The ultimate M1G expansion board - IMHO


Active Member
Dont you think that the microprocessor in the Ethernet expansion board is being under-utilized? Just for driving an ethernet interface and (at most) running a java web server?

My new ultimate expansion board would be based in the existing Ethernet expansion board, but would add the following:

- Solid state memory to add virtually unlimited text, voice and IR capabilities.
Free memory currently used by voice and text from main board, so that they can be used by rules. Support several languages, and add real voice (WAV or compressed, instead of synthetised voices). I'd really love to have my HA system to speak me in spanish, and add several custom words. About the implementation, I would use two mirrored SD Card slots. In case that one fails the other takes over. The SD Cards would be user provided - you buy the size that you need. All data to be stored in these cards would be uplodaded from the Elk-RP via the Ethernet interface. The interface would be reponsible of mirroring the cards (if you choose to use the mirroring capability) and creating the CRC checksums for every object.

It would also support the recording/playback of IR codes to be stored in this solid state memory. Each IR would be stored as a discreet command addressable in the controller rules. Obvioulsy, it would need some kind of IR input/output interface. I assume that the M1 does not support these functions because of lack of memory. With this new board and the newly available >1Gb SD Cards only the sky is the limit (not really, but you understand)

This memory would also store the high resolution images to be used by the board's Java Web server. Again, the existing Java interface is simple because of limited memory, but now the extra memory provides new capabilities.

You could also store here the setup and configuration of your Elk-RM. Therefore, as soon as you install the Elk-RM in other PC, you can pull exactly the same configuration and keep the same interface across your house.

- Hard Disk interface for high capacity multi-media playback.
With a ATA or SATA interface, you provide your harddisk. How much, you want 300Gb? Buy your own harddisk and connect it yourself. I'm OK with 40Gb and will save some money. My new Super Ethernet/multimedia expansion board will handle any size of harddisk.It would support playlists and play at least one lossy and one lossless format, but more is better (OGG/FLAC do not pay royalties). The card would have high fidelity line level output and would mix-in the other control board messages that would normally be played at Output1. Music would also be uploaded via the ethernet interface, but this time it would use the end-user interface Elk-RM instead of Elk-RP. You want to teach your customers how to upload their new music into the harddisk. It would also support upload via FTP for the benefit of the non-Windows users (Linux/Mac).

This board would close a little more the gap between the M1 and the PC based solutions. The only major thing missing would be the pulling of information in external web sites (weather, etc.) for local playback/display. While possible, it would require some HTML parsing scripting language or something similar. Also, ideally, a robust, multi-language TTS engine. I thing that adding these things would add too much to the complexity of the system and would increase the probability of problems (specially the scripting capaility). So for now, unlimited voice/text/IR/images/music is good enough.

What do you think?
That would be great for installers (you've seen the thread about not wanting to support a pc) since you've removed the need for a separate PC (for the most part) and allowed a more comprehensive solution just using the Elk.

Nice idea. I think even if not for the music type solutions, that type of memory solution could solve some problems (I don't know the details, but I seem to keep seing references to running out of memory on the Elk). Expanding out to IR and such makes sense possibly with something like global cache in addition to the current ocelot and you can hit just about everything (I am sure i am missing something tho).

My ethernet expansion comes next week, when can I get your expander? ;)
Let me clarify. I wish the next ethernet card version would have these capabilities. I wrote this to tease the Elk friends. They use to monitor these pages.

Sorry Mike, but this is beyond my tinkering skills. ;)

BTW, my ethernet card is comming next week too (I decided to buy it after seen the Elk-RM). But I would happily upgrade if Elk releases something like this.
markthomas said:
Let's see... you want it to do everything a PC can do, but you don't want it to be a PC... :eek:

Sounds like a job for an embedded Linux appliance, e.g. which boots off of flash RAM and has serial, ethernet, I/O lines, etc. Another:
Exactly. PCs are the Evil!! I don't want a demon running my house. Or.. would you call it a daemon? ;)

Just kidding. While I hate bloated OSes, I would compromise for an embedded Linux as long as it provides the easy of programming of the M1, the same stability and all the I/O intefaces as the M1 has (UPB, X-10, Z-Wave, Caddx), for a similar price (even twice the price is OK). Anybody has the link for this one? B)

But dont worry. Spanky is going to tell us soon the release date of the M2. :D
Adding my $.02

Adding the ability to host a web site would be great. Doesn't seem too hard since it already does this to a limited extent anyway.

If you are talking about adding a hard drive as a music server, it should probably have UPNP support so that items such as the Omnifi can connect.

Keep the new products coming... I am ordering my whole M1G package today to try and beat the December price increases!
I was just thinking that moving critical objects (voice, text) used by the controller to the same processor managing the ethernet communications is not a good idea. If the ethernet processor get hanged because of a DoS attack then the whole security system could go down.

Communication is the achilles point of every computer system these days. Any system running both the security functions along the ethernet communication functions might be at risk of an attack. It would be more secure segregating these functions in two separate processing units, like the M1 and the EXP do now.

So the new generation of Mx products should be developed around a set of two processors:

1. The main M2 central controller would handle the critical functions. It would be similar to the existing one, but will have the expandable solid state memory holding voice, text, IR and other critical objects. The number of objects, including rules, would only be limited by the amount of memory added to the system. It would also handle internal/secure communication protocols (xAP*).

2. The optional communications/multimedia module would handle external communications (ethernet), multimedia, simple web server and a other high level communication protocols like UPNP*, etc. Capacity will be limited by the harddisk size.

*I'm not an expert in these communication protocols. But you get the idea.
I would also opt for keeping the Elk simple for reliability. If I want a web server I would attach a PC. Keep it simple so this is as reliable as my Ocelot! ;)
BraveSirRobbin said:
I would also opt for keeping the Elk simple for reliability. If I want a web server I would attach a PC. Keep it simple so this is as reliable as my Ocelot! ;)
You seem to be implying that an embedded web server decreases reliability. I disagree; there's nothing different about firmware sending ASCII commands over an ethernet port in the form of the HTTP protocol instead of a serial protocol, which the M1XEP currently does.

Many devices with an ethernet port have a built-in web server. Got a router or wireless access point? They're pretty reliable.
Spanky said:
Sounds like M2!!!!
I would personaly rather have an M1 expansion or a way to upgrade from a M1 to a M2. Off loading some of the M1 to an expansion board sounds like a great idea.
The new M1 Touchscreen gives the M1 family many capabilities before not available without a PC running because it is running a bigger, faster processor with memory expansion capability. It is too soon to talk about it, but you will love it.

It runs Windows CE with .Net capability. We welcome any application developers that would like to add software to the bundle.
With it running Windows CE sounds like the MSRP might be on the higher side. Any idea on what it might be going for? Or is it too soon in development still?
I would also like to know a ball park price as I'm putting in an Elk for my friend currently in the building (before drywall) stage of his house and would like to know if I should provide "provisions" in this home for this touch screen.
I would run cat5 to any potential location you would want a touchscreen someday, heck I would even do a double run.