Caution! If you have one of these voltmeters...


Technical information and Q&A applicable to all years and models of Goldwings
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Mh434
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Caution! If you have one of these voltmeters...

Postby Mh434 » Tue Apr 29, 2014 12:56 pm



I have (had, until last night!) one of these "digital 5-function multi meters".

The one on my bike was functioning okay up until a couple of weeks ago, but then it started showing small anomalies...such as showing an over-charge status (bike turned off & parked, meter started showing 27 volts at the battery :shock: ).. Of course, checking with a real volt ohmmeter showed normal voltage at the battery, 12.8V at rest. After a day of that, it returned to normal.

Then, the clock started acting up - switching from 12- to 24-hour clock, gaining time, losing time, etc. After a couple of days of that, it returned to normal.

I rewired it twice, thinking connections, ground, power supply, etc. might be "funky", but everything was 100% solid.

Yesterday, it suddenly started showing a low voltage warning (10.2V...again, :shock: ). As the actual battery voltage was at 13.4V (as it was on a trickle smart-charger, I wasn't particularly concerned, but...it was bugging me). Anyway, I tinkered with other things on the bike for a while, and was just about to go in for the night when I noticed my fuel and temperature gauge lights & LCD display (clock only, not the backlighting) were on. I checked the ignition switch several times, started & shut down the bike several times, cycled the ignition a bunch, but the dash lights just wouldn't turn off :(

As the aforementioned digital 5-function device was, at the time, also wrong on its time, wrong on its voltage, etc., in a fit of pique, I pulled its wires off from its power & ground supplies.

Lo and behold...the bikes functions were all back to normal!

It looks like the snazzy little multi gauge had some kind of electronic hiccup in its little brain (an e-fart, if you will :roll: ). I was lucky that 1) I had the smart charger connected; and, 2) that I noticed the issue. If I hadn't, at the very least it would have destroyed a very expensive battery, and left me driving a cage until I could track down the source of the problem. That, alone, could have been daunting. The GL1500SE has more electrical circuits than several of the cars I've owned, and coming back to an inexplicable "dark hole" would have driven me nuts (I know...as my wife tells me, it's a short trip! :roll: )

So...if you have one of these, and it starts acting up, keep a close eye on it!



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Mh434
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1981 GL1100I
1989 Kawasaki Concours

Re: Caution! If you have one of these voltmeters...

Postby Mh434 » Tue Apr 29, 2014 1:28 pm

In thinking further on this, I think I have an idea what was happening here.

These meters have both a switched 12V power supply, and an always-hot supply. Plus, the majority of its display is designed to be on at all times, even when everything else on the bike is shut off. My thinking is that it eventually developed an internal short, and was back-feeding current into part of the bike's ignition circuit.

I'm nervous about add-on devices that are always-live...

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virgilmobile
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Re: Caution! If you have one of these voltmeters...

Postby virgilmobile » Tue Apr 29, 2014 2:26 pm

Ill bet 38 cents that the logic board is corroded.A bad thing.
Rip it apart and look .Take pictures.

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thrasherg
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Re: Caution! If you have one of these voltmeters...

Postby thrasherg » Tue Apr 29, 2014 3:51 pm

I would second Virgil, I bet water has got inside and corrosion has caused it to misbehave!!

Gary

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Mh434
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1981 GL1100I
1989 Kawasaki Concours

Re: Caution! If you have one of these voltmeters...

Postby Mh434 » Tue Apr 29, 2014 7:47 pm

I can do that...after all, I have nothing to lose!

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WingAdmin
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Re: Caution! If you have one of these voltmeters...

Postby WingAdmin » Wed Apr 30, 2014 12:00 pm

I had one of those on my GL1100. I did not like the tiny, thin, easily-damaged wires it came with, so I took it apart, desoldered them and replaced them with decent gauge wires with decent insulation. I also put masking tape over the display and hosed down the inside of it with several coats of silicone sealant, to make it (more or less) weatherproof. It will fail quickly with any kind of moisture otherwise.

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Mh434
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1989 Kawasaki Concours

Re: Caution! If you have one of these voltmeters...

Postby Mh434 » Wed Apr 30, 2014 11:11 pm

Okay - I opened it up (6 teeny, tiny, Philips screws - jeweller's screwdrivers needed here) and found...nothing obvious wrong. All looked clean and dry, all solder joints appear bright and shiny, etc. NO signs of water incursion or corrosion :?: . I went over every joint with a loupe - all looked good. This is surprising, inasmuch as this thing is as far from waterproof as it's possible to get. There are at least a dozen through-the-case buttons, sliders, etc., with no way of waterproofing any of them.

Actually, I'd say this thing is designed to be water absorbent....

The wires were pulled to one side fairly severely where they exit the case (and NO strain relief is provided in the design). As the power & ground wires are VERY close together (and leaning hard against each other, vis-a-vis the aforementioned routing), I'm thinking maybe the lack of strain relief allowed the always-hot (red) wire to contact the ground pole (or vice-versa) & cause the issue.

I didn't remove the circuit board from the top half of the case, as there are roughly 14 microscopic screws holding it down...and the joint also captures a whole raft of buttons. My eyes aren't good enough (or my gorilla fingers supple enough) to put all that back together, especially after assorted springs, buttons, etc. come flying out & roll to inaccessible places in my shop. Please forgive the cruddy pics - cell phone cam, as the regular camera was on charge, and I was too lazy to get past the dogs to go get another one.

Anyway, I carefully routed the wires out of the case to reduce the strain as much as possible, and put it all back together. I tested it on several batteries and vehicles around the shop, and it worked perfectly :roll:

Not certain if I want to try it on the bike again. I'm thinking I'll hook it up to a shop battery for a week or two first, and see if it behaves. Then, I might try it again. I have installed a proper grommet in the hole the wires went through in the bike's ignition cover, in the event I get brave enough to give it another try.

YMMV...
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tech1
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Re: Caution! If you have one of these voltmeters...

Postby tech1 » Thu May 01, 2014 1:13 am

I bought a Heads up LED voltmeter and absolutly love it. Its the best Ive found. small easyly seen in day light and auto dims after a few seconds but still seeable and ok at night. simple small and accurate. I recomend it to anyone that want to monitor their charging system .
Tech1




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