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Old 13-02-2016, 06:56   #16
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Re: BALMAR MAX CHARGE MC-624 not working

I can't help at the level you are working at now and I'm pretty good. That tells me you are likely significantly ahead of 95% of the "marine electrical professionals". So keep on keeping on - you'll get it eventually. Or hire one of the so-called pros and watch him earn as he learns.

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Old 13-02-2016, 08:16   #17
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Re: BALMAR MAX CHARGE MC-624 not working

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I can't help at the level you are working at now and I'm pretty good. That tells me you are likely significantly ahead of 95% of the "marine electrical professionals". So keep on keeping on - you'll get it eventually. Or hire one of the so-called pros and watch him earn as he learns.

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I know a bit of electrics, but not as much in marine environments. Alternators, I know the principles, but haven't worked with them before, no practical experience.

Since Balmar is so kind as to offer me a replacement MC-624, I'll wait until I got that, before I call the cavalry (so he doesn't have to come out here twice).

Thank you all involved here, for your support and feedback. Should I learn some more from this, I will update the thread so that others might find it useful later.
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Old 14-02-2016, 14:04   #18
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Re: BALMAR MAX CHARGE MC-624 not working

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I hope I didn't scare away everyone from this thread

More findings today:

Moved the working MC-624 back to port engine. Cleaned all contacts, and did some measurements. The alternator never gets a field other than about 2.2V, and I am using the troubleshooting from the book. The centerfielder gets a signal from ignition, but I don't see anything on the field. I tried to disconnect those centerfielder cables, as I am running one engine at a time anyway for testing - and no difference (no charging with the MC-624)

I can manually engage the alternator by making a proper field voltage - at that surely brings the alternator to life!

From 1,400 rpm, I can hear a slight drop in RPM (no need for magnetic sensing here), and the charging voltage jumps to ... 31+ V DC, just as on starboard engine!

"Balmar 6-series alternators" - I didn't find a specific reference to this, but am I right when I am guessing that 60, 621 and any other Balmar alternator of the format 6x or 6xx is a "6-series"?

If this is the case, them my 60-24-70-SR-IG alternators should have the "Smart Ready" internal regulator installed - which can be used as emergency back-up in case of external regulator failure. I couldn't find a "How to use the Smart Ready internal regulator" section, but rather indirect descriptions of what it can be used for. I do have one diagram, involving a "double throw switch". When I hook up the alternator this way, I get 31+ V DC ... which is quite a lot of voltage for a 24V battery system.

I know I can just call in the pros to come help me, but I thought there must be a way to figure out more of how this works. Yes I'm a novice in many areas, but I gotta start somewhere. The more I can learn myself about the systems on board, the better I feel prepared if something happens at sea.
I have seen so many of those units failed with what looked like blown field control power transistors, often just out of warranty and also often not for the first time, it is not even funny.
The fact that they are potted also makes them essentially unrepairable.

If you can get a free replacement, great (well, actually...), but otherwise I would put something else in there with a circuit board that is accessible.
In my view, there are far more reliable regulators than this one on the market.
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Old 14-02-2016, 18:00   #19
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Re: BALMAR MAX CHARGE MC-624 not working

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I have seen so many of those units failed with what looked like blown field control power transistors, often just out of warranty and also often not for the first time, it is not even funny.
The fact that they are potted also makes them essentially unrepairable.

If you can get a free replacement, great (well, actually...), but otherwise I would put something else in there with a circuit board that is accessible.
In my view, there are far more reliable regulators than this one on the market.
Both the alternators and controllers are Balmar. Keeping the alternators, which other controllers would you recommend, should the MC-624 fail again?

What concerns me more is how I can use the alternator internal "Smart Charge" back-up option, without getting 31+ V DC into my house batteries.
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Old 14-02-2016, 18:36   #20
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Re: BALMAR MAX CHARGE MC-624 not working

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Both the alternators and controllers are Balmar. Keeping the alternators, which other controllers would you recommend, should the MC-624 fail again?

What concerns me more is how I can use the alternator internal "Smart Charge" back-up option, without getting 31+ V DC into my house batteries.
I have had quite a few Ample Power NS units (new and old) holding up remarkably well in setups where we were charging lithium battery banks.

Regarding your internal regulator, there is a vacuum of documentation alright... I did find the attached page in a PDF however.

I am tempted to suggest that the internal regulator would do nothing until you power it through terminal #6 (brown wire, ignition) and supply it with a voltage reference on terminal #5. In this case, you would leave the field connection alone of course.
It might also require power on terminal #2 initially (D+, charging light) to kick into life. If you don't use a light, you can just feed +24V ignition power to it, if needed.

Well worth a try.

Eric
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Old 15-02-2016, 00:58   #21
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Re: BALMAR MAX CHARGE MC-624 not working

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I have had quite a few Ample Power NS units (new and old) holding up remarkably well in setups where we were charging lithium battery banks.

Regarding your internal regulator, there is a vacuum of documentation alright... I did find the attached page in a PDF however.

I am tempted to suggest that the internal regulator would do nothing until you power it through terminal #6 (brown wire, ignition) and supply it with a voltage reference on terminal #5. In this case, you would leave the field connection alone of course.
It might also require power on terminal #2 initially (D+, charging light) to kick into life. If you don't use a light, you can just feed +24V ignition power to it, if needed.

Well worth a try.

Eric
Thanks, Eric.

I do have wiring diragrams. What I am asking is

"How to use the Balmar internal 'Smart Ready' charging"

Maybe you meant to post this one:



Is it really as simple as connecting the ignition source to the brown cable (and ensuring that the MC-624 is DISCONNECTED from ignition?

If only the heavy gauge cables GND and PLUS are connected to the house battery, then all other cables can be disconnected? Apart from

- "Sense red" from alternator 4-pin plug to connected to "Positive Output"
- "Brown ignition" connected to engine ignition (12V)

I haven't yet been able to find any other "how to use Smart Ready for charging". That wiring diagram shows a dual setup, where only the ignition is cut to the external regulator. Is it then entirely switched off (with no ignition)?
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Old 15-02-2016, 01:06   #22
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Re: BALMAR MAX CHARGE MC-624 not working

Is THIS how you would connect the Balmar 6-series alternator, if you have 12V ignition source, no external controller and just want it to give a fixed charging (back-up / emergency use) for either 12V or 24V (depending on the model, in my case 12V ignition input but 24V output)

I am just trying to understand the system ...

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Old 15-02-2016, 02:08   #23
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Re: BALMAR MAX CHARGE MC-624 not working

Yes... there is no reason for it to be more complicated, standard setup. I would make sure there is a plug on the field circuit, because if the Balmar regulator packs up the way it commonly does, it will likely interfere with the internal regulator afterwards.


Not sure about your 12V ignition... you may want to consider inserting a relay with a 12V coil powered by the ignition circuit and create a "24V ignition signal" for the alternator. Don't mix your engine starting and house battery systems.


A better place where to source the sensing voltage is at the battery, rather than at the back of the alternator as shown.
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Old 15-02-2016, 19:02   #24
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Re: BALMAR MAX CHARGE MC-624 not working

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Yes... there is no reason for it to be more complicated, standard setup. I would make sure there is a plug on the field circuit, because if the Balmar regulator packs up the way it commonly does, it will likely interfere with the internal regulator afterwards.


Not sure about your 12V ignition... you may want to consider inserting a relay with a 12V coil powered by the ignition circuit and create a "24V ignition signal" for the alternator. Don't mix your engine starting and house battery systems.


A better place where to source the sensing voltage is at the battery, rather than at the back of the alternator as shown.
12V in for ignition is definitely no problem. This is just to trigger on/off, for either alternator or controller. Most start batteries and starters are 12V anyway (as far as I know).

I got a reply from Balmar, the drawing I edited above is correct as to how to use the Smart Ready internal regulator. And it should produce a charging current of 28.1V DC (rather than the 31V I am getting!). I would definitely consider to use such a "double throw switch", so I can select "normal" or "alternate" charging. Having more redundancy is not a bad thing when you are far from shore power. The flick of a switch surely beats working with cabling, when you need charging here and now.

I am moving the location of the MC-624s out of the engine rooms, in preparation for when I get the replacement MC-624. Hopefully, the controllers will last a long time (like, forever or something). It makes a lot more sense to be able to monitor the whole system from close to the helm, rather than running between engine rooms to see the MC-624 displays ...
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Old 15-02-2016, 19:33   #25
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Re: BALMAR MAX CHARGE MC-624 not working

I am not sure you actually understood what I was saying.

If your MC-624 blows itself up, you might just have to go and disconnect it anyway to allow the internal regulator to work properly. It won't work if there is a short-circuit at the field connection because of the failed MC-624, switch or no switch.

Yes, most engine starting circuits are 12V. However, 24V alternators produce 24V and definitely expect other voltages to be around there too, including "ignition". It might work or not if you only supply 12V instead. If it works, it might not be very reliable and it would be very poor practice regardless.
We don't mix two different voltages from two different battery systems at the back of an alternator.

This type of gear is supposed to do its job and not require "monitoring". Voltage is really all you need in order to see what the installation does. Anything beyond that is called troubleshooting.
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Old 16-02-2016, 02:31   #26
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Re: BALMAR MAX CHARGE MC-624 not working

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I am not sure you actually understood what I was saying.

If your MC-624 blows itself up, you might just have to go and disconnect it anyway to allow the internal regulator to work properly. It won't work if there is a short-circuit at the field connection because of the failed MC-624, switch or no switch.

Yes, most engine starting circuits are 12V. However, 24V alternators produce 24V and definitely expect other voltages to be around there too, including "ignition". It might work or not if you only supply 12V instead. If it works, it might not be very reliable and it would be very poor practice regardless.
We don't mix two different voltages from two different battery systems at the back of an alternator.

This type of gear is supposed to do its job and not require "monitoring". Voltage is really all you need in order to see what the installation does. Anything beyond that is called troubleshooting.
All the cables from the 24V alternators will go to the main electrics compartment. If I need, I can disconnect any or all of the connections to the MC-624s, within seconds. Or from Centerfielder. That is without climbing into the engine rooms, can stay right next to the helm. Also, the MC-624s will be removed from the engine heat (electric compartment is spacious and not overheating)

I found the following in the Balmar MC-624 manual, page 4, "G. Install Ignition Wire":

"The ignition wire can be supplied from a 12V or 24V source."

So the way it was built by the marine electrician seems ok - except ... I don't like the MC-624s being in each their respective engine room.

So I am moving them up to the main electric compartment, next to the Centerfielder. I just pulled 5-core cables (14 gauge) from each engine room alternator, up next to the Centerfielder. There are already 3 cables in place for each side (ignition down to the MC-624s, ignition and field back again to the Centerfielder). So I got 8 connections now running to each engine room, plenty also for the alternator temperature sensors installed. Ignition is right next to the centerfielder (and soon, MC-624s), so it will go to the double throw switches, after there to either MC-624s or straight to the respective alternator - depending on the position of the Double Throw Switches, Nomal or Direct. See the schematic below.

Out of a Balmar schematic, I took away the Digital Duo chargers (which I don't have), and injected the "Double Throw Switch" from the "6-series Alternator Wiring Addendum"



I like to monitor if all systems are working as they should. If there are any problems, I prefer to be able to check one location to see what is not working. With the centerfielder and the two MC-624s next to each other, I can see all at once, and right above it, I have other controls and readings from genset, 24V and 220V circuit breakers and so on. I can switch either throw switch to "Normal" (MC-624) or "Direct" (Smart Ready internal regulator).

I see there is a "Centerfielder II" which seem even smarter, but for the time being, I will use the equipment I have (there's only me to pay!)
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Old 18-02-2016, 06:14   #27
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Re: BALMAR MAX CHARGE MC-624 not working

Work is progressing well, and I decided to make each 24V alternator, not only with a double throw switch, but one that has an "OFF" position.

I can then choose

1) On (MC-624) control
2) On (Internal control)
3) Off (no ignition signal to either external nor internal regulator)

Normally one says "Don't run an alternator offline", ie with no connection to it (can damage the diodes?)

But if the field is removed from both internal as well as external regulator - then the alternator should just be "windmilling", right?

MC-624 has 45 seconds in the start-up phase where no field is being sent at all. If it was harmful, I would think the MC-624 wouldn't have done that.

Having said that, I can imagine it's bad for the alternator if you send it a field (asking it to perform), but has no battery connected to it. This is not the case, though. I just want to have the option to pull the 24V alternator off-line, without having to kill the respective engine.

Which is correct?
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Old 18-02-2016, 10:47   #28
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Re: BALMAR MAX CHARGE MC-624 not working

The warning is only for disconnecting the output of the alternator, not the field.
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Old 18-02-2016, 11:03   #29
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Re: BALMAR MAX CHARGE MC-624 not working

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Normally one says "Don't run an alternator offline", ie with no connection to it (can damage the diodes?)

Yes.

But if the field is removed from both internal as well as external regulator - then the alternator should just be "windmilling", right?

Yes.

MC-624 has 45 seconds in the start-up phase where no field is being sent at all. If it was harmful, I would think the MC-624 wouldn't have done that.

No field from the reg to the alt means no output. This time is adjustable.

Having said that, I can imagine it's bad for the alternator if you send it a field (asking it to perform), but has no battery connected to it.

Absolutely

This is not the case, though. I just want to have the option to pull the 24V alternator off-line, without having to kill the respective engine.

Which is correct?
Not so much which is correct, but how it works. I think you seem to know this.

Never run an alternator without a connection to a battery IF you send the alt a field signal. THAT'S when you blow diodes.

Turn off the field signal, no output from the alt since the field is what's telling the alternator to output current.
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Old 18-02-2016, 12:32   #30
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Re: BALMAR MAX CHARGE MC-624 not working

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Normally one says "Don't run an alternator offline", ie with no connection to it (can damage the diodes?)

But if the field is removed from both internal as well as external regulator - then the alternator should just be "windmilling", right?
...
The regulator can cut the field off completely if another source (like solar) is holding the voltage up.
"No connection to it" means no ground or B+ output cables either as you suggested.

Because - after a while - there tends to be some permanent residual magnetism left in the rotor assembly, some self-excited alternators can kick in even without ignition/D+ power being supplied.
This normally requires higher RPMs than normal and could possibly result in damage. It should primarily be an issue on units that just have a D+ terminal and no separate "ignition" input.
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