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  1. #1
    Join Date
    27th December 2014
    Location
    Seattle, WA
    Posts
    836

    Help with flaky Estes PSII launch controller

    The TARC team I work with has an Estes PSII launch controller that has gone flaky at the worst possible time. Even with new batteries (C cells or LiPo), the LED is sometimes really dim when the key is inserted, leading to no joy when the button is pushed. A couple of times, the LED has been bright but has gone dim when the arm (yellow) button is pushed. The buzzer that normally sounds when the arm button is pushed is silent then.

    I took it apart and didn't see any obvious loose connections. The LED came on bright again until the arm button was pushed, then it went dim. Is there a common fix here, or should I go for a new controller?

    Thanks!

    NAR L1 "Cheeto Dust", scratch 54mm, H54R (before it became a G54), Mansfield, WA
    L2 "Arc Light", Madcow 2.6" Arcas, J285CL, Mansfield, WA, recovery by snowshoe

  2. #2
    Join Date
    21st April 2010
    Location
    So central WI, USA
    Posts
    5,465
    sounds like 'dirty' contacts. once upon a time it was possible to clean them using contact cleaner and a bore patch, these days that probably isn't possible. one could probably replace the switch(though I don't know what type of switch you would need to have the same functions).
    Rex
    *edit*
    just as a wild idea, try cleaning the safety key with a dab of brasso(or other metal polish).

    L2-competitor 3, AT J350W, 8/27/2016, Bong, 2557'
    my youtube channel http://www.youtube.com/channel/UC0gB...?feature=watch

  3. #3
    Join Date
    27th December 2014
    Location
    Seattle, WA
    Posts
    836
    Quote Originally Posted by Rex R View Post
    sounds like 'dirty' contacts. once upon a time it was possible to clean them using contact cleaner and a bore patch, these days that probably isn't possible. one could probably replace the switch(though I don't know what type of switch you would need to have the same functions).
    Rex
    *edit*
    just as a wild idea, try cleaning the safety key with a dab of brasso(or other metal polish).
    The safety key is nice and shiny, but I'll clean the other contacts within an inch of their lives.
    NAR L1 "Cheeto Dust", scratch 54mm, H54R (before it became a G54), Mansfield, WA
    L2 "Arc Light", Madcow 2.6" Arcas, J285CL, Mansfield, WA, recovery by snowshoe

  4. #4
    Join Date
    18th January 2018
    Posts
    34
    I a little curious because I just bought the same. So far all tests are positive.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    27th December 2014
    Location
    Seattle, WA
    Posts
    836
    Quote Originally Posted by Klatuso View Post
    I a little curious because I just bought the same. So far all tests are positive.
    I've been really happy with this unit over dozens of launches, so I hope I can figure out what's wrong with it.
    NAR L1 "Cheeto Dust", scratch 54mm, H54R (before it became a G54), Mansfield, WA
    L2 "Arc Light", Madcow 2.6" Arcas, J285CL, Mansfield, WA, recovery by snowshoe

  6. #6
    Join Date
    1st October 2014
    Posts
    59
    In my experience, all clips get rusty and dirty and need to be cleaned after a bunch of launches. I clean mine pretty much before every launch session just to avoid problems the day of the launch. I soak in household vinegar and then use extra fine sandpaper and paper towels to make sure the contact points in particular are clean. Had a lot of headaches before beginning this routine. Always keep spare new batteries on hand of course too.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    19th February 2009
    Location
    Auburn, WA USA
    Posts
    1,999
    I agree....I'd focus on the clips end of the wiring...and look at the clips themselves, the connections between the clips and the wiring, and the joints where the pairs of clips attach to the leads back to the controller.

    Also....what are they doing with the "extra" clips? I tend to clip them to the heat shrink that covers the "Y" joints so that they aren't touching each other or wet grass (as it often is up at Sixty Acres) or anything.
    Bernard Cawley
    NAR 89040 L1
    AMA 42160
    KG7AIE

  8. #8
    Join Date
    27th December 2014
    Location
    Seattle, WA
    Posts
    836
    Thanks everyone for the advice. I think the problem was dirty clips. At least, after I cleaned them, I wasn't seeing the issues at all anymore. I knew that, and yet it never occurred to me. Funny how that works. The "extra" clips are clipped to the other wire. Not as far down as the heat shrink, but pretty far away from the business end of the main clips.
    NAR L1 "Cheeto Dust", scratch 54mm, H54R (before it became a G54), Mansfield, WA
    L2 "Arc Light", Madcow 2.6" Arcas, J285CL, Mansfield, WA, recovery by snowshoe

  9. #9
    Join Date
    19th February 2009
    Location
    Auburn, WA USA
    Posts
    1,999
    Glad it was simple. The description you gave was a classic dirty or bent (spread jaws) clips situation.

    I love that controller and have gotten them into the hands of several local TARC teams over the past couple of years. I also use one (with a 3s LiPoly inside) when I go fly for myself and I keep it in the car when I’m up at Sixty to play “official observer” for TARC. That has come in hand more than a few times....

    Bernard Cawley
    NAR 89040 L1
    AMA 42160
    KG7AIE

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