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Whelen hideaway system cutting in and out

Discussion in 'Commercial Snow Removal' started by iski3d, Jan 17, 2003.

  1. iski3d

    iski3d Junior Member
    Messages: 29

    Guys im having a problem with my hidden strobe system. i have the whelen system with a 60 watt power supply and 6 strobes. i have 4 in the front and two in the back. the front and back are controlled independantly. the back ones work fine. the front ones have worked fine for half a year, but now they cut in and out. sometimes they work for five minutes un-interupted, sometimes every 10th flash or so they stop for a few seconds. all of my connections are good and tight. any ideas? also interesting is the fact that when the front and back are on together, they seem to work better. but they still cut out. thanks.
     
  2. mike9497

    mike9497 Senior Member
    Messages: 466

    well i have a nova 606 that had the same problem.not enough power going to the box and i was over loading it so it would shut down either the backs or the fronts.60 is not enough juice for 6 heads i feel.make sure your not getting water in the connectors or u have a broken wire going to the box.or a soder joint came apart inside the box.i had that happen to my radio and it would cut in and out at times.sounds like a wire or something inside the box has broken.send it to the dealer cause if you start messing with it there going to tell you to go scratch your A** with it.
     
  3. chris k

    chris k Senior Member
    Messages: 204

    I ahe the same thing bu only 2 up front w/ the brakes and reverse in the back. I have the same problem. It seems that it is moisture getting in the conneections. Mine only do it while it is snowing and for a short while after. If we are out plowing for a while after it has stopped snowing they will usually work fine.
     
  4. mike9497

    mike9497 Senior Member
    Messages: 466

    get the water proof connectors.there 7.00 each
     
  5. iski3d

    iski3d Junior Member
    Messages: 29

    what connectors are you guys talking about? do u mean the connectors liek where the strobe tube is, the rubber connector that goes into the grommet hole or the connectors that plug into the control box? i think maybe water got into one of the headlights and the box is shuting down as like a circuit breaker mechanism. thanks.
     
  6. mike9497

    mike9497 Senior Member
    Messages: 466

    put water proof conectors on the light end jerrie heyer is the man to talk to about this.he knows alot more than me
     
  7. wyldman

    wyldman Member
    Messages: 3,265

    2 things will make the box cut out.

    1 - A short in any of the strobe circuits.Usually caused by water or moisture in the connectors.The amp style plugs (white,open end),won't cut it.You need either the little deutch connector or the weather pack style.You can resolder new ones on instead of replacing the cable or tube.Water inside the headlamp housings will not cause them to cut out,as the bulb is sealed.I believe radio shack carries the plugs,as do most of the online strobe companies.

    2 - Overheating,or bad grounding.The box should be mounted to clean bare metal,to help dissapate heat and provide a solid ground.Mounting over carpet or rubber will sometimes work,but if your still having problems,them mount it to bare metal.

    If it still vuts out,the box may be bad,but most problems can be traced to improper installation
     
  8. iski3d

    iski3d Junior Member
    Messages: 29

    im sorry i dotn think im followign you completly. if water in the headlight wont effect the tube and the box is inside the truck, then where is the problem and how will new connectors fix the problem? thanks. oh and the box isnt overheating as the problem exists even when the power supply is totally cold. thanks.
     
  9. wyldman

    wyldman Member
    Messages: 3,265

    There should be only 2 connections in any one bulb circuit.One at the box,and the other at the bulb.The connection at the bulb is on the outside of the headlamp housing,but still exposed to the elements.This connector should be fully sealed with a weatherpack type or similar plug so absolutly no moisture can get in.If they are and open ended,even if they are filled with grease or silicone,they can still short out.Strobes run very high voltage which has the potential to short very easily.The connection at the box isn't as important if it's inside and dry.If you have any more connections it will drive the impedance up and possibly trip the box.

    The strobe tube is fully sealed,just like a headlamp bulb,so even if the housing is full of water,it won't affect the bulb electrically
     
  10. iski3d

    iski3d Junior Member
    Messages: 29

    ok thank you for clearing that up it sounds liek that is the problem, with the only other possibility being a faulty power supply. my dad has the same power supply so i may switch his in and see if the problem persists. thank you.
     
  11. wxmn6

    wxmn6 PlowSite.com Addict
    Messages: 1,037

    I have installed probably dozen strobe power supplies and I never had any problem with them because I did some prevention things to minimize problem with strobes.

    First, it is very important for all connectors (pins and sockets) to have a good and clean electrical connections. Both the power supply and the strobe heads. Any loose connections will cause the system to flick or fail.

    Second, you don't need the waterproof connectors, unless you are in marine environment. Get a good RTV silicone and apply liberally inside and around the end of connector WHERE THE WIRES GOES THROUGH, NOT THE OTHER END OF CONNECTOR WHERE PINS/SOCKETS ARE. Be patient and allow it to dry for a day. When dried, apply a small amount of dielectric grease inside the sockets. I use a toothpick and use it to swipe out dielectric grease and apply it inside the sockets. Then plug the strobe head to the cable and wrap it with a good quality electrician tape. 3M Super 88 is the best tape to use, it is designed for cold weather condition. It do cost $4 a roll but it is worth it in the long run. Cheap tapes won't last for awhile.

    Third, all strobe cables should have bare grounding wire. Where all the cables are connected to the strobe power supply, connect all the grounding wires together with a short length of wire and connect it securely to the screw that hold down the bare metal base of power supply to the vehicle. If your power supply metal base don't have good grounding connection to the vehicle, then connect another length of wire from the metal base to vehicle chassis for a good grounding.

    Again, make sure that you have a good firm connections with the strobe heads, power supply and cables! I also put dielectric grease in the sockets of strobe power supply before I plug the cables to it.

    Unless your power supply is regulated (meaning same output wattage to each head no matter how many heads are connected and how many are switched on), you should not connect both helical and linear strobes tubes together to one power supply. Linear strobes is a flat tube and helical is a twisted tube (most common, such as hide-a-flash). The problem is that linear has a higher impedience, so with a lower impedience helical connected together, it screws up even amount of watts to each heads. So that would often cause the heads to sometime misfires. The solution is to either get two separate power supplies or get a regulated power supply.




    I have been saying this over again and again about the watts/heads. Having 6 strobes head connected to 60 watts pack is not the best idea because that is 10 watts per head. Not enough watts for each head. Clear strobes would work fine, because clear does not filter out any lights. I would go with a minimum of 15 watts each heads it would be ok, but you should go for 20 watts for colored lights if possible. But for dark colored lights (red, blue), at least 20 watts per head is a must or you will be disappointed. Do a search. I have listed the amount of percentage that each color lens that filters the light out.
     
    Last edited: Jan 21, 2003
  12. wyldman

    wyldman Member
    Messages: 3,265

    Good post Stephen

    I would hesitate to use RTV silicone on connections though.The silicone is corrosive and over time it will destroy the connection,pins or wiring.It does work as a temporary measure though.

    I have been using urethane,to seal connections,as it's not as corrosive,and holds up much better.No long term data though,we'll see in a few years.

    For what it costs,and the time it takes the waterproof connectors are the way to go.
     
  13. iski3d

    iski3d Junior Member
    Messages: 29

    What i dont understand is why is the water effecting the strobes now, i mean the truck is sitting in the dry garage so why arnt they workign now? i may go work on it now but the garage isnt heated and its 5 degrees rite now. ok thanks for all the help. oh yah and the back strobes work fine so that makes it more frustrating.
     
  14. wxmn6

    wxmn6 PlowSite.com Addict
    Messages: 1,037

    How do you know for sure that water is affecting your strobes? There are several other factors that could affect the strobes to not function normal.
     
  15. Rob

    Rob PlowSite.com Veteran
    Messages: 306

    I haven't installed my system yet, so before I do, where can I get some of that tape and the waterproof connectors ?
     
  16. wyldman

    wyldman Member
    Messages: 3,265

    The connectors are available from radio shack,or the strobe companies online.Some auto parts stores also carry the weatherpack connectors,as they are used on most GM products.

    You can also get bulbs and cables with waterproof connectors already on them.

    The tape should be available at any good supply house or hardware store.If you use the weatherproof connectors,you won't need the tape.
     
  17. wxmn6

    wxmn6 PlowSite.com Addict
    Messages: 1,037

    wyldman, I am not sure about corrosive of RTV Silicone. I never had any problem with it. Recently I installed lights and stuff on my dad's new '03 2500HD so I pulled out everything out of his old S-10. So I still have the old cables and strobe heads in my workshop. So when I get a chance I will pull out the RTV out of connector and see if I notice any corrosion or anything unusual.

    I got the 3M Super 88 electrician tape at Home Depot. Under $4. Buy at least a few rolls. You will find other uses for it because it is very good quality tape.

    Sure, you can get bulbs and cables with waterproof connectors already on them, but I just want to give you a fair warning - it is a PITA to route the cables with connectors on it. I mean it is a really PITA. I used to fight around under the truck in the past but not anymore. I bought a 1000 foot spool of strobe cables and built a reel to mount the spool. I can cut it to the exact length I want with minimal waste. Much easier to route and no worry about figuring out what length you need to buy for each head. Also it is a good idea to keep the cable at a reasonable length, just long enough to connect to the power supply with about 6 inches of slack. The shorter the better (less voltage drop).
     
  18. iski3d

    iski3d Junior Member
    Messages: 29

    hey guys the strobes are fixed. no, water was not the culprit. well i went and tried my dads power supply and the same problem, rear strobes worked front didnt, so i just traced all the wiring again, only this time i lifted the kick plate on the floor of the truck where all of my wires are hidden and sure enough one wire was beign crushed/ ripped. fixed it, now they work. so thank you all for the help im sure weve all learned a lot about the waterproofing and all and i think that i will still look into that as a preventative measure.
     
  19. Rob

    Rob PlowSite.com Veteran
    Messages: 306

    wyldman, wxmn6,

    Thanks for the info, I will definitely look to get them.

    Thanks again