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Old 06-17-2011, 12:48 PM   #1
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Death Sentence for a Micropulse sensor:

Unlike those fortunate sensors chosen to report fresh and gray tank quantities, (and seem to last indefinitely), their unfortunate companions condemned to the black tank face an untimely death, usually within a few days. Could it be that despite what Catcon says, they really can't handle solids? Or, could it be the chemicals we add to the black tank? Any new theories would be appreciated.
Notes:
1) this is the 3rd new trailer with the same problem, so it's not wiring
2) fresh/gray stay accurate
3) yes, I crimp on new connectors, and
4) yes, I use dielectric grease
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Old 06-17-2011, 01:22 PM   #2
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Dunno if it's the same sensor / wiring, but my 12 year old trailer's sensors all work just fine (within the limits of their precision).
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Old 06-17-2011, 01:29 PM   #3
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My gray and black tank sensors seem to be doing fine but the fresh tank sensor is dead. I have a replacement sensor but can't figure out where the sensor is and how to get to it on a 2006 25' Safari. Any guidance would be greatly appreciated.
Thanks.
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Old 06-17-2011, 01:45 PM   #4
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Mine failed once or twice too and is, at present, more or less working. However, it isn't accurate enough to be of much use.

Let's take a minute to understand the engineering problem at work here.

The Catcon sensors are pressure sensors. For a liquid of known density it's easy to determine the liquid depth above the sensor point just by multiplying the pressure by some number.

These are shallow tanks, and there's typically about a 6" working difference in fluid level between when the liquid just reaches the sensor and when the tank is full to its usable capacity. And in order to be of much use indicator has to be correct within 1/4 of a tank or so, a 1.5" difference in liquid depth. That's roughly 0.05 PSI.

It doesn't take much to throw a pressure reading off by that amount. Even a mild amount of debris in the sensor itself would be enough to do it.

I have pretty much come to the conclusion that the problem isn't worth fixing.
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Old 06-17-2011, 03:27 PM   #5
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I gave up on them after replacing my black water tank sensor twice. Didn't cost anything but my time. Micropulse was very helpful and sent a new sensor right away. The fresh water and grey water seem to work just fine. That's how my system is working now. Fresh water, grey water and battery level. The black water is unplugged.
I just look down the toilet to see the level when I flush . Might be a little primitive, but it works for me.
My old 72 had the metel contact sensors that NEVER failed. Maybe those old simple systems were better.
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Old 06-17-2011, 04:27 PM   #6
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Appears to me that each one is unique! I just learned my unit's quirks and live with it.

Black is accurate

Fresh starts off without much change and "catches up" so full is full, 3/4 is about half (at 1/2 I start thinking a shower might be risky without a dump) At 1/4 it's pretty well empty.

Gray is slow to start and really changes fast in the last 1/2 of capacity. I have to keep an eye on this one!

Battery is pretty accurate, but I have a battery monitor system anyway.

Propane is dead accurate for both tanks.

I leave well enough alone after about 4 attempts to calibrate!!
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Old 06-17-2011, 04:32 PM   #7
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My black tank sensor is absolutely reliable. It reads full all the time.

In my opinion, it's just not worth worrying about. I look down the hole when I flush, but I can almost tell the level by the pitch of the sound of flushing. When it get to the high end of the range, it's time to dump the tank.
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Old 06-18-2011, 07:40 AM   #8
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SailorSteve, my last trailer was a 25 FB SE (an early '07), and the fresh tank sensor was accessed from inside; in the area aft of the water pump, the plywood floor will have an opening, allowing access to the fresh tank drain valve, and forward of that, the sensor. It was difficult to reach, so you may have to elongate the opening in the floor.
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Old 06-18-2011, 09:05 AM   #9
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Mine have had their quirks. Fresh water only gets accurate when it's 5 gallons or less from full. Black was fairly decent till the first trip out this year when it immediately showed full after it was about 2 gallons full. Gas is good and the grey water is good. Quite honestly we only camp once a year carrying water so I've lived with the fresh water issue. Black is a no brainer since the visual is always available. Gas is also a no brainer since the tanks also have external gauges. The grey is one that I would take the effort to keep working since an unexpected filling of the grey tank is not a pleasant issue to deal with.

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Old 06-18-2011, 09:23 AM   #10
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I have pretty much come to the conclusion that the problem isn't worth fixing.
My black tank sensor isn't working - with only two trips in the new trailer. My black tank sensor didn't work in my previous trailer either.

I agree with Jammer.

-Chris
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Old 06-19-2011, 05:13 PM   #11
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Thanks, everyone, for confirming my "hypothesis" that these sensors just CANNOT withstand the conditions found in the black tank......
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Old 06-19-2011, 05:44 PM   #12
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It seems like a shame this 'system' doesn't often operate properly in a rig you've spent Mega-bucks on!

I would think AS would be aware of such a marginal item and at least look into another system that may be available...

The level monitoring system made by Garnett Tech looks appealing... Sensor Board - For use with all model 709 tank monitor systems It's sensors are attached to the outside of the tank, without any type of 'probe' or 'sensor' entering through the tank wall...Don't know about it's accuracy, but it looks like a better 'mousetrap'...
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Old 06-19-2011, 05:45 PM   #13
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......in summary, if they'd redesign those sensors, it'd be a pretty good system; until then, Airstream gets to replace them for me under warranty (5 years).
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Old 06-19-2011, 06:58 PM   #14
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After a slight calibration the sensors in my 2002 ASCL have worked well without any problem for the 10 years I've owned it. I am very conscientious about totally emptying and cleaning the tanks after traveling.
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Old 06-20-2011, 06:22 AM   #15
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I don't think the '02's had the Micropulse Systems Monitor; (I had an '03 with the "old" system, which worked fine!)
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Old 06-20-2011, 08:29 AM   #16
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Thanks and location help for others.

Many thanks to fmrcaptevil for pointing me in the right direction to find my sensor. In case others are having the same problem, on my 2006 Safari SE FB, the fresh water sensor is on the road side under the refrigerator. I measured on the outside to determine where the center of the fresh water tank was and carried the measurements inside. I removed the access panel at the back of the shallow compartment under the refrigerator and could see the sensor through an opening in the flooring and a small maze of wires and plumbing, but couldn't reach it. I extended the access to the tank by cutting out an extension of about 3" X 4" so I could get my forearm in and also a wrench to start loosening the sensor which is screwed into the side of the tank, not the bottom as I had envisioned.

There is a wiring harness for the three tank sensors with the wires labeled and very nicely colored with a black wire going to the black tank, grey for the grey and tan for the fresh. That should be a help if I have to start tracking down the other sensors.

Steve Barth at Catcon was a great help to me when I was talking with him but he advised me that the sensor was accessible from the wheel well and that kept me going in the wrong direction. The sensor is well shielded from road debris so on the 2006, corrosion should not have been an issue in failure. The area was clean and dry.

Now I have to fill the tank and recalibrate the system to determine if it's functional but at least I'm finally making progress. Getting anxious to roll her out of the barn and hit the road!
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Old 06-20-2011, 08:54 AM   #17
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Thanks, SailorSteve. Here's something else I finally learned: If you are satisfied with your black and gray readings, you can unplug those leads from the back of the monitor prior to putting it in "calibration mode", and those systems will not be included in the calibration procedure......really shortens that tedious process.
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Old 06-20-2011, 08:56 AM   #18
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Thanks, SailorSteve. Here's something else I finally learned: If you are satisfied with your black and gray readings, you can unplug those leads from the back of the monitor prior to putting it in "calibration mode", and those systems will not be included in the calibration procedure......really shortens that tedious process.
Nice, never thought of that! Maybe I'll try and dial it in again.
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Old 06-21-2011, 09:46 AM   #19
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i have a question. my black tank is never recognized, no led ever the system just jumps right over it to the battery level value. it has been "repaired x2. i too just look down the hole now. i was interested in the "wireless" tank level system currently adverised as used by the coast guard but i need to know if the tanks on my 2010 19' bambi are all composite tanks as there will be no drilling involved if they are composite. the sensors are mounted on the outside of the tanks. getting to the black tank i have no clue. if anybody knows if they are all commposite tanks or not would be very helpful. i think i know that the fresh water tank is a plastic tank.
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Old 06-21-2011, 01:46 PM   #20
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That's how every one of them have behaved for me after a few days in the black system:
first symptom is just erroneous reporting; next, they incorrectly read 100 percent full for a couple of days (flashing red); then they die altogether (no reporting.....the monitor skips over it, as you have seen with yours. Cleaning them up doesn't work. I'd crimp on a new connector and try a new sensor.
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