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Old 08-17-2018, 10:40 AM   #1
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Replacing Automotion shade

I recently installed a replacement motor from Automotion. This motor replacement was provided by AM as a goodwill. Thank you to AM for doing that. I also had a very good experience with emailing them for technical help. One of the application engineers walked me through setting the initial limits as it took many 10's of turns on the adjustment screw to find the limits and adjust them properly.

I received a new version of the motor which has the RF receiver in a separate box. This is described in .

"Handout 13: Pairing Old Generation of Remotes with any non-RF motors using External Receiver RF Module 217P"

OK that was a mouthful but is really straightforward. The motor (gear mechanism) that failed was the drivers rear night shade. It would stall and make a clicking noise when trying to raise the shade. It could be assisted by hand and then would make a little progress and then exhibit the same problem.

Removal of the Shade Box
The only way I found to do this was to remove the shade box. This is the AS enclosure panel. Remove three black screws from inside the cabinet above the shade box. These are screws that are oriented down into the top of the box. There is one more screw on the top that is accessed from the rear of the coach from below. You have to stick your hand up into this recess to get to the screw. There are three screws at the bottom of the shade box panel that go into the another AS close out panel. Try to support the shade box as the wires going to the motors are very thin and short. You should be able to pull more wire out of the access hole at the top but not enough to set the box on the seat without causing strain on the wires.

Motor Replacement
The shade assembly comes out as a unit via two small screws (one on either end). Once I had done this, I learned that each shade roll can be removed independently by a retaining clip at the motor end. This is a metal clip that needs to be removed in order to access the latch.

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If you can get to he latch, the shade roll will come right out. If you are nimble enough, you might be able to do this without removing the shade box, but I have not tried this.

Pull the motor out of the tube and disconnect the wires.

Insert the new motor being very carful to align the proper channels on the motor end and the tube extrusion. It is vitally important to get the proper alignment. Push into the tube until you get to the slip ring on the motor end with the wires. Rotate the slip ring until the ridges on the slip ring align with the extrusion and insert fully. The slip ring is used to count the turns on the motor for setting/adjusting the stops. Again, alignment is important.

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Electrical connections and instructions from AM are good and should pose no difficulty. When installing a new motor with remote RF receiver, you will need to find a place to mount the small box. I put it on the opposite wall of the shade box toward the rear of the coach. Make sure you have access to the programming buttons on the side of the box to pair it to your remote.

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Program per instructions and fully test before reinstalling the shade box.

Limit Setting

Access to the limit adjusters is terrible and the instructions from AM can be confusing. The new motor had yellow and gray adjusters which helped with identification of the correct adjusters. If you do not correctly identify the correct adjuster or the direction in which to turn it, you can get hopelessly lost.

The instructions from AM assume (at least in my case) that you are looking at the unit from inside the coach when identifying the motor location Left/Right. Additionally, the AM pictures show the adjusting screws on the interior side of the shade. In my AS, all of the adjusting screws are on the exterior side of the shade. I presume this is for access to the screws, such as it is. Do to the design of the shade box, it would be impossible to access these adjusters if they were oriented toward the interior due to the built in valance covering the shade rolls.
Attachment 320118
When I first operated the new motor, it would not exhibit a limit in either direction. HMMMMM!. I was coached by the applications engineer to continue turning the screw until a limit was found. In my case, I had to turn the adjusting screw more than 150 turns in order to find the lower limit and over 100 turns to find the upper limit. Once found, it was straightforward to set it the way I wanted it. Whew!

Once I was satisfied with the limits, I routed and secured the wiring and reinstalled the shade box, Tested again!
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Old 08-17-2018, 10:46 AM   #2
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follow up

here is a picture of the adjusting screws on the new motor. These are facing the exterior of the coach.
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Old 01-02-2019, 06:56 PM   #3
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Trying to repair these shades.

I have now had three failures of the shades in my 2016 AI GT Ext. Now I have some parts to work with and try to figure out the failure modes and a way to fix them at lower cost than replacement.
I have been successful in removing the modules from the tube to inspect and T/S. The motors appear to work by applying 12 volt to the terminals. The motors and gear set appear to be in good shape and serviceable. This leads me to the electonics and or limit switches. Both circuit boards I have inspected are covered in either brown or white residue that could be left over from the mfg process. Perhaps they were not cleaned. Unclean PCB's can corrode and fail. The main electrolytic capacitor is not "swollen" like a failed one common on many other automotive PCB's in the 90's. Think BMW. There are no lifted pads or broken traces. Since the new motors have external RF electronics, I suspect the VCO for the remote but can't test it. I wonder if new external RF boxes can be used with these old motors by rewiring the motor units to provide the start/stop signals to the old motor. Anyone taken the diagnostic to this level yet? Any ideas? Seem like an EE engineer could tackle this and come up with a inexpensive fix.
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Old 01-02-2019, 08:01 PM   #4
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SWILLY43 - Excellent job fixing. I never understood the reason for going RF powershades. It is about as unnecessary as my RF remote for my E&P Hydraulic Leveling system when there is a hardwired controller under my seat. And all I need is to push 1 button. Ok, powershades get a bit more usage. But with my 2 hardwired multiplex panels via Firefly, I have never been in need of an RF. I can understand a need for a tv or sound system.

I agree with you that most of problems probably occur with the RF modules. I have not seen those apart but if they used to be internal and now went external, chances are they went from basic vco ckt/implementation to more robust components that partially can correct the dependence on temperature of the resonant frequency of the crystal. So hopefully your issues will end with the new external modules. It is not that hard to figure out if the external module will work, but without the parts to play with, hard to do things. And why bother if you can't separate the motor from the old ckt. It could be the temps that could cook the motors too or vice versa. Pretty sure that temp separation is part of the reasons to go external. Don't you think? Why else would they go through the trouble?
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Old 01-03-2019, 03:33 PM   #5
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Thought I would post some pictures in case anyone has an interest. I have reached out to the manufacturer and will wait and see if they will offer any T/S help.

Pictures show two main boards, two daughter boards (RF Section) and limit switches.
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Old 01-03-2019, 03:50 PM   #6
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Originally Posted by swilly43 View Post
Thought I would post some pictures in case anyone has an interest. I have reached out to the manufacturer and will wait and see if they will offer any T/S help.

Pictures show two main boards, two daughter boards (RF Section) and limit switches.
SWILLY43 - I don't get it? Why 2 different main boards. Is one a newer version than the other? And what about the 2 remote (daughter) boards? They have same date code and look identical. What's the diff? I thought the new motor has all the ckt residing outside of the motor? Yeah, I have too many questions. It doesn't help you since I do not have my own setup to break apart and check out.

But FWIW - that is an awful lot of complexity to operate the darn blinds. That's worse than my Firefly (in terms of complexity, not functionality). Many people here are content with string & pull setup. That one there just begs for headaches that are not really worth chasing. If them limit switches work independent of the ckt boards (i.e. can observe it's limits in absence of the logic ckts, and this is my unit and out of warranty), I would prefer to microswitch each individual blind with the switches mounted next to each blind. I mean, we are talking 3 steps to get from 1 blind to the next. We not talking 6,000 sq. ft. house here. They should've put that logic & effort into making the sliding door remote controlled.

However, as an exercise in electronics troubleshooting, I am all for chasing it down as much as you want
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Old 01-03-2019, 04:31 PM   #7
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Well,,, Both sets are failed units with the RF inside the motor tube. The RF boards are identical but the main boards are different. They made a change in the year since these each were made. I have no idea why. My interest is technical curiosity. I can't really argue that they are not overly complicated but that is the world we live in. Converting to manual switches would also be a pain and then, where to put the switch? I am thinking that the new external RF/electrical module can be made to work with the old motor. That would save about $150 for each motor x 13 if they all end up failing. Or, there is a component that can be swapped on the board to make it work. I really can't tell until AutoMotion tells me why they changed, assuming they will. If they keep failing, we will just put up a blanket for privacy. Three out of 13 have failed so far on my coach. That is a bad failure rate.

Thanks for you comments, you are a good read most of the time!
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Old 01-03-2019, 06:43 PM   #8
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Well,,, Both sets are failed units with the RF inside the motor tube. The RF boards are identical but the main boards are different. They made a change in the year since these each were made. I have no idea why. My interest is technical curiosity. I can't really argue that they are not overly complicated but that is the world we live in. Converting to manual switches would also be a pain and then, where to put the switch? I am thinking that the new external RF/electrical module can be made to work with the old motor. That would save about $150 for each motor x 13 if they all end up failing. Or, there is a component that can be swapped on the board to make it work. I really can't tell until AutoMotion tells me why they changed, assuming they will. If they keep failing, we will just put up a blanket for privacy. Three out of 13 have failed so far on my coach. That is a bad failure rate.

Thanks for you comments, you are a good read most of the time!
SWILLY43 - ok, I think I understand better the diff between the old vs. new. I did notice on your pic the red circled R1. Since you did not mention which is the newer, just assuming R1 was there before and then on newer board it was removed, otherwise if it was added after, it would be labeled Rxx. Just taking a wild guess that being +95% of board is unchanged, they were somehow limiting the current thru that trace to wherever it is headed. Which from the colors of the wires, goes to the external RF module. They also had that white multi-pin mini-connector that they removed. Maybe uneccessary connector stuff leftover from developmental stages. Are the limits mechanical or electrical? Also, why the odd number 13? Shouldn't you have 14 ? (7 windows, day + night). Yes, that is a hefty price savings.

Best of luck on the technical exercise/chase. Please post anything you learn from it. Many others can benefit from your findings.
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Old 02-02-2019, 12:35 PM   #9
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More on AutoMotion Shade replacement:

Like Swilly43, I recently replaced an AutoMotion shade motor on my 2016 Interstate GT Lounge. In fact, as of January 25, 2019, I have now replaced three of them - both rear motors on the drivers side and one on the rear passenger side.

Swilly43 provides an excellent description of the process, including the up and down limit adjustments for the new motor - a bit tense the first time, but perhaps easier to do than bringing it to a dealer, if you are mechanically inclined.

I too can report that I received excellent guidance from staff at AutoMotion (and Airstream for finding the shade box screws). Automotion also explained that the channel guide design was new in 2016 and might be related to motor failures - if one is not careful to make sure shades are in the proper channel before lowering or raising. I have found once in a while a shade jumps the channel, so now I watch carefully and do not use the "All" remote button to lower or raise shades simultaneously.

I mounted the new RF boxes, which are provided so the new motors will communicate with the original old style black multi-remote control, to the grey plastic liner of the Mercedes using a bit of 3M VHB tape; thus I can see and re-program them if necessary.

While I could complain about the annoyance when a shade fails, AutoMotion has been very helpful with repairs. While I hope to never have to replace another shade motor, my wife and I do greatly enjoy the remote control feature, especially for the night shades when going to bed or waking. AutoMotion also recently pointed out to me that the shade channels and the shade guides should be checked often to confirm that the fit into the track is not blocked, stuck or otherwise constrained. Additionally, it was suggested that the channels be silicon coated once a year to make sure the shade guides flow easily on raising and lowering.

In reference to Swilly43's comments on the RF boxes: "I wonder if new external RF boxes can be used with these old motors by rewiring the motor units to provide the start/stop signals to the old motor."
I don't have any electrical EE experience, but the AutoMotion website suggests:
"... disconnect both wires and connect them directly to a 12VDC power source like a battery or a 12VDC adapter. The shade should move smoothly in one direction. If you swap the wires to reverse the polarity, the shade should move smoothly on reverse direction. If it does not, problem is from shade. If it does, problem is from the vehicle wiring. Now if you found problem is from the shade side, turn both limit adjust screws at least 6 full turns counter-clockwise. Try the above test again to see if it works on both directions. If still not working, replace the motor."

So, it seems to me as Interstate owners with Automotion Shades, we can either complain, or learn as much as we can about the shades, their maintenance and repair so, like other items on our RV, we can care for and (if necessary) repair/replace them to continue to enjoy one of the best RV's on the market along with our remote controlled shades.
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Old 02-02-2019, 02:26 PM   #10
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I watch carefully and do not use the "All" remote button to lower or raise shades simultaneously.

AutoMotion also recently pointed out to me that the shade channels and the shade guides should be checked often to confirm that the fit into the track is not blocked, stuck or otherwise constrained. Additionally, it was suggested that the channels be silicon coated once a year to make sure the shade guides flow easily on raising and lowering.

learn as much as we can about the shades, their maintenance and repair so, like other items on our RV, we can care for and (if necessary) repair/replace them to continue to enjoy one of the best RV's on the market along with our remote controlled shades.
AIJOE - the 4 suggestions above are excellent and IMHO the first 3 will greatly minimize problems. Adding to the silicon suggestion - any quality car or furniture wax can be used (i.e. Johnson's paste wax). As far as the 4th suggestion - yes, it behooves everyone who has the powershades to learn how to work on it, maintain it, just like learning how to free up macerator, or winterize plumbing, or access & use spare tire/jack, or changing engine & gen oil. It is no more difficult than that and nowhere near as dirty/greasy
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Old 02-03-2019, 06:46 AM   #11
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I was not able to figure out the reason for the failed RF electronics and the advice I got from Automotion was that pairing a new RF box with an old motor will not work. I suspect that they really did not understand what I was trying to do so will leave that sit for awhile. I ended up installing a DPDT switch I got on Amazon. This is an automotive type switch for controlling a winch (motor in/out). I wired the power leads direct to the motor by removing the circuit board above. NOTE: Since you have removed the relays from the system (they are on the CB) you will no longer have limit switches to control the top/bottom limits and will have to manually decide where have to stop the shades every time. Because of this, you will have to "backoff" the top/bottom adjusters so that hard stops are not encountered when reassembled. A little thinking about this will allow you to make the adjustments. Basically you want to raise the top limit and lower the bottom limit so that they are never encountered during operation. I mounted the switch in a small black box and VHB'd to the cabinet under the counter top on the passenger side. Hopefully I will not have any more failures but if I do, I will likely gang the switches in one of the cabinets or on the aluminum cover above the stove top. (Where the other switches for lights, pump etc. are. Thanks for playing, Fix my Coach!
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