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Discussion Starter #1
I have an '06 GW with Nav, heated seats and ABS. I am adding Gerbing jacket liners and gloves and EC platinum lights where I already have the lighted spoiler, kisan decel flasher and Kriss headlight modulator so I am concerned about battery condition at low RPMs. I would like to add a DVM to the system to monitor when I am NOT charging and to give a heads-up should the charging system fail during cruise.

Does anyone know of a high quality DVM and mount that looks like it belongs there rather than added on?

Ed Hamilton
 

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voltage meter

I rigged up a digital voltage meter on my 1500 when I bought it in 91.I found the digital to be very annoying.I have an analog meter on my 03 an I like it much better...Jim
 

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Of course if you get a GPS, some of them have a built in digital voltmeter which would kill the old two birds thing.

Dan Moore
 

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Cardinal Pilot said:
Thanks for the info guys. I guess I like the solution that meridien gave. The website http://www.digitalmeter.com/cgi-bin/web ... figspc.txt shows an attractive install on a white GW. Now for electrical connection data. Specifically how and where?

Ed
Beware of digital LED voltmeters on the sunlight - they wash out - take my word for it. This is how I know:


Looks good in the garage - can't read it in the full daylight...
 

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Cardinal Pilot said:
I would like to add a DVM to the system to monitor when I am NOT charging and to give a heads-up should the charging system fail during cruise.
A voltmeter will not indicate charge. Get an ammeter.
 

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Wanderer said:
Cardinal Pilot said:
I would like to add a DVM to the system to monitor when I am NOT charging and to give a heads-up should the charging system fail during cruise.
A voltmeter will not indicate charge. Get an ammeter.
Hey Wanderer,
If the alternator is not charging, you will see either the quiescent battery voltage
(approximately 12.6 for a charged lead acid 6 cell battery) or,
if there is a load, you will see the under-load voltage of the battery
(something less than the quiescent level).
If the alternator is working, you will see the charging voltage
that the alternator is applying to the battery
(typically in the 13.6 to 14.4 volt range depending, among other things,
on alternator RPM, charge state of the battery, temperature and
active load on the system.)
The very old systems, that had very low resolution voltage indicators,
it was hard to judge the relatively small difference of a couple of volts.
Today, the higher quality gauges (both digital and analog) allow the voltmeter
to be an adequate indicator of go/no-go system performance.
For troubleshooting load problems, the ammeter is still the better indicator
(but not many riders are trying to troubleshoot problems
involving multiple loads while out on the road.)
DC
 

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Discussion Starter #11
Good point Jim, I am glad you mentioned that. I would have overlooked it. So if it washes out in sunlight, then it is back to the drawing board for a solution. LCD?

Ed
 

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Cardinal Pilot said:
Good point Jim, I am glad you mentioned that. I would have overlooked it. So if it washes out in sunlight, then it is back to the drawing board for a solution. LCD?
I mounted a LCD digital EMV 1200 on mine. This unit works perfectly on my Wing, mounts over a single drilled hole, and only draws 3 ma.

Here is the info on the EMV 1200:

http://www.lascarelectronics.com/PRODUC ... N=83476618

There is a similar unit (SP 5-1200-BL) that also has a backlight for nighttime use and is probably what I would buy today instead of the one I have, even though it's more difficult to make the square mounting hole.

http://www.lascarelectronics.com/PRODUC ... N=83476618
 

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Cardinal Pilot said:
Good point Jim, I am glad you mentioned that. I would have overlooked it. So if it washes out in sunlight, then it is back to the drawing board for a solution. LCD?

Ed
Give the fact that you have the panel already fully occupied, I would look at the small analog meter. I think EC has one. I will be replacing mine with a large round one after Christmas... I'll keep the switches (lights ya know) and reuse them but go to the analog meter as one I can read in all lighting conditions...
 

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Dream Catcher said:
Hey Wanderer,
If the alternator is not charging, you will see either the quiescent battery voltage
(approximately 12.6 for a charged lead acid 6 cell battery) or,
if there is a load, you will see the under-load voltage of the battery
(something less than the quiescent level).
If the alternator is working, you will see the charging voltage
that the alternator is applying to the battery
(typically in the 13.6 to 14.4 volt range depending, among other things,
on alternator RPM, charge state of the battery, temperature and
active load on the system.)
The very old systems, that had very low resolution voltage indicators,
it was hard to judge the relatively small difference of a couple of volts.
Today, the higher quality gauges (both digital and analog) allow the voltmeter
to be an adequate indicator of go/no-go system performance.
For troubleshooting load problems, the ammeter is still the better indicator
(but not many riders are trying to troubleshoot problems
involving multiple loads while out on the road.)
DC
Hey Dream,

You've explained it better than anyone else, thanks. Here's what I don't understand. Lets assume an electrical system in perfect working order. If you have a voltmeter and an ammeter hooked to that perfect system, the system being in a vehicle, once the vehicle is running, the voltmeter will stay constant as load is added, i.e., turn on the lights, then the radio, apply the brakes, etc. (Once started, the voltmeter in my truck might as well be painted on.) The ammeter will show less and less system charging as the load is added. At idle, the voltmeter will show 14 volts or so, but the ammeter will show negative charging, or discharge. I still don't understand why one would want a voltmeter to indicate charge?

As you stated, it appears a voltmeter will only give an indication of discharge if the alternator isn't working. There are many situations where the alternator is working but the battery is being discharged, as in too much load on the system which the alternator can't overcome. Am I thinking straight here?
 

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Discussion Starter #15
Thanks, Boots. Well, I like the LCD idea. The price of the latter LCD unit SP 5-1200-BL, is 25 British Pounds which would be about $75.00 I think. The connection guide is somewhat complex. Being in Essex UK would make the shipping cost high as well.

I could use a simpler and less-expensive solution. Any ideas?

Ed Hamilton
 

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Cardinal Pilot said:
I could use a simpler and less-expensive solution. Any ideas?
It's $44.91 for 1 to 4 units.

Go to http://www.lascarelectronics.com/ and click on the US flag. On the next page search for the product SP 5-1200-BL. Then look in the lower right box for the prices in US$.

Apparently, if you don't click on the US flag first the page defaults to the UK and Pounds Sterling.

The EMV 1200 unit is $24.95.
 

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Hey Wanderer,
Wanderer said:
I still don't understand why one would want a voltmeter to indicate charge?
It's not so much that you want a voltmeter to indicate charge status.
It's more like the voltmeter is easier and usually less expensive to add to an existing system.
If you want to document the performance curve of an alternator, you would definitely
want a current meter in the circuit, like you are saying. But Wing riders are not planning on
redesigning their systems so they can get by very well with interpreting the
voltage readings on the Wing.

Your example is a good one, the ammeter will show excess system load before
the voltmeter does. However, even in the case of the alternator being overloaded,
the voltmeter will eventually show the reduced voltage in the system, that is
caused by the battery supplying the additional current that the alternator cannot
provide.
When the engine is running the alternator supplies all electrical power to the system, and charges
the battery. When the alternator overloads and cannot supply the current demand, it's voltage also drops
too low to keep charging the battery. At that point, the higher battery voltage causes it to supply the
additional current the system demands until the battery voltage drops as well.
At that point the drop in the voltmeter reading will also show the system has a problem.
It will be later than you would have seen it with the ammeter though.


As far as the voltmeter not moving in your truck,the voltmeter is probably damped
so it doesn't jump around for short term load fluctuations. It could also mean you don't have much of
a load or it could mean you have a pretty heavy alternator (that puts out good current at idle RPMs).
The main thing is that it's a fairly large capacity battery in your truck. When you come to a stop and the alternator
slows down, it's output drops and the battery is supplying some of the system current. If the
battery were small, like on the Wing, you would soon see the voltmeter start to drop as it's surface charge
bleeds off. That's what brings the voltage down from the 13-14 volt range , into the 12-13 volt range.
It takes a lot longer to see this with larger batteries.
It's that swing between those two ranges that
you use as a feedback that the system is working OK.
If the voltage drops into the low 12 or high 11 volt range
right away as you drop to idle, it means the battery isn't getting
that surface charge that indicates it's fully charged,
or you've got a very large load on the system that bleeds the charge off very quickly.
That could be due to a weak or overloaded alternator or a dying battery.
If the voltage doesn't work it's way back up to the
high 13/low 14 volt range pretty quickly after you get back up to speed,
that's another indicator of weakness or very heavy load.

There's no doubt that an ammeter is a better indicator of electrical system activity.
It is desirable and many times required, if you are troubleshooting a problem.
But for everyday monitoring of a known good system, the voltmeter can provide a lot of
information if you interpret it's actions right.


Anyone who has loaded the Wing electrical system enough to overload the alternator,
is going to be drawing in excess of 70 amps total system draw. That's if they are riding (not sitting at idle)
because all alternators capacity falls off at low RPMs. The wing is rated at 2400RPM but I have never
known if that is Engine RPM or Alternator RPM. Most ratings are in alternator RPM and you have to
know the overdrive or underdrive that is involved to know at what engine speed the alternator is
being efficient. At any rate, if you wanted to put an ammeter on the wing, the current shunt, or device
in the circuit that senses the system current, would have to be sized to handle at least 70 amps.
As with ammeters in other vehicles, you would have to switch the ammeter out of the circuit when you
press the electric starter button as the high current draw of the starter motor would burn out the ammeter
circuit. The cost of correctly incorporating ammeters into vehicle electrical systems,
is probably the main reason they are not found in most vehicles today.

I have an alternator in my show truck that puts out 140 amps at idle. Five of the six
digital voltmeters in the truck are not damped and each one monitors the the rail voltage
to one of five audio amplifiers. Under high audio loads these meters jump all over the place.
DC
 

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Wanderer said:
... As you stated, it appears a voltmeter will only give an indication of discharge if the alternator isn't working. There are many situations where the alternator is working but the battery is being discharged, as in too much load on the system which the alternator can't overcome. Am I thinking straight here?
A fully charged battery with no load has about 12.8 volts across the terminals. Assuming the battery is in good condition and the engine is running, a voltage above 12.8 volts indicates the alternator is carrying the full load and the battery is accepting a charge. Normally my meter reads 14.4 volts under these conditions.

If the battery voltage is below 12.8, the alternator is either not working at all, or is merely unable to carry the full load and the battery is being discharged.

On a GoldWing with the engine at about 1500 rpm, if the voltage across the battery is not between 14.0 and 14.5 volts, you have a serious problem with either your alternator or your battery.

Monitoring the battery voltage under various conditions (key off, key on, starting, and running) is an excellent way to track the health of your battery and charging system.
 

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Dream & Boots,

Thanks for the info. You both have helped me understand voltmeters much better. I guess my misunderstand comes from systems with bigger batteries where the voltmeter hardly moves under any situation, as in my truck. It's a diesel with two big batteries. I imagine the alternator is heavy duty also, although at idle, when I apply the brakes, I can hear the engine slow just a bit with no change in the voltmeter. I just changed the batteries last month. The voltmeter was still showing above 14 volts, as always, yet I knew the batteries were "tired". The new bats crank the engine over at least twice as fast as the old ones. I guess in the truck, I can't rely on the voltmeter to tell me much about my charging system.

Thanks again.
 
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