Fortius Imagic Powerback replacement unit

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swanng
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Fortius Imagic Powerback replacement unit

Post by swanng » Wed Jan 23, 2013 6:23 pm

The fuse has blown in my T1946.50 Powerback unit, but the T1941 motorbrake roller is fine.

Can I replace the Powerback unit with the newer T1949.50 utilizing the T1941, or would I have to replace both? I don't really want to spend the $500.00+ dollars it would take to get my Fortius/Imagic back up and running by replacing both units, and since I only have ridden on the trainer perhaps 15 times at the most, this seems like a serious problem with either quality control or poor engineering.

I have read numerous posts on this forum trying to find answers, and have performed the wiring check, the wires are tight and look brand new. The firmware was updated with the latest version long before the fuse blew.

Now I have a dead Fortius, and I'm not sure if I should just throw the entire trainer in the trash or what. I am aware that Tacx no longer supports my Fortius, and I can guess why, after all the negative posts I have read.

I certainly could use some assistance if there is any available in the United States. This is very disappointing and if I can't find a reasonable way to repair my Fortius, then Tacx has lost another customer.

Greg

Howsteepisit
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Re: Fortius Imagic Powerback replacement unit

Post by Howsteepisit » Wed Jan 23, 2013 6:34 pm

I would suggest you contact Oschner as they are one of the two US distributors and handle the parts, or have you bike shop contact them. Also, you should write to support@tacx.nl to get the answer directly from Tacx, rather than relying on this user forum.

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swanng
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Re: Fortius Imagic Powerback replacement unit

Post by swanng » Thu Jan 24, 2013 7:57 pm

I contacted Tacx Customer Support and Oschner via email per your advice. We'll see what happens. Expectations are not high.

swanng
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Re: Fortius Imagic Powerback replacement unit

Post by swanng » Wed Jan 30, 2013 3:19 am

Greetings-

Finally got a reply from Tacx Support. They suggested I contact my dealer who sold me the Fortius back in 2005. Nothing else from them except 'we're sorry' which is better than no reply at all, I guess. Emailed Ochsner, no reply. Emailed another Tacx distributor in Washington state, don't remember the name offhand, anyway, no reply either.

But I have a plan to fix my T1946.50 Powerback myself. I have parts on order and will post sometime in the future IF I am successful.

Since Tacx doesn't support the hardware or software any more, I should hardly think that there would be a problem reverse engineering the hardware with the intent of fixing it and getting it working again.

Howsteepisit
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Re: Fortius Imagic Powerback replacement unit

Post by Howsteepisit » Wed Jan 30, 2013 11:02 pm

I am surprised that Oschner did not reply, they have a pretty good reputation and I found them to be very helpful. The other route is to contact either your LBS or one of the internet sellers ( I used Licktons) since you already know the part you need and see f they can order it. Goos Luck.

One of the previous users had found that its the power transistors that get blown if I recall.
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Re: Fortius Imagic Powerback replacement unit

Post by swanng » Tue Feb 05, 2013 10:47 pm

Howsteepisit-

Yes, after measuring the Insulated Gate Bipolar Transistors (IGBTs) in addition to other specific components inside the Powerback unit, I found one that has a direct short to ground, which explains the fuse blowing episode.

I now have a full complement of high-failure replacement components for the T1946.50 series Powerback units, and will be repairing mine (hopefully) in the near future.

If this approach is sucessful, I will offer these services to others for a small fee, which is as yet undecided.

I'll keep you posted (no pun intended) on the forum.

Greg

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Re: Fortius Imagic Powerback replacement unit

Post by Howsteepisit » Tue Feb 05, 2013 10:57 pm

Hey thats cool, hope it works, and think there may be some others who might need this.
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Re: Fortius Imagic Powerback replacement unit

Post by sherbornpeddler » Thu Feb 07, 2013 7:18 pm

I'm interested as well.
I struggled with uneven brake pressure and hiccups until now it failed completely. I did find a loose cable connector that may have been the hiccup problem but not the direct cause of this failure. I don't see any burned cables others have noticed. A loaner power back works fine. My LBS said because it is out of warranty he can offer a for a fee distributor look and possible repair.
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Harold
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Re: Fortius Imagic Powerback replacement unit

Post by Harold » Tue Feb 26, 2013 10:23 pm

swanng wrote:Howsteepisit-

Yes, after measuring the Insulated Gate Bipolar Transistors (IGBTs) in addition to other specific components inside the Powerback unit, I found one that has a direct short to ground, which explains the fuse blowing episode.

I now have a full complement of high-failure replacement components for the T1946.50 series Powerback units, and will be repairing mine (hopefully) in the near future.

If this approach is sucessful, I will offer these services to others for a small fee, which is as yet undecided.

I'll keep you posted (no pun intended) on the forum.

Greg
Hi all,

This week, I also fried my fortius powerback unit, pretty much in the same way as described in this post: Fuse blown, replacement fuse immediately went as well. For 4 years, I never updated the firmware, while using the TTS 2 software. Never had a problem until, during the second training with TTS 4, the thing just quit and left the Mrs. in the dark with no TV.

With a bit of background in electronics and the support of your encouraging words here, Greg, I opened up the system (a European 1941.50, 220V in my case), and found a short-circuit IGBT (one of the four G4IBC20W on the board).

Now, I am very eager to learn about your exploits in this. Did it work out fine for you by replacing the IGBT's alone? As you surely noticed, they have some parallel SMD components that, in principle, could cause the same problem. I guess these are diodes (my eyes are to old for that 0.3 font size), which makes it less probable that these fried instead. I haven't started taking parts out though, so it is hard to tell now. In any case, I surely hope that it's the IGBT's. SMD soldering is not my cup of tea.

Just for my curiosity, do you have an idea of what the two square components are that connect directly to the motor brake? (the ones that show the cryptic code "7R2"). I guess the big block is the actual power-back unit. Both this block and the 7R2 blocks could not possibly cause the problem, since they could not contribute to the fuse being blown, right?

Hope it worked out for you, and that the community may profit from it. Indeed, it is kind of dull that we are stuck with a system that is not being serviced anymore by the producer while the solution is in a few-dollar component.

Thanks
Harold

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Re: Fortius Imagic Powerback replacement unit

Post by Kevinm » Wed Feb 27, 2013 12:22 am

I have previously replaced the four IGBTs due to detecting a short in my Fortius Powerback unit a few years back, but unfortunately it did not correct the problem. The new IGBTs shorted once powered up. There must also be other components compromised. I did not pursue this further as I moved on to a Bushido.
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Re: Fortius Imagic Powerback replacement unit

Post by mcorn » Thu Feb 28, 2013 2:11 am

There are so many potentially bad components on this board that without a schematic and detailed information on how it actually works, I think a person is shooting in the dark. Besides the transistors, there are a bunch of diodes and other components that would need checking as well.

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Re: Fortius Imagic Powerback replacement unit

Post by Harold » Sat Mar 23, 2013 7:24 pm

Hi again,
I am back with some good news! I de-fried the fortius brake powerback system. For those that may consider to attempt the same, I'll give you a short description here:

As intended, I went to the electronical bottom of that problem with the fortius powerback. Ordered 4 new IGBT's (the originals are not sold anymore, so instead of the original IRG4ibc20W version, I used the IRG4BC30WPBF . This version can dissipate more power, has a non-insulated cooling vin and is lead-free, but it does the same trick: fast switching. The non-insulated vin is tricky since these components are tightly screwn against the bottom of the aluminium casing. The engineers put an insulating silicon tape in between the IGBTs and the casing as an extra precaution, but this proved not to be enough with the, now conducting, cooling vins of the replacements. I put some extra heatconducting, isolating plastic (heatshrink tubing), which did the trick.

The parallel components that we discussed earlier (the 8 big diodes) are there to protect the IGBTs. These diodes actually eat excess voltages and consequential excess currents that may normally blow up the IGBTs. Hence, if you find the IGBTs broken, it is probable that the diodes are gone too. In my case, two IGBT's had a short as well as one of the diodes. A broken diode my present a short or an open connection. So, it may not be obvious that one is broken. Best thing to do is to replace all IGBTs and diodes in one go, just to be sure. This cost me 22 Euro's and some two hours of work.

The work is tedious though since the components are tightly fit into the printed circuit. Once the soldering tin is removed with a tin-suction thingy, they may still stick. Two-sided soldering doesn't make things easier either and the used lead-free soldering tin still adds to that problem (higher melting temp). So for those that want to give it a try, be prepared for that.

Anyhow, after all that, and renewing the fuse, the system had a reassuring power input impedance (kilo-ohms instead of < 1 Ohm). I reconnected it, switched the power back on an everything worked like it did before! I recalibrated the motorbrake, which resulted in a slightly different calibration parameter setting. After that, I could go for another ride!

I hope this helps some of you as well!

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Re: Fortius Imagic Powerback replacement unit

Post by mcorn » Sun Mar 24, 2013 2:12 am

Harold wrote:The work is tedious though since the components are tightly fit into the printed circuit. Once the soldering tin is removed with a tin-suction thingy, they may still stick. Two-sided soldering doesn't make things easier either and the used lead-free soldering tin still adds to that problem (higher melting temp). So for those that want to give it a try, be prepared for that.
Harold-

I've looked at the 220 volt board as well as the 110 volt one (they are similar, but not identical). Your description confirms my assessment that an electronic technician with goods skills is required to do this job. It is not for the faint of heart. Even getting the case apart is a bit of a chore as miniature torx drivers are required.

It's too bad that Tacx does not make replacement boards available at a reasonable cost.

Thanks for the useful information.

Harold
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Re: Fortius Imagic Powerback replacement unit

Post by Harold » Wed Mar 27, 2013 11:36 pm

You're absolutely right there,

If one has not dealt with this kind of work before, most of the necessary tools have to be bought first anyhow (a digital multimeter; soldering/desoldering equipment; a range of torx bits: there are 3 different sizes used on the powerback alone; a range of small pliers, including some to keep your components at acceptable temperatures during soldering; I even needed my riveting tool and battery-drill to refit one of the ground-connectors that got loose during the dismantling of the casing).

If you have to buy those first, it is probably cheaper and surely faster to go for a new Bushido, as others did already :-)

By the way, I guess the Bushido still uses similar technology. This solution may still apply there as well then.

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Re: Fortius Imagic Powerback replacement unit

Post by mcorn » Thu Mar 28, 2013 5:11 pm

The Fortius electronics are hugely complicated, which I think is its major weakness. The boards in all of the other units are much, much simpler.

As said before, it would be a huge service to the user community if Tacx made replacement boards available at reasonable cost. Replacing the boards on anything except the Fortius is relatively easy. Even on the Fortius, it would not be too bad as long as you are mechanically skilled.

P.S. Harold - how many hours did this repair project take you? I got to the point where I got take a Fortius power supply apart and reassemble in about 15 minutes, but I never did any component testing and replacement. De-soldering can be very tedious work, and if you are not used to doing it, it is easy to ruin something in the process.

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Re: Fortius Imagic Powerback replacement unit

Post by Harold » Sun Mar 31, 2013 2:20 pm

Total project time?

Well, I surely lost some time finding out which replacement components to use and getting them here (4 e-mails, two trips to the radio shack). But apart from that:

- dismantling the casing 1 hour (first time, now 15 minutes)
- situation assessment (resistance checks) and getting the schematics clear 1 hour
- desoldering 1 transistor while keeping the rest intact 15 minutes
- cutting the other 3 transistors away and de-soldering their legs 15 minutes :lol:
- desoldering the 8 diodes 30 minutes
- situation assessment (resistance checks) 15 minutes
- putting the new components back in place, soldering 30 minutes
- removal of loose rivet and mounting the ground connector back 15 minutes
- mounting everything back into the casing 1 hour (now 20 minutes)

You see, I took enough time, mainly because of the caution required and the mechanics. Actual printed circuit board time was < 3 hrs but altogether it still takes you half a day.

If Greg offers this service for 100 bucks (including the 20 bucks on parts), it is still a bargain :)

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Re: Fortius Imagic Powerback replacement unit

Post by mcorn » Sun Mar 31, 2013 6:23 pm

Yes, $120 would be a huge bargain. Your times are what I would expect for a first time through (assuming you do not run into other problems and find out the board is really not repairable). At typical rates for technicians, you very quickly get to the point that a new replacement unit is cheaper than repair. As said before, Tacx would do a great service if it just made the replacement boards available as a spare part.

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Re: Fortius Imagic Powerback replacement unit

Post by swanng » Mon Oct 07, 2013 10:43 pm

I just finished reading all the posts, and Harold, thanks for taking the time to document the time you spent repairing/replacing the affected components on the Powerback unit. Very informative, as well.

I'm an electronic engineer by profession, so I've had some experience soldering/desoldering, and I would say I am mechanically inclined, but in no fashion could this repair be termed 'easy'.

The right tools, as mentioned in an eralier post, are essential, and without them, one will not succeed.

Going slowly with disassembly (at least the first time around) is mandated, as is perhaps documenting one's disassembly with the addition of photographs in the event one forgets placement and/or positioning (as is the case with old farts such as myself).

I was fortunate enough to find all the parts required at one of the many electronic parts distributors I frequently deal with; if I recall correctly, I found all of the necessary (and not so necessary) parts at Allied Electronics.

I replaced all the original parts with higher current handling devices, and if there is enough interest, I can post part numbers here.

I was fortunate enough to repair my own Powerback, but it wasn't something I would enjoy doing more than twice, if that.

I also purchased an upgraded Powerback unit from Rudy at Ochsner, who was kind enough to provide me with a new motorbrake (required when upgrading to a T1949.50 Powerback unit) and the Powerback at dealer cost to me with free shipping.

I used the older Powerback for a few months with no problems, then replaced it with the T1949.50 and newer motorbrake, along with the free upgrade to TTS 3, kindly provided by Rudy at Ochsner.

So I have my older Powerback as a 'backup' along with the older motorbrake unit, and it's fortunate I kept them, as my T1949.50 shorted out last Saturday (10/5/13). It's still under warranty, so Rudy, gentleman and scholar, will replace it gratis.

Since my earlier Powerback failure, I've kept a line monitor on the receptacle being used to power the Powerback, and line voltage never exceeds 122 VAC. I did notice however, the second time I attempted to power up the new Powerback (T1949.50) after replacing the blown fuse, that the line voltage was 120 VAC, but the CURRENT in amperes, drawn by the Powerback, exceeded 15 amps, very nearly blowing the circuit breaker, and dimming the lamp, also connected to the same duplex receptacle.

What is causing the problem? I have no clue, and at this point can't even hazard a guess.

But I will be plugging in my old Powerback along with the old motorbrake (sigh-more work than should be necessary) onto the Fortius frame and testing them out once again to see if they still work.

As for my earlier post about volunteering to repair the older T1946.50 at cost, I don't think I am in the position to be able to afford to perform that service. It's just too much work for not enough return.

I've got some more information to impart with regard to the Powerback unit(s), but can't afford the time for it right now. I will touch back on the forum sometime later this week (I hope).

Cheers,

Greg

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Re: Fortius Imagic Powerback replacement unit

Post by mcorn » Mon Oct 07, 2013 11:02 pm

Early on, the 110 volt Powerback units had a nasty habit of self-destructing on powerdown due to a firmware issue. Of course, you didn't discover the unit had fried until the next time you tried to start it. I'm sure your most recently failed unit had the latest firwmare, so firmware is not likely to be the issue.

I think that in general terms, the fatal flaw is more likely a product with a too high level of complexity and resulting insufficent tolerance for error. The whole idea of generating resistance by pumping current back into the grid might sound like an eco-friendly green solution, but in reality it generates a huge list of technical challenges that is hard to solve on a small budget.

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Re: Fortius Imagic Powerback replacement unit

Post by swanng » Wed Oct 09, 2013 1:06 am

Mcorn-

Agreed. So what is the solution? Completely dump all my Fortius hardware and software and upgrade to a Bushido and TTS 4? Or dump Tacx altogether?

What would you suggest?

There's several alternatives out there, but I have a rather large investment in Tacx at this point................

Greg

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