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Old 30-01-2016, 16:18   #1
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Some tech questions about my Spectra watermaker

Hi Guys, I've posted up before about the Spectra Newport 400 watermaker I picked up on the cheap and got some great advice in that thread. Pleased to announce after testing, it all works fine so I'm a happy camper!

Yet to install it in the boat thanks to some twists and turns of life in general, but I have a techie question to ask. This relates to the controller. The controller is an MPC-3000 which seems to work but I don't have the display module for it and the watermaker in general also doesn't seem to have, or even have had, any electronic valves with it that I thought it would need for auto operation. Getting hold of a used MPC-3000 display seems near impossible, but I'm not to worried about the automation features anyway as I'd like to keep the unit manually operated. However, I wouldn't mind rigging something up to monitor the filter sensors, clark pump reciprocation and salinity levels. I can swing a soldering iron and know enough about electronics to be dangerous. Is there someway I can patch into the MPC-3000 electronics or maybe just even connect to the sensors directly? In the latter case, I'm comfortable with everything excepting how to calibrate against the salinity sensor as I have no idea how it's output would respond to salinity levels? Also is it possible to calculate approx product rate based on the reciprocating frequency of the clarke pump, or is a flow sensor required?

Any advice appreciated.
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Old 30-01-2016, 18:21   #2
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Re: Some tech questions about my Spectra watermaker

In theory you could do all that with an Arduino board and some sensors. That would be inexpensive, but would require significant effort. I would price a replacement first.

Older Spectras estimated flow using a stroke sensor. Newer ones use flow meters.

There is software available from Spectra which can be used to read and set parameters of the controller. It talks to the control board via a cable. I assume it will work without a display in place. Might be a good place to start to see if the board really is working.
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Old 31-01-2016, 00:19   #3
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Re: Some tech questions about my Spectra watermaker

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Originally Posted by belizesailor View Post
In theory you could do all that with an Arduino board and some sensors. That would be inexpensive, but would require significant effort. I would price a replacement first.

Older Spectras estimated flow using a stroke sensor. Newer ones use flow meters.

There is software available from Spectra which can be used to read and set parameters of the controller. It talks to the control board via a cable. I assume it will work without a display in place. Might be a good place to start to see if the board really is working.
Cheers for that. I've already serially interfaced to the laptop and she's all a goer. I'll check out that board.

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Old 31-01-2016, 05:34   #4
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Re: Some tech questions about my Spectra watermaker

I have two kinds of customers, my favorite customers, and my best customers. My best customers usually follow my advice and my favorite customers say " I don't care the cost, just make it work"


Quote:
Originally Posted by Reefmagnet View Post
Hi Guys, I've posted up before about the Spectra Newport 400 watermaker I picked up on the cheap and got some great advice in that thread. Pleased to announce after testing, it all works fine so I'm a happy camper!

Yet to install it in the boat thanks to some twists and turns of life in general, but I have a techie question to ask. This relates to the controller. The controller is an MPC-3000 which seems to work but I don't have the display module for it and the watermaker in general also doesn't seem to have, or even have had, any electronic valves with it that I thought it would need for auto operation. The older NewPort 400 systems used two 12 Volt 1/4" valves. One for the fresh water flush procedure and one for the diversion manifold to direct the product water to either your tank or overboard. Getting hold of a used MPC-3000 display seems near impossible, Used anything Spectra is difficult to get a hold of, but any Spectra control panel display will work with any Spectra control board 3000 or 5000. but I'm not to worried about the automation features anyway as I'd like to keep the unit manually operated. However, I wouldn't mind rigging something up to monitor the filter sensors, You are better off with a simple flow meter and knowing that in general a regular monthly service of the pre-filters should be regular maintenance anyway. clark pump reciprocation Adding a simple oil filled 0-200psi pressure gauge between the feed pump and the Clark pump is simpler and will tell you a lot more about the Clark pumps proper operation than the electronics. and salinity levels. I would advise you to first direct the product line from the watermaker to underneath your galley sink. Here I would add a simple 3/way valve. Plumb one output line to your fresh water tank and the other to a simple sink faucet. This way when your watermaker operates you can direct your water to your galley sink. Here you can test either with a simple hand held TDS meter or taste it. If it's good then you can direct it to your tank by switching the valve. This is also a great way to fill water bottles, cooking, pots, etc. If you have more than one fresh water tank then a second 3/way is simple to install. I can swing a soldering iron and know enough about electronics to be dangerous. Is there someway I can patch into the MPC-3000 electronics or maybe just even connect to the sensors directly? See above. But older sensors like those are likely to be more trouble than they are worth in a rigged manual system. In the latter case, I'm comfortable with everything excepting how to calibrate against the salinity sensor as I have no idea how it's output would respond to salinity levels? Also is it possible to calculate approx product rate based on the reciprocating frequency of the clarke pump, or is a flow sensor required? These things, the salinity probe, pump frequency rates, and product calibration (use the flow meter instead) through the control board, will need the control panel or a lap top, impractical in most cases, permanently attached with the downloaded software to operate.
The MPC3000 control board has been phased out. We did offer an upgrade package for a few years but even that has been phased out. If your MPC3000 board fails you would have to upgrade to a newer MPC5000 board which would require several other newer upgraded components as well. The only thing I would add electronically to this system is a simple 12Volt coil valve to the input of the fresh water flush module and a remote toggle switch to operate it. Also a simple intermediate adjustable timer to shut the feed pump motor on and off during the fresh water flush cycle because the New Port 400 feed pump will demand more water than your house fresh water pump can supply. Without this timer the feed pump would run constantly during the flush cycle and make up the difference by drawing in salt water from the thru hull.


Any advice appreciated.

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Old 31-01-2016, 06:46   #5
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Re: Some tech questions about my Spectra watermaker

JT is the best, ain't he?
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Old 31-01-2016, 07:15   #6
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Re: Some tech questions about my Spectra watermaker

Yessirreee! A big thank you, Tellie! I've got three "L" valves on order so I can rig the dual galley sinks into full flush, pickle, taste test etc and a pwm controller for the motor to decrease pump speed during flush (I know, I know!). Now I've realised the 5000 display will work (if I read that correctly?), I might have to rethink the strategy.

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Old 31-01-2016, 08:09   #7
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Re: Some tech questions about my Spectra watermaker

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Originally Posted by Reefmagnet View Post
Yessirreee! A big thank you, Tellie! I've got three "L" valves on order so I can rig the dual galley sinks into full flush, pickle, taste test etc and a pwm controller for the motor to decrease pump speed during flush (I know, I know!). Now I've realised the 5000 display will work (if I read that correctly?), I might have to rethink the strategy.

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I upgraded my system to a 5000 a couple of seasons ago. The display was the same from my 3000, no change. The only difference is the sticker on the panel. The control board is what is swapped.

The 5000 is very convenient. You can set most parameters directly from the panel (something the 3000 did not support)...and you can always still force a manual run if it fails.

Adding physical gauges, as Tellie suggested, is a good idea even if you use the automation. They make it easier to monitor/troubleshoot and run in manual mode.
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Old 31-01-2016, 09:17   #8
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Re: Some tech questions about my Spectra watermaker

I have an older control panel which is looking for a good home though it's not an MPC3000 - I think it goes to a Catalina - I got it from a client when I was a Spectra Roving Rep. Does your Newport 400 have a mag drive pump or 2 diaphragm pumps? This controller operates the latter. BTW, I operated my Newport 400 MPC5000 manually for years - it's easier than continuing to replace the flometer and salinity meter as they crap out from time to time. I also have the original MPC5000 control panel and harness, but the motor speed control board died and costs a whole $boatunit to replace (which is why I have parts available). But you might just be able to make this controller work for you if you're electronically savvy.
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Old 31-01-2016, 13:50   #9
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Re: Some tech questions about my Spectra watermaker

We have created a video for those that want to understand and re-build the electronic Rockwell controls on their watermaker. It's a pretty simple controller that works flawlessly. If you have any questions call Rich.



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Old 31-01-2016, 17:48   #10
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Re: Some tech questions about my Spectra watermaker

Tellie, you have me laughing so hard...I swear to heavens there is sputum on my keyboard. That was insanely funny....How on earth that guy could keep a straight face and fling that stuff out there....he he he...
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Old 31-01-2016, 18:25   #11
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Re: Some tech questions about my Spectra watermaker

Ha ha, that's how every YouTube tutorial on operating a smartphone sounds to me:-)

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Old 31-01-2016, 19:17   #12
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Thumbs up Re: Some tech questions about my Spectra watermaker

JT - Thanks, but we're not sure how to fit that Rockwell in our Manta!
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Old 01-02-2016, 10:10   #13
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Re: Some tech questions about my Spectra watermaker

What I want to know is how the heck did that guy memorize his spiel?
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Old 01-02-2016, 12:29   #14
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Re: Some tech questions about my Spectra watermaker

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Tellie, you have me laughing so hard...I swear to heavens there is sputum on my keyboard. That was insanely funny....How on earth that guy could keep a straight face and fling that stuff out there....he he he...
I think I saw him start to crack a grin once. Must have taken quite a few takes to get thru it.
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Old 23-04-2017, 21:14   #15
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Re: Some tech questions about my Spectra watermaker

So here is a tech question...we have an older model Spectra 380C that has served us well but I absolutely hate the black plastic high pressure hose from the original install...I called Spectra last year and asked could I use hydraulic hose and they said yes...well I had it made up of the proper PSI, S.S. and all went well...however with the high pressure pump cycling, the flare cracked...not once but three time in 6 months...not an easy fix in the Bahamas....so is there a solution other than the original hose?
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