The new "Clearwater Voltage Sentry" (CVS) is here!
This is one cool product! We wanted a simple voltage monitor for motorcycles to warn of any undercharge conditions. In our business, it is important for us to know how much power a motorcycle really has available.
Clearwater recently purchased a Suzuki DR650 project bike. The idea was to outfit the bike with our lights, heated grips and garment outlets. We wanted a way to determine when the factory electrical system would be overloaded, so we strapped on a digital volt meter with a bungee cord and rode around town. As this was not a practical solution, we purchased a few LED volt meters found in auto parts stores and online retailers.
In testing the purchased volt meters, we found them not only inaccurate, but we were unable to find any that matched results! In fact, none matched our calibrated HP power supply - some were 10-15% off! In further testing, we put them in the freezer and found the accuracy further compromised.
Time for the digital age. We set out to design the best and most accurate voltage minder for not only motorcycles, but any vehicle with a 12 volt battery and charging system. We used a microprocessor based system of voltage measurement to illuminate a single LED in three different colors and with six different display voltages.
Our design goals were to provide a product that had a very low power consumption, would be simple to use, maintain thermal stability, accuracy, reliability, and flexibility. As is the case with most of our products, we used a digital design where we were able to tailor all aspects of the design in software. Calibration is completed on a lab bench upon initial activation against a very accurate 12.000 volt source. Each processor learns this voltage and makes all subsequent measurements against this programmed value. No varying resistive voltage dividers and wide tolerance transistors here. All of this in a voltage meter the size of a matchbox!
A simple two wire connection is all that is needed. One connects our unit directly to either constant power or switched power. A clever "power down" routine is designed into the device to eliminate any excessive power usage. The indicator LED is only illuminated when either the engine is running (thus indicating a charging system status) or for a short time period after the engine is turned off. After the device determines that the engine is now off, it initiates a timed sequence to display the battery voltage for short period (5 minutes). Then it shuts down the LED (saving what little power is used by an LED). The computer constantly checks for any change in voltage that would indicate a need for a "re-display" of voltage status. The computer uses only microamps of current to perform this "sentry" duty. Far more power is lost in the battery due to natural self discharge. So, when the engine is off, the sentry displays battery voltage. When the engine starts, it displays maximum system voltage. There is no need to make separate battery and alternator connections with our system. If you want to review the battery voltage, just turn on the key for a second and the computer will instantly wake up and light the correct color LED. Now you can monitor both without fear of draining the battery. The simple to mount CVS displays all three colors needed.
Wide temperature variations are common on outdoor vehicles and our design is impervious to any "human" survivable temperature. From -40 degrees up to 200 degrees, our CVS is dead solid accurate.
Without strapping a high quality Volt meter onto the triple clamp and monitoring voltages around town, the CVS allows instantaneous monitoring of your battery/alternator system. This system is the most accurate voltage monitoring device of its kind anywhere. Accuracy is better than 1/4 of a percent!
The Clearwater Voltage Sentry is a very useful and accurate tool to monitor voltage. If the light is green, you are good to go; yellow means there is a slight cause for attention. A red light conveys that your battery is definitely not charging; shut off accessories one at a time until you get a green or slow flashing green condition. If you are running a pair of our Kristas on your bike (total power usage 72 watts) you might only need to switch off your high beam to lower your power usage while stopped at a light. Once you get moving again (and spinning your alternator faster) you can switch back to high beam or the high setting on your heated garment!
You can very easily tell if additional accessories are drawing more power than your bike can supply. A simple Green/Yellow/Red LED displays 6 stages of battery voltage.
Flashing Red: Indicates Less than 11.5 volts (12.7 volts on Shorai battery). This is not a good condition for the battery, and could indicate a starved or defective battery. Get a charger on this battery immediately and check to see if it will come back to life.
Solid Red :Indicates between 11.6 and 12.0 volts (12.7 and 12.8 volts on Shorai battery). Weak battery, start and run the engine for a while or get a charger. If this persists after charging, the battery needs to be replaced. If this occurs while the bike is running, your alternator is bad or severely overloaded.
Solid Yellow: Indicates between 12.1 and 12.4 volts (12.9 and 13.1 volts on Shorai battery). This indicates the battery needs to be recharged. If this occurs while the bike is running, it means you are drawing a lot more power than the alternator is generating, and potentially a bad alternator.
Solid Green:Between 12.5 and 13.1 volts (13.2 and 13.4 volts on Shorai battery). Good battery condition with the bike off; poor to weak charging condition with the bike running. This can also indicate your accessories are drawing too much power. Note: some bikes do not generate sufficient power at idle. This can be normal. If you get the solid green light while your bike is idling, run the engine faster and it should start flashing green.
Slow Flashing Green :Indicates between 13.2 and 14.6 volts (13.5 and 14.8 volts on Shorai battery). The battery is charging properly.
Fast Flashing Green: The battery is over 14.6 volts (14.8 volts on Shorai battery). This indicates an abnormal overcharging situation that could indicate a faulty alternator. Get your electrical system evaluated immediately.
All you have to remember is: "GREEN IS GOOD"
Vibration is not an issue as all of our parts are securely mounted directly on a high quality multi-layer PCB. To further improve reliability, each assembly is sealed in epoxy in an injection molded enclosure.
As our product is completely controlled by software, we can change all the parameters with code. If an application is needed for a different voltage indication range (say Li-ions in your new Tesla) we can easily make the change. We also have a voltage "map" for the new Li-Fe batteries such as the popular "Shorai" batteries.
We are very excited about our new CVS. Once again, a need creates a new product!