test

Weak Area 51 ALX motorized front panel

nitricacid

Member
Joined
Apr 18, 2020
Messages
12
Hi,

So I was lucky enough to find a Area 51 ALX Motorized front panel (listed as NEW). I purchased the proper MIO (MIO ver: 604GC listed as NEW). After the install and MIO swap I was not able to get the Motor to work. It made no noises when I pressed the alien head button. Which was strange. I was pretty sure I got a dud until after verifying my sensors, motor, and button worked with a multimeter and a 5v 1A power bank. It appears to work fine with the 5v 1A power bank powering the motor up and down without issues. I got continuity with both end stops (up and down) and the alien head button...

Now that I re installed the cables to the MIO the button engaged the motor but there are some issues.

1. the motor brings the door up quickly almost all the way up, but doesn't hit the end stop at the top. So it reaches as far as it will go then "stops" and rolls back down a few inches. (I can help it to the very top and it will hold.)

2. once it is in this partially down position, I press the alien head and it goes down very slowly till it stops and I have to press the button again. It goes slowly down about an inch. I press it again to get it to goes down an inch, almost all the way down. But it never hits the end stop at the bottom. (again I can help it all the way down and it will then go up as stated in #1 when I press the button .)

My question: Is this MIO a dud? I have a hard time believing the motor is at fault due to the fact that the 5v 1a power bank will do the job..

Have you ever seen a MIO work in this way? .. not providing ample power to the motor? ..the parts do appear new. no dust. no apparent blemishes.. I'm just not sure what part is truly to blame and what can be done to troubleshoot/fix the issue at hand.

I'd appreciate any advice! I still have 27 days to return the MIO or the front bezel since I bought them on ebay.

Thank you!
 

Cass-Olé

Member
Joined
Jan 9, 2013
Messages
205
I'd say to make sure you're using CmndCntr 2.08 or 2.11, so that the MIO board firmware is as up-to-date as it can get

I assume you have a standard Area-51 case & you've attempted to motorize front panel, I say that since you also bought 604GC as opposed to your case already having the ALX-type MIO, thus the reason you don't have another MIO on hand. The reasons or the backstory for not having a spare MIO there don't matter in the end I suppose … I assume you bench-tested with the front panel laying down?, standing up?, & now it's installed onto case upright & the motor action is weak?

I doubt age will affect the motor & your tests say it does work when given a good power source, but I'm not sure if your initial tests with good action were when panel was down flat or upright fighting gravity etc); also, the stock PSUs are now 10years old (& so are MIOs) so either your PSU might have a weak / aged 5volt rail, or, MIO might have a bad/aged board component. I can't say I've heard of weak motor action when using new (old stock) parts but it's 2020 & so who knows & plus the PSU isn't new anymore either

The design is supposed to be that when PSU is plugged into wall & system is off, all ALX models can motor down by pressing the button (& then motor up if needed). When plugged in but system off, MIO should have an Orange tell-tale LED lit that says it has 5Volts (stand-by) power ready > naturally if u open the side panel your theatre lights come on & u can see Orange LED lit > & from there the motor is live & ready & will motor down (I assume it's so a DVD tray can be quickly accessed / opened later after powering system up). Test #1 might be, PSU plugged into wall / system off > press button to test action > motor it down, then back up (if nothing happens when button pressed, I might power up > enter Bios > make sure 'enable power in S5' is enabled etc, power down & retry)

Whether u saw an improvement in action or not, Test #2 might be to unplug all items from DVD area (SATA/MOLEX 4pin), unplug from MIO the PCI-Mid-Fan & both HDD Fans > power system on, use Keyboard to enter Bios screen & then unplug keyboard mouse (unplugging these items is an attempt to free-up 5Volts from the PSU & allow motor/MIO access to a good supply of available amps etc) … now try the motor switch & see if action is weak or if action improved. Either way, u might entertain powering down > unplug other items from MIO like all top vents parts & all exterior LEDs > power up & repeat test & see if unplugging further items had an affect

Either way, power down & consider a Test #3 which might be > system off/unplugged > remove the side door panel & battery shroud (& PCI-Mid-Fan) - gain access to MIO FrtPnl Motor & Switch connectors & back them out of the case - now apply your 5volts to the motor with your external power source & see if the smooth up smooth down action is restored (this is a basic repeat of your initial bench-test, but with panel installed onto case, you're free to duplicate any tests u did prior, so long as the connector ends are accessible etc)

After these three simple tests, it might not be possible to isolate the true culprit but u might make some guesses

If in Test#1 (everything off & so all power directs to motor) u saw good action, that could imply a good 5VSB rail & good MIO

If in test #2 you saw an improved action (with items unplugged from MIO), we might suspect the PSU has a weak 5Volt rail but that is all I can do is suspect it, not prove it. One option might be a 4th test where u move away from the server-grade 38mm ~1.5Amp PCI-Mid-Fan & perhaps the identical Rad-Fan, change to a fan-type with less amps (0.5Amps or less)

We'll assume test 3 went ok (panel in upright position using your power source) but if no improvements were seen in test 1 or 2 (perhaps where in test 2 almost all items were unplugged from MIO as part of that test), it could point at a faulty MIO, an even weaker 5VSB or 5Volt rail, or maybe both or all three at the same time. Regardless, w/no improvement seen in test 1 or 2, it'd be far easier to exchange the MIO (or perhaps buy another one from same people & return it if it too didn't help … if a 2nd unit didn't help then I'd suspect the 5Volt-side of the PSU aged out). I've asked myself what I'd do if this is what I was seeing here if I installed X504R bezel w/an otherwise new (or used) 604GC while using the stock PSU to power them, &, while it's possible u conduct test 1-3 & report back what u saw there, it could be I may not be able to tell u what the true culprit is or might be here in a future reply. The motor sounds good, however MIOs & even basic 1000w stock PSUs can approach $50 if u were to attempt parts swaps which is no small amount, while testing with an aftermarket PSU may not be practical since they can't power the MIO board. One way to justify testing with another stock PSU (whether it solves this or not) is to chalk it up to investing in an emergency spare for the future

Last, it occurs to me it'd be a toss-up as to whether to (potentially) later return that 604GC for an exchange (u may even buy another one for testing then return that 2nd unit if it doesn't help, so long as the seller finds that acceptable), or simply return that one & source one from someone else (to avoid a 'bad batch' scenario from this same seller, although that's highly unlikely which is why it's a toss-up). A part of me also wonders if the $40 FWKNT would make a good candidate since SunshineEx in Texas gets new/used surplus items direct from Dell HQ ('used parts' but from Dell parted-out systems or returns etc) … report back?
 

nitricacid

Member
Joined
Apr 18, 2020
Messages
12
Thank you so much for the advice! this really has been perplexing...

So a bit more about the pc. It has a one month old 1200w corsair psu with a z490 motherboard. I should have mentioned it.. It just passed my mind because I was trying to be as detailed as I could regarding the problem. Also, I did check to see that I have the highest version of CC possible for my setup.. and I do. No problems there..

That being said, I know there wouldn't be an issue with the power supply. I know that the previous owner of this case had someone on this forum make them a power supply adapter for the MIO. He never mentioned a name or Username.. but the adapter is very well made and I see no reason to doubt power delivery to the MIO. All other aspects of the MIO work flawlessly. The vents and lighting are solid.. and I have no fans attached to the MIO.

As you recommended I tested with the front panel installed. The motor really responds well with my 5v 1A power bank. It goes up and down without fault! I thought it may be an issue with adjusting the door/gear position.. due to initial testing when laying down, but that is not an issue at all with 5v from the power bank. I then tested with the PC off. Same problem. Then I tried with disconnecting the vent motor and the door closed (so internal lights off).. and again same problem. So you are right! The motor wasn't the problem... and if the power supply isn't the issue, I'd bet that it is something to do with the MIO being faulty.

Have you had any experience with the FWKNT MIO? I read somewhere that the 604GC is power compliant with some standard.. can't remember the name of it off the top of my head. I only mentioned it because I'm not sure if the power compliance is a "energy saving" type thing.

I'll get in contact with the seller and check out other options with SunshineEX. I'll post an update once I have everything taken care of.. This problem was something I had never seen in any forum or anywhere online. Very confusing.. Thanks again for the advice I honestly had no idea of how to narrow it down.
 

Cass-Olé

Member
Joined
Jan 9, 2013
Messages
205
It's probable I made the MIO Corsair PSU adaptor (if you're using the original AX1200 then I know the prior owner, if you have AX1200i then I made many of those but probably know or at least did business w/the last owner). 604GC is ErP energy compliant (I believe) & I run only that model here, but wouldnt hesitate to buy the FWKNT though haven't owned one yet, the answer is yes that model is fine to buy & try however a new 604GC is an equaly good bet, though I might try a different vendor next time, it's hard to say who where or what to buy in order to fix this ... at some point, the mere act of trying a differtent one could lead to an answer. Your issue isn't normal, and, what part to swap out to finally fix it is looking like an MIO but I can't prove it. $50 isnt the end of the world though to attempt a fix if it came to that. The motor sounds good, but from here it's just a good guess it is ... PSU still good?, I dunno, I'd like to think so. Keep us posted
 

nitricacid

Member
Joined
Apr 18, 2020
Messages
12
I thought it might have been you who made the connector HAHA.. I really appreciate all the help you offer members here. Trying to rebuild and re-purpose old tech is a headache all on it's own but having someone experienced give advice is the best you could hope for!

The seller replied and offered to replace the 604GC MIO with another one or I could pay 10 dollars more for a FWKNT.. they both are considered "NEW" surplus. If you have successfully used the 604GC then I won't question if power compliance is an issue. I'm just hoping it isn't a case of a bad batch.. regardless I'll swap it out because I only need to pay return shipping. I can use my old non alx MIO until the replacement arrives.
 

nitricacid

Member
Joined
Apr 18, 2020
Messages
12
OK! ..So Everything works now!

I got the replacement 604GC MIO from the seller and installed it. Now the motor works perfectly. Doesn't struggle and go down/up slowly and get stuck every few inches.. Full power up / down.. hits the top and bottom sensor as it should.

Such a strange thing to see from "New" surplus.. I would have never thought it to be a faulty MIO that would cause a weak motor. Everything else on the faulty MIO worked. So it was hard to narrow it down without your testing suggestions.

Thank you so much!
 
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