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C & K 238 Panel stuck in arm mode

boggs32

Mar 28, 2020
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Mar 28, 2020
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Hi - I am desperate - I hope someone out there can help.

I purchased and installed this panel back in 1994! I am just now trying to get it going. Got all the zones wired, checked all was looking good UNTIL I entered by mistake an 'arm' only option when programming a 'User Arming Type and Combination.

Now my keypads indicate 'arm' continuously and I can't seem to enter programing mode because arm is lit.

I have tried cycling power, entering the code I programmed and many other things, nothing gets the arm light off.

Is there anyone out there that can help with this dinosaur - PLEASE
 

ChosunOne

Jun 20, 2010
453
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Jun 20, 2010
Messages
453
I'm sorry to be the bearer of sad tidings, but you're SOL (Sure Outta Luck). The C&K Panels won't let you into programming while they're armed, and there's no "back door" or "hard reset" like some other panels. Once you've armed the system and don't have a code to disarm it, there is no way to recover use of that panel. It's locked solid. C&K used to unlock their panels at the factory for a fee, but they're long gone and whoever bought them no longer supports the old C&K panels. :'(

I'm sorry I can't offer better news. I installed a lot of C&K panels back in the day, and I liked them.

The only mitigating good news I can offer is that you can buy a used Honeywell Vista-20P Control Panel with keypads at an affordable price on eBay these days. The Vista-20P has 8 on-board zones like the C&K 238, and is compatible with all your hardwired sensors ( pretty much all hardwired sensors, including motion and glassbreak sensors, are universally compatible with all hardwire control panels).

There are other professional-grade control panels that can be substituted for your C&K 238, but Honeywell (formerly Ademco) panels are easiest to recover if you accidentally lock yourself out by arming without a working disarm code. Also, IMHO, they are the most DIY-friendly brand.

EDIT: If you decide to buy a replacement panel, I advise checking with me first. I've had good luck on eBay, but I know what I'm buying and I've seen some sellers who don't seem to know what they're selling. Some sellers are selling "clones" of Vista-20P that aren't quite the same thing.
 
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boggs32

Mar 28, 2020
5
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Mar 28, 2020
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Yeah - thanks for the response I was figuring all hard wired stuff would still work, but wasn't 100% sure. I kinda came to that same SOL realization when after I posted this I read on near the back page of the manual under FAQ that if you 'accidentally' do this that you need to reset ii via remote programming or direct connect (RPS) with Commander II software (surely DOS based defunct unfindable) If it was a FAQ maybe there should have been a note on the programming page! I had no clue something like this would even be possible especially since I never did an install code lockout. Otherwise, I surely would have been much more careful, I just figured if I put something wrong in I could just correct it - yeah right hahaha. Why would they even have 'arm only' as an option - what would that ever do for anybody? other than lock you out! Guess that is why they are out of business. I still feel like a dufuss though for doing this!

I am just so mad - I was so close to having the thing working and didn't want to go through wiring in a replacement, but as you said - my only option. Unfortunately I already pulled the trigger on one on Ebay yesterday as it seemed too good a deal to pass up. If you would want to take a look at it for me - I would appreciate it! I was told everything works and it is defaulted to the original master and install codes. I am guessing that there is a install code 'lockout' in this once I get it set up?

https://www.ebay.com/itm/254553076932?ul_noapp=true

Thanks again for your response (thought posting on here may be a real shot in the dark) - let me know what you thing on the Vista 20 p setup I bought - also, one other question, I was thinking of getting the Envisalink interface - what do you think of those? Guessing you have experience ?
 

ChosunOne

Jun 20, 2010
453
Joined
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Messages
453
If it was a FAQ maybe there should have been a note on the programming page! I had no clue something like this would even be possible especially since I never did an install code lockout.

I don't disagree that a cautionary note on the relevant programming page would have been a good idea. The thing to remember is that these professional-grade panels are made for alarm dealers that use professional technicians, and it's assumed that whoever is using the manual already has the experience & caution not to get him/herself in trouble. The manuals aren't intended for DIYers, because that's not their market.
That being said, occasionally some novice techs _still_ do what you did. I don't want to confess all the novice blunders I made in my first few years in this field.


Why would they even have 'arm only' as an option - what would that ever do for anybody? other than lock you out! Guess that is why they are out of business. I still feel like a dufuss though for doing this!

Actually, every professional-grade panel out there has some variant of the 'arm-only' feature. It's to allow, e.g., cleaning people to arm on their way out, things like that (these panels are used in small businesses too, not just homes). There's also some variant of a 'baby-sitter' code that has limited capabilities but can't disarm the system just any time. Professional-grade panels have a lot of features that the vast majority of homeowners don't know about and probably shouldn't experiment with.



I already pulled the trigger on one on Ebay yesterday as it seemed too good a deal to pass up. If you would want to take a look at it for me - I would appreciate it! I was told everything works and it is defaulted to the original master and install codes. I am guessing that there is a install code 'lockout' in this once I get it set up?

As far as I can see from your link, it looks good. Unlike the C&K (and a few other brands), if you forget the Installer Code, there's a "back door" into programming to find it again.
But I strongly advise you NOT to Arm the system unless you know for certain that you have a working User Code to Disarm. You do NOT test a User Code by arming and seeing if it will disarm. If you're testing, that means you aren't certain. Test a valid User Code (NOT the Installer Code, the IC is not a User Code) by toggling the Chime Mode, or Disarming (even if it's already Disarmed, the Keypad will beep to indicate the code is valid).

The "back door" I mentioned will work to get into programming, if the system is Disarmed. If the system is Armed, that back door _usually_ (but not always) works. So avoid Arming until you have your User Codes in place. The Vista-20P supports a Master Code (which is a User Code) and more "secondary" User Codes than any home will ever need. The very first thing I do when I program a panel is to set at least 2 User Codes, even if I'm only going to use one. The 2nd UC is for backup--for instance, if User somehow bollixes changing the Master Code and doesn't know what s/he just changed it to (happens all the time), there's still a known code to Disarm until you get the MC straightened out. And always test a new code before Arming the system.



Thanks again for your response (thought posting on here may be a real shot in the dark) - let me know what you thing on the Vista 20 p setup I bought - also, one other question, I was thinking of getting the Envisalink interface - what do you think of those? Guessing you have experience ?

Unfortunately, I retired about 10 years ago, before Envisalink became available, and only take care of a few personal accounts now, none of which have asked me to install an Envisalink for them. Other still-working techs I know through DIY forums swear by the EVL though. It looks like a pretty straightforward module to integrate, as long as you have a landline.[/QUOTE][/QUOTE]
 
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boggs32

Mar 28, 2020
5
Joined
Mar 28, 2020
Messages
5
I don't disagree that a cautionary note on the relevant programming page would have been a good idea. The thing to remember is that these professional-grade panels are made for alarm dealers that use professional technicians, and it's assumed that whoever is using the manual already has the experience & caution not to get him/herself in trouble. The manuals aren't intended for DIYers, because that's not their market.
That being said, occasionally some novice techs _still_ do what you did. I don't want to confess all the novice blunders I made in my first few years in this field.

I see your point - thanks. With my past work experience I guess it put me in the category of 'knows enough to be dangerous' or overconfident at the least - lesson learned, lol.


Actually, every professional-grade panel out there has some variant of the 'arm-only' feature. It's to allow, e.g., cleaning people to arm on their way out, things like that (these panels are used in small businesses too, not just homes). There's also some variant of a 'baby-sitter' code that has limited capabilities but can't disarm the system just any time. Professional-grade panels have a lot of features that the vast majority of homeowners don't know about and probably shouldn't experiment with.

Makes sense - thanks again for the explanation



As far as I can see from your link, it looks good. Unlike the C&K (and a few other brands), if you forget the Installer Code, there's a "back door" into programming to find it again.

That is what I was told by another, so hopefully I won't, but if I do screw it up again, I have an out. Still am not real certain how the code I put in the C & K did not work - it is a code I have used before and will never forget. I even tried every logical combination as if I missed a number by a button or if I did not fully depress a button since as I read in the manual it seems that you can have a code anywhere from 2-5 digits.

But I strongly advise you NOT to Arm the system unless you know for certain that you have a working User Code to Disarm. You do NOT test a User Code by arming and seeing if it will disarm. If you're testing, that means you aren't certain. Test a valid User Code (NOT the Installer Code, the IC is not a User Code) by toggling the Chime Mode, or Disarming (even if it's already Disarmed, the Keypad will beep to indicate the code is valid).

The "back door" I mentioned will work to get into programming, if the system is Disarmed. If the system is Armed, that back door _usually_ (but not always) works. So avoid Arming until you have your User Codes in place. The Vista-20P supports a Master Code (which is a User Code) and more "secondary" User Codes than any home will ever need. The very first thing I do when I program a panel is to set at least 2 User Codes, even if I'm only going to use one. The 2nd UC is for backup--for instance, if User somehow bollixes changing the Master Code and doesn't know what s/he just changed it to (happens all the time), there's still a known code to Disarm until you get the MC straightened out. And always test a new code before Arming the system.

Above 2 paragraphs are Excellent advise and again kicking myself in the pants for not at least thinking of doing one of them! I printed this out and have it on the top of my info. for when I get to it again - thanks very much for your time in typing this out for me.



Unfortunately, I retired about 10 years ago, before Envisalink became available, and only take care of a few personal accounts now, none of which have asked me to install an Envisalink for them. Other still-working techs I know through DIY forums swear by the EVL though. It looks like a pretty straightforward module to integrate, as long as you have a landline.
[/QUOTE][/QUOTE]

My understanding is that the EVL works via a cat5 connection and is accessible via cell phone app so you can basically observe/monitor the system yourself if you choose to do so - so no landline should be required.

Thanks again for all your time and advise and be safe.
 

boggs32

Mar 28, 2020
5
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Mar 28, 2020
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Not being familiar with this forum - I mistakenly inserted most of my replies within your response - please expand your response and read - thanks again!
 

boggs32

Mar 28, 2020
5
Joined
Mar 28, 2020
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In thinking about what I wrote above about trying every combination of the code I put in - I re-realized that even if I did punch in the right code - it would have Never disarmed the system anyways - back full circle to your original SOL - sorry - I've been thinking about this so much I am confusing myself!
 
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