TideLog Posts Tagged “Optima XM”

This is another wear related symptom, and often occurs on power down of an old system after a power cut. It is again to do with the input regulation circuit (the main resistor, diodes, and rectifier transistors bolted to the keypad chassis). If your Optima starts OK on battery, but not on just the mains, the cause of this is the CPU isn’t getting enough power to start up from the AC to DC rectification stage. The start sequence goes visually like this:

  1. Power is applied, the regulators get up to working voltage, and start supplying power to the CPU.
  2. The LED’s all come on, briefly, as the CPU boots up, doing its self test of itself, and the NVRAM, containing your code and exit/entry timers.
  3. Within a few milliseconds of 2 above, once the CPU has started, the LED’s go out, and the alarm now goes into a full alarm condition, leaving just the Power LED on, and any open Zone LED’s. If no zones are open, just the power LED is on.

If the LED’s all stay on with no more activity or sound, the CPU isn’t starting correctly, because the voltage to it is insufficient coming from the AC to DC rectifier stage. Allowing the alarm to start here going into full alarm, would cause too much current inrush, and voltage drop to sustain keeping itself running, due to the strobe/bell and 13v PIR’s drawing power when there isn’t enough.

The transformer puts out 16.2v AC. If the voltage at your battery charge terminals with no battery connected is less than 14v, (the last one I did was 10v) the whole system is being starved of power. The two transistors that are bolted through the keypad chassis need to be replaced, the big three-legged things top right of this picture with the holes through the tags:


I always replace both to make sure, as they can be quite stressed out at such an old age, and be breaking down under load, as does the 47 ohm battery resistor. I also check the capacitors accompanying them. The leftmost transistor is a Toshiba TA7805S Positive Voltage Regulator which seems to be the battery regulator, I’ve uploaded the datasheet to Tidelog HERE. The second (rightmost) transistor is an ST Microelectronics LT8I5CV, for which I cannot find a datasheet, and I assume is the AC rectifier stage’s main DC regulator.

I am attempting to find suitable modern equivalents for these regulators, so if any electronics guys out there can help, I’d be most grateful, as finding info on these 15+ year old components is tricky! I’m running out of working ones to cannibalize off old unrepairable Optima boards! A good alternative to the Toshiba TA7805S is the Panasonic AN7805F, the datasheet is on TideLog, HERE, for you to take a peek at, if you understand electronics ๐Ÿ™‚

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I previously posted about the rise in the occurrence of the Optima XM series main regulator resistor blowing. I’ve since had a few boards sent to me for repair, and a few users have also asked me about the resistor colour band codes. Below is my image of what an Optima XM & XM6 resistor SHOULD look like, before it burns up and scorches the board:


For those who want to know the resistance, the colour bands are the following: Gold, Black, Purple and Yellow, with a space between the gold and black bands. Here’s a diagram I made that shows how to interpret them:

resistor-color-code-allWhen working out the resistance of a pass-through resistor, you start by having the closest-together bands on the left. The resistor in the Optima is a 4 band one, so the resistance is worked out like so:

1. The first band is the Yellow one, which is 4;

2. The 2nd band is Purple, which is 7;

3. The 3rd is the Multiplier, which is Black at 1. The multiplier simply tells you how to multiply the first two values. Any multiplier with a K next to it is kilo (thousands, and the ones with M are Mega. So if our value of 47 was to be multiplied by 1k, a thousand, the value would now be 47,000. The Optima’s is simply a 1 multiplier, so it stays at 47, as you can’t divide it by 1.

4. We jump straight to the Tolerance band, which is Gold, at ยฑ5%. The Tolerance band simply denotes how precise the manufacturing process of the resistor was, they can be 5%, 10% or 20%

Your total resistance is 4 + 7 * 1 = 47 Ohms ยฑ 5%. Do not confuse it with a 47K resistor, it is 47 ohms, not 47,000 ohms, a K after the value indicates thousands.

Note that surface mount resistors and fuses do not have bands, they have the values stamped directly on them. If you are replacing a burnt resistor, clean the board around it with vinegar or contact cleaner to remove the burn marks. 99% of the time I’ve never had any actual board or trace damage, they are just burn marks from the resistor coating. You can use the methodology above for all the other resistors on the board, too, as they are mostly 4 band ones. If you are in any doubt I can do your repair for you, as I can repair traces and board damage professionally, use my contact form on the left sidebar to get in touch with me.

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This is one of the most common Optima XM problems I’m fixing now that most of them are over 20 years old. Take a normal Optima XM board, and at first you wouldn’t visually think there’s anything wrong with it, would you?

It visibly looks fine, but your system is still exhibiting weird symptoms. Do you have any of these symptoms on your system?

  • Power light on, but no other sound, keypad locks out?
  • System works apart from sounder or strobe/PIR’s?
  • Appears to work, makes all the right noises but won’t accept any codes?
  • External siren makes weird humming/buzzing noises along with internal siren when wired together?

First if you do get symptoms you should check all zone and tamper wiring/switches, as it’s a big misunderstood issue here on TideLog. Then you should check the transformer for continuity, and around 17 to 18v AC on its output. Once you’ve checked all that and are still scratching your head, undo the screws and bolts holding the keypad chassis to the board, suddenly you see the problem area:

The area I’ve labelled 1. contains the main voltage regulators. They take the incoming voltage from the transformer, smooth it out, then pass it on to the rectifiers in Step 2. above them, these convert the AC into DC, smoothing it out even more to make sure the power isn’t dirty, or has spikes in it, with help from the big capacitor to soak voltage up. From there it is then distributed to all the sections of the board, being split into all the different voltages for the board’s computer, EEPROM memory (where your code, entry/exit delay times and bell on time are stored), and timer chip, and the terminals for all the zones, tampers, strobe, bell etc.

Those rectifiers get hot, the big three legged things in Step 2 that had the keypad chassis bolted through them, the keypad chassis acts as a heatsink to help dissipate heat. Slight signs of burning and blackening on the plastic panel casing around those are perfectly normal, the rectifiers tend to burn off any dust that lands on them. NOTE: When reassembling, the rectifiers MUST be bolted back through the keypad chassis, if they are not dissipating to a heatsink type device firmly fastened they can burn out pretty quickly. The rectifiers go over the top of the keypad chassis lip, the screws go through this and bolt on to the back. Thermal compound isn’t necessary on these.

When used in switchmode power supplies (SMPS) you’ll see them bolted to thick heatsinks with thermal material between them. They are often used in Plasma TV’s they are in droves inside those as they contain several power supplies!

The most comon reasons for the system to fail are:

  • Defective transformer. If there’s too many surges or spikes, over the average 20 year lifetime of most of these Optimas, they take a hell of a beating, the two sections of the regulation circuit take the brunt. The transformer is wired straight to the mains, with no spike/surge circuitry built in, only a fuse.
  • Wear. When semiconductors and resistors wear out they sometimes (not always) short out, stressing the rest of the circuitry out.
  • Defective battery. As mentioned before both the transformer and battery are wired to the regulators so any damaged shorting battery will cause stress, as well as a fault in the battery charging system, also handled by the rectifiers. The battery fuse (the two fuses near the AC and BATT terminals are the Bell & Battery fuses) doesn’t always blow for some reason. I’ve deliberately shorted one out, the battery caught fire (I was in a controlled environment) but still the fuse didn’t blow!

A short on the terminals themselves won’t normally cause damage, as they have a line of resistors and solid state relays along the top of the terminal blocks. Some early versions of Optima boards don’t have relays, the one in my picture doesn’t, but I have boards for repair that do. The terminals to the right have rectifiers as they are voltage rails, for the Strobe, Bell, and 13v rails for the PIR power.

If you have a strange symptom, get in touch and I’ll help ๐Ÿ™‚ Just make sure you’ve already checked zone and tamper wiring ๐Ÿ™‚ And don’t forget, the transformer output wires to the board are not polarized, but the battery ones are!

The fix to this problem isn’t just replacing the burnt resistor. I always check the diode banks on either side for continuity as the resistor often shorts them, resulting in them all needing replacement. If they’re not checked damage to the battery (overheating, fire or explosion) may result as those diodes control the charging system. An overvolted or overcurrented battery can explode violently like a shorted capacitor!

I can fix this issue for you, get in touch. I normally charge around ยฃ20 for the components, soldering, testing plus return postage. I set the repaired system up on my test bench and full load stress it for 72 hours complete with battery.

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The Optima XM posts on my blog have proved to be massively popular, with many people asking for help with their systems. Recently I have had a big influx of people asking if I would fix their PCB’s. I do fix them, but have a specific way of doing things to prevent your system being inactive for extended periods and a risk of burglary.

I don’t normally accept boards for straight repair-while-you-wait services due to waiting times depending on chips needed, like the CPU as they need to be ordered and imported specially. Then I need to solder the components and soak test (not in water! See link to Wikipedia article!) the repaired board under full simulated load with PIR’s, siren etc in my test lab for 72 hours. This leaves you vulnerable as your alarm is inoperative.

My procedure is a part exchange service, one of my repaired working boards exchanged for your non-working board, and part cash, that way you’re less at risk as it takes much less time for your system to be running again. My cost is ยฃ15 cash and your old board, the money covers postage via Recorded Next Day or courier of my working board. Funds can be transferred via PayPal or bank transfer for security.

The working board will be factory reset so make sure you make a record of your old board’s arm/disarm code and delay times. I will program the new board for you with those settings if you so wish before sending it to you. Your old board is then repaired in my spare time, reset to factory settings and used in the exchange cycle all over again. Recycling is really cool ๐Ÿ˜‰


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Programming the Optima is done entirely with the keypad. You can change all aspects of the system, such as user code, entry and exit time, bell on time. There are two programming modes, Engineer Programming mode, and Customer Programming mode. Below are the things you can change in each mode.

NOTE: You cannot enter any Programming Mode if the system is stuck in a Tamper or Attack event. Clear these before doing so. Tamper locks the system out completely until cleared, the keypad will not respond. Check for open Zone tampers on PIR’s and contacts, and rectify. Call a professional alarm engineer if in doubt, or leave me a note using my Contact form to the left sidebar.

Engineer Programming Mode

Things the Engineer can change: Exit Time, Entry Time, Bell Time, and Reset to Factory Conditions (cannot be done unless the codes are known, if you’ve lost the codes, perform an NVM reset. See the very bottom of my article). Please note that the Engineer Code is fixed at 9999 and CANNOT be changed without a specialist EEPROM re-program.

To enter Engineer Programming mode, the system must be in Day mode, with the system unarmed and the Power and Day LED’s lit.

1. Press PROG. All LED’s on the panel will illuminate.

2. Enter the Customer Code. The Day and Tamper LED’s will illuminate.

3. Press PROG again, and enter the engineer code, 9999. The Day and Attack LED’s will light. The system is now in Engineer Programming mode.

NOTE: To exit Programming Mode after making changes, press RESET twice. The system then goes back to Day mode.

Exit Time:

1. Press 1. The Zone 1 & Zone 2 LED’s will light.

2. Enter the time required in 10 second increments, divided by 10.

Eg. 10 seconds รท 10 = 1 so enter 01

20 seconds = 02

30 seconds = 03

3. After entering the two digits the Day and Attack LED’s will illuminate again.

Entry Time:

1. Press 2. The Zone 1 and Zone 2 LED’s light up.

2. Enter the required time as with Exit Time above.

3. The Day and Attack LED’s show once more.

Bell Time:

1. Press 3. Zone 1 and Zone 2 LED’s illuminate.

2. Enter the required time in minutes:

01 = 1 minute

20 = 20 minutes

99 = Maximum 99 minutes

00 = No bell stop

NOTE: To conform with Noise Pollution regulations it is recommended that no more than 15 or 20 minutes be programmed.

Reset to Factory Conditions:

From Engineer Programming mode, pressing the SET button returns the system to Day and factory set codes and timers will be set, as below:

Factory Defaults:

Default User/Customer Code: 0123

Engineer Code: 9999 (Cannot EVER be changed by ordinary end users or engineers only by software engineers like myself with the correct equipment)

Entry Time: 20 seconds

Exit Time: 20 seconds

Bell Time: 20 minutes

To exit Engineer Programming mode, press RESET twice. The system will now go back into Day mode.

Customer Programming Mode

Things you can change: Code change, Alarm Memory Recall, Alarm Tests (Bell test, Strobe test, Low/High volume sounder test, and Walk test (zone test)

To get into Customer Programming, make sure the system is in Day mode, with the system unarmed, and the Power and Day indicators lit.

1. Press PROG. All LED’s will illuminate.

2. Enter your user code. The Day and Tamper LED’s will illuminate. The system is now in Customer Programming mode. To change any aspect, see below.

NOTE: To exit Programming Mode after making changes, press RESET twice. The system then goes back to Day mode.

Code Change:

1. Press 8. The four Zone LED’s will illuminate.

2. Enter your new code. The system beeps twice, and the Day and Tamper LED’s will light up

Alarm Memory Recall:

1. Press MEM. The last alarm will now be displayed for 5 seconds. The Day and Tamper LED’s will illuminate.

Alarm Tests:

1. Press 0. The Day, Tamper and Attack LED’s illuminate. The system is now in the Test routine.

Strobe Test: Press 2. Press 0 to stop the test.

Bell Test: Press 3. Press 0 to stop the test.

Low & High Volume Sounder Test: This tests the volume of the internal control panel speaker. Press 4 to perform the Low Volume test, and 2-4 to perform the High Volume test. Press 0 to stop the test.

Walk Test: Press 5 to start the test. Walk around the premises, opening each zone. The system will beep each time a door is opened, PIR triggered, or pressure mat stepped on, and the relevant Zone LED will illuminate. Press 0 to stop the test.

To exit Customer Programming mode, press RESET twice. The system will now go back into Day mode.

Performing NVM Reset

The codes set during programming are stored in an area of Non-Volatile Memory (NVM), which retains its settings even if the power is removed from the system. These can be reset to factory defaults (see Engineer Reset above for the codes) by following this procedure:

1. Disconnect the mains power, either by removing the fuse of the in-line spur (if fitted) or at the main junction box.

2. Remove the control panel cover. If the system battery is operational, the system will go into a full alarm condition as you’ve opened the control panel tamper switch. If not, it will stay silent. Also, when you remove the battery, if the bell box has an internal battery, the bell may operate on its own. This is normal tamper protection.

3. Remove the wires from terminals 9 and 19 (9 is one of Zone 4 wires and 19 is Set +ve) making notes as to where they go. Place a wire jumper in terminals 9 and 19, linking them together.

4. Apply mains power (you can use the battery but it is best to use mains depending on the age and condition of the battery). The system will now have a reset NVM, and have factory settings applied. The Tamper and Attack indicators will be lit, and the system is in Self Test mode, showing any faulty/open zones. Fix as necessary, if necessary! Switch off mains.

5. Remove the wire jumper from 9 and 19, replace original wiring, refit battery (will go into Alarm if the battery’s good!) and cover. Silence the alarm with 0123 once the cover tamper is closed, then enter whichever Programming mode you wish to re-program the codes etc.

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The Optima XM is quite an old alarm panel, nearly 18 years old, but the ones that are still going strong are quite reliable. ADE Ltd (Advanced Design Electronics) are now owned by Honeywell, and the newer Optima G3/G4 panels are sold under the Honeywell name. There was a version of the Optima that used a keyswitch, but soon got discontinued, due to the system being too easily overridden. Burglars could just rip the front off the panel and short the keyswitch terminals to disarm the alarm.

Alarms are technically nothing but switches (normally closed type) in a circuit, and faults that occur are usually down to old and/or incorrect wiring, or faultysensors/PIRs. Pressure mats can stick closed (normally open) causing confusing triggers. The Optima panels had a microcontroller controlling the timers, triggers, zones and keypad, so was a bit more complex. Under Kitamura Security we’ve done quite a few, and can perform board repair and NVRAM repair on the Optima

One of the most common faults with the XM I’ve fixed in the past is when the customer calls me out saying the alarm is stuck in Tamper or Attack. This is usually caused by:

A. Faulty PIR/door magnet/panic button connected to any zone

If a sensing device is faulty, and or shorting, this causes the tamper. The system thinks it’s being attacked. To correct this, check the PIR/magnet/panic button internally for any obvious problems, and re-check/reform terminal wiring. Make sure the wiring is correct. One side is power, and the other is the pulse sense line to trigger.

B. Faulty wiring

I’ve had alarms go into tamper because of damaged wiring running under carpets that has had weight on it. Lazy engineering! All wiring should not be routed in traffic paths, under carpets or furniture. When I fit a wired alarm, I route all cabling under floorboards, where it can’t be disturbed. Trapped wiring causes shorts of the pulse line and power line, that can result in damage to the control board.

C. Faulty panel tamper switch

The spring inside the panel door connected to the door tamper switch has been known to slip sideways and off the switch due to the pressure of the door when screwed shut, and vibration, causing the Tamper. No matter how many times you reset it, if this switch is open, it’ll stay in fault until the Engineer code is input.

Fault Isolation

To isolate a wiring or detector fault, follow these steps:

a. Turn off the mains to the panel, and disconnect the battery

b. Remove the panel cover and remove ALL zone wiring, making sure you label what goes where.

c. Place service links across ALL 4 zones (any open zones will result in a trigger as soon as power is applied). DO NOT CONNECT LINKS ACROSS STROBE, ADE SCB, BELL OR TRANSFORMER TERMINALS!! Power on, and if all is fine, disconnect power again.

d. Re-introduce zones one at a time until the problem re-appears. Perform necessary repairs to faulty zone(s) and retry.

e. (Optional) Reset NVRAM, and perform factory installation programming.

f. Perform full system walk test to verify correct operation of all sensors, programming and panel.

g. Make a note of all zones, and customer code, handing them to the customer after showing them system operation.

The system should operate as a “skeleton”. This is my term for the way I set the system up on the floor loosely on a fresh install to test before screwing everything in place and routing wiring. I simply connect a door magnet, PIR, strobe and siren, and test basic operation. If the system doesn’t operate like this, the PCB requires service, which I can do.

There’s a lot of hype on the internet saying, “The Optima is utter shite”. That is so so untrue. They’re just awful cowboy engineers and whizz kids saying that. I have intimate experience of the Optima XM, as my parents still use one after 16 years of service, and myself in my repair outhouse at home, and serviced regularly, they’re great alarms. Quite rare nowadays, but if you can get a spare one working, it’d be great to keep around. I’ve even brought electrically dead ones back from the grave, and one of them is still running lovely 6 years later.

You could say I love the Optima XM. I do, greatly, and always will. It has protected the people and property who own them flawlessly, and it’s a joy every time I get called to service one that’s been in since new 10 – 15 years ago. They don’t make ’em these days like they used to!

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