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autofill problems
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Discussions > Espresso > Machines > autofill...  
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ryecarr01
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Joined: 2 Nov 2011
Posts: 44
Location: north east
Expertise: Just starting

Posted Wed Jun 6, 2012, 2:31am
Subject: autofill problems
 

hello, i was wondering if anyone could maybe help me with a problem i am experiencing.

I have a brasilia gradisca 3 group machine. The problem is with the autofill, it doesnt seem to want to play. everything was working fine prior to me stripping it down for a deep clean and service. Upon reassembly i started experiencing problems. To start with one of the group panels wasnt working, had power to it but was completely unresponsive? i switched it around with one of the other group panels and all 3 now work fine? strange? i never assumed that the group panels had to be in a specific sequence? anyway they work now so wont worry about that too much...

the main problem is the autofill. It isnt filling itself all the time, however it does intermittently. I find that if i fiddle with the circuit board or give the machine a shake, sometimes it will kick in. it looks like dodgy connection but everything looks good and has continuity where it should? or it seems to.

The machine doesnt have a 'giemme' or a 'gicar' box, it has a circuit board housed away that seems to control everything. It has 4 detachable 'relays' (?) that i assume correspond with each group solenoid and the autofill solenoid, removing these doesnt stop the machien from working though ie take them out and the group heads will still work? whaat are these exactly? they are approx 10mm x 30mm with a male plug at one end and a female at the other.

I dont want to believe that i have a faulty board, the other day i was fiddling about and the autofill started to work. it filled up fine. i lifted the probe so that it would kick in again but it did nothing. i drained the boiler, repositioned the probe and it was fine, filled right up. i switched off, came back the next day and nothing, unresponsive again. my probe is clean and scale free, i have a joint in the wire from the probe to the board but i cant see this making much difference?

i am pretty sure the board is not dead as surely it would not work at all? any ideas or what to try or look for would be great.

many many thanks in advance, this thing has had me banging my head against the wall!!!

rc
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ryecarr01
Senior Member


Joined: 2 Nov 2011
Posts: 44
Location: north east
Expertise: Just starting

Posted Wed Jun 6, 2012, 2:38am
Subject: Re: autofill problems
 

a little bit more of interesting information. most of the time i get nothing, on that extreme occasion i got it working fine but more often this happens...

i turn to the 'fill position' ( i have disconnected the element as to not cause damage while sorting this out) and there is nothing for maybe a second then i get a load of clicks, there is no pattern to them, they are completely random. i can tell they are coming from the fill solenoid, as though it is trying to open the valve but is only getting power sent to it for a brief millisecond? so the click click click click click is obvious the coil clicking in out in out in out in out?

this should surely suggest where my problem lies? as the power is not staying on long enough to keep the valve open to fill until it hits the probe??
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ryecarr01
Senior Member


Joined: 2 Nov 2011
Posts: 44
Location: north east
Expertise: Just starting

Posted Wed Jun 6, 2012, 9:15am
Subject: Re: autofill problems
 

further to more fiddling around today, we had the machine working for about half an hour. turned off turned back on and back to the same problem, only know instead of it being completely dead it is continously trying to fill. the sol.valve is clicking more regular and the motor is turning a fraction each time, as if it is trying to kick in. this is becoming very frustrating. all the led's of the group panels flash with each 'click' of the sol.valve/pump turn

please someone help.......
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frcn
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frcn
Joined: 23 Dec 2001
Posts: 3,350
Location: Northern California
Expertise: Professional

Espresso: Vibiemme Domobar Double
Grinder: Mazzer Kony, Baratza...
Vac Pot: Hario, 2 Cory pots, 1 Cory...
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Posted Wed Jun 6, 2012, 9:47am
Subject: Re: autofill problems
 

Some ideas:
- check each individual connector on the black box (not just each gang connector but each individual spade connector). Each should be a tight fit. Look for signs of corrosion, rust, etc.
- clean and protect all the connections with a cleaner-anti-oxidant made for electrical connections
- take the cover off the black box and examine the PC board under a powerful magnifier. Look for cracked or corroded solder joints.
- if it has mechanical relays that can be examined, check for corroded contacts.
- testing can be done by removing the water level sensor's wire and connect and disconnect it from  a known ground
- being that the panels are flashing as well as the auto-fill problem, I would suspect the main power switch. Maybe put a lamp on the power output of the switch and check to see if it flashes off and on when the problem occurs. You may have to move it around or use multiple lamps to check all the outputs at once.

You have your work cut out for you.. the alternative is to keep throwing money at it.

 
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ryecarr01
Senior Member


Joined: 2 Nov 2011
Posts: 44
Location: north east
Expertise: Just starting

Posted Wed Jun 6, 2012, 2:05pm
Subject: Re: autofill problems
 

Hello thank you for your reply. The pcb and connections have been heavily scrutinised and look in good shape. I will recheck tomorow. However I am interested in what you are saying about the main selector switch, could you go into a little bit more detail as this is an area I haven't really investigated
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frcn
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frcn
Joined: 23 Dec 2001
Posts: 3,350
Location: Northern California
Expertise: Professional

Espresso: Vibiemme Domobar Double
Grinder: Mazzer Kony, Baratza...
Vac Pot: Hario, 2 Cory pots, 1 Cory...
Drip: Behmor Brazen, Bunn A10 mod...
Roaster: computer controlled Hottop,...
Posted Wed Jun 6, 2012, 6:21pm
Subject: Re: autofill problems
 

My theory is based on the fact that you are having numerous problems that are unrelated other than they seem electrical. The flashing on and off, no autofill sometimes, etc. it might even be a bad wall outlet, bad power cord connection, or something like that. If there is an oxidized contact in the power switch, that might explain some of it.  An oxidized relay contact in the black box may also explain the autofill problem. You could put a meter on the autofill solenoid and see it it illuminates when there should be an autofill event. Maybe the solenoid is intermittent.

Bottom line - this is the stuff that breeds insanity - intermittent electrical problems. The smallest bit of a cracked solder joint in a control box could do it. Works sometimes for am while, then gets hot and doesn't work. About that time you end up reaching for the single-malt bottle.

 
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ryecarr01
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Joined: 2 Nov 2011
Posts: 44
Location: north east
Expertise: Just starting

Posted Fri Jun 8, 2012, 2:28am
Subject: Re: autofill problems
 

ok so this is getting really annoying. the machine decided to work again randomly, there is no regularity to it, just complete randomness.

as far as I can see, connections look good and i am getting a voltage down at the sol.valve and at the motor when the machine is filling as it should, there is nothing there at any other time, even when the machine should be filling ie if empty.

because of the instances when it is working fine it is almost as if the machine thinks it is at a predetermined level and so does not need to fill, rather than it is trying to fill and there is something from stopping it?

surely this is nothing probe related? i understand a probe being damaged and not registering water hitting it but surely this cannot happen the other way round? i have completely disconnected the probe from the board and still nothing happens.

my thinking is that it is something in the board which would normally be triggered by the probe which would then alert the sol.valve and pump to start. would this make sense? and if so what kind of component should  be looking at?

the funny thing is, the board has 4 little miniture removable boards, one for the fill sol.valve and then one for each of the groups. i previously said that removing these did not stop the machine from working, but i was wrong they do.and if swapped around everything works as it should (everything except the autofill) which would confirm the intergrity of these 'miniture boards'?

that single malt sure is  looking good right about now
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ryecarr01
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Joined: 2 Nov 2011
Posts: 44
Location: north east
Expertise: Just starting

Posted Fri Jun 8, 2012, 2:34am
Subject: Re: autofill problems
 

from browsing google i have found an avenue i may wish to also explore, that the probe is being grounded by the boiler?? but surely once i disconnect the probe from the board then it can no longer be grounded and should fill??? can ayone please elaborate further on this
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ryecarr01
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Joined: 2 Nov 2011
Posts: 44
Location: north east
Expertise: Just starting

Posted Fri Jun 8, 2012, 3:30am
Subject: Re: autofill problems
 

also should i be getting 12v between my probe and the boiler???because i am, is this normal??
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ryecarr01
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Joined: 2 Nov 2011
Posts: 44
Location: north east
Expertise: Just starting

Posted Tue Jun 12, 2012, 11:34am
Subject: Re: autofill problems
 

hello everyone, sorry to keep bumping this post

i am 95% sure my problem is a PCB problem, although I have had a guy look at it he says he cannot see a problem although he cannot test all the circuts properly, I have had it looked at by another specialist who has it at the moment and says that you cant really test it and its best to just replace the components.

i am gong to quickly recap just incase someone has had similar problems and missed the thread or maybe for future reference ( i will update also when/if eventually fixed )

so the breakdown;

the autofill is faulty and doesnt fill the machine - 85% of the time dead - 10% of the time works in 1 second spurts? - 5% of time it works fine.

the group panels flash all there LED's when empty which locks me out from using the machine ie drawing a shot

if i manually fill the machine the lights stop flashing and lets me in once the water hits the bottom of the probe (so the probe is working and doing its job) if i raw water from the boiler so the level drops it goes back to ho it was ie LED's flashing and locked out, until i refill. basically i am having to manually fill when the machine should be doing it

sometimes i will hear clicks (the fill solenoid opening) and see the motor turning for about half a second. i have measured voltage at both of these and am getting ~50v instead of 230v, although this could be down to the fact it is working for such little time? when it works fine i am getting 230v

the fill solenoid valve and the motor both have seperate feeds from the PCB, but something must control the power to these as they come on at the same time?? this is where i think i have hte problem. it makes sense that whatever component is responsible for switching power to the feeds for the fill sol and the pump, must be faulty?? is that fair to assume? there are no relays on the board which i understadn would usually be responsable for such task? so which component do we think would be responsable for this?

i hope i am not boring people by now but i find this very interesting and hopefully will serve as a good point for people in the future with the same problem. like i said previously i am having the board looked at, he says that he would be 'very suprised if there is anything wrong with it' but i really cant think what else it could be?? he is basically just going to replace all the components on the board so fingers crossed.

failing that i will be purchasing a new 400 board and hoping that it works, thats my next dilema, the boards are apprently non returnable so if i have the sam eproblem with a new board.............eurgh

thank you for reading and i look forward to any responses

RC
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