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Old 24-03-2010, 19:11   #1
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Bilge Pump Counter

Hello


I am installing a second bilge pump and would like to put both of them on a counter (I have an impulse analog unit) and a red LED as a visual alert indicating when either of the pumps turns on. If anyone has a similar system ( on a single counter) and would like to offer a suggestion as to how it is connected that would be greatly appreciated!

Another option would be a second counter I suppose...
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Old 24-03-2010, 20:34   #2
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A counter would be an excellent idea on a wood boat.
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Old 24-03-2010, 21:47   #3
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Is the idea to count how long it runs and therefore calculate how fast your boat is leaking?

For some reason I have to run my pump 2 seconds a day unless it rains...
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Old 25-03-2010, 08:29   #4
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Not sure of the OP's intent, but usually a counter is so that you can track how often an automatic bilge pump runs, and thereby be alerted in case it is running more and more often (indicating that a leak needs to be found and fixed).
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Old 25-03-2010, 09:40   #5
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This is a nice unit for a fair price
Bilge pump activity monitor by Celectron. The BW8 Bilge Pump Activity Monitor is an aid to Marine safety


Paul L
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Old 25-03-2010, 09:49   #6
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Without putting a whole lot of thought into it two isolating relays and a simple mechnical counter should do it. Relays will be 12 v about 10 bucks each. Mechanical counter about 20 bucks.
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Old 25-03-2010, 10:04   #7
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Thread drift....I think the OP already has the counter, switches and pumps.

OP: What is an "analog counter" (almost an oxymoron)

Assuming it's an old-school mechanical digital counter that increments by one each time power is applied you can connect it to the switched side of each pump circuit through a diode. The cathode (bar) of the two diodes would connect to the counter + terminal. Each anode (arrow) to each pump positive. The counter - goes to pump common, battery -

It will fail to increment if the second pump starts while the first is running. Probably minor.

Not knowing anything about the parts, I'd get plastic axial leaded rectifier diodes rated at 5A and 50 volts. Wire it all up neatly on a terminal strip.

One could use an hour meter too...interesting. I judge these things by how wet my feet get in the morning. "Honey, I can't read the counter, hand me the mask and snorkle."
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Old 25-03-2010, 19:14   #8
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Thank you for all the great replies and help!

Our boat is composite ( not wood). Yes, I would like to know if any of the two pumps turns on more frequently than normal, hence a counter. I am also planning to install one or two red diode lights, perhaps one for each pump. This way, we can see if any of the pumps keep coming on while underway, at night also (many times if there is a bit of a chop it's hard to hear the pumps).

I bought an impulse counter that turns an analog meter when voltage is applied. It was bought from Surplus Sales of Nebraska and looks like this.



I thought of the diode option but if I do install a diode on each pump and one burns out, then the second pump would turn the first one on also and blow the fuse. Not sure how dependable diodes are in this respect.

I am also considering another option of installing a counter for each pump ( $35 ea) . Any suggestions/thoughts on the matter are appreciated.

Cheers to all
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Old 25-03-2010, 19:30   #9
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I think diodes burn out 'open'. Either way, I think that would be a very unlikely failure mode - both diodes shorting.

On second thought you might need a third diode to protect against inductive spikes - isn't electronics fun! Across all coils in a boat there really should be a diode in reverse bias. Insert the same sort of diode across the counter terminals in reverse - cathode (bar) to the positive terminal.

Two counters would certainly work. Catamaran?

Interesting terminology creep. The old-school DIGITAL meter becomes ANALOG. I think an analog meter is the one with a swinging needle .... who knows?
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Old 25-03-2010, 19:37   #10
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Thanks daddle
I think u are right - analog would be a swinging arm..To my knowledge diodes do burn out open.

However, the digital?! counter has no pos or neg- it works both ways.

(No catamaran, just mono)
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Old 25-03-2010, 19:45   #11
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Thanks daddle
However, the digital?! counter has no pos or neg- it works both ways.
Okay, that's likely true. But it will when you hook it up. My 'negative' meant the terminal toward the boat's common/ground/negative.

When the bilge switch opens the diodes will switch off very fast. The magnetic energy stored in the counter's coil must go somewhere but the diodes block it. Normally it would simply arc across the switch contacts or find some other way. The reverse diode gives it an easy way to dissipate without going over a few volts. Without the diode you can get a scary size voltage spike.
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Old 25-03-2010, 20:09   #12
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Would it not make more sense to run them through an hour meter. I think I would rather know how long they were running rather than how often. 2 minutes "interesting", 2 hours "panic"
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Old 25-03-2010, 20:31   #13
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Diodes do tend to be robust, and cheap enough so you can order them way more robust than what you need for a low-power 12v (really 14.4) circuit. I'd epoxy pot them because they're not intended to be water or moisture proof.

And in theory each relay needs both a diode and a resistor across the coil, to absorb (clamp) the "back EMF" pulse generated when the relay turns off. In practice, again, you can buy relays so much more robust than what you need for this that most folks wouldn't bother with the extra protection devices.

Diodes tend to blow open if they fail, rather than short out. I suppose you could always use two diodes in series to protect against that but now you're really adding "More stuff that creates exponential more failure points!"

I'd rather just use two fully independent counters, and not bother will all the other bits or questions.
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Old 25-03-2010, 21:22   #14
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Much thanks for the help.


I think the 2 counter option deletes complications and is more reliable in the long run . All the setups I have seen in the past have separate counters for each pump.

Another advantage of this option is knowing if one pump is not working, even though the counter shows cycles....
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Old 25-03-2010, 22:54   #15
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If the second is the back up, I would want to know if it ever turns on- which would mean the first either failed or could not keep up. In either case it's not a back up anymore and you need to get something fixed.
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