FCB-1 Information, Functions, and Troubleshooting

The FCB-1 is Firgelli's newest synchronization component. Similar to the old-model SYNC-X boxes; this device will maintain synchronous control over all attached feedback actuators; keeping them within 1/8" over the course of motion. All attached actuators will operate as one unit without individual actuator control.

Setup Video

The Homing and Calibration routines do not use any FCB settings. They will not listen to limit settings or speed settings. Both of these setup steps will run all attached actuators at full speed to the physical limit switches at each end of the actuators; any unit-to-unit speed differences will not be accounted for. 

2024 version update: The current-gen FCB-1 now has a feedback off function - meaning you can connect  any 12vDC actuator to the box and have them run as one unit. The synchronous precision will not be maintained, as the FCB-1 is simply acting as a power distributor box with timers.

The FCB will allow you to limit each end of the actuator’s stroke, as well as set a speed for extension and retraction. These settings are a percentage of the actuator’s maximum capabilities, as controlled by the “actuator settings” on the board. The FCB will not increase the speed of actuators.

The FCB also has 5 weekly timers and one interval timer built in. Each "weekly timer" allows you to set a time of day to extend and a time to retract. It will follow this time schedule to operate on specific days of the week, as set by the user. To use the weekly delay timers, you will need to set the date and time on the FCB in System Settings. Note the date is not a standard format - it is in YY / MM / DD format. (Example: February 3rd, 2001 would be 01/02/03)

FCB Caveats and Solutions:

If the FCB loses or is removed from power, the board will think that the units are fully retracted when it is plugged back in. The computer 'brain' initializes with the current position set as the 'home' position; which causes this consideration. We have 3 possible work-around/procedures for dealing with this condition:

  1. If you can fully retract (“home”) the actuators before removing power -or- run the homing sequence immediately after power is restored, your system will resume normal function.
  2. Customers have used 12v back-up batteries to prevent FCB power loss, which eliminates the need for homing.
  3. Lastly, The FCB cannot tell the difference between internal limit switches and external limit switches in the actuator's motor circuit; so, in applications that cannot allow a full retraction, an external limit switch can serve as a ‘hard stop’ for the system without confusing the FCB ‘brain’, though, some FCB settings may need to be adjusted for precision. This concept may be applicable to other types of circuit breakers.

Electrical Considerations

The FCB will tolerate up to 10A per channel, or 40A total. The Board itself will draw up to 3A during operation [proportional to actuator load], and less than 0.1A when idle (screen off).

We have 2 actuator lines with a high current draw, the Power Max and Industrial Heavy Duty actuators. Both of these units can pull 20 amps at full load or during startup – this current draw is too high for most of our out-of-the-box controllers, including the FCB-1. If you use Power Max units on the FCB-1, they will only have about half their total force capabilities.

Due to this, it may be necessary to set your system up differently.

The 12v version of our 500lbs Bullet .50 Actuators can pull 10A at startup or max load – 10A is the maximum allowable current per channel on the FCB. If you are using the 500# units, you must leave the speed settings at 100%. This is because power is equal to the voltage multiplied by the amperage (P=i*V); voltage is directly correlated to the speed of the actuator; amperage is directly correlated with force. When the controllers lower the speed (voltage) fed into the motor, it must also raise the current (amps) to ensure the same amount of power is applied. With the 10A draw units, this can cause the FCB to adjust the amps beyond the FCB capabilities, which would result overcurrent errors.

Calibration/Synchronization Issues (Feedback Only)

Usually, issues with the board are because of a sensor-connection error. Most of your sensor-feedback actuator wires are for the sensor circuit, so double check that they are all well connected within the green cradles and there are no cuts or holes in the wire.

The “Stuck” error means that your FCB can’t see the sensor return-signal from the actuators. This could be due to loose or incomplete wire connections, voltage drop over a wire run, a bad port on the board, a bad sensor inside the actuator, or an external component (like the POCT). Your actuator motors are working fine if the unit is moving at all.

Troubleshooting Steps:

  1. Switch the green terminal connectors around on the board and attempt to home and calibrate again. Note whether the ‘stuck’ code is following the actuator, or the position on the board.
  2. You may also set all DIP switches to down and test the calibration of one actuator at a time.
    • If the problem actuator(s) still say they are “stuck” when it is the only one connected, we know that’s the problem unit. Check the wiring of the problem actuator for damage.
    1. Then, remove the problem actuator, and re-connect all working units, adjust DIP switches and re-home, re-calibrate, re-test to ensure that the remaining actuators and FCB are communicating with each other.
    You will either end up with a specific unit that doesn’t function with your FCB, or none of your units will function correctly (which means the problem lies in the FCB itself). Report back with findings and we can go from there for further TS or Warranty claims.
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