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Matthew Smith
 
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Default Irrigation Solenoids - Strange Failure

Hi All

I have an irrigation system using 24V Hunter solenoid valves (hydraulic
assist). Solenoids have DC resistance of 24.5 Ohm when healthy.

The solenoids are controlled by a microcontroller driving BUZ11 mosfets;
+24V is fed to the solenoids, the mosfets ground a return wire to turn
them on. SMD equivalent to 1N4007 from mosfet drain to +24V to protect
from reverse EMF.

There are two sets of solenoids, both fed by standard irrigation cable.

I find that two of the solenoids - one set, both in the same valve box -
have suddenly gone high resistance. The four solenoids on the other
cable are still fine. There is no problem with the controller - still
delivering 24V down both lines quite happily.

The 24V power supply is actually derived from a large dot matrix printer
and holds a steady 23.79V.

I am totally mystified as to why this pair of solenoids would both
suddenly go high resistance at the same time, leaving everything else
working fine.

Ideas anyone?

Cheers

Matthew Smith
South Australia
http://www.mss.cx
  #2   Report Post  
 
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The theory used to compute MTBF's assumes that all failures are spread
out over time by some distribution function. (Often the distribution
function is flat). And that failures are uncorrelated.

But now you see a correlated failure. One really vague possibility is
that the failure of one solenoid caused the other. More specific
examples of this could include one overheating next to another, causing
it to get too hot too.

Another possibility is that the same environmental condition common to
both solenoids caused both to fail. For example, vibration. Another
example might be a large voltage on the housing (is it metallic?)
holding both solenoids. Or a large voltage lighning-induced on the
wiring (which is after all nearly identical for both solenoids.)
Although you'd expect lightning to take out the drivers too.

Finally, some devices that come in pairs are well-known for failing in
pairs. Car headlights, for example. They were manufactured
identically, installed identically, operated identically, so you
shouldn't be surprised when they fail at nearly the same time. This is
sort-of modern manufacturing coming back to bite you... (Of course part
of this goes back to the possibility of an common extreme environmental
condition causing the fault - vibration, overvoltage, etc.)

Tim.

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Matthew Smith
 
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Tim wrote:
snip/
But now you see a correlated failure. One really vague possibility is
that the failure of one solenoid caused the other. More specific
examples of this could include one overheating next to another, causing
it to get too hot too.

The two solenoids are in a fairly large space under a plastic manhole
and are separated by about 6" of air. The only real proximity is the
adjoining conductors in the cable.

Another possibility is that the same environmental condition common to
both solenoids caused both to fail. For example, vibration. Another
example might be a large voltage on the housing (is it metallic?)
holding both solenoids. Or a large voltage lighning-induced on the
wiring (which is after all nearly identical for both solenoids.)
Although you'd expect lightning to take out the drivers too.

That's what I've been puzzling over. The solenoids are plastic potted
(as things can get wet in this type of environment). I've been
wondering if the 30' or so of cable might have had current induced into
it - but can't figure out from where.

The controller is protected against reverse transients of 1kV, although
100V would happily fry the mosfets. So we could have had a large
voltage of a polarity that would be dissipated by the diodes - but I
think we're getting into the realms of rather unlikely.

A vehicle did pass close by to the manhole, although I wouldn't have
thought that there would have been that much vibration as to upset the
electrics - more likely to bust one of the PVC pipes that the valves are
solvent welded onto.

Finally, some devices that come in pairs are well-known for failing in
pairs. Car headlights, for example. They were manufactured
identically, installed identically, operated identically, so you
shouldn't be surprised when they fail at nearly the same time. This is
sort-of modern manufacturing coming back to bite you... (Of course part
of this goes back to the possibility of an common extreme environmental
condition causing the fault - vibration, overvoltage, etc.)

And this could be it; a statistically possible example of s***[1] happens.

Thanks for your comments Tim.

Cheers

Matthew Smith

[1] Not sure on the Newsgroup policy of the use of Anglo Saxon words ;-)
  #4   Report Post  
Anthony Fremont
 
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"Matthew Smith" wrote in message
...
Hi All

I have an irrigation system using 24V Hunter solenoid valves

(hydraulic
assist). Solenoids have DC resistance of 24.5 Ohm when healthy.

The solenoids are controlled by a microcontroller driving BUZ11

mosfets;
+24V is fed to the solenoids, the mosfets ground a return wire to

turn
them on. SMD equivalent to 1N4007 from mosfet drain to +24V to

protect
from reverse EMF.


Most of these valves are rated at 24VAC. If you are using DC, that
could explain the coils burning out. The inductance of the coils limits
the AC current thru the coil to something less than what Ohm's law might
tell you. If you must run them from DC, you should determine the lowest
voltage that will make the solenoid function correctly and limit it to
that.

There are two sets of solenoids, both fed by standard irrigation

cable.

I find that two of the solenoids - one set, both in the same valve

box -
have suddenly gone high resistance. The four solenoids on the other
cable are still fine. There is no problem with the controller - still
delivering 24V down both lines quite happily.

The 24V power supply is actually derived from a large dot matrix

printer
and holds a steady 23.79V.

I am totally mystified as to why this pair of solenoids would both
suddenly go high resistance at the same time, leaving everything else
working fine.

Ideas anyone?

Cheers

Matthew Smith
South Australia
http://www.mss.cx


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NSM
 
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"Matthew Smith" wrote in message
...
Hi All

I have an irrigation system using 24V Hunter solenoid valves (hydraulic
assist). Solenoids have DC resistance of 24.5 Ohm when healthy.

....
Ideas anyone?


I'd be looking at the connections, mate. Could be corrosion.

N




  #6   Report Post  
Matthew Smith
 
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Default

I wrote:
blockquote
I have an irrigation system using 24V Hunter solenoid valves (hydraulic
assist). Solenoids have DC resistance of 24.5 Ohm when healthy.

/blockquote

NSM replied:
blockquote
I'd be looking at the connections, mate. Could be corrosion.

/blockquote

Possible but, in this case, I think unlikely. The solenoids are potted
in solid lumps of plastic - they are, after all, designed for a wet
environment.

I thought that corrosion/damp in the joints between the flyleads from
the solenoid to the feed cable so I cut off several inches of the
flyleads and put my meter onto clean, dry, wire.

Still read several MOhms rather than 24.5Ohms.

Thanks for your thoughts, anyway.

Cheers

Matthew Smith
  #7   Report Post  
NSM
 
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"Matthew Smith" wrote in message
...

Possible but, in this case, I think unlikely. The solenoids are potted
in solid lumps of plastic - they are, after all, designed for a wet
environment.

I thought that corrosion/damp in the joints between the flyleads from
the solenoid to the feed cable so I cut off several inches of the
flyleads and put my meter onto clean, dry, wire.

Still read several MOhms rather than 24.5Ohms.

Thanks for your thoughts, anyway.


Crappy manufacture in that case, assuming you are feeding the right sort and
quantity of volts to them.

N


  #8   Report Post  
Franc Zabkar
 
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Default

On Thu, 17 Feb 2005 21:35:49 +1030, Matthew Smith
put finger to keyboard and composed:

I have an irrigation system using 24V Hunter solenoid valves (hydraulic
assist). Solenoids have DC resistance of 24.5 Ohm when healthy.

The solenoids are controlled by a microcontroller driving BUZ11 mosfets;
+24V is fed to the solenoids, the mosfets ground a return wire to turn
them on.


I am totally mystified as to why this pair of solenoids would both
suddenly go high resistance at the same time, leaving everything else
working fine.


The combined heat dissipation is about 47W. Could ventilation be an
issue, especially in an enclosed box on a hot day?


- Franc Zabkar
--
Please remove one 's' from my address when replying by email.
  #9   Report Post  
Anthony Fremont
 
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"Franc Zabkar" wrote

On Thu, 17 Feb 2005 21:35:49 +1030, Matthew Smith wrote:

I have an irrigation system using 24V Hunter solenoid valves

(hydraulic
assist). Solenoids have DC resistance of 24.5 Ohm when healthy.

The solenoids are controlled by a microcontroller driving BUZ11

mosfets;
+24V is fed to the solenoids, the mosfets ground a return wire to

turn
them on.


I am totally mystified as to why this pair of solenoids would both
suddenly go high resistance at the same time, leaving everything else
working fine.


The combined heat dissipation is about 47W. Could ventilation be an
issue, especially in an enclosed box on a hot day?


How do you come up with that? 24V across 24.5 Ohms is only ~1A,
therefore 25W. I still say the problem is using DC where AC is called
for, resulting in cooking the coil. Hunter valves use AC.

  #10   Report Post  
Anthony Fremont
 
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"Anthony Fremont" wrote in message news:gHkRd.13557

The combined heat dissipation is about 47W. Could ventilation be an
issue, especially in an enclosed box on a hot day?


How do you come up with that? 24V across 24.5 Ohms is only ~1A,
therefore 25W. I still say the problem is using DC where AC is

called
for, resulting in cooking the coil. Hunter valves use AC.


Oops, sorry about that, I just realized you mean for two coils. :-) I
haven't had my coffee yet.



  #11   Report Post  
NSM
 
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"Anthony Fremont" wrote in message
...

How do you come up with that? 24V across 24.5 Ohms is only ~1A,
therefore 25W. I still say the problem is using DC where AC is called
for, resulting in cooking the coil. Hunter valves use AC.


I'm assuming the OP hasn't done anything that foolish.

N


  #12   Report Post  
James Sweet
 
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Default


"NSM" wrote in message news:iJtRd.11$0h.8@clgrps13...

"Anthony Fremont" wrote in message
...

How do you come up with that? 24V across 24.5 Ohms is only ~1A,
therefore 25W. I still say the problem is using DC where AC is called
for, resulting in cooking the coil. Hunter valves use AC.


I'm assuming the OP hasn't done anything that foolish.


Didn't he say he was using DC?

DC would work fine so long as the voltage was reduced below specification.


  #13   Report Post  
Matthew Smith
 
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James Sweet wrote:

Didn't he say he was using DC?

DC would work fine so long as the voltage was reduced below specification.


The landscapers who installed the valves advised that these AC units
were suitable for 24V DC (no reduction) and were in regular use on water
trucks, running off the 24V truch supply. They claim that they had
never had a failure before - but then every vendor says that...

This was why I went with these valves - they can be switched easily with
a MOSFET.

Of four that were installed a year ago, one failed fairly recently,
shorted out. The pair that failed had only been in service for a couple
of months.

As for getting warm, they can. The original system has cycles lasting
up to 30 minutes and yes, the solenoids get pretty warm, but not too hot
to touch. The ones that have just failed have a programmed runtime of
only 10 minutes each.

Cheers

M
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NSM
 
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"Matthew Smith" wrote in message
...

The landscapers who installed the valves advised that these AC units
were suitable for 24V DC (no reduction) and were in regular use on water
trucks, running off the 24V truch supply. They claim that they had
never had a failure before - but then every vendor says that...


What do they know about electrics? FWIW, you could check that the amps are
OK, see what they draw on AC and don't exceed that on DC.

As for getting warm, they can. The original system has cycles lasting
up to 30 minutes and yes, the solenoids get pretty warm, but not too hot
to touch. The ones that have just failed have a programmed runtime of
only 10 minutes each.


Another way, run them up on a DC supply until they operate then add 10% to
that.

N


  #15   Report Post  
Matthew Smith
 
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I replied to this post earlier, but haven't seen it appear on the list,
so assume that it got lost in the aether...

NSM:
What do they know about electrics? FWIW, you could check that the amps are
OK, see what they draw on AC and don't exceed that on DC.

....
Another way, run them up on a DC supply until they operate then add 10% to
that.


I measured the inductance of the solenoid (120mH) and calculated that
the total impedance at 50Hz (R=24 Ohms, Xl=37 Ohms - Z=61 Ohms) would
make for a current of 400mA - less than half the DC current (1A). To
achieve 400mA on DC, I would be putting in only 9.6V.

I'll do tests with a 24V transformer on a Variac - I'm guessing on 12V
DC operation at the moment.

I'll modify my power supply to run at the appropriate voltage and never
again will trust the word of a landscaper on electrical matters, no
matter how convincing they sound ;-)

Many thanks to NSM for these suggestions.

Cheers

M

PS: N - did you try to mail me? My server bounced a "nowrite" e-mail
address earlier today. (It rejects anything that hasn't a real return
address.)


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David
 
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"Matthew Smith" wrote in message =
...
I measured the inductance of the solenoid (120mH) and calculated that=20
the total impedance at 50Hz (R=3D24 Ohms, Xl=3D37 Ohms - Z=3D61 Ohms) =

would=20
make for a current of 400mA - less than half the DC current (1A). To=20
achieve 400mA on DC, I would be putting in only 9.6V.


The total impedance is not the sum, but the square root of the sum of =
the squares.

David

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NSM
 
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"Matthew Smith" wrote in message
...

I'll modify my power supply to run at the appropriate voltage and never
again will trust the word of a landscaper on electrical matters, no
matter how convincing they sound ;-)


Like I say, amps closes the valve. If 400 mA AC will do it 400 mA DC will
too.

PS: N - did you try to mail me? My server bounced a "nowrite" e-mail
address earlier today. (It rejects anything that hasn't a real return
address.)


Not me.

Kia Ora.

N


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Matthew Smith
 
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David wrote:

The total impedance is not the sum, but the square root of the sum of the squares.


Thank you for correcting me on that - it's amazing what you forget over
18 years when you don't use stuff... (Now re-reading my text book.)

  #19   Report Post  
Matthew Smith
 
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NSM wrote:

I'll modify my power supply to run at the appropriate voltage and never
again will trust the word of a landscaper on electrical matters, no
matter how convincing they sound ;-)

....
Like I say, amps closes the valve. If 400 mA AC will do it 400 mA DC will
too.



After much searching in the "treasure house" of my shed, I have finally
found a transformer in the 9-10V range. Hooked it up to a spare
solenoid via bridge rectifier and filter cap an bingo - 398mV! Couldn't
have got closer if I'd tried. And yes, the solenoid operates fine.

I now need to incorporate this new power supply into my controller, but
that's a minor issue.

Many thanks for all assistance on this matter. Now to tell the
landscapers that they've been dishing out bad advice...

Cheers

M
  #20   Report Post  
Matthew Smith
 
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Matthew Smith wrote:
After much searching in the "treasure house" of my shed, I have finally
found a transformer in the 9-10V range. Hooked it up to a spare
solenoid via bridge rectifier and filter cap an bingo - 398mV! Couldn't
have got closer if I'd tried. And yes, the solenoid operates fine.


Oops! Now I see that I forgot to re-calculate the impedance using the
root of the sum of the squares. Calculated current at 24V AC now
becomes 540mA; as it's working at close on 400mA, not a problem.

As I'm now running on 12V, I can now power the logic of the controller
through the guts of a mobile phone cig lead - removes need for a
separate supply. Guess that's the silver lining...

M
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