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Old 16-05-2009, 11:59   #1
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Air-X Service Experience

Was sitting in cockpit on breezy day and heard airx stop. Looked up and saw led blinking in stall mode, 2x per second. Then it would start up and stop like brake was applied. Regulation is turned off with potentiometer. I called service line and tech said sounds like output circuitry, would I rather send in the unit or have a kit sent to repair myself? I opted to have kit sent. The service required dissassembly down to bare casting. The only thing not involved was rotor / armature subassembly. Well got it back together and the same condition exists. Service is closed for weekend. Any body know how to test for short in rotor/armature. I'm getting continuity through pos and neg wires. The way it stopped all sudden was wondering if could be something simple like a fragment shorted armature out. Anybody out there wih similiar experience and can shed some light?
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Old 10-10-2009, 00:06   #2
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Unit worked intermittently with occasions of going into oscillation where it would start then stop abruptly with a thump. Service said it sounded like there was an intermittent open in the system causing high internal voltage. I opened it up again and noticed black lines around where the brushes contact the slipring. Resurfacing the slipring and polishing the brush contact area with 220 grit sandpaper fixed the problem and its been making power steadily for 3 days now. Hope this post prevents aggravation for other air x owners. Slip ring assembly is removed by removing blade/hub assembly. Separate face section with armature rotor still inside by removing 3 hex head bolts. Label 3 wires to note orientation where bolted to circuit assembly. Remove wires from circuit assembly by removing 3 small hex head bolts, note how wires are routed and held away from rotor. Remove face/rotor assembly and set aside. Remove split ring at the bottom of the 3 brass slip rings. (Split ring pliers required) using small wooden wedges separate slip ring assembly from yaw bearing. Be careful bottom ground brush can fall out, don't lose. Other two are attached with wire. Polish slip rings to clean brass appearance, copper brushes to shine. Ground brush is high carbon and soft. Remove enough to make dull sheen. While holding brushes in recess tap the slip ring assembly back into place using a rubber mallet guiding brushes in and rotating so brushes don't get caught in fiber washer grooves. Double and triple check brush placement and drive In till the assembly is fully seated against yaw bearing. Reverse dissassembly steps. Split ring is PITA needs a little patience to install.
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Old 10-10-2009, 05:54   #3
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Had the same problem. All we did was open up the unit and polish the brass slip rings, and clean off the brushs of the residue they create. We didnt have to remove the rings. Just use an emery cloth and be sure to get all the graphite (?) dust out of the area with a clean cloth. Worked for me....
Steve
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Old 18-11-2009, 04:57   #4
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Quick update. Windgen worked fine till recently then died completely. This time board is shot AGAIN! After doing some reading about air-x woes I've decided to scrap their board completely I've replaced it twice in 2yrs at $150. I bought a bridge rectifier off ebay from coleman air. Going to wire the armature directly to the bridge then to the brushes. Since I don't use the regulation(doesn't work with solar so I maxed potientometer) it seems to be the cheap way out. $12.50 for 75 amp bridge rectifier. Will update post after installation and testing is done.
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Old 18-11-2009, 05:34   #5
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Originally Posted by forsailbyowner View Post
I bought a bridge rectifier off ebay from coleman air. Going to wire the armature directly to the bridge then to the brushes. Since I don't use the regulation(doesn't work with solar so I maxed potientometer) it seems to be the cheap way out. $12.50 for 75 amp bridge rectifier. Will update post after installation and testing is done.
Please elaborate on your original fix of maxing the pot to compensate for solar interference. I was out in a 25 - 30 knot blow a couple of weeks ago and only had 10 amps from the air-X and another 10 from the solar.
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Old 18-11-2009, 05:56   #6
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Hello FSBO,

Please do let us know how the modification goes. Have you heard this as a common problem with other Air X owners? Do you know if the Air Breeze uses the same board?

Thanks
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Old 20-11-2009, 06:14   #7
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Just checked the air breeze site......they state that the air breeze has a newly designed board ,with a more robust FET..and it's brushless.....If that helps.....going to install one on board in two weeks......Ed
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Old 30-11-2009, 18:21   #8
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Got the. Bridge rectifier installed. From what I've read online there have been many unhappy owners that have had problems.
As far as maxing out the pot, that's straight out of the airx manual. If used in tandem with solar the board will sense the panel voltage and go into regulation mode.
The rectifier setup seems to be working well. Tonite we have 10-15s and the amps have been 5-8 . Will get a good test of max output in next two days as gales are forecast. Will update thread afterwards as to max output and how well (if) it held up without overspeed protection.
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Old 03-12-2009, 17:47   #9
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Well the airx had the 30 amp ammeter maxed out during the recent gales, but wasn't putting out in the morning. I'm not sure if there was enough wind to make power ,currents at noa were giving 7-10. Tomorrow will take down, bench test and update post.
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Old 06-12-2009, 07:35   #10
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Update, turns out that the problem was caused by the heat from the bridge rectifier during extended
30+amp charging. The hotwire attached to the rectifier is held in place by a throughbolt that penetrated the 1/4" plastic plate that it is mounted to. The bolt melted into the plastic plate which loosened the contact and opened the circuit. Am real curious as to how much current was being made. The ammeter was buried about 5 amps above the 30 amp mark and didn't budge, the 50 amp fuse didn't blow. Easy free fix, simply tightened up the nut a couple of turns. Summary, I'm happy with the modification and will continue with it, although will replace the braking switch that melted down early in the systems life with a more robust one. Both the ammeter and the braking switch supplied by southwest windpower melted down in use. I found a much better ammeter with a shunt at mpja.com for under $10. The unit is noisier with the rectifier replacing the board. It spins faster before making power which makes the extra noise. There is some kind of low speed braking involved with the board. My logic is I can replace the rectifier cheaply and diagnose failures with a multimeter. Living aboard , cruising to new areas often make it hard to do even quick customer service calls. The way I'm setup now I gain a measure of independance.
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Old 13-03-2010, 11:27   #11
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Final update, the windgen has been working steadily for the duration. I ended up replacing the plastic mount with a piece of fiberglass, it has been working faithfully since. Now the onlymaintenance I can forsee is bearing replacement. I'm curious if the rotor armature bearings are standard for alternators. Anybody got any non sw windpower numbers for these? I've tried multiple search engine queries and haven't come up with any hits on the made in China stock bearings.
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Old 11-04-2010, 10:09   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sailcapt View Post
Had the same problem. All we did was open up the unit and polish the brass slip rings, and clean off the brushs of the residue they create. We didnt have to remove the rings. Just use an emery cloth and be sure to get all the graphite (?) dust out of the area with a clean cloth. Worked for me....
Steve
Hi
My unit started to give me these symptoms yesterday. It's only two years old. How long had your been working before you had to clean it?
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Old 12-04-2010, 14:12   #13
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You are probably due.mine failed 1st time right around 2yr mark I didn't like the idea of cleaning in place simply because yaw bearing is directly below and I didn't want abrasive dust there. Maybe with scotchbrite or something besides emory cloth or sandpaper. Bridge rectifier still working flawlessly. I'm rebuilding my. 2nd delco alternator soon. Will get a chance to compare bearings then.
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Old 12-04-2010, 14:53   #14
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Cleaning

Thank's for the answer. I spoke with the European staff today and they said, as you claim in the first post, that it probably is a circuit board failure. If it is only necessary to clean the sliprings, isn't posssible to do that upside down to avoid dirt into the yaw bearings?
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Old 13-04-2010, 04:50   #15
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Yes ,possible. Once you get the rotor armature assembly off you'll be able to see the sliprings, the brushes are hidden on the opposite side. May be possible to feed paper between brushes and sliprings. You should still be under warranty, have them send you a circuit kit. It comes with disassembly instructions with a new board, potentiometer and brushes. They did this for me with just a phonecall while under warranty. Just beware of instruction saying drive yaw assembly down with a hammer. It didn't work for me and I ended up using the hardwood wedges mentioned earlier in post. Personally I think the boards are delicate crap prone to failure. Rectifier simpler=better
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