MidwestTbolts
 
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Tbolt Battery Backup Market

Sun Sep 24, 2006 1:57 am

Ok, I realize this topic has been raised several times in the past few years, and I have read all the posts. But please read on.

If a battery backup attachment for Tbolts existed with the following features:
* Ten minutes minimum run time for temperatures above 32 degrees F
* Eight deep-cycle lead-acid batteries (~$70 each) required
* Weight of less than 100 lbs (without batteries)

Are there municipalities that would be willing to pay $3000 for this system, batteries, shipping and installation included? If so, which ones?

It appears to me that cities with a reasonable siren budget would prefer to save their money and purchase new DC sirens, rather than invest any additional money into their old Tbolts. If they have a lean siren budget, they can not afford to spend $3000 on attachments.

Please spare the technical reasons why the battery backup system described above would be very difficult to design. I understand that the inrush power is about 50KW to start the blower, eight batteries can not supply 50KW, a prohibitive number of capacitors would be required to store the energy needed to start the blower, an inverter that can supply 15KW of power would weigh at least 500 lbs and cost $5000, etc.

This is not an announcement of a new available product. I do not have a completed design, nor a set price. $3000 would likely be on the low side. I am an MSEE/MBA and am working with a friend of mine who is a PhD. Developing a new product is expensive, and if the market for a given item is miniscule, it does not make financial sense to look into it.

Are you aware of any municipalities that would be willing to pay $3000 for a Tbolt battery backup system? If so, which ones?

Jim_Ferer
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Sun Sep 24, 2006 2:08 am

What kind of sales do you expect, given that the last new Thunderbolt was in 1989 or 1990 and parts are no longer available from Federal? (IIRC) If your design was usable on other types of sirens, you'd have a better chance at sales. The number of Thunderbolts is dwindling and that's not going to change.

Brendan Ahern
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Sun Sep 24, 2006 2:14 am

OK you said not to get technical so lets just say that for technical reasons this could work. I dont see a really large market. For one, every year there are less and less tbolts. In my area I see towns replacing them every year. While new sirens have battery backup, that is usually not the reason for replacement at all. It usually comes down to the fact that they have old equipment that is starting to fail and they cannot get parts for anymore. So, when the budget allows, the most practical thing to do is replace it. Let me relate this to something most people will have to do. If you own an older home, you probably have an old heating system, whether it be a furnace or a boiler. Lets just say its a forced air furnace. After a few decades it wears out and starts to fail, parts are not readily available for it anymore due to its age. So if you have the money, you replace it with a new furnace with modern technology. Same with sirens. So adding batteries to something that old that is already going to have issues is just adding to the amount of things that can go wrong. And, as the old saying goes, no matter how much mayonaise you use, you cant make chicken salad out of chicken s**t!

Justin
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Sun Sep 24, 2006 5:22 am

Ill have to shoot this topic down as well.

While a good idea, it's not feasable as the Thunderbolt's motors are AC and not DC, so you will need to factor in a converter in there somewhere. Then there's the three-phase types. Another converter. See how bulky this is becoming? If you wanted to drop the AC motors in favour for DC motors, you would have to find exact working equivalents, to be compatible with all the electronics and so erratic behaviour is kept to a minimum.

Adding on from Brendan, the Thunderbolt is a aging machine and the county can source newer models which require less maintenance, are able to self-diagnose problems, and are less likely to fail because of direct gear drive systems over the Thunderbolt's belt-driven system.
The slightest amount of grease on one of those belts will almost always bring a Thunderbolt down to it's knees.

Ill give you points for having the guts to bring this up, but it's just not practical.

Edit: Look at building a newer siren that takes the best of the lot and make it into one package. Or follow along from my design and technology major project if you like, in the off-topic section.

Jim_Ferer
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Sun Sep 24, 2006 9:13 am

If there was ever a "new" Thunderbolt, it would indeed use DC motors and direct drive. The direct drive would very likely use something like the Rexnord Viva couplings. I've seem them installed now on sewer plant blowers and they do an excellent job.

Siren fans would love to see a new Thunderbolt, but not many others would care. Cost and simplicity are what purchasers are looking for.

Robert Gift
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Sun Sep 24, 2006 1:13 pm

Nice Idea - No market.

FS 2001 impresses me as the best, most simple, independent,
(completely solar powered) efficient (best mechanical amplification of
stator output - motor housing and bell form an exponential path from stator to atmosphere.)

Don't see how you can beat it, unless you create a horn tuned to the
siren peak pitch. (I wouldn't be surprised if FS has already done that!)

Question:
How many sirens ever fail due to weather events interrupting power?

I know of only one case in a small town.

I am impressed how the 2001 can be placed anywhere without complication and cost of bringing power to it. Bringing power to an idealocation can be very costly and difficult.

Sorry for discouraging news. Do it as a fun project for a sirenear you!

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Gil
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Sun Sep 24, 2006 1:16 pm

FIrst thought: It's not happening.

Second thought: You could, but you would have to build an entirely
new tunderbolt, with your own parts, which wouldnt be reasonable.

I think one of the main reasons for the Thunderbolt's downfall
is because of the blower. the thing is HUGE! and its heavy, and requires
a ton of maintenance.

I once concidered making a Thunderbolt, that doesnt have a blower.
it would be just the head.
I don't know how old I am.

Robert Gift
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Sun Sep 24, 2006 1:38 pm

Tele.Tech.4000 wrote: I once concidered making a Thunderbolt, that doesnt have a blower.
it would be just the head.
That is essentially the FS 2001.
Rotor is it's own "pump".

Still, could they boost it's output with an additional fan
pushing air into the rotor?

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Elliott
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Sun Sep 24, 2006 2:14 pm

robert gift wrote:Nice Idea - No market.

FS 2001 impresses me as the best, most simple, independent,
(completely solar powered) efficient (best mechanical amplification of
stator output - motor housing and bell form an exponential path from stator to atmosphere.)

Don't see how you can beat it, unless you create a horn tuned to the
siren peak pitch. (I wouldn't be surprised if FS has already done that!)

Question:
How many sirens ever fail due to weather events interrupting power?

I know of only one case in a small town.

I am impressed how the 2001 can be placed anywhere without complication and cost of bringing power to it. Bringing power to an idealocation can be very costly and difficult.

Sorry for discouraging news. Do it as a fun project for a sirenear you!
Just wanted to clarify "completely solar powered"; its actually solar recharged, battery powered (if no AC feed at all). I'm sure you understand that Robert, but didnt want a newbie to get confused.

Again, neat idea, just not practical. Most newer sirens are DC motorized now, so that inverters aren't required.
Elliott, A.K.A. KD8FOV, and Sirenzrok on Youtube

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Conky 2000
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Sun Sep 24, 2006 10:30 pm

Remember the Thunderbolt 7000 system? There was a big discussion about this on the old board. For those of you not familiar with it, it is a system of Tbolts with battery backup. I think there's a few in Hawaii.
If your siren is a-failin'
Chances are that it's a Whelen
And if it's just about to die
Then it must be an ATI

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