an M1 (there were lots of other reasons as well).

Overall, I'd give the M1 an solid A in my grading book. Kudos to the M1 team and for the online community they have built. The programming was a piece of cake. My only complaint is the ethernet interface. The first one I had would only connect through the web browser and would lock up when you tried to connect it through the non-secure port (green light on solid) and would connect, then verify system identity the give and error – system did not respond. I sent it back to Elk and got another one, and with Amy's (from Elk support) help and patience we were able to get it to work on the unsecured port. It won't connect over the secured port – same problem, but I'm thinking that's something happening with my router and the XEP sending packets it doesn't like. Note, I was able to connect to the secured port using a crossover cable. But, I see little value in the ethernet port at this point, so if I was doing it all over again, I'd save the $200, and just use the serial port.

Here are a few things that I'd like to see added to the product to give it an A+ grade:

1. I'm turning off global 37, XMIT output changes, since when this is on the M1 sends the output changes out on serial port 1 (XSP) as well. This is the only thing other than my strings coming out on port 1 as I ran port 1 on hyperterminal for 3 days while I tested the system including all the alarm conditions. Personally, I'm thinking this is a bug that will get fixed in future updates.

2. It would be most excellent if they’re where rules to control the keypad features, LCD backlight, tone level, etc. I have a keypad in my master bedroom and it would be great to have rules to lower the lighting at night.

3. Speaking of rules, it would be great to have a "keypad chime" option in addition to the beep and stop beep options. Think of this as a chirp the siren for the keypad. I'd use this when a garage door is open for more than 4 minutes as well as the voice.

4. Add a few new words to the voices - nook, mudroom, breezeway, suite, sitting, boiler, potting.

5. Add a rule to allow text to be sent to the log. Basically, I'd like to log with time stamp every time certain doors are opened. Maybe I can do this with a simple program using the ethernet port and get all the zone status changes.

And for extra credit:

6. Add an option that when the M1 is not ready, instead of just saying "NOT READY ZN " on the first line of the keypad, it displays the not ready zones on the first line. So it would display, "not ready..." for a few seconds, then the first zone name for a few seconds, then the second zone name, etc, and then back to the "not ready...". That way when your heading out you don't need to touch the keypad.

7. Firmware for litetouch support. I know I’m dreaming here, but I’d be willing to help out.

And now, I'm thinking about other things to monitor through the M1.
I believe the design team of the M1 had situations like yours in mind. The M1 is great for a retrofit such as yours or a new installation.
I have a Europlex 3GS (prior owner) that I'm considering replacing with an Elk, since US support is almost non-existent (1-1/2 states away). Our system has about 18 zones using 3 expansions boxes. Any advice you can offer would be appreciated (before I spend $750+ to upgrade firmware from 1998 model and installer labor.) Does the 3Gs offer anything that I'd be losing by going with Elk?
I have a Europlex 3GS (prior owner) that I'm considering replacing with an Elk, since US support is almost non-existent (1-1/2 states away). Our system has about 18 zones using 3 expansions boxes. Any advice you can offer would be appreciated (before I spend $750+ to upgrade firmware from 1998 model and installer labor.) Does the 3Gs offer anything that I'd be losing by going with Elk?

Not really, the only thing I really miss from my 3GS system was the 2nd phone dialer. Everything else the elk does MUCH more elegantly. I was in the same situtation, only the estimate was about $1k, and that was just the estimate. One of our boards went bad and the system needed an upgrade to accept a new board.

The 3GS input expanders are only 8 zones, but they do have a relay on them. But the elk has 16 zones standard and one relay. If you want 18 zones, you'll have to buy a 16 zone expansion module. And you can just buy a few relays and hook them up to the outputs on the main board.

I've had my system running for 2 years and I am so glad I replace the europlex system. I've added a number of new zones, keypads, relays, temp sensors, and automated more stuff, like fireplaces and fans.

Bottom line: do it, you won't regret it.
This may sound stupid, but once they're on i can't get these wiring block from their bases for the life of me. Do you just pull or tilt a certain way? They guy in the elk video pulls them right off.....
They where a bit hard for me to remove at first. Start with a smaller 4 wire block so you can see how they are seated.