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I have an indoor plant ecosystem "light and fan" controller board that stopped working.

Discussion in 'Troubleshooting and Repair' started by alex ezorsky-lie, Sep 21, 2017.

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  1. alex ezorsky-lie

    alex ezorsky-lie

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    0
    Aug 27, 2015
    A friend of mine recently picked up a free grove labs indoor aquaponics ecosystem, . Basically it's an aquaponics tank above a fish tank and they feed eachother using pumps and drip systems. There are also lights, one for the fish and one for the plants, and there's an additional set of fans for the plants (though not totally necessary). My friend says it was working before we moved it. The company has since tanked (pun intended) and their support is not helpful.

    So currently nothing we do helps in getting anything in the system (lights/fans) to turn on. The power supply light is green. There is also a removable chip on the board labeled "SPARK" with a slowly glowing white light. So it seems there is power.

    The board has two modes:

    "Grove OS" - Where cycle length, power etc. can be programmed via your phone app by connecting via wifi

    "Control panel" - Where these functions can be set manually by dials on the board.

    The control panel mode seems most easily testable and least likely to fail so that's the method I'm trying to get working first but so far I have tried:

    1. Both OS and CPanel mode
    2. Every switch combo on CPanel mode (including constant on for lights and fan)
    3. Unplugging the power supply and all internal plugs, plugging them back in, and then plugging AC back in.
    4. Pressing the two little buttons on the SPARK circuit. (the left one turns the little chip light off when pressed)
    5. Holding down the two little buttons on the SPARK circuit for at least 5 seconds each and also together.
    6. Plugging the lights and fans into different plug ports (there are 4 options for fans/peripheral, 3 for lights, and 4 for sensors)

    I've done some minimal parts testing and I will update this list as I test more things:

    So far the readouts for:
    12V (TP12/TP_GND) - 11.95V
    5V (TP5V/TP_GND) - 4.95V
    TP_A3 (connection from board to CPanel) - 0.24V
    TP_A1 (light block) 2.48V

    I know this is an unusual device, but it is also much more simple than most of the TV's etc. I see people getting help with on these forums. It would also be a fantastic thing if we could solve this problem as the company donated a handful of these setups to local schools and they are experiencing similar problems.

    Thanks!

    MAIN BOARD
    IMG_4130.jpg

    COMPLETE SETUP
    IMG_4129.jpg


    POWER SUPPLY GREEN LIGHT (lower right) IMG_4115.jpg


    LITTLE "SPARK" BOARD AND LIGHT (I think this is the programmable "Brain" which allows for wifi stuff too. Maybe a Pi knockoff?) IMG_4123.jpg


    LIGHTS AND FANS (There is another light as well)
    IMG_4122.jpg


    THE PANEL (setup the way I imagine should me most likely to turn something on) (also none of the lights on the front panel light up)
    IMG_4121.jpg
     
    Last edited: Sep 21, 2017
  2. alex ezorsky-lie

    alex ezorsky-lie

    24
    0
    Aug 27, 2015
    So far the readouts for the 12V (TP12/TP_GND) and 5V (TP5V/TP_GND) show correct voltages
     
  3. kellys_eye

    kellys_eye

    4,276
    1,146
    Jun 25, 2010
    There are likely to be at least two or three power supply voltages - a 5V supply for the logic circuits (which appears to be ok) and 12V (likely) to power the fans and 48V for the lights.

    We can assume the 5V is OK as all the board (logic) LEDs are lit. You should measure the 12V and 48V supplies to see if they are ok.

    The 12V and 48V are visible on your first picture, at the top of the circuit board, and test points are marked as TP and TP_GND on both voltages.

    Please test them and report back your findings.
     
  4. alex ezorsky-lie

    alex ezorsky-lie

    24
    0
    Aug 27, 2015
    So far the readouts for:
    48V (TP48/TP_GND) - 39.5 (culprit?)
    12V (TP12/TP_GND) - 11.95V
    5V (TP5V/TP_GND) - 4.95V
    TP_A3 (connection from board to CPanel) - 0.24V
    TP_A1 (light block) 2.48V

    Thanks!
     
  5. alex ezorsky-lie

    alex ezorsky-lie

    24
    0
    Aug 27, 2015
    the 48 seems to be the clearest readout problem but I feel like the fact that only .24V are leading to the front CPanel with all the switches (and a few LED's which don't light up) could be a big problem since that panel turns things on. No?
     
  6. alex ezorsky-lie

    alex ezorsky-lie

    24
    0
    Aug 27, 2015

    Hey Kellys_eye, thanks for your help!

    I've posted the voltage readouts above. As for the 48V readout it turns out there was a small potentiometer on the power supply and I turned it up. Now it reads 48V exactly.....So far no help though :/
     
  7. kellys_eye

    kellys_eye

    4,276
    1,146
    Jun 25, 2010
    Test the battery on the edge of the board (CR1225, 3V beside the CLOCK label).

    The unit seems to rely on this to check the time for the on/off intervals as it is a 'real time clock' circuit and, without the information, may default to an 'all-off' situation to prevent harm to plants/animals.

    Do you have the instructions necessary to SET the clock - which you'll have to do at some time in its working life? There doesn't appear to be any external controls to do so.

    You could - as a last resort - connect a USB cable to the 'SPARK' board.

    https://www.adafruit.com/product/2127

    This is a module originally made and supplied by 'adafruit' no longer available, superseded by their 'particle photon' board (not directly compatible). By connecting via USB it 'might' run a built-in routine for setting its parameters (clock etc) and you can follow the on-screen instructions from there.

    Absolute worst case is that the SPARK board needs reprogramming and for that you would have to find a source for the code - maybe the manufacturers could help?
     
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