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Old 07-22-2019, 09:17 AM
David Russell David Russell is offline
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Signal confusion

Been on the road for a show for 5 days. Moly was idling at 1700. Upon return things were fine. Next morning I find a signal reading "E" with dashes filling the rest of the display. Turned everything off and back on and all was good again. Can anyone please offer some insight? Thank you.
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Old 07-22-2019, 10:05 AM
Eric Trulson Eric Trulson is online now
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Details. What model of controller is running your furnace? What was the behavior of the furnace when it was displaying "E" and dashes - did it shut power off, or was it still providing power to the elements?
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Old 07-22-2019, 10:41 AM
David Russell David Russell is offline
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Pardon me, in my haste I left out that crucial info. Watlow 981, which has been said here to not be very dependable in its old age. Power was off to the elements
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Old 07-22-2019, 11:46 AM
Brian Wong Shui Brian Wong Shui is offline
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NOTE:
An X applies to
input 1 or 2

Error Code E1 and E2 Messages
Four dashes, “- - - -”, in the upper display indicate a Series 981/982 error. The lower display will indicate the error code. The controller will be in the Hold mode with both control outputs off. The alarm outputs will be in their alarm state and the associated LED lit.

EX 1: A/D underflow error
The Input X A/D circuit is underrange. An open or reversed polarity sensor is the most likely cause. Check the sensor; if the connection is good, and functions properly, call the factory. Make sure the InX prompt matches your sensor.

EX 2: Sensor underrange error
The Input X sensor generated a value lower than that allowed for the range of the sensor, or the A/D circuitry malfunctioned. Enter a valid input. The A/D value is below the range limits, but within the A/D conversion limits. Make sure the InX prompt matches your sensor.

EX 3: Sensor overrange error
The Input X sensor generated a value higher than that allowed for the range of the sensor, or the A/D circuitry malfunctioned. Enter a valid input. The A/D value is above the range limits, but within the A/D conversion limits. Make sure the InX prompt matches your sensor.

ER3: Ambient Error
Ambient temperature has gone below 0°C/32°F or above 65°C/149°F. Refer to the restore prompt in the Calibration Menu (Chapter 6).

EX 4: A/D overflow error
The Input X A/D circuit is overrange. An open or reversed polarity sensor is the most likely cause. Check the sensor; if the connection is good, and functions properly, call the factory. The A/D input voltage is too high to convert an A/D signal. Make sure the InX prompt matches your sensor.

Er4: RAM verification error
Displayed when an internal RAM failure has occurred. Contact the factory.

Er5: Non-volatile checksum error
Displayed when an EEPROM checksum error has been detected. This error will reset all parameters to the factory defaults. Turn the power off then back on again. If the error has not cleared, contact the factory.

Er9: Configuration error
An incorrect module has been installed in the control. Contact the factory.

Error Code Actions
To clear error codes EX1, EX2, EX3, or EX4:
  • If Err = nLA, the error code should clear once the problem is corrected.
  • If Err = LAt, correct the problem and cycle power. You can also clear the error by pressing the Up/Down keys to enter the Setup menu, then press the Display key.

Error codes Er4, Er5, or Er9 will result in these conditions:
  • The control is in Hold mode with both control outputs OFF.
  • The alarm outputs are in their alarm state (de-energized with the LED lit).
  • The lower display indicates the error code.
  • The upper display indicates “_ _ _ _”.
  • All keys are inactive.
  • With Er5, all prompts return to default values.

Cycle power to the control. If the error is still present contact the factory.
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Old 07-22-2019, 12:18 PM
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Pete VanderLaan Pete VanderLaan is offline
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and take note. An inordinant number of the 981's have been failing and were mostly installed within a fairly short range of time.
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Old 07-22-2019, 05:45 PM
David Russell David Russell is offline
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Brian, thanks for the info. Pete thank you for the reminder. I have been pushing it hoping "not me".

Can anyone recommend a controller that is reasonably priced and is easily swapped out?
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Old 07-22-2019, 08:11 PM
Brian Wong Shui Brian Wong Shui is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by David Russell View Post
Can anyone recommend a controller that is reasonably priced and is easily swapped out?
Watlow PM Series would probably be the drop in replacement. Not the easiest thing to program using the keypad (IMO). Pretty easy using the computer. PM6 has bluetooth but when I saw the demo, it was for monitoring and not programming. Programming was coming soon (supposedly). Don't enable Trutune+. Under certain conditions, it can automagically guess some really bad PID numbers. PM Series has a lot of options. You are probably going to need some help from Watlow (Or a distributor) decoding the part number that you'll require. It is not the cheapest thing around.

Automation Direct (Solo Series) controllers have been used by some people on the group. I haven't personally used them to be able to comment on the programming. Jordan has used them and may be able to comment.

Fuji, Digitry, Partlows all seem to pop up at one time or the other. All can do the job. Just depends on the features and the ease of programming.
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Old 07-22-2019, 08:31 PM
Eben Horton Eben Horton is online now
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Quote:
Originally Posted by David Russell View Post
Brian, thanks for the info. Pete thank you for the reminder. I have been pushing it hoping "not me".

Can anyone recommend a controller that is reasonably priced and is easily swapped out?
I can’t say enough good things about Digitry’s Vanessa controller.
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Old 07-24-2019, 09:56 AM
David Russell David Russell is offline
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Thanks Eben for the suggestion and thank you Brian, for that rundown on alarms.

I called watlow support and they felt it was most likely a thermocouple issue. It was rebuilt one year ago.

I suspect the controller is likely to blame. Can anyone who has had one fail speak about any alarms that were triggered when their 981 began to fail?

It has occurred to me that watlow support might be more inclined to believe in the alarm rather than the failing of their product.
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Old 07-24-2019, 12:14 PM
Shawn Everette Shawn Everette is offline
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Not speaking directly to the 981, but I had watlow ez zone that got finicky about the thermo wire connections. Would throw an error, I'd snip a couple inches off, and then it was fine again.
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Old 07-24-2019, 01:18 PM
David Russell David Russell is offline
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Thanks for that Shawn. I did trim one lead today that looked questionable. Since i have been monitoring the situation, I noticed it throws the alarm while a program is running. While trying to observe it in set point mode, I opened the door (engaging the cut off switch of course). It shortly thereafter threw the alarm. Currently observing to see if in set point mode with no changes/commands, will it signal the same alarm. Its obvious this controller is a liability the older it gets but getting another show or two done before replacing it is a financial necessity.
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Old 07-24-2019, 02:25 PM
Shawn Everette Shawn Everette is offline
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I did have a cutoff fail on me on a different furnace, so keep that in mind for a possible short.
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Old 07-24-2019, 03:04 PM
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I have long irrationally believed that this sort of control is sentient, not unlike old dot matrix printers which sensed the moment you left the room and then ate your entire piece of work. Controllers do that. They sense your desperation and then execute your greatest fear.

While it may be tongue in cheek, Don't think I'm kidding. If it can fail, it will.
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Old 07-24-2019, 05:06 PM
Eben Horton Eben Horton is online now
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Shawn Everette View Post
Not speaking directly to the 981, but I had watlow ez zone that got finicky about the thermo wire connections. Would throw an error, I'd snip a couple inches off, and then it was fine again.
Dilectric grease and heat shink tubing and some fork connectors will solve that. If you really want to go nuts get tinned wire in the right gauge. Corrosion will creep around normal wire and mess up conductivity.

I went this route after my furnace went on high fire due to a thermocouple connection issue and have never had a problem since.
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Old 07-24-2019, 05:07 PM
Eben Horton Eben Horton is online now
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Sorry for typos .........
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Old 07-24-2019, 05:39 PM
John Riepma John Riepma is offline
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My original 981 also failed while in a program. I would run the cook cycle on a program when I finished batching and I started getting crappy melts. I didn't put two and two together until I noticed once when I stayed later than usual after starting that program that when it reached the end point it would immediately start back down to the squeeze temp. Talked to Matt Sears at Wet Dog and he told me that the 981's were starting to fail at a fairly consistent point in their life. I got a new PM9 and have had no problems running the same program since then.
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Old 07-24-2019, 06:20 PM
David Russell David Russell is offline
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Thanks John, was switching out to the PM9 a challenging experience? Can I assume you did it hot?

Last edited by David Russell; 07-24-2019 at 06:38 PM.
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Old 07-24-2019, 07:45 PM
Eric Trulson Eric Trulson is online now
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Switching out furnace controllers is actually fairly painless. You can do it hot, usually requires about 10-15 minutes of having the furnace off and the breaker tripped open. Label all your wires before you disconnect them, it will save you heartbreak and stress.

Most of the time, new controllers can drop right in to the same cutout on the control panel, assuming it's the same size as the old one - in your case, the 981 is kind of an oddball size (horizontally aligned 1/8 DIN). If you can't get a replacement controller that's also horizontal 1/8 DIN, and don't feel like turning your head sideways every time you look at your controller, you might need to order a 1/16 DIN controller and make a little adapter plate out of sheet metal, or order a 1/4 DIN controller and make a larger cutout in your control panel.

For 99% of PID controllers, there are 7 wires that you will need to disconnect/reconnect:
1) Line power in to the controller - 3 wires (hot, neutral, ground) - Looks like this is terminals 21, 22, & 11 on your controller
2) Thermocouple wires - 2 wires (positive & negative) - Looks like these are terminals 9 & 10 on your controller
3) Control output to the coil circuit of your relay - 2 wires (hot & neutral) - Looks like these are terminals 12 & 13 if you're driving a mechanical relay or MDR, or 12 & 14 if you're driving a relay that takes a 4-20 mA signal

Manual for your 981, wiring instructions are in section 2.1: https://www.instrumart.com/assets/wa...982_manual.pdf

Link to the Solo brand of controllers: https://www.automationdirect.com/adc...re_controllers These are probably the best value controller out there, they run about $100-$150 depending on size and configuration. Cheaper units exist, but none that I'd trust to drive a glass furnace. Watlows are also great controllers, but their price will run about 2-2.5x higher. Digitrys are good too, but their price will run about 5-6x higher.

Last edited by Eric Trulson; 07-25-2019 at 08:28 AM.
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Old 07-24-2019, 07:56 PM
Eben Horton Eben Horton is online now
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What money you save with a cheap controller, will be nullified by the head banging trying to figure out how to program them.

Just sayin’
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Old 07-25-2019, 04:52 AM
John Riepma John Riepma is offline
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I did not do it hot, when I noticed the problem we were near the end of our season when we regularly shut down anyway. I got the new controller from Wet Dog and hooked it up to power on the bench to program it. I programmed it with very short duration events between steps so that I could observe that I'd programmed it correctly then adjusted the time in those steps. I'd recommend doing it that way, then swapping it out hot would be very simple.
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Old 07-25-2019, 09:45 AM
Shawn Everette Shawn Everette is offline
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Noalox is your friend!
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Old 07-25-2019, 06:34 PM
David Russell David Russell is offline
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I have always used noalox but your post makes me want to ask...do you use it on your TC connections? I have not.
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Old 07-26-2019, 10:49 AM
Shawn Everette Shawn Everette is offline
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I have in that instance, seemed to extend the time between errors. The newer eclipse monitors I've found to be rather finicky compared to the older units.
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Old 07-27-2019, 03:29 PM
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Richard Huntrods Richard Huntrods is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Shawn Everette View Post
Not speaking directly to the 981, but I had watlow ez zone that got finicky about the thermo wire connections. Would throw an error, I'd snip a couple inches off, and then it was fine again.
Had the same problem with my Fuji controller - showed UUUU at blowing temp a couple of times but fine at lower temps.

Finally during recent maintenance I checked ALL the connections (controller, thermocouple & element wire nuts). I had to tighten a few things but I found the acutal thermocouple in almost perfect shape but the wires at the terminal block were loose. Trimmed and reconnected and all seems good now.

I find the Fuji PXR series very reasonably priced and very easy to program. Getting anything reasonably priced in Canada is quite another matter.
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Old 07-27-2019, 10:32 PM
Shawn Everette Shawn Everette is offline
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I had another similar problem with a digitry sending unit. The kiln was generically used for annealing blowing work, but when I tried to take it to a full fuse(re-purposed 2400* ceramic so I know it could take the temp) any time it got passed 1400* the "noise" reversed the polarity on the thermo signal and thought it was dropping temp. Once you kicked the relay off it would start acting normal again. Lots of trouble shooting to diagnose, but once I swapped sending units it was fine.

Last edited by Shawn Everette; 07-28-2019 at 07:24 AM.
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