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Yellow_donkey
08/17/2016, 10:46 PM
Hello Everyone. My DIY ATO worked great for 2 months and then failed las week. It is wired exactly like this example:

http://smg.photobucket.com/user/Original_Tarheel/media/Diagrams%20and%20Schematics/ATOWiringDiagram.jpg.html

I have replaced both switches, the relay and the wiring. I have the floats to the point that as I move them up or down the relay LED with light accordingly. So it looks like it is working as it should but when I connect to the positive of the clipped extension cord I get a constant ON. Even as I move the float and the relay's LED goes on and off. I have moved the extension cord splice to the other pole and around the poles and i get a constant on no matter what, never hear the relay switch and the power is always on for the lamp I have plugged in.

This is with 3 different relays!

Can anyone help me with an idea, remember this was wired for 2 months and worked great, nothing has changed with the wiring.

Could the wall transformer not be juicing enough to the 5A relay? That is the only thing I have not changed as I do not have another 12V wall wart to sacrafice.

Could the relay LED light but not have enough power to switch, it did before for 2 months but failed now? That is the only thing I can think of!

Could it be that, anything else? please help, I have spent way to many hours on this now!!! Thank you.

NubbsJRN
08/18/2016, 03:33 AM
I am assuming you have your pump wired to the normally open side of the relay.

This means you would need power to the low voltage side of the circut.

Unplug the wall transformer and see if your high voltage circut stays live.

This will be step one in diagnosing your issue.

Also some pics of the relay and wiring will help is diagnose the problem.

The one pic you posted is not showing up


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mcgyvr
08/18/2016, 06:07 AM
please try to repost your schematic.. Its not coming through..

Yellow_donkey
08/18/2016, 11:40 AM
Thanks guys, here is the corrected image. This is how I am wired.

https://i.imgsafe.org/5e2ac4845c.png

And yes, if I unplug the 12V 1.5 Amp wall transformer on the float side, the green relay led will go out but the relay still provide a current though the spliced extension cord. Very odd! This worked perfectly, only item not changed is the low voltage side transformer.

Here is the relay as I have it wired, please ignore the sloppy connections, I went through out 20 different re-wires until about 2 am and didn't care anymore, haha.

https://i.imgsafe.org/5e3fb7ea58.jpg

I have been using my meter too, but in no way a meter guru. I can see both floats are good as they turn off the relay LED (also wired just one and all spares, so not issue with floats I dont think). I do get 60 Hz from the coil signals/low voltage side and 12 V. Amps I forget, but will I get an amp reading without a draw?

Nothing will cause any of the three relays I have, other two are different brand and less connections, but I can still wire them the same way and all I get is a open Pole 1 or open pole 2, nothing comes into the coil to cause it to flip close and break the current to the light/pump.

Thanks, again any help suggestions greatly appreciated.

mcgyvr
08/18/2016, 11:50 AM
I'm too lazy to lookup the proper wiring of the relay socket but..

You should NOT get 60hz at the coil as you are feeding it DC which has no frequency.. only AC does..

Icecube relays make it easy to see the contacts changing state.. Just look inside it..

(as to meter use)..
Set to DC volts.. Place black lead on one side of the relay coil.. place red on the other..
When the floats are in the down position (low on water) you should see 12VDC across the coil... When floats are in the up position you should see 0VDC..

Then switch to resistance mode (turn on beeper if you have a continuity beeper) and remove the pump wiring..
Then check across the C(line contact) and NO contacts of the relay..
When floats are in the low water position there should be continuity (or a resistance measurement) when floats are in the high/good water position that should be open or no resistance..

Thats it.. If that isn't happening check back..

Double check your wiring to the relay socket or post the diagram/schematic for it so we can verify....

and can you please take another pic of the top of the relay without glare so I can read it..

sleepydoc
08/18/2016, 04:53 PM
How much AC voltage is on the coil? Depending on the transformer, you may have some low voltage AC noise. Start from the beginning: disconnect everything and start testing individual components. Verify you have the contacts straight on the relay, too. If you had the contacts mixed up and connected 120V to one, you could have fried the relay.

First, Check the resistance between the common and NO & NC contacts of the relay with your ohm/continuity meter. They should be open and closed circuits, respectively. Just to be complete, you can check to make sure there is no conductivity between the NO & NC contacts or between the poles.

Now check your transformer to make sure you're getting 12V DC out. (I assume the relay is a 12V DC relay, too)

Now hook up the transformer coil contacts. When you plug in the transformer, do you hear a click? Now check the resistance between the common and NO/NC contacts to make sure it changed.

Assuming all this checks out, double check your float switches with your ohm/continuity tester. Now try adding the float switch in line with your transformer.

You should be able to figure out where the problem is

Yellow_donkey
08/21/2016, 08:41 PM
Now hook up the transformer coil contacts. When you plug in the transformer, do you hear a click? Now check the resistance between the common and NO/NC contacts to make sure it changed.

See no. Whenever I connect the two lines for the coil and then plug in the 12v transformer I never get a click. Any of the three relays. I really do think the transformer is lacking in juice now, or something with it. It does show 12V at the lines that connect to the relay.

I still need to go through everything above, line by line. So frustrated. I just dont have another 12V transfer lying around, which I cant believe.

Could the transformer just go out like that or fall below the threshold needed to energize the coil?

theatrus
08/21/2016, 11:08 PM
See no. Whenever I connect the two lines for the coil and then plug in the 12v transformer I never get a click. Any of the three relays. I really do think the transformer is lacking in juice now, or something with it. It does show 12V at the lines that connect to the relay.

I still need to go through everything above, line by line. So frustrated. I just dont have another 12V transfer lying around, which I cant believe.

Could the transformer just go out like that or fall below the threshold needed to energize the coil?

Possible - measure the voltage of the power supply when connected to the relay coils.

Whats the rating on the coil vs the power supply? Is it just a big brick transformer (heavy chunk) or a more modern power supply?

sleepydoc
08/22/2016, 03:24 PM
So the transformer is generating 12 volts? Like theateus said, how much current will the transformer generate and how much current does the coil require? (It is a DC relay, right?) check the resistance of the relay coil with an ohm meter - it should be close to 0


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michaelrc51
08/22/2016, 08:01 PM
I doubt it's not enough current. most of those relays require very little current to energize the coil but definitely check.
Before taking it apart I would use your meter and diagnose the issue. To check the float switch and make sure you are getting your 12VDC, check for VDC at power supply. Then check for it after each float switch by leaving the one leg of the meter on the power supply, the side that goes straight through to the relay, then check for VDC at each leg of each float switch with the other probe. Then check at the relay base and verify with the meter and see activation of the relay coil.
Once you are sure that the low voltage side of things is working correctly do the same with the AC side that you are switching. Put the - leg of the tester in a neutral of the outlet and check for 120VAC on each terminal. One side will have continuous power and the other side should go from 0 to 120VAC when the relay changes state.
I would start on the DC side and make sure that is working as you want it to.
I assume the relay can handle the voltage and amperage you are using it for, but have you checked these specs?
You need to make sure it can handle the amperage you are putting through it. I see it says 5amp relay, I assume your pump requires less amperage but make sure you verify that.

I am wondering one thing, which side of the power do you have going through your float switches,- or +?
If you are switching the + side of the 12VDC this could be our issue. Try swapping which leg you're switching if that is the case. In that case the - would be constant and the + from the VAC side could be causing the relay to stick.
It could be that the LED turns on when it senses 12VDC at the coil but the coil is sticking due to the voltage on the relay side. Thus the relay is stuck in the active position but the LED isn't on because there isn't 12VDC at the coil.

One thing I wold check is which way the relay is sticking. My assumption would be that any time you plug the chord in the relay goes active and will not release.

NubbsJRN
08/22/2016, 09:52 PM
My understanding is that you are saying you get 120 ac current through the NO side of the relay even with the 12 volt transformer unpluged?

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mcgyvr
08/23/2016, 09:15 AM
Donkey just needs to perform the diagnostics sleepy and I posted about in posts 5 and 6 and report back..
That will check the entire circuit

Becks
08/23/2016, 09:35 AM
The way the insulation has been striped from the conductor On the white wire looks like it's touching the terminal on the black cable below it. I would redo all those connections when you figure out the problem.

uncleof6
08/23/2016, 10:20 PM
Relay has 2 failure modes: fail open, and fail closed. From the sound of it, all three relays are failing closed. E.G. you are getting 120VAC to the lamp, regardless of the coil state (energized or not.) The LED is running from the 12VDC side of the circuit, and could be acting (with a resistor as well) as a flyback diode, to prevent damage to the coil when the field collapses. Meaning the coil is getting energized, but that does not indicate the state of the relay contacts. (Open or closed)

No click is curious. Did you ever hear the click of the relay contacts when the system was "working?" An obvious question. Eliminating the impossible: all three relays "will not" all be faulty in the same way (barring a batch problem.) E.G. It is not the relays. The wall wart is working, e.g. 12volts at the coil, led comes on. Float switches replaced, and working. E.G. the led goes on and off. Whatever remains, no matter how improbable is likely the problem. (thanks Spock)

My first inclination would be contamination in the relay socket, e.g. dust, salt vapor, what have you that is shorting it out, making it seem that the contacts are always closed. This would explain why what was once working is no longer working. Does not explain silence of the contacts, however. The other glaring problem is the wiring. I would not even try to troubleshoot it with it wired like that. Back up, start at the plug end and rework your connections (don't use wire nuts unless there is no other option; they are unreliable.) Crimp and solder ends onto the wires that attach to the relay socket. When making your connections, pay attention to the continuity in the socket. E.G. make sure (physically confirm with ohm meter) that this screw connects to that pin on the relay. (I hate the destructions with these things; I have found some to be upside down and backwards by perception.) With spade type connectors, you can bypass the socket, and that is exactly what I would do. Wire directly to the relay.(temporarily) Finally I would check the coil amperage: it will be miliamps, not 5amps... the 5 amps is the contact ampacity. Make sure your wall wart will allow the coil amperage to pass to the coil without letting the smoke out (wall warts don't have juice, they have smoke packed in them: to much current pulled through them and the smoke comes out which really upsets the people that pack the smoke in them.) I suspect doing these few things, without really getting into trouble shooting steps, that the problem will become obvious, or simply clear itself up. Oh, you do have a spare socket right?

One thing that I really wanted to bring up is the topology of your circuit. This particular topology is not very reliable. You have a redundant float switch, but the both of them are overworked and can/will fail much sooner than one would expect. Also, redundancy in an electrical circuit (to keep the cost down) will not be electrical, rather it will be mechanical. E.G. electrical primary, with mechanical backup/failsafe. Or vice versa. I would suggest that you change the topology when you build the system back up to a more reliable circuit called a latching circuit (the most reliable motor control circuit in use.) Then develop a mechanical backup that will work with your specific sump/reservoir setup. D1 can be any rectifier diode capable of handling flyback @ 400volts + 1N4004, 1N4005, or better

[/URL][URL="http://s655.photobucket.com/user/uncleof6/media/latchcircuit_zpsd8eabb99.gif.html"]http://i655.photobucket.com/albums/uu274/uncleof6/latchcircuit_zpsd8eabb99.gif (http://i655.photobucket.com/albums/uu274/uncleof6/latchcircuit_zpsd8eabb99.gif)

sleepydoc
08/25/2016, 09:57 PM
Or s/he could use a simple timer circuit to ensure that the pump stays on a minimum amount of time.

Bottom line, s/he hasn't posted enough information to fully diagnose the problem. Perhaps hasn't had time to go through & do the troubleshooting yet, but regardless until we have more information it's impossible to help.

TheFishGuy31
08/27/2016, 01:25 PM
I can't read the relay. What is the make/model of it? CC2J doesn't return any search results.

Yellow_donkey
08/28/2016, 01:47 PM
Thanks everyone for the information. And yes I have had limited time to spend on it as I just hit the on switch for about 90 seconds each day and let it run and fill then the off button.

However, yesterday I did have some time and figured out two things. The two extra relays I got becasue I first thought that the original relay had gone out, were 240V units, thus all that time I spent testing with those was a waste (they only deepened my frustration by mimicking the zero energizing as the original was doing). So I was left with just my original relay which worked great for some months before the failure.

So after setting aside the 240V units and going back to the original relay I went through and cut all of the wires and re-spliced everything very nicely and with wingnuts thought. Turned it on like like Dr. Frankenstein waiting for this thing to fail and sure enough the relay clicked. Went down and looked at the floats and one was up so the system was "off". Pushed the float down and I heard the click I had been trying to get for a month almost now!

So after replacing one bad float and everything else being the same, the system is now back to 100%!

When I cut all of the lines I took each about 1/2" up the line to make sure I got clean and intact copper. I can only assume/guess that perhaps on my last wire stripping, when the system failed originally, I maybe stripped a wire somewhere that damaged or cut enough copper strands further up the sheathing. Otherwise that 1/2" off all wires fixed my problem. So simple and 100% my fault for trying to get it work with sloppy wiring.

Love that is is auto topping on its own again, so nice to see it doing its job! Thanks again everyone.

michaelrc51
08/28/2016, 08:39 PM
Glad to hear you have it all working.

I doubt the problem was that you butchered the wires when you stripped them. You are dealing with low current stuff here and even with much less surface area of the wire it would work. There would have to be very little copper left for this to happen with the current constraints you are dealing with.

sleepydoc
08/29/2016, 12:33 PM
If it worked fine at first, you could have cut some/most of the strands in the wire and then after moving around the others broke, causing it to fail. Hard to say, but if it worked before and is working now, the relay wasn't the issue, the wiring/circuit wasn't the issue and the transformer wasn't the issue. The only thing left is a bad connection/broken wire.


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uncleof6
08/29/2016, 01:39 PM
"So after replacing one bad float and everything else being the same, the system is now back to 100%!"


I am still wondering why the system failed in the first place: If the system had 2 float switches for redundancy, and the OP is stating "replaced a bad float switch," and considering with a redundant system BOTH float switches would have to fail to bring the system down. OP also stated he had to move the position of one of the floats to get the relay to "click." So the information is still very inconsistant.

The designed system is not very reliable: it failed ~2 months in operation, and will likely fail again probability being 99 - 100%.

It is my recommendation that the OP enlist the services of a real electrician with motor control experience, to gain a little more knowledge, and figure out why a system with "redundancy" was brought down by only 1 float switch failing, if indeed that is what brought the system down...

An ATO is a convenience system, not a mandatory system. However, once employed it becomes a critical system. A critical system is not the place for inexperience to show up..

sleepydoc
08/29/2016, 10:01 PM
Well, given what we know it's impossible to say - too many unknown variables.


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Yellow_donkey
08/30/2016, 08:32 AM
"So after replacing one bad float and everything else being the same, the system is now back to 100%!"


I am still wondering why the system failed in the first place: If the system had 2 float switches for redundancy, and the OP is stating "replaced a bad float switch," and considering with a redundant system BOTH float switches would have to fail to bring the system down. OP also stated he had to move the position of one of the floats to get the relay to "click." So the information is still very inconsistent.

The designed system is not very reliable: it failed ~2 months in operation, and will likely fail again probability being 99 - 100%.

It is my recommendation that the OP enlist the services of a real electrician with motor control experience, to gain a little more knowledge, and figure out why a system with "redundancy" was brought down by only 1 float switch failing, if indeed that is what brought the system down...

An ATO is a convenience system, not a mandatory system. However, once employed it becomes a critical system. A critical system is not the place for inexperience to show up..

Ya let me expand on that. My 1st switch was low and my second one too high. The 2nd switch cut the system off fine so the ATS did no technically fail but the high water level overflowed my 1 gallon external skimmate jug. Needless to say I am no longer using an external skimmate collector and better tuning my PS.

So one switch did go out, and it showed no resistance on the volt meter either when testing.

That overflow event is what set off the chain of my ATS failure. Who knows what I did with the wires/connections as I tried to get 10 gallons off the living room hardwood (which I did with no damaged).

Trying to wire it back just did not work, all connections needed to be re-stripped and spliced. And we are back in business, thanks everyone for the help! The ideas here is what lead me to just re-do the whole thing as everything tested out fine!