Ness Into Automation
WHEN a company has a product range as comprehensive as that of Ness it’s a tough call pointing out a market segment left uncovered. That call has got even tougher now the company has taken on respected US manufacturer Elk Products’ M1 Cross Platform controller. The big Ness M1 is designed to handle jobs including access control, automation, lighting, HVAC, alarms and telephone communications. It’s not just the system’s operational flexibility that will make the M1 attractive to installers and end users. Ness’s new baby also has impressive scale. You can’t even start talking about the M1 without first getting your head around the system’s “backbone” – a high speed, fully supervised and encrypted data bus. All the M1’s peripheral boards, comms devices and interfaces connect to this dedicated LAN. Standalone, the M1 motherboard offers 16 zones, as well as an RS-232 serial port, relay and serial outputs, voice outputs and 10 auxiliary outputs. But this is small potatoes when compared to the capability of an M1 when it’s fully expanded. Once you get to the top level it’s possible to hitch 12 zone expanders giving up to 208 zones, 12 output expanders giving 208 outputs, 8 lighting/thermostat/serial interfaces, a data bus hub that’s able to connect 9 expanders or keypads to the hub and a 4-door intelligent access controller. Importantly, you can add keypads at any point on the bus – this is advantageous because each M1KP keypad has a prox card reader input. The M1’s promotional material makes plenty out of not only the system’s big security capability but what it describes as “the most imaginative and powerful automation functionality available.” And the automation capability <I>is<I> powerful. Instead of installers being locked in by system architecture, there’s plenty of room to move. For a start the M1 has “Whenever/And/Then” programming rules and this allows the panel to pretty much handle any operation its physical structure can integrate with. Not only this, there’s no need to chain rules together, so a single “Whenever” event can have one or more “Ands” and “Thens” (conditions and commands). These rules utilize easy to understand text based references and installers can use them to control things like lighting using RS-232 serial or 2-way Power Line Control (PLC) ports. In addition there’s full support for On, Off, Dim All On & All Off commands, and the M1 can handle Sunset/Sunrise calculation and activation, can transmit and receive custom serial ASCII messages, can read temperature sensors and communicate with thermostats and is able to support Turn on Tasks, Lights, Outputs via Keypad or a Telephone Remote. All this means the M1 can integrate industry standard systems and components for upgrades and expansion. All up the system has 528 possible automation rules relating to its 205 possible outputs Programming and installation Facilitating programming is a range of internal and system capabilities including things like flash memory firmware, that RS-232 serial port, Ethernet connectivity option, fast PC programming and ease of installation resulting in reduced work time. Installers are also going to appreciate things like a time/date stamped 512-event history log and flash memory that allows field updates to firmware electronically. And both installers and end users alike will appreciate the talkative nature of the big M1. The system’s 500-word/phrase vocabulary will link as many as 6 words or phrases per announcement and there are 10 customisable phrases. All this allows the system to give voice announcement of alarms, zone descriptions and zone status. Also great from an installation point of view is the menu-driven, full-text keypad programming – it means there’s no manual required which is impressive for a system of this size. Other good features from an installation point of view include hardware watchdog and a nonvolatile EEPROM memory. Installers are also going to appreciate the true V.22 bis Modem for fast, reliable upload/download, as well as an Optional Ethernet port for reporting operation/control or programming. This feature allows the panel to report alarm events to any online computer in the world. In addition there’s an installer telephone (butt set) test feature along with Elk-RP PC software includes “conflict resolution” to easily highlight differences between control and PC. Along with its 208-zone hardwired capacity, the M1 also offers 48 wireless zones, has a two-way Listen-in interface. There’s an RS-232 Serial Port to interface to computers and peripheral devices, and each panel has 13 On-board Outputs: 1 voice/siren, 1 siren driver, 1 form “C” relay and 10 low current (50mA) outputs. The M1 supports 4-wire (any zone) and 2-wire (zone 16) smoke detectors and it incorporates a fire alarm verification routine. Each system can be partitioned into 8 separate areas and account numbers and there are 99 user Codes (4 or 6 digit) with assignable authority levels. Arm levels include: Away, Stay, Stay Instant, Nite, Nite Instant, Vacation. As far as communications are concerned, the M1 has a supervised phone line, alarm output and aux. overcurrent, with a built-in telephone remote control making any phone in a home or office into a keypad. The digital communicator formats include SIA, Contact ID, 4+2 and Pager and there’s dial-up, ethernet or local comms from RS-232 port or house phone jack. In addition to all this, an automatic answering machine bypass allows the installer to communicate with the system when it shares a line with an answering machine. Keypads and peripherals A particular feature of the M1 is its stylish rounded keypad, with each M1 panel supporting up to 16 keypads. The keypad is backlit and has a large Character LCD Display comprising 16 x 2 lines. There’s a built-in temperature sensor displayed on the screen, while an optional Plug-in Prox Access reader (26 bit Weigand format) gives the system access control capability. Along with its numerical keys, the M1 keypad has easy-to-follow menu navigation keys and 6 programmable function keys. Connecting the keypad to the panel is easy with a plug-in connector carrying 4 wires back to the mother board. Other keypad features include 1 zone input and 1 output programmable per keypad. There’s also a programmable display of time and date, as well as display of system diagnostics and settings. In terms of system automation, one of the system’s most important peripherals is the M1XSP Lighting/Thermostat Interface, Serial Port Expander. As a lighting interface, it adapts the M1 Control to many brands of lighting control products which use “serial” communications. i.e. OnQ-ALC, PCS-UPB, EDT, CENTRALITE, VANTAGE, etc. When employed as a thermostat interface, it adapts the M1 Control to HVAC Communicating Thermostats from companies such as: RCS, APRILAIRE, and HAI. And as a serial port expander, it expands the RS-232 communication ports of the M1 for multiple connections to most any type of equipment that communicates using serial ASCII commands i.e. personal computers and high end whole house subsystems such as CRESTRON and AMX. Jumpers on the M1XSP select the appropriate application, connection, and protocol. Best of all, the M1XSP operates from the 4-wire (RS-485) M1 Keypad data bus, allowing RS-232 ports to be located long distances from the control. The M1G (Gold) Cross Platform Control supports up to 7 M1XSPs while the M1 (Std) supports 1 M1XSP. The communications baud rate is adjustable from 300 to 38,400 baud. The unit comes complete with cable and a black surface mountable housing. Other peripheral devices include the M1ZTSR M1 Zone Temperature Interface with 7 foot remote probe. This allows the monitoring of high or low temperatures with an add-on remote sensor. The sensor connects to any main zone (1-16) on the M1 or M1G. Range is -10 to 65C. Applications include: freeze monitoring, second homes and agricultural uses, etc. Importantly, the temperature may be accessed from keypad, telephone remote control, or via rules. And making real world applications easier, the sensor probe can be located up to 7 ft away from the interface. Also vital for networked systems is the M1DBH Data Bus Hub, which allows easy connection of expanders & keypads. The M1DBH accepts up to 9, RJ45 equipped CAT5 or CAT6 cables, and series connects the data A & B lines so the data bus may be terminated properly. Two or more units can be interconnected if more than 9 data lines are required. Installers building in access control capability will use the M1PR Keypad Plug-in Proximity Reader. This allows a proximity card or fob to be used with the M1 Keypad to quickly arm, disarm, operate a door strike. Integration is very simple, with the device simply plugging into the back of the keypad and end users employing M1PRC cards or M1PRF fobs. The system’s Two-Way Listen-In Interface allows up to 3 zones of two-way listen-in to M1 or M1G Control. This can be used by the Central Station to verify an alarm, or by a user from the telephone remote control to check on elderly parents, children, etc. Up to 12 microphones (M1TWS) may be connected. In automation applications the M1XOV M1 16 Output Expander with Flying Voltage Leads allows installers to add 16 voltage outputs to M1 or M1G Control. The device provides 2 plug-in, 8-pin flying lead connectors for triggering low current devices (50 mA max. each such as: LEDs, relays, piezos, etc. This expander operates from the 4-wire data bus. Depending on installation needs up to 12 output expanders may be used for a total of 208 outputs. The voltage outputs can be converted to relays (8 or 16) using (1 or 2) M1RB Relay Board(s). Supporting the entire system is a heavy duty – 2.5 Amp power supply w/ 1.5 Amp continuous rated power supply. It features dynamic battery test, master power switch and low battery disconnect, PTC (fuseless) resettable overload protection and multiple auxiliary power terminals.