Thread: multiplexing

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    Exclamation multiplexing

    Can anyone give me any input on multiplexing on new orders? Cost differance between multi vs hardwire? ny experiance good or bad? Thanks for any info

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    Cost wise I don’t know the difference. Our dealer recommended we stay away from multiplexing. Dealer service is 4 hours away so allot of work is done by Villages mechanic. He has a hard time changing a headlight so for him to work on a multiplexed vehicle would be imposable. To add something new on a circuit the multiplex unit has to be reprogrammed for the added load. So if you decide to add an extra compartment light or scene light it has to be done by a dealer. Neighboring department wanted to add flashing headlights on one of their Lafrance pumpers. $50.00 for flasher unit $600 to $800 for reprogramming of multiplex unit. Multiplexing is nice and has lots of advantages but it was not for us.

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    Quote Originally Posted by port26 View Post
    Can anyone give me any input on multiplexing on new orders? Cost differance between multi vs hardwire? ny experiance good or bad? Thanks for any info
    Not sure on the price difference, however it is the future!

    I would say within five years you will not have a choice all fire apparatus will be multi-plexed.

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    Chief1,I think you're a bit optimistic. In ten,maybe. I'm still not convinced,after they've been in service for awhile in active companies I MIGHT buy into the theory.Right now,I remain unconvinced. T.C.

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    Not to be a S/A but I'll bet you guys have cell phones!
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    You can still get custom chassis that are not multiplexed. All of your Freightliner and International chassis are multiplexed. So, if you are planning on using a FTL or INTR chassis, I suggest having the body multiplexed. My past experiences with a half multiplexed and half hard wired truck were not good.

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    Yah,but do you have yours? Or does the wife still have it?How was Vaca? See Ya soon,T.C.

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    Rescue101, I beleave Chief1FF is right.
    Multiplexing will be the only thing out there in less then five years.
    We've had it in our ambulances for the past 10 years with no problems.
    I may be wrong (I have been before) but I don't think you'll find an ambulance manufactured today without it.

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    Regarding the ambulances, the two PL Customs we have on order for work are hardwired with no multiplexing in the body. Of course, the IHC chassis is standard multiplexed from the factory.

    I'm like TC ... I see the advantages and disadvantages to both. At work, we run about 1/2 the fleet (supression vehicles and ambulances) with it, and 1/2 without. Do we see a lot of dependability issues either direction? No, not really. However, one advantage we have is that we only keep the engines in front line service for 8 years, ladders for 12, and ambulances for 4. This allows us to stay a little ahead of the curve when it comes to technology.

    We're currently spec'ing a new rescue pumper at the volunteer house. The multiplexing issue is one thing that our committee has gone back and forth about for months now. The hardwiring weighs more, requires larger wiring harnesses, and is "old" technology, but it doesn't require a computer/nodes in order to work correctly. The multiplexing uses just a handful of wires, can be remote diagnosed, and allows more control over the vehicle's electronics -- but, if you have a problem with your particular multiplexing computer in 10, 12, 15 years, will the support still be there?

    What if you had a 10 year old computer in your home and an issue arise with it. Is anyone going to want to take the time to repair it, or will you be forced into purchasing a new computer? I think we all know what the answer to that is.

    As our VFD committee sits on the fence about the multiplexing issues, I personally still lean towards hardwired....

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    Our new Tower was hardwired and our new rescue pumper also will be. For now there are still not enough properly operating multiplexed units to convince us. We found in talking to a large number of tower and pumper operators that the number one issue with their new apparatus was electrical.

    While some are quick to point out the trucking industry has used multiplexing for years, they do not face the same challenges as we do. In our business having a failure due to water is a highly probably highly consequential event. At least when its a single wire, the problem is generally isolated. I've heard of at least one tower that "locked up" at the roof of a fire requiring the firefighters to descend the ladder all due to a multiplexed wire compromised by water.

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    Our Horton ambulances and Pierce ladder are multiplexed. We just bought a new Pierce Arrow XT which is not multiplexed. We put the pros and cons of multiplexing on paper when we developed our specs and could not find enough benefits to continue multiplexing on the new engine. The biggest problem we have had is when a fault comes up and is intermittant, there is no logging feature to time stamp and record the problem on either the Pierce or Horton systems. We have talked with both engineering departments and have been told this will be a feature on next generation systems.

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    E-One has had a multiplexing option since about 2000, and since 2003ish everything comes multiplex, not sure if you could get a non-multi'd truck. Pierce has been multiplexed even longer. A town near me special ordered a tower w/o multiplexing and had to pay extra for it this year. Ford's been doing it for over 10 years now (just try to splice in a trailer light w/o buying that $100 kit from Ford, I dare you to!).

    While there can be issues with new multiplexing, most are worked out in the first year of service, and that will pay dividends when the truck is 5-7 years old and you start having wiring issues. There are fewer wires to chafe/corrode, and troubleshooting is done in much less time by an experienced tech.

    There's also the neat reprogramming abilities of the system, say you want to have your rear scene lights come on when the truck is placed in reverse? Simply reprogram it. On a wired truck you'd have to make several splices, use relays and diodes, and hours of work by your electrician to get it working right.

    Sorry TC, but I'd say its more like 1-2 years before you will not be able to spec a non-multiplexed body from any of the major builders. As for chassis, well I think we might already there.

    The 10 year old computer question its a valid concern, but Class 1 has been making a dedicated fire apparatus multiplex system for almost 10 years, and while they've expanded the power it, added new devices to it, and increased its abilities, its still the same basic system.
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    Be sorry if you want.I'm working on a multiplex system as we speak.The big three have had them longer than the fire truck builders.Trust me when I tell you they are far from foolproof.And your 1-2 years is overly optimistic.I'd bet my check that FDNY WILL NOT be all multiplexed as far as 5 years down the road and probably more.ALL multiplex systems have a logic module(computer)and slaves(control units)While sometimes simple to diagnose/repair like any computerized device,when you start getting ghosts/intermittents(and you will)you'll find they aren't as handy as a broken wire to fix.And the equipment required to fix intermittents is expensive(like about a 75-100 thousand $ of it in my shop).I'm not opposed to multiplexing I'm just dubious it's the end all to vehicle wiring.Being involved in auto electric(between my dad's shop and mine)for two generations we never had a major problem locating and repairing faults in a WIRED vehicle.Yes, computer driven vehicles are here to stay.My next rig MAY be one.But they aren't as foolproof(fortunately for me)as some of you try to make them out to be. Hmmn,now wasn't Allsteer a multiplex? T.C.

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    Here is the input from one manufacturer, Smeal Fire Apparatus Co.

    Let's break it down into some categories and I will comment on each one.

    Cost - No one seems to want to tell you how much. We will. Cost on a Custom Sirius Chassis on a typical Aerial is a shy over $6k. On a pumper it is about the same cost for us. The transceiver kit, which is the interface between a laptop and the on-board computer, is just over $800.

    So that does sound like a considerable investment, but it depends on what features you are looking for.

    The System - The multiplex system we use is the Weldon, now Akron, VMux system. We did an analysis of the different systems 6-7 years ago before we decided that the VMux was the best approach. The VMux is a peer-to-peer system. It consisits of multiple Modules, which are all the same or I should say there are two styles of modules, which are the same. There is a mini-node and a hercules. However, the main advantage, is if one of the nodes would go down, our systems goes into a Default mode, which allows certain circuits to default to a preset value so the truck is still operational. Also, the mechanic only has to have one module on the shelf and it can be programmed for ANY location on the truck. Other systems have multiple module designs and can get exspensive to repair and diagnose, or so I have heard. No one's system is without fault, as it is electronics, and electronics fail. I feel confident the bugs, so to speak, have been worked out of the VMux system and it is extremely reliable.

    The Location of the Module - We believe the mounting location of the modules plays a large part in the reliability of the system. We locate our modules within a recessed area inside the body. I know other manufacturers have mounted them inside frame rails where they are exposed to road salt and other corrosives.

    Switching - We also require that the door open switches for example, utilize proximity switches in place of mechanical switches. Mechanical switches can attract moisture and send false signals to the multiplex units.

    Customization - Yes, it is very easy to customize your switching and make changes. But how many of you spec a truck and then change the way a scene light switches 2 years down the road? I think this option has merit, but in a limited application.

    Some of the Nice Features of Smeal VMux design -

    1) Autoleveling - The readout in the cab of the aerial or platform users, automatically shows when you drive up to the scene if you can set the aerial up for 100%, 50% or no operation due to the grade of the slope.

    2) Open door circuit displays a drawing of the truck and visually shows which compartment, step, outrigger, or other item that is open or not stowed.

    3) An Instant warning message appears for door open, fault, seat belt not used, etc.

    4) If selected, you can use the same display for backup camera, so when truck is placed in reverse, it automatically shows rear view on the display.

    5) There are GPS features coming out.

    6) You can install a display and controls for the officer, as well as the driver and have specify which controls you want the officer to have.

    7) There are numerous screens that show data on the truck from manufacturing date, serial numbers, VIN, maintenance schedules, etc. Other screens can be added at your request.

    I am sure there is more we could talk about on this subject, but that is all I have time for right now and I am getting a little windy.

    FYI - Smeal will still use standard electrical on Custom Chassis, and this is the standard, with the option for the multiplex. However, IHC uses the Diamond Logic multiplex and you can not get it any other way.

    Smeal Fire Apparatus Co.
    Jeff Wegner
    Regional Sales Director

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    Jeff,I'm of the opinion that the Weldon(Akron)system is one of the more "mechanic friendly"systems in use today.And your other points are well stated.I'm still going to maintain my guarded position on these systems for a while longer.And yes,your company has a reputation for a no nonsense logical approach to building things.I'll be watching with interest and as I stated earlier,if funding is approved for our platform it may well be partially or totally multiplexed.A lot will depend on the builder and the wishes of our apparatus comittee and the Chief.T.C.
    Last edited by Rescue101; 06-07-2007 at 02:58 PM.

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    TC, I look at today's trucks (with the rapidly changing technology) much like the cars from the 80's where we were figuring out fuel injection, airbags, and ABS. Some of those cars were junk, others pretty good for their time, all of them led to today's cars which are far superior to anything that's been on the road, ever. The next generation of trucks will IMHO be quite impressive. You can make the argument that a fire truck is not the place to "experiment," but eventually someone has to build the first one, and that will be, by definition, an experiement.

    Jeff, I'm going to go out on a limb here and guess you're not a firefighter, at least not a volunteer. I say that cause I see VFD's constantly adding electrical devices to older trucks, usually with substandard wiring and very limited knowlege of how to properly wire even a simple floodlight into a truck. I say this with my tounge halfway into my cheek, but I welcome the day when we won't be able to "do it yourself" just to prevent some of the really bad butcher jobs I've seen on wiring.
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    304,"Today's cars(and trucks) which are superior to anything that's been on the road,ever". Don't get off the boat much,do ya?That's probably why I'm towing all that junk in with a pre 95 equipment. Now remember, I started in Fire while we still had Navy surplus and rotary pumps.Sorry,but I haven't seen the reliability go UP in the advent of computerization,Rather I've seen it go DOWN. As I said earlier,I'm not OPPOSED to multiplexing.I'm just NOT convinced at this time that it's the end all to fire truck electrical issues.And if you're suggesting that a butcher can't mess with a multiplex: Well......let's just say if you think you've got issues with hard wire wait til you see a butchered 'plex job.As far as the Nextgen trucks go,they will be a horror show.When they work(and for the most part they will)they will be neater than sliced bread.When they fail(and they will)300 miles from the nearest help,you won't be taking a piece of mechanics wire,or a couple wire nuts and driving out. And I know I'm stuck with them.But I remember(fondly)the old diesels that as long as they had fuel,lube oil,and coolant would run FOREVER.Test equipment for a 50-70's vehicle consisted of a fuel pressure gauge,and a test light.About $50. Just a leeeeetle higher than that now,like times 1200. Now lets go Lobster boat racing! T.C.

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    I'll give you the longevity of vehicles has gone down, but I was refering to performance and safety when I said nothing can touch a modern vehicle. Don't get me wrong, I love a good old '69 Yenko 427 Camero (sigh...) as much as the next guy, but I would not put my 3 year old into it and go for a weekend trip. And if I wanted something that was really fast and sportly there are dozens of cars on the roads today which would run rings around an old muscle car. (Speaking of which, I saw an ad for the 1001HP Brugatti. 0-100 in 2.5sec!!!)

    Fire apparatus longevity has also changed, used to be we run trucks until they fell apart or we couldn't find parts anymore. It was not uncommon to see a truck that was (is) 40+ years old in frontline service. Now 20-30 years is the limit, some places which actually run their trucks only keep them 10-15.

    No doubt some butchers will attempt to retrofit a multiplex, but unless they actually understand what they're doing (and can get away with it) they'll only try it once before learning that lesson.
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    Default go multiplexed

    Actually I think ol’Wegmo (as they call him) is a Vol. FF – or was.

    Quote Originally Posted by Fire304
    While there can be issues with new multiplexing, most are worked out in the first year of service, and that will pay dividends when the truck is 5-7 years old and you start having wiring issues. There are fewer wires to chafe/corrode, and troubleshooting is done in much less time by an experienced tech.
    I am a “hardwired guy”, but I agree with Fire304. There is no getting away from multiplexing and although a newer technology and “glitches” exist on rare occasion, they are usually VERY minor. The technology is way past its infancy (i.e: computers in cars of the early 80’s) and I too agree that in less than 5 years there will be no other way. 3 years ago I would have told you to run from multiplexing, but there are just too many advantages now and it is very dependable.

    If you want a “hard wired” horror story – how about an aerial catching on fire at the turntable due to a short and burning all the paint and consumable parts off of it? Go multiplexed instead. TL

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    I'm still not convinced.But I'll be glad to revisit the issue in five years and see where we are.One of us will be right.And for what it's worth I've seen a multiplex rig burned and becalmed on the way for delivery.None of this stuff is exempt from failure. Camaro? I wouldn't ride my dog in a Camaro.Like it or not we buy apparatus for a twenty year service life,But the reality in this town is,it's gonna serve thirty years before I see it gone.And like I said,I'm NOT opposed to multiplexing,I'm just not a huge fan.And our next rig(which did get approved)will likely be at least partially if not fully multiplexed. T.C.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Rescue101 View Post
    Camaro? I wouldn't ride my dog in a Camaro.
    OUCH Brother! Let me guess, Mustang?
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    Nope.A little background.The wife owns a damn near pristine '76 Camaro LT.For every hour she drives it I swear we tinker on it three(it's not really that bad).POS rides like a buckboard and handles like a Chevrolet.If I have to go somewhere I'd PERSONALLY rather take the daily driver(01 Taurus) or my F350SD.My back is screwed and the Fords have seating much more suited to distance traveling.All my "stuff"is in the truck,so I can arrive anywhere for anything and go right to work.Toolbox,pak,comm gear,laptop,survival gear,you name it,it's there. And I'm a chevy hater from way back.I oughta love 'em,I make a decent living repairing them.But I don't want to work on my own which with ten vehicles is a pipe dream. T.C.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Rescue101 View Post
    '76 Camaro
    Did you read my post? I said a '69. 76, Pffftt. Far as I'm concerned anything made in Detroit and from the years 1972-74 to, oh early 90's was scrap waiting to be recycled (and actively converting itself back to its native iron oxide state). Talk about cars with no lifespan, 100,000 miles was something to be celebrated (One of my class mates had a 86 Camero that committed suicide by timing chain at 40,000 miles). No power, new emissions, terrible brakes. Now that I think about it, the gold old days really were not all that good

    Fords have seating much more suited to distance traveling
    As much as I'd like to be a Dodge or Chevy man (my dad is a true blue GM man, almost disowned me for getting my first Ford Expedition), I find that there is only one real choice for heavy pickups today. As the GMC dealer told me when we were spec'in our mini pumper, "You're gonna buy a Ford."
    But I don't want to work on my own which with ten vehicles is a pipe dream. T.C.
    LMAO Bro!
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    Default Multiplexing

    Well there are pro's/con's and good/bad stories but I've sold a great number of apparatus to FD's both large and small with the Weldon V-MUX system that is used by Smeal and SVI Trucks which I represent on Spartan chassis's in the past 3 years and a number of these FD's Chief Mechanics were at first sceptical as were their shop personnel but now they wouldn't purchase an apparatus without it...

    Overall the success has been great and there are a lot of advantages and far easier to diagnose and make changes to the programming.

    I've sold them to FD's with 100 deg F summer temps to -40 deg F winter temps so the whole gambit.

    Some examples:
    Riverside County CA 50+
    Edmonton AB 10 plus all new apparatus
    Calgary AB 10 plus all new apparatus
    Charlotte NC 25+
    Vancouver 18 (just being delivered)

    Are they bulletproof? No but easier to troubleshoot and repair compared to the hard wired systems.

    The nicest feature of the Weldon V-MUX is the colour display that offers a wide range of functions and displays to show a schematic drawing of the apparatus for the Door Ajar System instead of the simple red flashing light and then having to guess or run around the truck checking which door was ajar..

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    Quote Originally Posted by port26 View Post
    Can anyone give me any input on multiplexing on new orders? Cost differance between multi vs hardwire? ny experiance good or bad? Thanks for any info
    How about some actual firsthand user experience instead of just a bunch of people speculating or offering opinions based on God knows what? We've had a fully multiplexed aerial in service for 4+ years with no issues to speak of. We recently put into service a multiplexed rescue and so far so good.

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