Help with Skystream turbine

greenmovementgreenmovement Registered Users Posts: 9
I was hoping I might be able to find someone on here for some help on troubleshooting one of these skystream 3.7 turbines? been trying to get skystream to honor their warranty on the device with no avail after about a year of trying.

the unit is locked completely blades do not spin and it doesn't rotate on top of the tower either . and we can't connect to it wirelessly. there is power at the top of the tower. and there are no signs of shorts or any clues of water getting inside. I guess it could be a countless number of things. It is located in Ohio and I've read numerous things about the cold causing problems with these things.
any sort of help would be appreciate. this things been nothing but a $15,000 lawn ornament for a year and it'd be awesome to get it working since this company doesn't want to honor it's warranty agreement.
thanks!

Comments

  • CariboocootCariboocoot Banned Posts: 17,615 ✭✭
    Re: Help with Skystream turbine

    Welcome to the forum.

    We're going to start you out with your very own thread! :D 'Cause this is bound to get complicated.

    One thing I'll warn you about right now: it's almost 100% certain you are going to have to take that turbine down from the tower.
  • greenmovementgreenmovement Registered Users Posts: 9
    Re: Help with Skystream turbine

    well thanks!

    it's already down actually.
  • CariboocootCariboocoot Banned Posts: 17,615 ✭✭
    Re: Help with Skystream turbine
    well thanks!

    it's already down actually.

    Well there's half the battle. :D

    Now you know you'll have to take it apart. Either the bearings are seized or the coils have expanded inside and locked it up. It does not have good prospects.
  • inetdoginetdog Solar Expert Posts: 3,123 ✭✭✭✭
    Re: Help with Skystream turbine
    Well there's half the battle. :D

    Now you know you'll have to take it apart. Either the bearings are seized or the coils have expanded inside and locked it up. It does not have good prospects.
    And even if the prospects are good, do you have good reason (wind survey, etc, or else experience while it was working) to expect that you will get enough power from it to make the effort worthwhile? How long did it work before it seized up?
    How tall is your tower?
    SMA SB 3000, old BP panels.
  • greenmovementgreenmovement Registered Users Posts: 9
    Re: Help with Skystream turbine

    have had it taken apart also. haha. the bearings seem to be fine. there doesn't seem to be anything rubbing. the consensus of the group we have working on it is something happened to cause it to lock down like it would say if you were to lose power to it.
  • inetdoginetdog Solar Expert Posts: 3,123 ✭✭✭✭
    Re: Help with Skystream turbine
    have had it taken apart also. haha. the bearings seem to be fine. there doesn't seem to be anything rubbing. the consensus of the group we have working on it is something happened to cause it to lock down like it would say if you were to lose power to it.

    There has to be some way for it to operate without outside power, or it would be next to useless if your batteries went dead. More likely something has failed in the braking mechanism and it is not releasing. The brakes should kick in if you lost the LOAD while it was getting a lot of wind and generating power, since it was the load that was keeping the RPM under control.

    Will you now tell us that you have already disassembled the brake (or maybe the broke?)?
    You seem to be one step ahead of us. Is this a test? :-)
    SMA SB 3000, old BP panels.
  • greenmovementgreenmovement Registered Users Posts: 9
    Re: Help with Skystream turbine

    since 09 until last year. 45 foot tower. it's at the alternative energy building I attend school in. like I said its just sitting there doing nothing and the company after over a year of trying get them to do something about it won't fix it or replace it.
  • inetdoginetdog Solar Expert Posts: 3,123 ✭✭✭✭
    Re: Help with Skystream turbine
    since 09 until last year. 45 foot tower. it's at the alternative energy building I attend school in. like I said its just sitting there doing nothing and the company after over a year of trying get them to do something about it won't fix it or replace it.

    Any turbine will need maintenance (or at least inspection) at least once per year. If lubrication, etc. cannot be done at the top of the tower, it has to come down eventually for that. Some manufacturers or sellers tell you that their sealed equipment will last for 20 years with no maintenance. That is just not true.
    If it has not been maintained properly, three years is pretty good. The brake mechanism is particularly subject to wear and damage, especially if you have good wind and a poor controller and the brake gets used a lot.
    SMA SB 3000, old BP panels.
  • greenmovementgreenmovement Registered Users Posts: 9
    Re: Help with Skystream turbine

    this thing is grid tied. so no batteries here. haha. the lock down is only supposed to happen when power is lost or if there is an internal fault or if there is a different in frequency between it and the utility. this is what the manual states anyways. and no the manual hasnt been disassembled yet.
  • BB.BB. Super Moderators, Administrators Posts: 31,055 admin
    Re: Help with Skystream turbine

    I don't know the internals of the Skystream... But there are generally two reasons for the blades to stop spinning. First is a short on the output--either accidental or on purpose (i.e., shorting the output to put maximum torque on the alternator--blades should spin very slowly in high winds).

    The other is mechanical... Mechanical brake (does a skystream even have one?) or a problem with bearings or something binding inside (which you said is not apparent).

    And then there is another famous Skystream problem. They never put a tail on the thing. They relied on the top of the tower being dead level to the earth's gravitational field. What has happened to many of the turbines is that the towers cannot be kept level. There is the initial setup, or tower sections coming loose in the middle, or even the sun heating 1/2 of the pole and canting the tower away from the sun. (and, of course, there is always the possibility of the yaw bearing/assembly binding/failure).

    Because there is not enough moment arm (and apparently surface area from the blades) to overcome minor leveling problems, many turbines simply point one direction and just sit there (heavy side to low spot). And they never align to the wind, or they take very strong winds to align.

    So, of the above issues, which do you believe is happening? Of course, there is always the possibility of several problems at once.

    The fact that you cannot communicate via the wireless link is not a good sign--But there have been (as I recall reading around) problems with earlier units having unreliable communications (but they would spin and generate power even if not linked to the monitoring station--I believe).

    The chances of getting this guy working correctly is pretty small--So, I would look at it being an educational project and make sure you don't spend any money that you cannot justify sending down a (possible) black hole. (in my humble opinion).

    -Bill
    Near San Francisco California: 3.5kWatt Grid Tied Solar power system+small backup genset
  • greenmovementgreenmovement Registered Users Posts: 9
    Re: Help with Skystream turbine

    We will be working it more this week. might be able to narrow it down. I'm pretty much operating off of hear say and guesses based on a fairly basic knowledge of how this thing works.at this point. it seems, from what I've read on this forum and other forums, that these things have had a slew of problems.

    there is no mechanical break. it just uses a dynamic breaking system.

    also another thing I think might mention is at that the main disconnect it's wired directly with an inverter from a solar tracker before it goes inside to the panel box . I've read that differences in waveforms may also cause it to go into this brake mode. I don't know if how they have these things wired at that point might effect something?

    good news is is that we have one that wasn't installed because they ran out of money for the project. haha. the main board where the inverters are is slightly different though.
  • BB.BB. Super Moderators, Administrators Posts: 31,055 admin
    Re: Help with Skystream turbine
    also another thing I think might mention is at that the main disconnect it's wired directly with an inverter from a solar tracker before it goes inside to the panel box . I've read that differences in waveforms may also cause it to go into this brake mode. I don't know if how they have these things wired at that point might effect something?

    In theory, a Listed (UL/NRTL) Grid Tied inverter (connected to solar array or other means) should have a sine wave output and not affect the operation of any other attached equipment.

    The only major issue could be--for example your site runs at ~255 VAC (near the 264 VAC that seems to be "high limit" for North American power) and you add the output of a substantial GT Inverter power source... The added current (with small loads) can cause a voltage "rise" from the main panel back out to the utility transformer (especially an issue if you have a long cable run from the GT+Skystream inverters mounted a distance away from the main panel)... Which causes the voltage read by the GT inverter to be >~260-264 volts or so (to allow for manufacturing variations in voltage set points).

    My personal opinion is that mounting a GT Inverter in the pod of the Skystream was a design mistake. It puts relatively sensitive electronics on the top of a 60+ foot pole, then shakes&bakes the electronics (vibration from operation, temperature/humidity/difficulty sealing against weather extremes, and even the occasional lighting strike). And adds the costs/hassles of how to service the (somewhat problematic electronics) at the top of same pole.

    -Bill
    Near San Francisco California: 3.5kWatt Grid Tied Solar power system+small backup genset
  • PowersPowers Solar Expert Posts: 36
    Re: Help with Skystream turbine

    I would like to inform you that NTP Wind Power has an upgrade kit available for the Skystream. If you fail with the repair, please look at what NTP has to offer.
    The Skysteam has a quality RFPM generator and blades. As a manufacture of down wind and upwind Linear Pitch wind turbines, we paid attention to what is going on with wind.
    If the Skystream is located at a good site without turbulence, the blades and generator will last for years. If you have a turbulent site, we recommend that you remove the turbine. The blades could fail and become a serious hazard.
    Since NTP has experience with downwind turbines using electronics to regulate RPM in high winds, it made sense for us to provide an outboard electronics package that is located off the tower and on the ground.
    The upgrade kit comes with a new inverter, Mercury slip rings and the NTP Rev Limiter / controller. We send the electronics fully wired for the exception of the wild AC in from the turbine and the grid power. The warranty on all the new upgraded electronics is 5 years.
    Please call us for more details.



    Thank you,


    Charles Spoto

    NTP Wind Power Inc can be reached by phone, fax, and e-mail.
    Crystal Lake, Illinois 60014
    Email; [email protected]
    WWW.NTPWIND.COM
    Fax Number (815) 568-8478
    24-Hour Cell / Int Charles Spoto 815-345-1931
  • BB.BB. Super Moderators, Administrators Posts: 31,055 admin
    Re: Help with Skystream turbine

    Sounds interesting Charles.

    By the way, has anyone ever worked to add some sort of tail to the skystream to get them to track the wind better (up wind or down wind)?

    -Bill
    Near San Francisco California: 3.5kWatt Grid Tied Solar power system+small backup genset
  • PowersPowers Solar Expert Posts: 36
    Re: Help with Skystream turbine

    This can be done fairly easy as we did entertain this option for down the road. A new hub will need to be made to remove the coning built into the SS hub.
  • greenmovementgreenmovement Registered Users Posts: 9
    Re: Help with Skystream turbine
    BB. wrote: »
    I don't know the internals of the Skystream... But there are generally two reasons for the blades to stop spinning. First is a short on the output--either accidental or on purpose (i.e., shorting the output to put maximum torque on the alternator--blades should spin very slowly in high winds).

    When you kill power to it it's supposed to cause that sort of short so the blades don't spin out of control in case of a loss in power from the grid.
    We noticed that after shutting power off to it that the blades moved freely which is the opposite of what it's supposed to do.
  • greenmovementgreenmovement Registered Users Posts: 9
    Re: Help with Skystream turbine
    Powers wrote: »
    I would like to inform you that NTP Wind Power has an upgrade kit available for the Skystream. If you fail with the repair, please look at what NTP has to offer.
    The Skysteam has a quality RFPM generator and blades. As a manufacture of down wind and upwind Linear Pitch wind turbines, we paid attention to what is going on with wind.
    If the Skystream is located at a good site without turbulence, the blades and generator will last for years. If you have a turbulent site, we recommend that you remove the turbine. The blades could fail and become a serious hazard.
    Since NTP has experience with downwind turbines using electronics to regulate RPM in high winds, it made sense for us to provide an outboard electronics package that is located off the tower and on the ground.
    The upgrade kit comes with a new inverter, Mercury slip rings and the NTP Rev Limiter / controller. We send the electronics fully wired for the exception of the wild AC in from the turbine and the grid power. The warranty on all the new upgraded electronics is 5 years.
    Please call us for more details.



    Thank you,


    Charles Spoto

    NTP Wind Power Inc can be reached by phone, fax, and e-mail.
    Crystal Lake, Illinois 60014
    Email; [email protected]
    WWW.NTPWIND.COM
    Fax Number (815) 568-8478
    24-Hour Cell / Int Charles Spoto 815-345-1931


    Thanks for throwing that out there. I'll be sure to mention this to our dean here at the school if we are unable to find out whats wrong with it and are unable to get SWWP to do anything about it.
  • DDuffeeIncDDuffeeInc Registered Users Posts: 12
    Re: Help with Skystream turbine

    It most likely is the Yaw Board underneath the top hatch. You will have to remove the power supply on top then the Yaw Board is underneath. This looks like DC brushes and they were having trouble with these overheating. I don't know where you will find one so good luck with that. Maybe soon we will be able to find replacement parts or maybe SWWP will reopen someday.
  • greenmovementgreenmovement Registered Users Posts: 9
    Re: Help with Skystream turbine
    DDuffeeInc wrote: »
    It most likely is the Yaw Board underneath the top hatch. You will have to remove the power supply on top then the Yaw Board is underneath. This looks like DC brushes and they were having trouble with these overheating. I don't know where you will find one so good luck with that. Maybe soon we will be able to find replacement parts or maybe SWWP will reopen someday.

    well the prognosis up to this point is the board on the hatch was changed out with a board from a one that was supposed to be installed and wasn't. we don't have the serial number because it was lost. the drivers for skyview weren't installed right. we got those installed right and now it shows up on skyview but we can't log on to it without that serial number. so if someone knows how to get this serial number that would be amazing. that way we would be able to run diagnostics.

    it's a possibility we may go with the upgrade kit mentioned in this thread.

    we got the attorney general involved over the warranty issues but it turns out they can't do anything about it since SWWP no longer has any operations in the u.s.
  • TinktronTinktron Registered Users Posts: 2
    Re: Help with Skystream turbine
    also another thing I think might mention is at that the main disconnect it's wired directly with an inverter from a solar tracker before it goes inside to the panel box . I've read that differences in waveforms may also cause it to go into this brake mode. I don't know if how they have these things wired at that point might effect something?

    Several problems.

    1. Is this solar tracker inverter a battery based system, or is it just the Skystream Hybrid solar tracker, which is grid tied also?
    If it is part of a battery based, or off-grid, or grid-backup system, using AC-coupling to 'fool' the grid-tie linkage of the Skystream, then that inverter REALLY needs to be checked for correct frequency and waveshape, and that the AC-coupling was wired in according to the inverter manufacturer's recommendations. If not, you will never get the skystream to respond. If you do not have utility regulated grid available at that site, find a dealer/friend... that can test your Skystream on the grid as it was designed to operate.

    2. You are correct that with power disconnected the system should 'lock' the rotor with the onboard relays, i.e. short the coils to oppose any roatation with reverse EMF. This is the first safety 'disconnect'. In an operational Skystream, if the relays are working correctly, with power disconnected, you can twist the blades as hard as you can and it will slowly turn about 2 roatations per minute, as long as you maintain pressure. You can also push them with your finger and get it to turn at the same slow rate. Reverse EMF creates a (nearly) equal and opposite force to the force applied. When you apply power, the relays should audibly click open, and the blades should turn freely. Power for THIS test is normally 240 VAC, but a field test rig using several(5 maybe?) 9 V batteries in series can be used. If you have disassembled it far enough, you can read the specs on the relays themselves. Damaged relays MIGHT cause a different response... normally that the relays will NOT release. Damaged slip rings/brushes could also cause non-release, because current cannot get to the relays. Finally something could be jammed in the magnets of the rotor(loose screw, etc), causing major damage to the coils.

    3. Unknown possible problems with the inverter board itself, hardware or software.
    Realize the UL-1741 grid-tie safety specifications have to be rigorously applied for the inverter to begin pushing amps out. Thus there is a very tight sequence of events that MUST take place for it to begin generation.
    a. power applied to release the relays.
    b. 240 VAC, with tight voltage and frequency spec must be available to the inverter sense lines, and remain within specifications.
    c. the turbine must be turning at a minimum speed for inverter startup to occur, and inverter operation will cut out at a lower speed.
    The inverter will also cut out upon overspeed, too many overspeeds within a certain timeframe, if the inverter cannot match the 240 VAC sense frequency or current, or if you just don't hold your mouth just right... d:D It will apply modulated reverse EMF to the generator coils to regulate the speed of the blades, and if that doesn't work it shuts down. It is MEANT to NOT operate unless everything is tightly within specifications, for the safety of the customer AND utility repair crews.
    It makes an autotransforming switching power supply look like a simple light switch circuit. This is NOT a bicycle light generator, or even an automotive alternator. Lives can be in danger if these specs are not maintained, for this or ANY other grid-tied inverter system.

    4. Yaw rotation. Ignore this until you have the blades turning up to speed in the wind. The force that points it toward the wind is greatest when the blades are turning(creates a sort of high angle badmitten cone), so if the blades don't turn, don't expect it to come even close to following the wind direction.
    Leveling is the critical item when the Skystream is in the air, as has already been discussed. If it can be manually rotated around the pole (or the pole mount, if it is off the pole) then most likely the problem is leveling. The SkyLevel kit was the manufacture's solution (again, proprietary hardware and software). Otherwise use 2 identical magnetic mount levels on opposite sides of the pole, and make them show the same, on both directions (n-s/e-w). Note this only works right if using poles with very tightly engineered top mounts... if the top mount is not machined level to the pole center then no luck.

    4. Wireless connection. Ignore this until you get the turbine operational, i.e. rotating in the wind and pushing amps. Then, you MIGHT be able to let it find the turbine with a scan. I almost never had one find it, initially, if the turbine was not up to speed and generating. Older zigbee com boards/firmware made this easier, since they had not upgraded to more secure firmware. Watch out that your 'other' hatchcover/inverter/comm board does not have the older 900 MHZ comm unit, completly incompatable with the zigbee... it uses a different antenna on the top. At the worst, you can completly ignore the wireless system, it is NOT needed to operate the Skystream, just very handy and educational. I find inexpensive refurbished utility meters in line before the breaker box very handy and simple for the customer to monitor kWhr production. If you need digital monitoring, try the TED.

    Finally....realize the guts of this thing is extremely proprietary, continuing cutting edge development, with significant engineering adjustments nearly every year. There are likely less than a dozen folks, maybe only 3 or 4 (likely all currently unemployed and hobbled by proprietary property confidentiality agreements) that -really- know what the firmware guts of this thing really do, especially the power/speed management. The zigbee interface I believe was outsourced, also proprietary.

    {pause while I recover from flashbacks of the Commodore/Amiga demise, and a couple of military software skyscrapers of patches...}...

    I most sincerely bid you well, and lots of luck!
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