Airstream Forums

Airstream Forums (
-   Brakes & Brake Controllers (
-   -   Prodigy Strangeness... (

hohne 03-22-2004 10:23 AM

Prodigy Strangeness...
Towed our 2004 Safari 28W to Jackson Center for AC/heat pump and cosmetic issues...

Drove up interstate towards the Jackson Center exit, and had not touched the brakes for quite a while.

About 6 miles from the exit, saw a flash or a blink out of the corner of my eye. Tow vehicle is a 2003 Suburban, with about 5K on it...

Looked out for the blink, and saw it was the went from .C. (connected) to .NC. (not connected), and back to .C.

It did it a couple of more times, and I kept an eye out on the trailer lights (it was dusk) and saw the lights were steady ON while the controller did this stuff -- knew the connector was probably seated...

Pulled off to the side at the JC exit, and the trailer brakes acted normally. Wiggled the connector, and looked at Prodigy from outside the truck. It blinked .SH. for a while, and then went back to .C. I wiggled the connector again, and it stayed steady .C. Decided to continue on.

On the two-lane to the city limits to JC, the controller went from .C. to .SH. to .OL. to .NC. It spent 98% of its time in .C. mode...

I pulled into the parking lot, and backed it into the area where instructed by Airstream Service. Brakes acted normally.

I got out to survey the parking spot, and then stood outside the truck for a minute, engine running, with door closed. Saw the prodigy (without any vibrations) go from .C. to .NC. and back to .C.

Left a message with the service guy this morning, reminding him (as per instructions) that Safari was out there -- also told him about the brake controller antics...will make sure brakes are checked out...

All the way back, the controller did nothing strange (display was . ., two dots)

I have a back-up brake controller (a activator III that came with the safari)...

Will document solution of the problem here...

While AS is at JC, plan on looking at wiring at the back of the truck and at the Prodigy to make sure all looks well...


RivetED 03-22-2004 01:06 PM

What does the back-up brake controller do that the prodigy doesn't?

When backing with my basic/generic digital brake controller I have to turn the gain down to almost 0 (zero) so they won't lock on me.

hohne 03-22-2004 01:10 PM

Sorry, I was not clear...

I only have the Prodigy installed -- the back-up controller is a spare, it is not used while backing up...

I keep the spare controller in the Airstream, just in I have the means to troubleshoot further if Airstream Service does not find anything wrong at the trailer end...


RivetED 03-22-2004 01:47 PM

O.K. ...had me going there for a while! I thought there was a 'toy' out there I didn't even know about:D !

rluhr 03-22-2004 02:29 PM

Mine does the same thing
There is another thread somewhere on this Forum talking about this issue. I and another fellow have experienced it. So far no sure explanation has been found.

See this thread.

Here's what I've done so far:

(1) Tekonsha tech support. No knowledge of this issue, no suggestions.
(2) RV dealer. Suggested my umbilical cable was too stiff. Sold me a $40 extension which did not help.
(3) Checked & wiggled all connections on the truck and controller. No link found to intermittent "NC".
(4) Checked with prior owner. He used a different controller and never experienced a problem.
(5) Cleaned connections.
(6) Logged when it happened in hopes of finding a pattern. None noted. Some days it is almost perfect, other days it is very intermittent.
(7) Verified that the brakes in fact DO work when it reports "NC". This led to a theory:

FACT: the Prodigy tests the brake connection every 300? msec by sending a brief voltage pulse. If it detects a failure, it flashes "NC" until it detects a good connection again.
THEORY: The voltage pulse, either due to old wiring, weak connections, or bad karma, occasionally comes through marginally. The connection is actually OK. I verified this by pulling the brake lever on the controller as it was blinking "NC". The brakes worked normally.

Note that the Prodigy will continue to show "NC" or be blank as long as you are braking. This is because it can't test the brakes while you are using them. Once you stop braking, it will begin testing again and verify the connection. So it is easily possible to have "NC" displayed and yet be braking just fine.

The next step is to test the brake wires on the trailer with a meter and see if I can detect a measureable issue.

If anyone else has resolved this issue I'd sure like to hear about it!

-- RL

hohne 03-22-2004 02:51 PM

...hmmm must be bad Karma...everything in my chain is brand new...

Did yours ever indicate a short or OL?

I think it did that because I disconnected it and reconencted it while system was up, and the truck was running...

It is disconcerning...

Silvertwinkie 03-22-2004 08:46 PM

You know, at the end of last year, my Prodigy was acting strange too.

When I got to a stoplight, the power output display would be zero when I came to a full stop. Now it tends to go up to about 4.5-5.0 when standing still. Only does it when I've been going a while.

Anyone know if this is normal?

dinoburb 03-22-2004 08:46 PM

Here's the other thread on this same problem

I have the same problem, only different!!! When the controller indicates 'NC' I don't have brakes.

Here's my original thread:

Hope it links!!!

Take care

rluhr 03-22-2004 09:24 PM

Mine has never indicated SH or OL. Just the occasional NC.

Hohne, you might check the Tekonsha website, I seem to remember there was a known problem about SH or OL indications... but it was a long time ago that I looked there.

hohne 03-23-2004 06:48 AM

...I am laughing at myself...I kept thinking to myself, I should listen to Roadkingmoe and use the one with the cable attached to the brake...but the prodigy was on sale at Campingworld, so I got that...

Now, how do I explain to Sara that we need a new controller, when I have two in my hand that are less than a month old...


...and an Activator II I used with our pop-up...


I will troubleshoot the truck-end here soon, and post any results...have not heard from AS -- I will call them in a day or two to see what progress they have made on the heat pump/AC and the cosmetic issues -- I will remind them to wring out the brakes...

I had problems with the pop-up brakes that turned out to be a short. The thread is hereabouts somewhere...


85MH325 03-23-2004 07:08 AM

Re: Prodigy Strangeness...

Originally posted by hohne
Tow vehicle is a 2003 Suburban, with about 5K on it...


Rob, I think I found your problem! ;)

OK, Chevyguys... I JUST COULDN'T HELP MYSELF!!!!:D :D :D


Silvertwinkie 03-23-2004 08:07 AM

Wow, Roger has a chip in the big game! :D

jcanavera 03-23-2004 09:19 AM


Originally posted by hohne
...I am laughing at myself...I kept thinking to myself, I should listen to Roadkingmoe and use the one with the cable attached to the brake
Yep. Its a Jordan and that's what I use also. Best controller I have ever owned.


hohne 03-23-2004 10:26 AM


On our first trip, the only strange thing that happened is that I pulled into a turn lane for a right turn at about 25 MPH -- the road was rippled up from trucks hitting the brakes hard to make the was washboarded pretty badly...

I feathered the brakes as we went over the washboard, and the controller misunderstood the operating environment and thought I was stopping at a much quicker rate, and it gave full current to the trailer -- jerked out heads a bit...

Wife thought we had clipped something...I was looking down at the prodigy and saw it was at full-throttle. We nearly stopped all happened pretty fast...

I have the unit mounted at a 45 degree angle -- I wonder if it was flatter it would have done better...

Everyone repeat after me...listen to Maurice. Listen to Maurice...


dinoburb 03-23-2004 10:32 AM

Trailer emulator
Has anyone seen or used the TEKONSHA Trailer Emulator?

Their web site lists the unit to troubleshoot the vehicles wiring system and controller installation. It seems that this would provide an answer to half of my problem. If the 'NC' signal comes on with the emulator installed (sans trailer) then my problem lies with the controller or the installation and wiring. If, however, the unit reads 'C' properly, then my problem is after the vehicle's connection. This alone would be a big help. Might reduce some of the guessing, I guess!

Take care

hohne 03-23-2004 10:33 AM

...I will split it with you...

hohne 03-23-2004 10:42 AM

I am starting to wonder if this might be a noise issue -- the truck and trailer have a lot of stuff attached to ground, and I wonder if a noisy ground could be the culprit in a lot of the reported strangeness...

The trip to JC was the first time I towed the thing at night, with lights on -- varying the load can vary the noise signature...

I am thinking also another thing to try is to actually ground the truck and trailer together with a wire attached to the truck frame and trailer frame -- it might help if it is a noise or ground-bounce issue -- A bad crimp somewhere can inject a lot of noise on power or ground...

Just thinking out loud...


hohne 03-29-2004 08:50 AM

I sent the tech support folks an email last week, and referenced this thread. The tech had me make sure I had the correct harness for our 2003 Suburban (we did) and we also sent him the serial number of our prodigy. He also promised that he was going to send us a trailer emulator...

Low and behold, the trailer emulator showed up on Saturday in the mail. I plugged it into the Suburban and ran static tests -- the emulator has seven LED's that indicate some wiring miscues and such.

The truck was wired correctly. I also noticed the brake LED got a pulse every 4 seconds or so -- must be the 'alive?' signal from the Prodigy...

I drove around with the emulator a bit on Sunday -- did not go very far. The Prodigy acted normally. No flaky behaviors that I noticed...

The emulator seems to model the load of one wheel magnet -- it did not seem to go nearly as high as it does when the trailer is actually back there...

One thing I did notice is that the emulator goes a lot deeper into the socket than the connector on the trailer does -- I plan on investigating that first, once I go back to JC to get the trailer back...if the emulator testing shows no intermittent problems...

So far, the truck, prodigy and wiring test good -- at least on a small load, for a short time...

Once I am finished with the emulator, I plan on sharing it with forum members who are trying to trace weird problems with their Prodigy's...


rluhr 03-29-2004 09:49 AM

Way to go Rob!
Hey Rob! Put me on that list, please! I'll PM you my address.

-- RL :)

Silvertwinkie 03-29-2004 10:13 AM

Cool Rob...hope you can bring it to the June rally. I am sure there will be a few folks that could use it! :)


All times are GMT -6. The time now is 04:09 AM.

Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.8 Beta 1
Copyright ©2000 - 2021, Jelsoft Enterprises Ltd.