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Thread: Odyssey Battery Woes

  1. #1
    windy's Avatar
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    Odyssey Battery Woes

    Iíve had two Odyssey batteries go bad in the past 4 years. They both got replaced by the manufacturer under warranty. I think the cold Utah winters in my unheated hangar may have contributed, despite having a battery tender continuously connected. Odyssey isnít a panacea.


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    Steve Pierce's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by windy View Post
    I’ve had two Odyssey batteries go bad in the past 4 years. They both got replaced by the manufacturer under warranty. I think the cold Utah winters in my unheated hangar may have contributed, despite having a battery tender continuously connected. Odyssey isn’t a panacea.


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    What battery tender are you using?
    Steve Pierce

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    With the storage life of an Odyssey battery I’ve never understood why people use maintainers. Maybe in hot weather climates? Cold doesn’t bother mine.
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    Quote Originally Posted by windy View Post
    I’ve had two Odyssey batteries go bad in the past 4 years. They both got replaced by the manufacturer under warranty. I think the cold Utah winters in my unheated hangar may have contributed, despite having a battery tender continuously connected. Odyssey isn’t a panacea.
    Hi Windy,
    My plane lives in conditions very similar to yours. I don't use a battery tender, and don't have problems with the Odyssey. I killed one after 5 years by leaving the master on after doing some radio maintenance, and the replacement has 4+ years on it.

    Do you have a drain on the battery with the Master off?
    Democracy dies in conformity
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    mvivion's Avatar
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    Same here, Wendy.....I had an Odyssey battery in my 170, which lived outside in Fairbanks, and no battery tender, and lived in an unbeaten Hangar in NW MN, again with no battery tender. Batteries went six years, then installed new one out of abundance of caution, and old battery installed in lawn tractor. Never a problem.

    MTV
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    NDRII's Avatar
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    Installed my Odyssey in August of 2009. I charge it up and test it at annual, that is the only time it has seen a charger, I use the CTEK US7000. I am now to the point of, out sheer curiosity, seeing how long it will go!
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    kestrel's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by mike mcs repair View Post
    That’s more a charging issue than a battery issue. Unless I don’t understand how you worded that.
    That is what I had thought and why I brought it to my mechanic instead of just replacing the battery. Turned out the problem was that the battery just completely quit. ...wouldn't even help regulate voltage when the alternator was running. ...until it wouldn't even fire up the alternator, then it regulated voltage just fine! ZERO!

    The alternator, regulators, etc, were all checked. The problem was that the certified, lead-acid battery **** the bed in extreme fashion.
    Last edited by kestrel; 08-06-2018 at 12:23 PM.
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    www.SkupTech.com mike mcs repair's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by kestrel View Post
    That is what I had thought and why I brought it to my mechanic instead of just replacing the battery. Turned out the problem was that the battery just completely quit. ...wouldn't even help regulate voltage when the alternator was running. ...until it wouldn't even fire up the alternator, then it regulated voltage just fine! ZERO!

    The alternator, regulators, etc, were all checked. The problem was that the certified, lead-acid battery **** the bed in extreme fashion.
    Thatís not how it works. Whereís web


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    windy's Avatar
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    Earth X batteries, ok or not?

    I have a CTEK Multi US 7002 battery tender. If I forget to plug in the tender, I can get one, maybe two cranks & the engine better start in the winter or I have to stop & plug in the tender. There is nothing electrical running unless the master switch is on. The alternator does a good job of topping off the battery in flight. Itís just those cold starts that are a challenge. Maybe I need a battery box heater.

    When I did my tour last year of landing at every public airport in South Dakota & again the same thing this year at the public airports in Arkansas, by the end of the day, after stopping at 15-17 airports, the Odyssey battery got a little slower on the startup crank, but it was still better than a cold start crank in winter.
    Last edited by windy; 08-06-2018 at 01:02 PM.

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    After engine preheat? I can easily start my engine in -30* with a moderately preheated engine and no battery heat. Everyone I know does the same. Odysseys are a marvel in cold weather. You must have something else going on.
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    skywagon8a's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by windy View Post
    There is nothing electrical running unless the master switch is on..
    Is there an electric clock in the airplane? If so, the clock has the ability to kill the battery. Pull the clock fuse between flights and the battery will last for years.
    N1PA
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    Quote Originally Posted by kestrel View Post
    That is what I had thought and why I brought it to my mechanic instead of just replacing the battery. Turned out the problem was that the battery just completely quit. ...wouldn't even help regulate voltage when the alternator was running. ...until it wouldn't even fire up the alternator, then it regulated voltage just fine! ZERO!

    The alternator, regulators, etc, were all checked. The problem was that the certified, lead-acid battery **** the bed in extreme fashion.
    I'm curious how it was jump started. Did you connect jumper cables/unit directly to the ship's battery? Did you verify that the master relay actually closed? The alternator will charge as long as there is some kind of voltage fed into the regulator. For example, as long as the engine is turning, you can bring the alternator on line with a flashlight or transistor battery.

    Let me show two examples of what I'm talking about: If you connect the jump cables directly to the battery, you should be able to close the master relay (as normal) and then you turn the key to start the engine in the usual way. Once the engine is running and the alternator is turning, voltage from the bus to the regulator will excite the alternator and bring the charging system on line. When you remove the jumper cables, the regulator will keep the voltage stable and you should see a HIGH current flow trying to charge the battery.

    The second way is to either hand prop or connect the jump cables to the starter and get the engine started. This works for the engine but if the battery is dead, the master relay will not close and therefore the voltage regulator will not have any power to use to excite the alternator. Period. No volts, no current, all zeroes. In this case the only way to get the alternator on line is to figure out a way to introduce power to the regulator from an outside source such as a battery. Even if you do that, you still need to figure out a way to get the master relay to close. Remember that the master relay gets it's initial power directly from the battery.

    This is why I'm curious about your jump start procedures. In the past I've had to get aircraft started with bad batteries and I've still been able to get the charging system on line. Not sure how a bad battery is going to completely kill a charging system. Even with something like shorted plates in a cell it should still try to charge.

    Web
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    kestrel's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by wireweinie View Post
    I'm curious how it was jump started.
    [...]
    The second way is to either hand prop or connect the jump cables to the starter and get the engine started. This works for the engine but if the battery is dead, the master relay will not close and therefore the voltage regulator will not have any power to use to excite the alternator. Period. No volts, no current, all zeroes. In this case the only way to get the alternator on line is to figure out a way to introduce power to the regulator from an outside source such as a battery. Even if you do that, you still need to figure out a way to get the master relay to close. Remember that the master relay gets it's initial power directly from the battery.
    That.

    Except that one flaw of the build of this airplane is that there is no reasonable access to the primary electrical system or battery. It can't be jumped without significant disassembly and there is no re-assembling it with the engine running. We're planning some panel updates and I intend to fix the battery access problem at the same time.

    First stage of failure was insufficient energy to start. Hand prop and off you go! We assumed that I forgot to turn on the alternator in the previous short flight. That turned out to not be the case.

    About 4 flights later (most requiring hand prop), the battery was so dead it was no longer able to pull in the master relay and start the alternator, the only thing left was to fly it like a J-3. ...except that the flaps were in landing configuration because that's how we park an RV-4 to keep people from stepping on them. Flew it at 70 kts to service.

    I was expecting that a regulator problem might have damaged the battery. My mechanic put the alternator on a bench tester and found nothing wrong with it. The battery just failed without any identifiable cause.

    We replaced the Concord battery with the PC680 that came out of my Bearhawk when the EarthX went in it. We have flown it a bunch of hours since. No problems.
    --
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  14. #14
    kestrel's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by mike mcs repair View Post
    That’s not how it works. Where’s web
    I'm curious about what aspect you disagree with?
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    wireweinie's Avatar
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    It sounds to me that the master was never closed after jump starting. Is that correct? If so, there is no way the alternator would come on line. Did anyone troubleshoot the battery to see if the low voltage cutout activated? Was a recharge on the bench attempted?

    Web
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    kestrel's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by wireweinie View Post
    It sounds to me that the master was never closed after jump starting. Is that correct? If so, there is no way the alternator would come on line.
    Incorrect. It was closed during starts where problems had been seen, but we were able to get the relay activated. It was closed (initially) on the final flight when it wouldn't work at all. It works perfectly now that the battery has been replaced. No repairs were made to the master switch or relay.

    Did anyone troubleshoot the battery to see if the low voltage cutout activated?
    I've never heard of a low voltage cut-out on a basic lead-acid battery.

    Was a recharge on the bench attempted?
    Yes.
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  17. #17
    wireweinie's Avatar
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    How did you verify that the master relay closed?

    My bad. You mentioned replacing an EarthX and I made the assumption that it was in this aircraft.

    Web
    Life's tough . . . wear a cup.

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    windy's Avatar
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    Earth X batteries, ok or not?

    Quote Originally Posted by skywagon8a View Post
    Is there an electric clock in the airplane? If so, the clock has the ability to kill the battery. Pull the clock fuse between flights and the battery will last for years.
    The clock is connected to the panel with Velcro, no wires. No drain on the aircraft battery.

    In the hangar, I pre-heat with a sump heater & a forced air heater that blows warm air over the cylinders all night before a winter flight, so the engine & oil are usually plenty toasty.

    When it cranks in the winter, it will rotate one propeller blade then stop. I have to let up on the start button, then press it again to crank again. After a few times of this, if it hasnít started, itís time for the battery tender. In warm weather, it starts right up. It takes plenty of primer to get the engine started, summer or winter.

    The mags just got new brushes & points this spring, so it will be interesting to see how the engine starts this winter, in case that was the problem.

  19. #19
    Gordon Misch's Avatar
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    Windy, maybe check resistances by disconnecting starter cable from the "downstream" starter contactor post, then measure from positive battery post to "downstream" contactor post. Then reconnect starter cable and measure from the "downstream" contactor post to starter contactor post (not the cable terminals).

    Actually, it would be better to reverse that sequence in case the "downstream" contactor connection is the culprit.

    And similarly, check ground path from starter case to negative battery post.

    Just a thought - - -
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  20. #20
    Steve Pierce's Avatar
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    I agree with Gordon, I think you have a starter cable or ground issue.
    Steve Pierce

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    skywagon8a's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by windy View Post
    When it cranks in the winter, it will rotate one propeller blade then stop. I have to let up on the start button, then press it again to crank again. After a few times of this, if it hasn’t started, it’s time for the battery tender. In warm weather, it starts right up. It takes plenty of primer to get the engine started, summer or winter.
    That sounds like a starter problem. Do you have one of the newer lightweight higher speed starters or the old original direct drive starter? IF it is the older type, the teeth on the starter gear and the ring gear get rusty. This causes higher than normal wear and high drag. Since an electric motor doesn't put out much power unless it is turning at a reasonably high rate of speed, that extra drag causes it to draw an excessive amount of current from the battery. Particularly in cold weather it doesn't have the ability to turn the engine through compression let alone fast enough for the mags to put out enough spark. Lubricate the bushing at the end of the starter shaft and all the teeth on the gears. Or just get one of the new starters.

    Also make sure that you have a good ground cable from the engine case to the airframe.
    N1PA
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    windy's Avatar
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    Earth X batteries, ok or not?

    Thank you for the great tips & suggestions. Iíll try them out.

    The starter is a Sky-Tec lightweight starter with 1800 hrs on it now (was new when the engine was overhauled). What kind of lubricant would the starter shaft bushing need?

    The starter relay currently on my plane is a P.O.S. that the dishonest disreputable troll hole shop dragged up off the hangar floor (10 years ago). Iíve been suspicious of it & have a new replacement relay ready to be installed. Maybe now is the time, before winter.
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  23. #23
    skywagon8a's Avatar
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    My starter comments were directed to the original direct drive starter.
    N1PA
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    mvivion's Avatar
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    Wendy,

    The last Husky I flew for FWS had an Odyssey battery mounted in the stock aft location. I’ve parked it outside in Fort Yukon overnight at VERY cold temperatures, and never an issue cranking in the AM. And no heat to that battery overnight.

    I was always amazed at the performance of those batteries.

    MTV
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    www.SkupTech.com mike mcs repair's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by windy View Post
    Thank you for the great tips & suggestions. Iíll try them out.

    The starter is a Sky-Tec lightweight starter with 1800 hrs on it now (was new when the engine was overhauled). What kind of lubricant would the starter shaft bushing need?

    The starter relay currently on my plane is a P.O.S. that the dishonest disreputable troll hole shop dragged up off the hangar floor (10 years ago). Iíve been suspicious of it & have a new replacement relay ready to be installed. Maybe now is the time, before winter.
    Solenoid was going to my guess for gremlins

    Depending how wired you may have 2 relays in start system each one has 2 chances at being a poor rotated connection o the big bolts. B&c has a nice trouble shooting guide on their website to quickly track down your issue


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    www.SkupTech.com mike mcs repair's Avatar
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    http://www.bandc.aero/pdfs/Starter%2...leshooting.pdf


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    www.SkupTech.com mike mcs repair's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by kestrel View Post
    I'm curious about what aspect you disagree with?
    You werenít getting any output out of your charging system you were only running off battery. The simple act of changing the battery could have cleaned the bad connection. Just because you can get power out of a battery does NOT mean you can push power back into it if you have a dirty connection. Or a hung up brush or wore out one.

    Number 2. Just because you hear a relay close, does not mean it is internally making a good connection


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  28. #28
    wireweinie's Avatar
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    Easiest way to check for high resistance of master or start solenoid is to use a voltmeter. Place the red meter lead on the big terminal CLOSEST to the battery and the black lead on the other terminal. Crank the engine for about five seconds and note the voltage reading while cranking. What you're reading is the voltage drop across the contacts inside the solenoid. If it's anything more than a couple of tenths of a volt, replace to solenoid.

    You can do the same thing with a suspect ground cable. Red lead on the crank case and black lead to airframe. To small of a ground cable or poor quality crimps will show as a voltage drop.

    Remember: This only works if you have current flow. I.e. cranking the starter motor.

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  29. #29
    www.SkupTech.com mike mcs repair's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by kestrel View Post
    I'm curious about what aspect you disagree with?
    The other thought, did you put the acid in the battery if the old style?


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    Rust on Windy's starter teeth?

    I highly doubt that!

    You folks offer lots of great information. I agree that there is an issue with her starter- great that we now have a good trouble shooting guide to follow if we have troubles in the future!
    I don't know where you've been me lad, but I see you won first Prize!
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    kestrel's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by wireweinie View Post
    How did you verify that the master relay closed?
    The silence suggested it did not. ...insufficient voltage from the battery in spite of voltage being good doing the previous flight (that it had been hand propped for)

    I'm sure that if I had access to the electrical system, there are quite a number of things i could have done to get the alternator running.

    My bad. You mentioned replacing an EarthX and I made the assumption that it was in this aircraft.
    No biggie.

    i am quite satisfied that the failed lead-acid battery was diagnosed and fixed/replaced. I was just trying to make the point that all of these things can fail and single data points prove little.
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  32. #32
    kestrel's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by mike mcs repair View Post
    The other thought, did you put the acid in the battery if the old style?
    Yup. It worked great for about 3-4 years.
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  33. #33
    kestrel's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by mike mcs repair View Post
    You weren’t getting any output out of your charging system you were only running off battery.
    ...had full voltage on prior couple of flights after hand propping and turning on the master. Had full voltage at shutdown when we got it home. A few days later, when it was time to deliver it for servicing, the battery was a good door stop and not so good at closing the master relay.

    The simple act of changing the battery could have cleaned the bad connection. Just because you can get power out of a battery does NOT mean you can push power back into it if you have a dirty connection. Or a hung up brush or wore out one.
    I'm not going to say this is impossible, but in general, a bad connection does not act like a diode. If power flows one way, it will flow the other. We had a couple legs getting home where we flew and shut down with full voltage and electrics, but the battery was unable to start the engine a short time later.

    When we got it in for service, the alternator was inspected and found to be fully functional. The certified, lead-acid Concord battery was found to be a door stop.

    If I recall approximately correctly, it went from working "fine" to a door stop in 2 taxi starts and one flight home? The leg to service after that it was no good. It had to be hand propped for all but maybe one taxi start early in the sequence.

    Number 2. Just because you hear a relay close, does not mean it is internally making a good connection
    In the end, the relay didn't close: climb in the airplane, flip the master and nothing but the sounds of silence. No relay. Not even a chance to try cranking with the battery.
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  34. #34
    www.SkupTech.com mike mcs repair's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by kestrel View Post
    I'm not going to say this is impossible, but in general, a bad connection does not act like a diode. If power flows one way, it will flow the other. ..
    actually VERY common... and is STEP #1 of troubleshooting charging problems is to remove and clean ALL connections in circuit..

  35. #35
    Gordon Misch's Avatar
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    Easiest way to check for high resistance of master or start solenoid is to use a voltmeter.
    Agreed, and as I know you'd point out, same for all of the segments of the circuit. I'm just a little shy of working too close to a moving meat-grinder.
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    sjohnson's Avatar
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    Windy,
    How are your engine and starter grounded? The braided ground strap that bridges the engine mount is notoriously unreliable. (this suggestion in addition to all the other great suggestions)
    Democracy dies in conformity
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  37. #37
    kestrel's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by mike mcs repair View Post
    actually VERY common... and is STEP #1 of troubleshooting charging problems is to remove and clean ALL connections in circuit..
    I'm not sure what your point is. The alternator was bench tested and found to be operating correctly. The battery was bench tested and found to be a door stop. The battery was replaced and everything works fine now.
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  38. #38
    www.SkupTech.com mike mcs repair's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by kestrel View Post
    I'm not sure what your point is. The alternator was bench tested and found to be operating correctly....
    I'm done, you answered your own question, but you missed it... good luck

  39. #39
    Gordon Misch's Avatar
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    Mike, I think he's asking about directionality of resistance at connections, rather than the mere existence of resistance. I too would be interested in how that might work.
    Gordon

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  40. #40
    kestrel's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by mike mcs repair View Post
    I'm done, you answered your own question, but you missed it... good luck
    The disconnect may be that I didn't post a question, other than those attempting to understand your comments. I posted a point that, with example, that certified lead-acid batteries also fail. Additionally, they can do so rather suddenly and completely. It sounds like Lou's EarthX failure gave more warning than my Concord failure.
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