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Old 08-27-2015, 08:48 AM   #1
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BIRD Proposed Modification

I have a 2014 Tuscany 36MQ with a Bi-Directional Isolator Relay Delay (BIRD) module and a Trombetta Relay. My module has tested bad and is on order.

After studying this system and comparing to other similar systems (i.e. Blue Sea ML-ACR) I have several concerns with how the BIRD functions.

1. The BIRD has no manual control. In other words, there is no way to disable the system or override the system without disconnecting or jumpering various wires.

2. There is no visual indication of whether or not the bird has activated the relay to connect the two battery banks. This can be determined with a multimeter but a visual indication would be nice.

I was hoping to obtain some feedback on a modification that would resolve these two issues.

1. Install a 12V, 20 Amp rated DPDT "maintained" toggle switch with three positions (ON-OFF-ON). I would attach the Coach (yellow) wire and Relay (purple) wire to the two mid-position (OFF) connectors. For one set of ON contacts I would run one wire from the Coach wire side of the switch to the BIRD and the other wire from the Relay side to it's position on the BIRD. I would then jumper the other ON connector together. Here is how the switch would function:

ON - BIRD connected and available to activate Trombetta relay if demanded by the module

OFF (switch in mid-position) - BIRD disabled with battery banks disconnected (no power to Trombetta relay coil)

ON - 12V Coach power provided to Trombetta relay coil thus tying both battery banks together

This is similar to the AUTO, OFF, ON functions of the Blue Sea system which operate from a switch.

2. For indication, I would install a 12V LED (1/2 watt) across the Trombetta relay coil. When 12V is applied to the relay, the LED will illuminate. This would only indicate that there is power to the relay coil and would not indicate that the Trombetta was working as the relay coil or contacts in the contactor may have failed.

Any comments would be appreciated. If needed. I will put together a schematic to better explain how the switch would function.

Thanks, in advance, for everyone's help.
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Old 08-27-2015, 03:33 PM   #2
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I have a hard wired Digital Voltmeters that can rear both house and chassis batteries. Not visible from the drivers seat.
I also have two cheap meters that plug into cigarette outlets.
Ours have three outlets, 2 are fed by the house and the third is off the chassis.
You can see at a glance while driving the BIRD has operated.

Never had a reason not to allow the BIRD to work automatically.
We have a manual override on the dash if the BIRD did not work.
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Old 08-27-2015, 03:48 PM   #3
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Well, I also have some bright ideas for modifications but this is one of those things (IMHO) that fall into the category of "If it ain't broke, don't fix it"
Mine works as advertised and I suppose if the relay quit or solenoid failed, I would just replace it and move on to Happy Hour.
My coach has a digital voltmeter in the front panel that gives me accurate battery voltage so if there was a problem with the BIRD, I would see it and fix it.

I use the KISS Method..
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Old 08-27-2015, 04:37 PM   #4
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I have a dual solar controller and it has the ability to monitor the voltage on both batteries. I have never seen a time I would want to disable the solenoid.
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Old 08-27-2015, 04:49 PM   #5
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I had a similar switch configuration on my HR Endeavor. It was typically left in the "disable" position because I had virtually no parasitic draw and the solar maintainer kept the coach battery charged while in storage. The reason the BIRD was disabled was that I had issues with the BIRD activating and deactivating when the solar controller was switching modes (charge/float).

You may want to think about your indicators though ... the typical failure is the solenoid and an indicator for "BIRD ON" doesn't necessarily mean the batteries are connected.
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Old 08-27-2015, 05:15 PM   #6
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I view this as a solution in search of a problem .....

I can think of NO valid reason why I would ever want to disable the BIRD function. The properly operating BIRD has voltage thresholds and ON/OFF delays that protect the alternator, converter AND the batteries. Why would anyone want to turn it off?

BTW - The best ON/OFF indicator is a good monitor with a direct digital reading of all battery levels. It's extremely easy to glance at the display and immediately know if the BIRD has activated the (Isolator Relay) or not.
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Old 08-28-2015, 07:43 AM   #7
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You can get 2 wire voltmeters for less than 2 bucks on ebay with free shipping that are fairly accurate for monitor functions.

They are panel mount and are what are used in the cig lighter devices.

We bought 20 to play with and a winter project is a monitor panel inside and battery charger outside with meters visible through the side engine vent.

You could build small panel to do same.
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Old 08-28-2015, 07:47 AM   #8
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Thanks

Thanks for everyone's comments. I do like the idea of installing some digital voltage indicators on the two battery banks so that you can actually see the voltages and then you know what the BIRD is doing.

I have two primary reasons for wanting the ability to disable my BIRD system.

1. I store my unit in covered storage unit with 30 Amp service and, therefore, leave it plugged in. With the BIRD working this will tie the two battery banks together for an extended period of time. My Magnum Charger has been specifically setup for charging rates that are associated with the design and specifications of my deep cycle house batteries. These charging rates and levels are invalid with the battery banks tied together. Therefore, my preference would be to separate the banks and maintain the chassis battery with "battery tender" product that is designed for that purpose.

2. My BIRD is the older model with no GENSET connector so if I am traveling with the generator running for my A/C then I want the banks separate so the generator can charge the house batteries and the alternator can maintain charge on the chassis batteries.

In other situations, I would prefer the BIRD to function as it was designed as I do believe it provides reasonable protections for the various components involved in the way that most people use their RV's. In general, tying dissimilar battery banks together is not recommended but I do believe that it is okay and necessary since most newer units utilize residential refrigerators that need to keep going while traveling. It is also important for keeping the "battery boost" option open, if needed.
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Old 08-28-2015, 09:54 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by hikersc View Post
Thanks for everyone's comments. I do like the idea of installing some digital voltage indicators on the two battery banks so that you can actually see the voltages and then you know what the BIRD is doing.

I have two primary reasons for wanting the ability to disable my BIRD system.

1. I store my unit in covered storage unit with 30 Amp service and, therefore, leave it plugged in. With the BIRD working this will tie the two battery banks together for an extended period of time. My Magnum Charger has been specifically setup for charging rates that are associated with the design and specifications of my deep cycle house batteries. These charging rates and levels are invalid with the battery banks tied together. Therefore, my preference would be to separate the banks and maintain the chassis battery with "battery tender" product that is designed for that purpose.

2. My BIRD is the older model with no GENSET connector so if I am traveling with the generator running for my A/C then I want the banks separate so the generator can charge the house batteries and the alternator can maintain charge on the chassis batteries.

In other situations, I would prefer the BIRD to function as it was designed as I do believe it provides reasonable protections for the various components involved in the way that most people use their RV's. In general, tying dissimilar battery banks together is not recommended but I do believe that it is okay and necessary since most newer units utilize residential refrigerators that need to keep going while traveling. It is also important for keeping the "battery boost" option open, if needed.
It would appear that you have given this much thought, and your points are well taken, however, I would not consider them critical.
  1. When in storage, your Magnum charger will no doubt be in the 'Float' mode, and therefore the total charge algorithm would not be pertinent or affected by having the batteries constantly connected. Even if you have the occasional equalization cycle feature active, that would simply appear to the chassis battery as the equivalent of a short charge from the engine alternator.
  2. It's not a matter of "older" or "Newer" versions of the BIRD that precipitated the addition of the "GEN SET" input, but a reported conflict with certain makes of Diesel Engine Alternators. Just my way of saying that your concern may be partially unfounded.
With all that said, I still rather like your idea, and reasoning, stated in your case #2.

Consider the occasion where you leave a camp site (maybe a boondocking weekend) with deeply depleted house batteries. It's not a good idea to put that heavy recharge load on the engine alternator. Especially not, when you can crank up the generator and charge with the proper profile form the Magnum.

Short of installing the Diesel version of the BIRD, with the "GEN Set" input, your "OFF" switch is about the only way the BIRD function can be made selective.

I respectively withdraw my previous criticism..
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