Pentair SOLARTOUCH Control System QUIT Working - LCD Displays 'black square' characters

ssubiriasj

Member
Sep 11, 2014
5
Hernando, FL
SOLATOUCH Solar Control System quit working.

The LCD displays 'black squares' characters on top level, and nothing on lower level. Checked every point including FUSE, TRANSFORMER Outputs (15/30volts), ribbon cable continuity, voltage at LCD (4vdc), valve actuator operates when switch position is changed.

This controller includes two PCBs.
1) P/N 521604-Control Panel (Faceplate and Control Board)
2) P/N 521605-Power Board & Ribbon Cable.

I contacted Pentair Technical support who stated that it is a possible that P/N 521604-Control Panel (Faceplate and Control Board) may be defective. Online search for this replacement part has been unsuccessful.

Has anyone out there experienced this same problem? Can someone help with troubleshooting and possibly provide solution/FIX.
 

ogdento

Bronze Supporter
Mar 30, 2015
734
Chico, CA
Hi there, Sunplay has the replacement board...

If the top row is just showing dark squares it sounds like the microcontroller is not starting up because it seems like the lcd module is not getting initialized... they usually default to display 1 row.

It may be repairable but it's hard to say what the actual problem is... so here are a few other questions:

1. You said that the valve actuator operates when the switch position is changed... you're talking about the switch on the actuator itself? i.e. you're not saying that anything on the solar touch is functioning?
2. do you see any indications that any components on the board have "let out the magic smoke"? can you share a hi res photo of your board? (i don't have a solar touch to look at).
3. Also, it looks like there's a voltage regulator on the board (labelled U2)... it's probably a 5v device but I can't see the numbers... check the output of that too.

Tom
 

ssubiriasj

Member
Sep 11, 2014
5
Hernando, FL
Hi there, Sunplay has the replacement board...

If the top row is just showing dark squares it sounds like the microcontroller is not starting up because it seems like the lcd module is not getting initialized... they usually default to display 1 row.

It may be repairable but it's hard to say what the actual problem is... so here are a few other questions:

1. You said that the valve actuator operates when the switch position is changed... you're talking about the switch on the actuator itself? i.e. you're not saying that anything on the solar touch is functioning?
2. do you see any indications that any components on the board have "let out the magic smoke"? can you share a hi res photo of your board? (i don't have a solar touch to look at).
3. Also, it looks like there's a voltage regulator on the board (labelled U2)... it's probably a 5v device but I can't see the numbers... check the output of that too.

Tom
Thanks much for your response.

#1 answer: YES, I am talking about the switch on the actuator.
#2 answer. The controller LCD display is 'now' totally 'blank'. This morning I opened the controller door and noticed the temperature on all components to be awfully hot. I removed all power to the unit and removed both PCB controllers to take pictures. The Microchip PIC16F1939 seems to have a small surface hole. Maybe a 'blown' microchip. If necessary and at your request I may attach photos of these items.
#3 answer. The voltage regulator you mentioned "U2" is labelled 'ON Semiconductor # 117-5G'. Have not taken voltage reading on this U2 semiconductor.

Do you service OR repair this type of problems?
 

ogdento

Bronze Supporter
Mar 30, 2015
734
Chico, CA
Hey you're welcome!

It definitely seems like it's doing nothing at all besides getting unreasonably hot... that could be an indication that something is shorted, causing it to draw too much current. A hole in the microcontroller (pic16f1939) would explain why it won't start up and initialize the lcd!

Go ahead and send some pics. I've repaired a lot of different pentair boards but I'm not a pool guy or an electronics shop - just a nerd with an interest in the stuff. The trick with this one will be to see why it's drawing so much current.

Thanks for the number on U2... it's a 5 volt regulator, and here's the pinout if you want to test it (1 - ground, 2 - output, 3 - input)
1633840016446.png
 

ssubiriasj

Member
Sep 11, 2014
5
Hernando, FL
Again, your respond is much appreciated.

Photos of my SOLARTOUCH controller, Microprocessor, and U2 are attached FYI. As the U2 regulator photo shows the center-pin #2 is gone/missing. Also the MICROPROCESSOR may be 'blown'. Could the small surface hole on the microprocessor be prove/indication that the microprocess is 'blown'? What is your view?

If appropriate, can I contact you 'off' this TFP forum/site?
 

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Jimrahbe

Mod Squad
TFP Expert
LifeTime Supporter
Jul 7, 2014
23,118
Bedford, TX
S,

The small hole in the top of the chip is a classic indication of a bad chip... It happens a lot after a lightning strike.

I have also seen them with the entire top of the chip blown off...

Thanks,

Jim R.
 

ssubiriasj

Member
Sep 11, 2014
5
Hernando, FL
Thanks Jim R.

What's you thought. . . will replacing the damaged MICROCHIP (PIC16F1939) fix this problem? Will reprogramming OR firmware update be necessary? I do not have experience OR know-how in achieving these steps.

Your thought please.
 

ssubiriasj

Member
Sep 11, 2014
5
Hernando, FL
Hello Tom . . .(ogdento),

More input FYI . . . I recently took U2 regulator voltage readings. Reading between terminals #1 & #2 is 5 volts. Reading between terminals #1 & #3 is 10 volts. I researched www.onsemi.com data sheet. U2 on my PCB seems to match 117-5G ALYWW detail sketch. Meaning that the center pin (#2) is a short terminal that is not soldered to the PCB.

As of this moment, I have both SOLARTOUCH PCBs connected to 120 v.a.c. on my work table. The 'green' LED is fully lit. The LCD top row has returned to black squares. Second row on the LCD is 'blank', displaying no characters.

Could replacing the damaged MICROCHIP (PIC16F1939) solve the problem? If replaced with a new MICROCHIP will reprogramming OR firmware update be necessary? There are 'on-line' talks about having to 'flash' the microprocessor. Do you have you any idea what 'flashing' the microprocessor means or how it is done?
 

Jimrahbe

Mod Squad
TFP Expert
LifeTime Supporter
Jul 7, 2014
23,118
Bedford, TX
will replacing the damaged MICROCHIP (PIC16F1939) fix this problem?
S,

No way to really know for sure.. It it was a lightning hit, then a number of chips could be bad..

For sure you don't have anything to lose by replacing it except the cost of the chip and your time.

Most microprocessors are generic in nature and must be told what to do and when to do it.. Some get programmed inside the processor itself and some have the program stored in a separate memory chip.. Loading that program is often called "flashing" the program.

Without that program the microprocessor is useless..

That said, Tom is the component expert, so let's see what he has to say.. @ogdento


Is this the same board??? Pentair SolarTouch Control Panel Board Assembly 521604

Thanks,

Jim R.
 

ogdento

Bronze Supporter
Mar 30, 2015
734
Chico, CA
Hey S,
Yeah that pic micro is toast... as Jim said, that can happen from a lightning strike (a power surge can do it too). But they do just die sometimes. Had there been any storms around the time the controller stopped working? (The short #2 pin is ok because it's internally connected to the tab which is soldered to the board)

Replacing the microcontroller will require reprogramming as the replacement will be blank - on this board the flash memory is internal to the microcontroller. Pentair makes the firmware available on their site and it requires the mplab program (free) and a pic-kit 3 programmer (not free). I've got an older pic-kit2... the readme says it can program the 16f1939.

I'm not certain that the micro is the only damaged part, but it is certainly damaged - the only way to see if it will work is to try it. You can start a conversation with me on tfp by clicking the "mail" icon in the top right next to your profile link, try that and we can exchange contact info.

Thanks,
Tom
 

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