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Old 21-03-2014, 20:53   #1
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Spectra MPC-5000 Upgrade

After 10 years of service, the control board (MPC-3000) for my Spectra Catalina 300 water maker appeared to be losing its mind...time for a little brain surgery. Spectra no longer supplies or repairs the MPC-3000 but, unlike many vendors, they do provide an upgrade path...and a well thought out one too.

Spectra provides an upgrade kit which includes a new MPC-5000 control board, a few misc electrical parts, and instructions. The connections to the MPC-5000 board are almost identical to the old MPC-3000. Only a few simple wiring changes are needed and the wire and connectors are provided for those. The board itself is the exact same form factor so it fits the old control box housing perfectly.

The printed instructions provided with the kit are a bit limited, but more detailed info is available on their web site and/or from their always excellent tech support.
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Old 21-03-2014, 21:05   #2
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Re: Spectra MPC-5000 Upgrade

They are a treat to swap out with the limited wiring harness provided. If you need any help just give a shout.
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Old 21-03-2014, 22:11   #3
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Thanks for the offer. Yes, a bit tight, but all went smoothly. Fired up and ran the first time.
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Old 22-03-2014, 05:26   #4
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Re: Spectra MPC-5000 Upgrade

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Thanks for the offer. Yes, a bit tight, but all went smoothly. Fired up and ran the first time.


Wanna be a Spectra tech?
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Old 22-03-2014, 10:50   #5
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Re: Spectra MPC-5000 Upgrade

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Wanna be a Spectra tech?

Sounds like he may already be
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Old 22-03-2014, 11:17   #6
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Re: Spectra MPC-5000 Upgrade

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Sounds like he may already be
You might be right. One crossed wire could drive you nuts for days.
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Old 22-03-2014, 12:38   #7
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Re: Spectra MPC-5000 Upgrade

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They are a treat to swap out with the limited wiring harness provided. If you need any help just give a shout.
One trick that makes it easier is that with the new style terminal blocks the upper part of the terminal block (where the wires connect) unclips easily from its mounting base on the board. Unseat it, connect the wires, clip it back in. Much easier than trying to secure the wires to it in place.

MPC-5000 is a nice upgrade since software parameters can be set from the MPC control panel (rather than software from a PC). And salinity probe can be calibrated directly from the panel rather than a pot on the board (real pain on the MPC 3000).
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Old 22-03-2014, 12:48   #8
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Re: Spectra MPC-5000 Upgrade

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Wanna be a Spectra tech?
Sure, but here's the deal: I don't like working on boats, working on my own is a necessary evil, so when people ask me to work on theirs I tell them "...sure, but I am not a proefssional anything, don't guarantee my work, and my rate is $500US per hour." Fortunately, no one has taken me up on this offer. ;-)
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Old 22-03-2014, 12:49   #9
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Re: Spectra MPC-5000 Upgrade

I like to use pin type terminal connectors. Not a big fan of bare wire under those guillotine type set screws. But the plugging in and out for the future makes the new boards a breeze. Also one of the nice things about the upgraded 5000 board is you can bypass a failed salinity probe from the control panel. I'm sure you never had any salinity probe problems before.
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Old 22-03-2014, 12:52   #10
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Re: Spectra MPC-5000 Upgrade

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Sure, but here's the deal: I don't like working on boats, working on my own is a necessary evil, so when people ask me to work on theirs I tell them "...sure, but I am not a proefssional anything, don't guarantee my work, and my rate is $500US per hour." Fortunately, no one has taken me up on this offer. ;-)

Well when you move up in the world as a Spectra tech you may be surprised at what a check book cruiser who is without water on his boat will pay to fly you out to Tahiti to change out a set of dirty filters.
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Old 22-03-2014, 13:50   #11
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Re: Spectra MPC-5000 Upgrade

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Originally Posted by Tellie View Post
I like to use pin type terminal connectors. Not a big fan of bare wire under those guillotine type set screws. But the plugging in and out for the future makes the new boards a breeze. Also one of the nice things about the upgraded 5000 board is you can bypass a failed salinity probe from the control panel. I'm sure you never had any salinity probe problems before.


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Well when you move up in the world as a Spectra tech you may be surprised at what a check book cruiser who is without water on his boat will pay to fly you out to Tahiti to change out a set of dirty filters.
Yes, all wires are terminated w pin connectors in my install.

I have a collection of salinity probes now...turns out it was a board issue and the probes are fine...when it quit getting pressure sensor readings too I was suspicious...tested the pressure sensors and they were fine...turns out so was the salinity probe...board was the obvious common denomenator. First long run underway today bore that out...start to freshwater flush w/out a hiccup...all sensors working fine.

I discovered the old black screw style terminals get brittle with age too...mine cracked and fell apart as I was removing wires from the old board. Another advantage of the other style (green/guillotine) is that they were just fine after 10 years...in the tropics, in the engine room.

Now I just have to kill a few engine related gremlins and we will finally be ready for another cruising season....Volvo Marine engines...another skill I have begrudgingly acquired. I often ask myself "what do people do who can't do this stuff?"...whip out the checkbook or stay home I think. We like remote locations so whipping out the checkbook is not very practical and could get way expensive, in both time and money, very fast.

Back when I had a real job as an engineer/consultant, clients often whipped out the checkbook solution. I saw a lot of the world that way. I suppose the same could be done with "check book" cruisers as clients, but that would be too much like work...maybe trade cruising time on their boat plus travel expenses for boat work....now there is an interesting idea.
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Old 22-03-2014, 14:34   #12
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Re: Spectra MPC-5000 Upgrade

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Originally Posted by belizesailor View Post
Yes, all wires are terminated w pin connectors in my install.

I have a collection of salinity probes now...turns out it was a board issue and the probes are fine...when it quit getting pressure sensor readings too I was suspicious...tested the pressure sensors and they were fine...turns out so was the salinity probe...board was the obvious common denomenator. First long run underway today bore that out...start to freshwater flush w/out a hiccup...all sensors working fine.

I discovered the old black screw style terminals get brittle with age too...mine cracked and fell apart as I was removing wires from the old board. Another advantage of the other style (green/guillotine) is that they were just fine after 10 years...in the tropics, in the engine room.

Now I just have to kill a few engine related gremlins and we will finally be ready for another cruising season....Volvo Marine engines...another skill I have begrudgingly acquired. I often ask myself "what do people do who can't do this stuff?"...whip out the checkbook or stay home I think. We like remote locations so whipping out the checkbook is not very practical and could get way expensive, in both time and money, very fast.

Back when I had a real job as an engineer/consultant, clients often whipped out the checkbook solution. I saw a lot of the world that way. I suppose the same could be done with "check book" cruisers as clients, but that would be too much like work...maybe trade cruising time on their boat plus travel expenses for boat work....now there is an interesting idea.

I agree. I work on boats all the time with owners who can't change the oil in their diesel much less figure out how to lash the valves or crack the injectors. They can't read a simple Volt meter and couldn't tie a knot in their loafers. Yet here they are with a big new 50' Lagoon heading off with the intentions of "Living the Dream" You have got to be a Jack of all boat trades or you need a pretty big check book. But again, anybody who can diagnose and swap out a MPC control board and make it work the first time I wouldn't worry so much about.
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Old 22-03-2014, 20:05   #13
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Hey that is great work. And I was proud so to have been successful in pickling my Spectra today with the manual being wrong and I could not get a phone call though to Tellie, cause the phone system in Exuma was down.
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Old 19-04-2014, 16:15   #14
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Re: Spectra MPC-5000 Upgrade

One quirk of the MPC-5000 I've found that I don't like is that when you first power it up (every time), there is a few seconds delay before it sounds the alarms to allow you to by pass purge mode....and sometimes the audible alarm will continue after the "purge mode bypassed" screen is displayed until you press the alarm button. Minor, but annoying.

I've always found the automatic purge mode annoying....just power up and let me decide what to do next. With the MPC-5000 you can by pass almost everything from the control panel, but no way to by pass this damn auto purge mode that I know of.
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Old 19-04-2014, 16:28   #15
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Re: Spectra MPC-5000 Upgrade

We have an older spectra Catalina system, a manual system which produces 17 gallons per hour. Is there an upgrade route to make ours into an automatic system? Spectra is awesome, our clark pump developed a hairline crack barely visible near the high pressure output. A new pump arrived just the other day, probably before the company had received delivery of our 11 year old pump.
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