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View Full Version : Lack of 521 fun - Texas edition...


bcg
07-31-2008, 06:48 PM
I got called out to a property yesterday that's 26 zones on 2 controllers (15 on 1, 11 on the other). They had a 2nd house built on the property a few months ago and had a 2nd septic system put in and when the installer did it, he managed to cut through 10 of the 11 zone wires on one side of the property. Looked through the wires and didn't see any common wire but went ahead and spliced them all back together anyway and can't get any of them to run. System was put in sometime in the early 80's and there's not a 6" valve box to be found so I think, break out the 521, find the valve that works, trace the common to a wire fault and dig, find a valve that doesn't work and repeat. Easy enough, right? Well, the 521 isn't working.

No matter what wire I hook up to, I'm not getting null over the wire. If I go to one side, I'll get tone, go to the other side and it's null as far as you go. The ground is bone dry and I don't know if that might have something to do with it but I can't get it to work. Called Greenlee and they suggested wetting the area where the ground stake was and trying moving it around or adjusting the signal strenght but none of that seemed to work. If I can't trace this wire, I'm going to be digging down the zone wires until I start finding valves (probably 60 - 80') and I really don't want to so if any of you have some tricks you can suggest, I'm all ears.

Mike Leary
07-31-2008, 06:58 PM
I'm going to be digging down the zone wires until I start finding valves (probably 60 - 80') and I really don't want to so

Why do you Texans bury the valves so deep, is it the oil drilling heritage? :rolleyes:

CAPT Stream Rotar
07-31-2008, 06:59 PM
wet the ground with a hose brotha.

bcg
07-31-2008, 07:00 PM
the wires are only 8" deep but who knows how long I have to dig down them to find a valve. The wires are broken right in the middle of a zone and it's easily 80' from one end to the other. I can't imagine the valves will be more than 8" - 12" deep, but who knows.

bcg
07-31-2008, 07:01 PM
wet the ground with a hose brotha.

I did where I put the stake in but the area I need to trace through is easily an acre...

Mike Leary
07-31-2008, 07:04 PM
Check the batteries on the 521, you might tone the common from the clock & field-
locate it, that will get you back to the null. Hopefully, you'll find one valve where you
can backlocate the common. Why am I posting?, I'm a miserable failure.

CAPT Stream Rotar
07-31-2008, 07:20 PM
I did where I put the stake in but the area I need to trace through is easily an acre...

yikes...

get that fault locator.....or jwings rusty flag trick

Wet_Boots
07-31-2008, 07:38 PM
Are you trying different ground points? I was always able to get a signal when I was using a locater, but it would sometimes be louder on one side than the other.

Mike Leary
07-31-2008, 07:48 PM
::::sets to work on a locator that plays Jonathon Edwards as the wire path is followed
and Celine Dion when the valve is located:::::

bcg
07-31-2008, 07:50 PM
I tried moving the ground stake all over the place. Even went out and un-spliced one of my splices to see if I could go find a valve from there and no luck. Tried the common wires as well, same thing. If I watch the little meter on the wand, moving to one side of the wire, the needle goes up, move to the other side of the wire and it stays at 0.

jimmyburg
07-31-2008, 08:29 PM
how long is the wire you have attached to the ground stake? try a shorter distance.

Mike Leary
07-31-2008, 08:37 PM
I tried moving the ground stake all over the place. Even went out and un-spliced one of my splices to see if I could go find a valve from there and no luck. Tried the common wires as well, same thing. If I watch the little meter on the wand, moving to one side of the wire, the needle goes up, move to the other side of the wire and it stays at 0.

Jeez, I like this thread!

Wet_Boots
07-31-2008, 08:40 PM
Install fresh batteries and try again.

FIMCO-MEISTER
07-31-2008, 08:46 PM
Test your 521 on a system at the house or on a system you know real well just to be sure it is working right. You've got to have confidence in your 521 to make it work for you. Slow down and get the wand as close to the ground as possible. Try different strength settings. If the wire is of very high quality and the ground is dry it may be tough. Might want to try after a good hard rain. Also I'm not real wild about your statement that you just connected all the cut wires together. I'd dig that up and rethink that part of the job. I find it hard to believe there was not a common in a bundle of that size.

bcg
07-31-2008, 09:07 PM
how long is the wire you have attached to the ground stake? try a shorter distance.


I was just using the one that is attached to the 521.

bcg
07-31-2008, 09:14 PM
Test your 521 on a system at the house or on a system you know real well just to be sure it is working right. You've got to have confidence in your 521 to make it work for you. Slow down and get the wand as close to the ground as possible. Try different strength settings. If the wire is of very high quality and the ground is dry it may be tough. Might want to try after a good hard rain. Also I'm not real wild about your statement that you just connected all the cut wires together. I'd dig that up and rethink that part of the job. I find it hard to believe there was not a common in a bundle of that size.

I plan on doing that, and changing the batteires, this evening when it cools off.

I feel pretty comfortable with the splicing, there's definitely not a common in the bundle (which was in a 1" PVC pipe). I'm sure of this because 2 of the zone wires are 14ga wires and those 2 zone have 2 14ga common wires and I only had the 2 black 14ga zone wires in the bundle. The rest are 16ga wires. I have no idea where the friggin common is or if maybe it was run in some other way, I can't for the life of me figure out why it would be but, who knows. None of it is buried right now, though. In fact, I have about a 40' trench at the moment with the wire bundle laying next to it. The break just happened to be right by the 1 zone that is working properly and I thought surely I'd be able to find a valve if I just followed the wire manually a little ways. Didn't work out that way. Anyway, I'm taking a laborer with me tomorrow and if we can't get the 521 to work, he's going to be digging until we find a valve or a common. There's enough other work to do there that he'll be useful either way, I'd just much rather find the ground fault in the common(s) with the 521 and dig a straight line to reconnect them than create 120' of trench looking for the stinking thing. One way or another I'm going to get this thing working tomorrow though.

Mike, I'm delighted that my pain could bring you some joy. :) How did you finally find yours, btw?

DanaMac
07-31-2008, 09:17 PM
My thought is the the batteries as well. Or dry ground. Dry ground was a little tricky couple weeks ago when trying to find cable tv wire. But eventually we got it.

bcg
07-31-2008, 09:19 PM
BTW, when I say dry, I mean hasn't rained in over a week and highs of 97*. It's cracked soil dry.

Mike Leary
07-31-2008, 09:32 PM
Mike, I'm delighted that my pain could bring you some joy. :) How did you finally find yours, btw?

Poke....poke...:dizzy::dizzy:

bcg
07-31-2008, 09:43 PM
Ugh, that's what I didn't want to hear. Sounds like I'll probably be heading down that same road, only dig...dig...

I just hooked up in the backyard and it works perfectly. It's got to be the dry conditions that are hurting it. The homeowner is supposed to be watering a pretty large area that we expect to be digging in tomorrow so maybe it'll be enough and I'll get lucky in the morning. Actually, if I can get there before the dew dries, it might be enough.

The batteries are fine, I think. The 521 is fairly new and the battery test is closer to the 10 than the 8. I'll probably stick a fresh set in anyway though.

If anyone else has any suggestions, I'm eager to hear them...

Mike Leary
07-31-2008, 09:54 PM
Ugh, that's what I didn't want to hear. Sounds like I'll probably be heading down that same road, only dig...dig...
I just hooked up in the backyard and it works perfectly.

The 521 is a "save all", as long as you've got a good solenoid. Broken or nicked wires can be located with the 521, as can wire runs.
If your looking for a fully shorted solenoid, ferget it.

Waterit
07-31-2008, 10:20 PM
Try hooking up 2 of your "found" wires to the 521 rather than taking one side of 521 to ground?

Do you have a solid path from controller to where wires are cut?

Track on common from controller out?

Fly in Leary and hope he gets lucky twice in a row?:waving:

bicmudpuppy
07-31-2008, 10:32 PM
If you want a "clean" signal, don't connect the hot from 521 to more than one wire. Second, take a water jug with you and soak the ground where you put the ground stake in. If the ground is that dry, your not getting a good ground. Multiple wires (more than one) will null the 521 signal. Good luck and let us know what good batteries and good solid basic connections will do for you.

Waterit
08-01-2008, 01:49 AM
Try hooking up 2 of your "found" wires to the 521 rather than taking one side of 521 to ground?

Meaning, hook red lead to one wire, black lead to another instead of black to ground...

FIMCO-MEISTER
08-01-2008, 07:08 AM
I plan on doing that, and changing the batteires, this evening when it cools off.

I feel pretty comfortable with the splicing, there's definitely not a common in the bundle (which was in a 1" PVC pipe). I'm sure of this because 2 of the zone wires are 14ga wires and those 2 zone have 2 14ga common wires and I only had the 2 black 14ga zone wires in the bundle. The rest are 16ga wires. I have no idea where the friggin common is or if maybe it was run in some other way, I can't for the life of me figure out why it would be but, who knows. None of it is buried right now, though. In fact, I have about a 40' trench at the moment with the wire bundle laying next to it. The break just happened to be right by the 1 zone that is working properly and I thought surely I'd be able to find a valve if I just followed the wire manually a little ways. Didn't work out that way. Anyway, I'm taking a laborer with me tomorrow and if we can't get the 521 to work, he's going to be digging until we find a valve or a common. There's enough other work to do there that he'll be useful either way, I'd just much rather find the ground fault in the common(s) with the 521 and dig a straight line to reconnect them than create 120' of trench looking for the stinking thing. One way or another I'm going to get this thing working tomorrow though.

Mike, I'm delighted that my pain could bring you some joy. :) How did you finally find yours, btw?

Don't be surprised to discover they used a common that is the same color as the zone wires. I'd still work under the assumption a common is in that bundle. ::::SCENARIO:::::If you have 12 wires that are all red and one is the common and they are cut and you hook them all back up unless you are the luckiest irrigator ever the common is going to get hooked up with a zone wire and a zone wire is going to get hooked up with the common. As a result you will have one working valve and that is it. Find that valve and figure on one of those two wires is the common. Tone back at your bundle from the valve and the timer and get the common wired right and the rest can be straightened out at the timer. I could be wrong but I just can't see their not being a common in a bundle of that many wires. This situation is the strongest argument for multi-strand wiring.

AI Inc
08-01-2008, 07:10 AM
This situation is the strongest argument for multi-strand wiring.

Couldn,t have said it better myself.

Waterit
08-01-2008, 09:48 AM
This situation is the strongest argument for multi-strand wiring.

Or the use of white as a common -even green would be a good choice in this situation.

I like multi myself, sometimes 14 is spec'd but I will use multiple colors.

bcg
08-01-2008, 09:46 PM
Well, the watering last night did the trick. 521 took me right to the valves this morning. The common was in the bundle as well, it took me about 4 hours to work out the wiring and get the zones running in the "right" order. I can't figure out why a person wouldn't use a different color for at least the common, it sure would have saved a lot of hassle.

Thanks for all the help.

So, to add to ML's lesson, The 521 is a save all as long as you don't have a short AND the ground has some moisture.

Mike Leary
08-01-2008, 09:48 PM
The 521 is a save all as long as you don't have a short AND the ground has some moisture.

Good going!!!!! Service contracts should include a ohm test twice yearly.

bicmudpuppy
08-02-2008, 12:10 AM
Good going!!!!! Service contracts should include a ohm test twice yearly.

Yeah, to bad all large satelite controllers don't do diagnostic Ohm and amp testing. I've got around 800 selonoids and wires out there that need check'd. Want to bet I still don't have it done in 5 years when the youngest has graduated HS?