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Thread: LOW AMPS ON POOL PILOT DIGITAL?

  1. Back To Top    #1

    Join Date
    May 2010
    Location
    Dallas, TX
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    LOW AMPS ON POOL PILOT DIGITAL?

    Getting a low amps blinking light on my Digital Pool Pilot (DIG-220) bought and running since June 2006. The unit is configured and tested so far as follows:

    • Software version 4.2
    • Original SC-60 cell with 31,800 amp hours
    • Power Level 3
    • Water has 3,400 PPM salt (verified) @ 84 degrees
    • Cleaned cell, shows wear (both outer and middle plates shorter than rest)
    • Checked all fuses as good
    • Checked cell cable end thru to connection in upper left of power board – good
    • Banana terminals are clean and tight
    • Unit grounded to pumps & earth
    • Setup as 230V, verified both sides of contactor show 115V output
    • Both fans not working – BUT both work if put jumper from power board ground pin to fan black wire (bypassing control/display board)
    • Checked fan connection on back of control/display board, re-soldered 3 pins, continuity good, fans still do not work
    • Some (brown) minor heat damage showing at top left of power board (see pictures)
    • Some capacitors showing slight bulge on top (see pictures)

    PROBLEM 1: So, the Low amps / Check Cell error messages seems to be a little strange in that it fixes itself over time. Here is a table of two separate tests of volt / amps over time with the unit on boost mode:

    FIRST BOOST TEST (“cold”)
    Turn on: 22v @ 4.6 amps
    5 minutes: 16v @ 3.2 amps
    20 minutes: 18v @ 3.7 amps
    50 minutes: 19v @ 4.3 amps
    70 minutes: 21v @ 5.5 amps
    110 minutes: 24v @ 7.4 amps
    130 minutes: 24v @ 8.0 amps

    SECOND BOOST TEST (after turned off for 2+ hours "resting")
    Turn on: 24v @ 7.9amps
    30 sec: 19v @ 3.5 amps
    1 min: 18v @ 3.5 amps
    5 min: 18v @ 3.7 amps
    20 min: 19v @ 4.5 amps
    1 hour+: 24v @ 8.0 amps

    So, anyone have any information on this type of problem? I think the power board may be bad (weak??) since the fans are not working, the brown heat “stain” on the top left of the board, and the slight bulge (more like not flat than a bulge at this point) on a couple of the capacitors. On the other hand, it does seem to work after an hour or more.

    I also know the cell is showing signs of wear, but I understand these cells should last for about 60,000 amp hours and I am only at half of that. Is this a "weak" cell, or do they either work or not?

    And I would sure HATE to have to replace both the power board and the cell!

    PROBLEM 2: I must also deal with the fans not working. As I said above, the power board fan connector is showing 12vdc, and if I jumper the ground directly to one or the other black fan wires from the control board side, they both come on. I removed the control board from the case and re-soldered the 3 pin fan connector. Tested between board and end of wire and it’s a good connection. What else is there to try except replace the board?

    MY CONCLUSION: So between both problems, I think I’m looking at replacing the whole control box and maybe even the cell. That’s a lot of money to throw at these problems. Also, while the unit is 7 years old, it really should not “wear out” in that timeframe.

    HELP: Anyone have some advice as to how to proceed? Sean, any guidance from the manufacturer?
    Attached Images Attached Images
    15,500 gal, plaster, Magnetec E-Plus 1.5 HP pump, Hayward Pro-Grid DE Filter
    Pool Pilot DG-220 SWG with SC-60 cell (installed 2006)
    Pentair Letro Legend II pool cleaner with 1.0 HP Emerson pump
    TF-100 Test Kit

  2. Back To Top    #2

    Join Date
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    Ft Lauderdale, Florida
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    Re: LOW AMPS ON POOL PILOT DIGITAL?

    Jim, did you run these tests with the unit in Boost mode? If so, the amps and volts should be consistent on all your tests. If not, place the unit in Boost first, then run your tests again.
    The fan should only come on when the cell is activated. Again, if you did these tests in the boost mode, then the fan not operating would lead to a problem with the control board not activating them.
    The discoloration along the top of the circuit board is normal signs of heat, but not an indicator of failure.
    The cell life should be around 60,000 amp hours. However, there are conditions that can shorten that. Such as low salt, low stabilizer (in outdoor pools), or scaled cell conditions.
    Low Amps/Cell? occurs when the cell approaches the end of it's usable life, but I would have expected to see high volts (29 - 31 volts) and low amps (less than 50% of the cell power setting). The low amps and low volts points to a power module issue...but then again, if these tests are done when the cell is ramping power up or down, you may get these readings. That's why it is recommended to run these tests with the unit in boost.

    Again, if you did perform these test after you placed the system on boost, I would diagnose the problem to be with a failing power module (most likely at the capacitors). There have been some members who has replaced the capacitors themselves with beefier components. You would have to search through previous posts to find their sources for these components, if you're willling to try this yourself.
    Sean Assam - Sean@teamhorner.com
    National Accounts and Commercial Products Manager
    AquaCal Heat Pumps www.aquacal.com
    AutoPilot Salt Chlorine Generators www.autopilot.com

  3. Back To Top    #3

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    Re: LOW AMPS ON POOL PILOT DIGITAL?

    Sean,

    The two tests were both taken with the unit in boost mode. I ran my test twice to record exact readings & times. This seems to be the usual behavior at this point: When it starts up I get low amps with low volts and amps. Slowly over the course of an hour or so, both readings increase until they show a normal reading of 24v @ 8.0 amps. The unit stays at the normal reading for however long the unit is on. Or maybe I should say however long the unit is hot (since the fans are not working).

    As the second test shows, turning the unit off and letting it cool down for an hour or so, then restarting it into boost mode shows the same pattern of low volts and amps that slowly increase over about an hour until they are back to normal (24v @ 8 amps).

    The fans never come on. I have checked after boost mode has been on over an hour or two.

    So, you're thinking that the problem may be the capacitors on the power board? If I can get the parts, I am able to change them out. Looking at my picture above, I see a group of 3 black capacitors of the left edge of the power board, two (blue & brown) to the right of the 3 group, and a LARGE black one below these 5 smaller capacitors. Do you recommend I change out all 6 of these? Are there other capacitors on the power board or have I identified all of them?

    Does anyone have a good source for these capacitors? I know someone said they couldn't get the locally (like radio shack), so I guess an internet site is the way to go? Anyone have a list of these caps? If not, I will publish a list once I take the unit apart.

    As to the fans, can I just wire the fans directly to the power board terminal? If it only outputs 12 volts when the unit is running, then this will work. On the other hand, if it is always powered on, then I need to find another way to turn them on only when the unit is running. Suggestions? About how much does the control board cost?

    Finally, one last question. The EPROM chip I have on the control board is labeled SW 4.2. Can I get a new EPROM chip with the latest software version?

    Thanks for your help!
    15,500 gal, plaster, Magnetec E-Plus 1.5 HP pump, Hayward Pro-Grid DE Filter
    Pool Pilot DG-220 SWG with SC-60 cell (installed 2006)
    Pentair Letro Legend II pool cleaner with 1.0 HP Emerson pump
    TF-100 Test Kit

  4. Back To Top    #4

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    Dallas, TX
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    Re: LOW AMPS ON POOL PILOT DIGITAL?

    After review of other AutoPilot capacitor problem posts, I researched the exact 4 bad capacitors my power board had installed. They are Teapo SX series 1,000 uf 50v, rated at 1,000 hours at a max temp of 105 degrees (C). Since heat seems to be the common issue with these caps, I took Sean's suggestion to get upgraded parts. In this case, I ordered six (I wanted some spares) 1,000 uf 63v capacitors rated at 5,000 hours @ 125 degrees (C). This is DigiKey.com part number 565-3404-ND for $3.88 each, plus $3 shipping. These caps have the same 16mm diameter, but are a little taller (old were 25mm, new are 36.5 mm). This will halp get rid of some heat. These caps may be a little overkill, but I really don't want to do all this again and at the price it's a bargain! So hopefully for about $26 I will have my unit running again, and that will be just peachy.

    As for the fans not getting power, I tested the power board fan connector and it is outputting 12VDC whenever there is power to the unit, NOT just when the unit is running. So I guess my idea of wiring the fans directly to the fan connector is not going to work since then the fans would run all the time.

    From the power board connector (red & blue wires), the red wires go directly to the fans, while the blue goes into the control board. The same connector on the control board then has two black wires that go from the control board to the fans. So, I will either have to find where this ground wire is broken on the control board, or figure out where there is another ground that is only grounded when the unit is running. Any suggestions are welcome.

    Sean, while I am doing all this, can I also change out the EPROM that has 4.2 software on it for the lastes verions (4.4?)?

    As usual, I am blown away by all the help, support this forum generates. Thank You All!

    Jim Smith
    15,500 gal, plaster, Magnetec E-Plus 1.5 HP pump, Hayward Pro-Grid DE Filter
    Pool Pilot DG-220 SWG with SC-60 cell (installed 2006)
    Pentair Letro Legend II pool cleaner with 1.0 HP Emerson pump
    TF-100 Test Kit

  5. Back To Top    #5

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    Re: LOW AMPS ON POOL PILOT DIGITAL?

    Jim, while it's a simple change out on the chip, we do not offer just the chip. it's only available if you purchase a control board, PN 833.
    The fan use to be powered whenever the unit is powered. However, we made a change so that the fans only come on whenever the cells are "on".
    The 833 board also controls the fans on/off cycle. Did you check to see if the fans are working when wired directly to the power board? You can also put a 9V battery to the wires to test it.
    Sean Assam - Sean@teamhorner.com
    National Accounts and Commercial Products Manager
    AquaCal Heat Pumps www.aquacal.com
    AutoPilot Salt Chlorine Generators www.autopilot.com

  6. Back To Top    #6

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    Re: LOW AMPS ON POOL PILOT DIGITAL?

    Yes, both fans work when connected directly to the power board connector as described in my last post. They also don't work when wired thru the control board. All wires and connectors tested good.

    The only thing left is the control board, so I'm going to pull it out and see if anything looks wrong and if I can get continuity from the board connector thru to the first components on the board. I would not want to buy a new $300 control board just to get the fans working. If nothing else, I'll just wire them directly to the power board connector and let them run 24 by 7.
    15,500 gal, plaster, Magnetec E-Plus 1.5 HP pump, Hayward Pro-Grid DE Filter
    Pool Pilot DG-220 SWG with SC-60 cell (installed 2006)
    Pentair Letro Legend II pool cleaner with 1.0 HP Emerson pump
    TF-100 Test Kit

  7. Back To Top    #7

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    Ft Lauderdale, Florida
    Posts
    1,455

    Re: LOW AMPS ON POOL PILOT DIGITAL?

    If you have your pump on a timeclock, the Pool Pilot should also be wired to the same location at the pump, so that it's not running 24/7. You should be ok with wiring them up directly to the power module so it's running whenever the Pool Pilot and pump are energized.
    Sean Assam - Sean@teamhorner.com
    National Accounts and Commercial Products Manager
    AquaCal Heat Pumps www.aquacal.com
    AutoPilot Salt Chlorine Generators www.autopilot.com

  8. Back To Top    #8

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    May 2010
    Location
    Dallas, TX
    Posts
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    Re: LOW AMPS ON POOL PILOT DIGITAL?

    Actually, I use the Pool Pilot as the pump controller, so I don't have an external clock to turn the fan's on/off. On the other hand, that idea would be cheaper than a new control board.

    Is there still a program by AutoPilot for me to send in the broken controller board and have it repaired by a bench tech? I saw that option in one of your posts back in 2009.
    15,500 gal, plaster, Magnetec E-Plus 1.5 HP pump, Hayward Pro-Grid DE Filter
    Pool Pilot DG-220 SWG with SC-60 cell (installed 2006)
    Pentair Letro Legend II pool cleaner with 1.0 HP Emerson pump
    TF-100 Test Kit

  9. Back To Top    #9

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    May 2010
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    Dallas, TX
    Posts
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    Re: LOW AMPS ON POOL PILOT DIGITAL?

    OK, I replaced the 4 caps on the power board and that went pretty well.

    I also noticed a cap on the control/display board had a little bulge on the end too. I found that locally and replaced it (a 1000 uf, 16 volt, 105 degrees cap with one rated 1000 uf, 25 volt, 105 degrees), thinking that this may help with the fans not coming on.

    So, I put the whole thing back together and NOTHING! Display does not work, buttons don't do anything. The only thing I can say is that when I power on the unit, I head a click of one of the replays on the power board, but that is about it.

    Took it apart again and checked the cap I replaced on the control board. Looks good since I get continuity between each cap lead and the far connection of the next component on the board for each lead. So, I guess I must have screwed something up somewhere on the control board. I took out the button battery and it's dead, so I just put it back in as I don't thing that would prevent the control board from not displaying anything on the panel. I think at this point that I need a new control board and that the power board is fixed. On the other hand, I don't want to buy each board one at a time to troubleshoot over the next week or two. I need the pool back working!

    Bottom line is that I give up! I guess I'll just order a whole new control unit (I think called a power supply, part number DIG-220) for $600 (which is the only price I see listed anywhere on the internet). Can anyone recommend a good AutoPilot dealer? I'm thinking of ordering from saltpoolguys.com. Anyone have experience with them (good or bad)?

    Anyone else have any suggestions?
    15,500 gal, plaster, Magnetec E-Plus 1.5 HP pump, Hayward Pro-Grid DE Filter
    Pool Pilot DG-220 SWG with SC-60 cell (installed 2006)
    Pentair Letro Legend II pool cleaner with 1.0 HP Emerson pump
    TF-100 Test Kit

  10. Back To Top    #10

    Join Date
    May 2010
    Location
    Dallas, TX
    Posts
    11

    Re: LOW AMPS ON POOL PILOT DIGITAL?

    Problem Resolved. Called SaltPoolGuys.com and ordered a complete control unit (DIG-220). Took me about 3 hours to swap it out and get it running. A little more money than I wanted to spend, but its done and I can move on to other things.

    As a footnote, if you need anything Pool Pilot related, I recommend SaltPoolGuys.com. They shipped a new unit out on the same day, were able to explain differences between 4.4 software and 4.2 software, and was nice, friendly and helpful. Highly recommended!

    End of Story.
    15,500 gal, plaster, Magnetec E-Plus 1.5 HP pump, Hayward Pro-Grid DE Filter
    Pool Pilot DG-220 SWG with SC-60 cell (installed 2006)
    Pentair Letro Legend II pool cleaner with 1.0 HP Emerson pump
    TF-100 Test Kit

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