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Old 11-02-2019, 18:49   #46
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Re: Alternator for new Volvo engine?

hellosailor: I think the point is that "engineers" who have learned to plug ICs together to make a product aren't very good at their career choice. It is a pretty straightforward solution to take an off-the-shelf controller, slap it on a PCB and add firmware, which mostly works in a home or office environment. In the case of the MDI, the box is attached to a hot and vibrating engine (why oh why didn't they lengthen the engine harness and provide for mounting the MDI off the engine or better outside the engine compartment?) and contains relays that switch the engine start solenoid and glow plugs (inherent voltage fluctuations) so the design needs to isolate the controller's power and be hardened against heat and vibration. A competent EE can do that, providing he/she starts with first principles and a well-thought out specification. After 5 re-dos they really need to outsource the design work.

I once had the URL for a French blogger who documented the problems with each version of the MDI but I can't find it at the moment. I'll see if it's on another computer and post it if I can find it.

Greg
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Old 12-02-2019, 12:02   #47
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Re: Alternator for new Volvo engine?

I hear you, Greg. Personally, I like relays as a way to switch power. I know, they're frail, expensive, happier when slathered with mercury (oh my!) and obsolted by FETs but still...you can SEE what they are up to.

I had a mystery some years ago with my car, where I had added in a standard Bosch-branded 30A relay to power a horn. Worked, didn't work. Worked, didn't work. I tore every connection apart looking for what didn't work. And then it turned out, the damned Bosch relay was now made in Mexico. The brass qd fittings were "mounted" to the case by going through it. Pull off the external harness, and the qd fitting dropped into place and when you opened the relay cover it looked and worked perfectly. Close it back up, and the simple act of plugging in the harness plug pushed the qd fitting OUT of contact, invisible inside the cover. I think it took me two weeks to puzzle that one out, and that was "just" a simple relay, with a manufacturing/design error.

I've no idea what Volvo has in those boxes but I'm sure someone is saying "It seemed like a good idea at the time" about them.(G) Mounting relays and electronics on a rattletrap diesel engine....Well, at least they picked a nice color to paint them, right? That's the important thing, isn't it?
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Old 12-02-2019, 13:57   #48
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Re: Alternator for new Volvo engine?

IIRC one thing the first version had inside was a garden-variety (liquid) electrolytic capacitor; not exactly something one should choose for an essential component to last the life of the engine. Anyway I don't really want to beat up on Volvo - I just want the problems to go away for all of the owners. Let's hope...


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Old 12-02-2019, 19:06   #49
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Re: Alternator for new Volvo engine?

Quote:
Originally Posted by CarinaPDX View Post
It is possible to operate the engine without the MDI working: the starter solenoid can be energized with a jumper cable (easy to make a permanent bypass with a pushbutton). Of course it is a bad idea to operate without the instruments and the various warnings available but if the MDI fails while on passage this may be necessary to get into harbor.

(Very good to know, Greg, thanks.....I think I'll wire in a bypass w/ pushbutton after I get the boat, just in case.....)

There are some indications that a few tenths of a volt too high may cause MDI failure. The failures of the earlier designs were a result of poor engineering, pure and simple; there really is no excuse for these problems.

Greg

Shouldn't be an issue, since the output of the extra alternator will be set slightly lower for the lithium house bank, and the stock alternator w/ internal regulator would be charging the start battery and powering the MDI. If that voltage, from VP's own supplied alt/reg combo is causing problems with their own engine, then, as you say, definitely poor engineering. Thanks for the info!
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Old 12-02-2019, 21:43   #50
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Re: Alternator for new Volvo engine?

Could you fabricate a drive from the crank (harmonic balancer?) coupled to a fluid-coupler or constant-velocity joint with your second appliance == water-maker, alternator, compressor == mounted independently of the power-plant?

This in-line drive eliminates bearing side-load while allowing all-side access for temperature control.

This application is common on the massive hydraulic drives for top-loader garbage trucks in fUSA.
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Old 13-02-2019, 02:59   #51
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Re: Alternator for new Volvo engine?

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Originally Posted by CarinaPDX View Post
hellosailor: I think the point is that "engineers" who have learned to plug ICs together to make a product aren't very good at their career choice. It is a pretty straightforward solution to take an off-the-shelf controller, slap it on a PCB and add firmware, which mostly works in a home or office environment. In the case of the MDI, the box is attached to a hot and vibrating engine (why oh why didn't they lengthen the engine harness and provide for mounting the MDI off the engine or better outside the engine compartment?) and contains relays that switch the engine start solenoid and glow plugs (inherent voltage fluctuations) so the design needs to isolate the controller's power and be hardened against heat and vibration. A competent EE can do that, providing he/she starts with first principles and a well-thought out specification. After 5 re-dos they really need to outsource the design work.

I once had the URL for a French blogger who documented the problems with each version of the MDI but I can't find it at the moment. I'll see if it's on another computer and post it if I can find it.

Greg


Shame on VP. Those MDI boxes has been an ongoing saga as long as they have existed. It must be more than 10 years ago they started using them. How difficult can it be to manufacture an box that is reliable?
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Old 24-03-2019, 19:35   #52
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Re: Alternator for new Volvo engine?

My plan to deal with this is a Sterling Alternator to Battery Charger.

I have the Sterling ABC on order. I can't explain how it works as well as the website does. https://www.sterling-power-usa.com/S...rycharger.aspx

It is available elsewhere, such as defender marine, for a discount.

I haven't heard anything bad about it, other than the device cost is more than an alternator regulator device. It is programmable for various battery types, including LFP.

Background for me: I have a Volvo Penta D1 30 engine, with the same issues with internal regulation. The price for the bracket for an additional alternator is around $800 from the Volvo online parts pricing information. Maybe it's less from the right supplier, but that is not including the additional alternator, an external regulator, the wiring, and any labor costs.
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Old 24-03-2019, 21:01   #53
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Re: Alternator for new Volvo engine?

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My plan to deal with this is a Sterling Alternator to Battery Charger.

.
This ABC does look like an interesting "black box" approach. The reviews seem promising. One problem that I see though, has to do with the duty cycle of the stock alternator re: use with LiFePO4 batts. The ABC has it's own alternator temp sensor, which Sterling says shuts the unit down if the alternator is overheating. Voltage regulation at that point reverts to the stock alternator's internal regulator.

Unlike LA batts of any form, lithium batts will be gobbling up all the charge the alternator can throw at them, until nearly fully charged. This typically puts heavy loads on alternators, and can burn up stock alternators. It sounds like the Sterling unit will quickly sense an overheat condition, which is a good thing, and just shut down. Not good.

A "smart" regulator, however, such as the Balmar MC-614, will throttle back the alternator output when it senses overheating, rather than simply turn it off. This is what you want for the lithiums.....a way of adjusting the output to keep the alternator temp within definable thresholds, rather than turning it off completely.

This is just my take on the Sterling ABC, after a short review. Obviously there may be more to it than I'm getting. And, it may work great for gels or AGM's.

Thanks for posting.....get back to us after you install, I'm curious how it works for you.

cheers
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