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What Hump?
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So, I bought five of these solenoid valves (5 port, 12vdc) from FrightProps earlier this year and put them all into props that I built for this year's haunt.

solenoids.jpg

They worked long enough to build and test my props. So far, though, since we opened our maze on October 3rd, four out of the five of them have failed.

The mechanical valve is still OK, but the solenoid coil is not working. There are LEDs that should light up inside the solenoid coil housing, they don't light when 12v is applied. The solenoids are just dead.

I told FrightProps, and they said they would suspect the controller or the power source.

I've been using the TStraub 4-button prop controller on all of the ones that have failed, but I've also been using that controller on a couple of BSPT solenoid valves that I bought from China, and they are still kicking.

The dead solenoids died on both utility and on generator power, neither of which has caused me any problems with anything else.

Has anyone ever experienced problems like this?
80% failure rate within 3 weekends of use is not a very good reliability rating.
Has anyone used the model of solenoid valve, from FrightProps, shown in the picture?
(I just ordered 2 more solenoid valves from FrightProps so that I'd have spares on hand, and they appear to be from a different manufacturer.)
 

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I too am having a problem with my solenoid. My solenoid moves when I have it hooked up backwards but the air can't get through. It does nothing when I hook it up properly. And works great when it not hooked up to anything at all! I'm going to have to use a ball valve to get my whips going this year.
 

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BAD INFLUENCE
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Abunai- The first thing you need to do is check the coils of the valves to see if they are open or shorted . Also check and make sure you are getting 12 dc to the output of the controller. I've seen the led come on ,but not enough voltage to energize the coil to operate. I am assuming you have a meter that you can use to check all of this. also make sure the spool is shifting smoothly. If you get dirt or some trash in the air it can jam the spool and it won't shift. If you don't have a meter ,hook the valve up to a known good 12 vdc source to check it.



Ghost Ninja- What type of valve do you have? You say when it's hooked up backwards it works. Do you mean electrically backwards? I'm not understanding what you mean , because you need a 12 + and a 12 - going to the coil to make it operate for a DC valve, for a 120 AC valve you need 120 and the neutral connected to the coil to make it operate. It's hard to connect it backwards. If you have the airflow backwards it usually won't work. There should be an arrow on the housing of the valve showing air flow or some type of designation to show how to connect the valve. Also some valves need a certain pressure to operate and it might be you haven't met that pressure. Hope this helps
 

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bfjou812, thank for the help. I have a two-way valve that operates on 12 vdc. Wiring it either way shouldn't matter since it is dc and I'm using wall wart that is 12vdc with matching amps or ma. As for the backwards thing, the valves have a "P" on the compressor/source side and an "A" on the outlet/prop side. I've hooked it up both ways out of desperation to no avail. The minimum pressure should be around 20 psi and I've gotten it up to 90 PSI with no luck. And the solenoid does not have a manual button to test it with either. I suspect that the solenoid is faulty ...
 

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Ghost Ninja- Do you have a meter you can check the coil with? Make sure it isn't shorted or shows an open circuit. Do you a check valve ? The check valve may be faulty. Another thing you can do , is hook up the valve to a known good 12 DC source directly and place a screwdriver on the coil and see if the screwdriver is magnetized. If it is the coil is good.

One other thing use the largest power source you have as far as amperage goes, you can't have too much.
 

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Abunai - Kind of a shot in the dark here but seeing as these have LED's, the polarity has to be connected correctly. With the polarity being specific, it's possible they also have an internal diode. If they do, and the power gets connected wrong, the diode will blow and the solenoid will be dead. With 4 out 5 that don't work, there has to be a common cause somewhere. :rolleyes:
 

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What Hump?
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Discussion Starter #8
bfjou812, I checked a couple of the solenoids with a multi-meter.

Two failed solenoids measured 63.5 ohms across the coils.
On of the replacement solenoids, that just came in the mail yesterday, measured 35 ohms across the coils, but it is from a different manufacturer than the failed ones.

To be honest, I've never measured the resistance across the coils before, so I'm not sure what should be an acceptable range.

I did test the failed solenoids with a known good 12vdc source, and they are just dead. No action, no LED, nothing.

I installed the replacement solenoid on the same prop, with the same controller, on which one of the failed solenoids had been, and it is working fine for now.

I guess I'm trying to determine at this point whether I just got a bad batch of solenoids, or if the TStraub controller is frying them somehow.
 

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What Hump?
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Discussion Starter #9
Ghost Ninja, I'm not sure that I agree about the polarity not mattering on a DC valve.

I have had valves, in the past, that I got from an electronics salvage store, that had a maximum pressure. They wouldn't fire if I exceeded the maximum input air pressure.

Of course, props required a higher pressure to move, so I had to chuck them all.
 

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Abunai - 63 ohms sounds about right, the coil definitely isn't shorted or burned out. As bfjou812 suggested, with the coil energized, a small screwdriver or metal object should stick to the end of the solenoid where the nut is.
 

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Last night I had a fright props 4 way solenoid leaking through port "b" I tried a different solenoid on the same cylinder with no problems.
I hope this isn't a quality issue with these solenoids.
 

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I have some straub boards I built that are connected to some 12v solenoids (sourced from China). I'm believe polarity matters with these units. I looked at the polarity of the LED to determine which terminal was + or - when wiring them.

Even if there was an issue with the coil or not enough current due to the size of the power supply, I'd at least expect the LED to come on when firing the solenoid.

FWIW, I use the same power supply that drives the controller board to drive the solenoid so as to simplify the wiring, and it's a 1 amp unit.
 

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Abunai- Glad to hear you got it working. I thought of another solution, removing the plug and wiring directly to the coil, but it seems you can't do that it looks like the coil wires are sealed to the coil. I had some DC coils here and tested some of them -5 had an LED and when I connected them correctly and incorrectly 2 of them still worked. So I wonder if it is the way they are manufactured by a particular manufacturers? One thing I try to do is buy all of my solenoids with a plug connector. That way if the circuit for the led goes bad or something else fails you can wire the coil directly. Do know if those solenoids are from China? That may be why they failed so soon. Just a thought. One other word of advice NEVER energize any coil without it being on the solenoid or having a screwdriver placed through the hole in the coil. You will burn the coil out that way, and it ain't pretty. I really doubt your controller did any damage, probably just bad coils.
 

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One other word of advice NEVER energize any coil without it being on the solenoid or having a screwdriver placed through the hole in the coil. You will burn the coil out that way, and it ain't pretty.
Curious on this comment, what exactly will that do if the coil is not on the solenoid? The energized coil simply creates an electromagnet, the current through the coil won't change either way.
 

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It melts the material that covers wires that actually make up the coil. I've seen it done more than once .
 

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Hmmm..... not sure how that's possible as the coil is just an electromagnet and doesn't care if there's any metal to attract. The only thing that could melt the insulation of the coil wire would be too much voltage.
 

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I somewhat agree with you , BUT I've been there seen that and have the t-shirt to prove it. I don't know all the physics and such ,but as I said I've seen it more than once and the voltage was normal .
 

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What Hump?
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Discussion Starter #18
Do know if those solenoids are from China? That may be why they failed so soon. Just a thought. ... I really doubt your controller did any damage, probably just bad coils.
bfjou812, I don't know where FrightProps got them, but I got them from FrightProps.

The ones they currently sell are different.

The fifth solenoid out of the five I bought from them in May, died tonight.
This time, on a PicoBoo controller, so I'm pretty sure it was a bad batch of solenoids.
$125 worth of solenoids gone in three weekends of use.
I hope the new ones last longer.

Thanks for your help, bfjou812.

I have one last question that I sort of asked you on another thread: Can you send me a picture of the way you use bushings on your prop mechanisms? I just got in to proper pneumatic props this year, and I want to make sure my mechanisms are as reliable as I can build them.
 

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I don't have any build pictures but drill a hole the correct diameter, make sure it is a tight press fit ,and press them in.
 

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The fifth solenoid out of the five I bought from them in May, died tonight.
This time, on a PicoBoo controller, so I'm pretty sure it was a bad batch of solenoids.
$125 worth of solenoids gone in three weekends of use.
What's strange about this is that the built in LED's are not lighting either. Usually the LED is connected directly to the positive and negative leads with a resistor. Even if the coil somehow burned out, the LED should still light. Also the fact that your coils that quit working were testing at 63 ohms which is pretty normal.
 
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