Neptune Apex Controller and dosing pumps

Discussion in 'Equipment' started by screebo, Dec 28, 2009.

  1. screebo

    screebo Guest

    As much as I love my Apex controller, I learned a valuable lesson that I've only seen discussed in passing.

    Mine is working flawlessly with one exception:
    When plugging in my "low draw" Drew's dosing pumps to my controller, I DID NOT use positions 4 and 8 as suggested one of our members. The Drew's pumps do NOT draw sufficient amps to reliably shut down the circuit after the "off" events. All was well for at least a week until the relays for the dosing pumps began to stick "on" after the "off" event should have taken place. This caused much of my entire CA jug to disburse into my tank over a period of a day. I found that by unplugging and replugging the circuit, it went to "off mode". Neptune talks about this and suggests that for very light loads on circuits handled by electronic relays (12356 & 7)additional resistance may need to be added for proper function of the on/off events. With light loads on these circuits, they can (and do) remain stuck "on" even after an "off event" is triggered by the controller. I also understand that the two mechanical relay circuits (#4 & #8) do not suffer from this anomaly. I simply reprogramed my 4 and 8 position outlets to handle the dosing pumps and moved my Mh lights to electronic positions. I'm hoping the Mh ballasts don't pop my breaker when coming on today. I don't expect they will.

    This may be a rehash of information already shared on BAR but my suggestion is to NOT place light draw accessories such as your dosing pumps on any circuit other than 4 and 8 unless you add additional resistance to the circuit.

    Has anyone else had this issue?
     
  2. Eight

    Eight Guest

    Yup, I've encountered the same problem. Moved the dosing pump to outlet 4 and everything worked fine.
     
  3. GreshamH

    GreshamH Guest

    This all relates back to the UPS thread we had a while back. I mentioned why in that thread.
     
  4. screebo

    screebo Guest

    Dammit, I just KNEW I'd heard it somewhere! Lucky for me it was not a hard lesson to learn and I'm really quick now with reprograming outlets! :Sp

    An official "O-U-A- :beer: , Gresham!
     
  5. GreshamH

    GreshamH Guest

    I only now as I went around and around with the rael experts on the RC DIY forum re: SSR's and normal relays :) BeanAnimal FTW.. Bill is a great guy BTW if ever you have a question re: electronics. Tony knows more then he should as well :lol:
     
  6. scuba71

    scuba71 Supporting Member

    Gresham I missed that thread. Could you please post the thread link? Thanks.
     
  7. konkers

    konkers Supporting Member

    I just encountered the same issue with my top off pump when setting up my Apex this weekend. The Energy Bar 8 manual has a few suggestions including hooking a small light up in parallel with the pump. I got some lamp extension cords and night lights at home depot and plugged a night light into each circuit that had a small pump. So far everything's working well.
     
  8. justins13

    justins13 Guest

    Good info guys I just ordered mine it should be here next week. Any other issues anyone has caught? How are you guys liking the apex?
     
  9. DurTBear

    DurTBear Guest

    I had this problem except it was solved by upgrading my firmware. I always have had my dosing pumps plugged into outlets 4 and 8. But one night/day it continued to dose Ca for almost 12 hours. Turns out I had the old firmware since I originally bought the Apex when it came out in summer '09 but didn't set it up until the end of '09. Now it is working fine.
     
  10. konkers

    konkers Supporting Member

    I've only had it running for 5 days or so now. In general I like it a lot however there are some minor annoyances.

    Things I like:

    Outlets are easy to set up. The simple programming language works well for everything I've tried so far (lights, top off pump, sump pump, powerheads)

    Email alerts are really nice.

    I like the ability to watch my tank parameters remotely. XML data export is interesting and I may do something with that in the future.

    Feed cycles are nice and work well to turn off pumps when feeding.


    Annoyances:

    The previously mentioned problem with small pumps.

    Does not support SSL email sending so you can not connect it to gmail directly. I ended up setting up an alias on a server I own to forward to my gmail address.

    Both the LCD and web UI seem pretty laggy. The LCD does a full erase then redraw after every button press. I don't understand why this is so slow. The microcontroller (NXT lpc23xx series) is more than capable of doing this quickly as well as all the other tasks in the system. I've written code to talk to this type of LCD on the previous generation of microcontroller (lpc21xx.) Makes me wonder about the quality of the rest of the code. *shrug*

    The Temperatue and PH control is pretty simplistic using hysteresis. It would be nice to see a PID control option.

    Outlets can be renamed but not switches forcing you to remember that your top off switch is connected to Switch1 and emergency shut off is Switch2.

    The IO connector uses a mini din 8 connector which is which is a challenge to solder. After trying myself I didn't trust what I made to be reliable so I decided to buy the IO Breakout Box.
     
  11. GreshamH

    GreshamH Guest

    Konkers great post!!!
     
  12. screebo

    screebo Guest

    Since these annoyances are a little beyond my level of daily operation I've not been bothered by them. I'm still loving the controller at a level of about 98%. Just downloaded Aqua Notes interface for my iphone. Yeah baby! I love the controller. I'm not using wave generating modes as I have MP-40's running their own random but I do use 5 light timing circuits and 2 pump circuits. It's fits my needs to the tee!
     
  13. konkers

    konkers Supporting Member

    One more plus I just discovered. The Defer command lets you filter out spurious switch signals (debouncing.) This is great for my auto top off float switch which can be momentarily triggered by ripples in the sump or oscillations in how full my overflow is.
     
  14. Gomer

    Gomer Honorary Member

    I too wish it had SSL. The lag was annoying while setting up, but now that it IS setup, I don't deal with it.

    There are 3 other problems with mine

    1) the variable speed ports don't do well with ramps of more than a couple minutes (even though you can go up to something like 999 minutes). Even a 10 minute ramp is problematic. What happens is you don't ramp. You get into some weird oscillation which never maxes out to the top of the ramp. Apparently this is fixable. It might be solved with the "new" firmware (if I ever get around to flashing it)

    2) The current monitoring doesn't work well. It looks like a combination of an offset plus a minimum threshold to trigger a value. With my skimmer on, no current is measured. Only when my heater kicks on (current threshold exceeded to trigger) does it give a value (see attatched image). there is apparently a calibration fix for this if I let Curt telnet into my unit. (again, haven't gotten around to doing it lol).


    3)The final part is PC only support in flashing. I do have a PC in the next room if I want to run a cable over. There is no official Mac support. I do however have a Mac flash solution...but I haven't gotten around to doing it :p



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