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  #1   IP: 24.84.180.40
Old 09-12-2020, 04:17 PM
quentind quentind is offline
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Dead electronic igniton?

HI all,

My engine had a really hard time starting or didn’t start, depending on the day over the past couple of weeks. Quick troubleshooting revealed no sparks at the coil.
It is worth noting that my A4 has an Indigo AT4 electronic ignition.

I checked the coil and even replaced it with my spare one. Still no spark. I measure resistances on both coils, they are ok (10kohm / 3.5 ohm). I removed all wires from the coil except the ignition, and when I connect the (-) of the coil to my ground, I get a spark. The coils are fine then I believe.

The issue then seems to be in the electronic ignition, rotor, or cap. I reconnected the electronic ignition to the coil and ground (and kept everything else disconnected as per my coil testing).
Following the electronic ignition manual, I disconnected the Molex plug tapped a screwdriver between the silver and white wires to get a spark, but no spark still. This should trigger a spark.

I removed the electronic ignition wires from the coil and retested it as above. I could still get a spark. I did that multiple times, to make sure my testing procedure was correct but at some points, I got sparks when tapping a screwdriver between the silver and white wires of the electronic ignition.
I bet there was a short, and I must have fixed it, by chance.

I came back to the boat yesterday and again, it didn’t start. Again, I couldn’t get a spark connecting the silver and white wires of the electronic ignition. I tested all wires of the electronic ignition, they all have very low resistance.
At some point, when I put the ignition on with the electronic ignition wired, I got constant big sparks, without touching the silver and white wires of the electronic ignition. Then sparks stopped, and I couldn’t get sparks anymore. I cut the silver and white wires off the Molex plug and connected them together. Still no sparks.

So, my electronic ignition is dead? Or am I missing something?
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  #2   IP: 137.103.82.227
Old 09-12-2020, 05:08 PM
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It seems dead. That does happen, I had it happen on my A4 and on my outboard. You'll need a new box - might as well get the newer one with the variable dwell.
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Old 09-12-2020, 06:29 PM
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Quote:
my A4 has an Indigo AT4 electronic ignition.
Perhaps you should speak with Indigo.

Bill
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  #4   IP: 24.84.180.40
Old 09-13-2020, 12:24 AM
quentind quentind is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by joe_db View Post
It seems dead. That does happen, I had it happen on my A4 and on my outboard. You'll need a new box - might as well get the newer one with the variable dwell.
I ordered a PerTronix 1146A. Hopefully, this will solve the issue.
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Old 09-14-2020, 08:10 AM
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I am curious, why do that vs. a new box for the existing system?
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  #6   IP: 24.152.132.140
Old 09-14-2020, 09:40 AM
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In some cases . . . .

Quote:
Originally Posted by joe_db View Post
I am curious, why do that vs. a new box for the existing system?
An experience a few years ago might explain why . . . .

For my spare engine I tried a different electronic ignition, a Hot Spark. I installed the correct model for our engine with a little fitment difficulty of the magnetic collar but even so, it was a successful installation. It failed completely within maybe 2 hours of engine run time. A no start episode showed zero spark, reinstalling the points solved the issue within minutes.

Never again and no way would a Hot Spark system ever make it onto my boat.
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Old 09-14-2020, 10:01 PM
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Electronic Ignition Thoughts

quentind,

I am sorry to hear that you have had problems with you Indigo AT4 ignition.

Let me first ask if your module has a Red LED on one end of the module? If not, then the module is about 20 years old. If so, it is the perfect tool to use to determine the functionality of the Optical Trigger and Electronic Module. If those two components are functioning properly, the LED will flash on and off when cranking the A4 with power to the Module. When not cranking the A4, the LED will not be on. Flashing of the LED does not provide any information about the coil however, just the Optical Trigger and Module.
If the module does not flash when cranking, I would first make sure that there is battery voltage at the “+” terminal of the coil. There have been any number of instances where wiring/switches have caused intermittent starting/running issues.

In general, your testing has been appropriate. If there has always been a solid 12 VDC supplied to the coil during your testing, then the module may well have failed. Having said that, it has been my experience that if a module fails, it does just that and does not give any intermittent service. We have had very few Module failures over the past 27 years and most of those have been the result of either a close lightening strike or the owner inadvertently leaving the ignition switch on for an extended period of time without the engine running (The new XR3000 Module is “smart” enough to prevent that from happening.)

One comment about trying to generate a spark with the Molex connector apart. You have to make and break contact between the White and Silver wires to generate a spark. If you simply short the two together, no spark will be generated and it may well damage something in the Module, I honestly do not know.

Please know that I am always more than willing to help troubleshoot any of the Indigo products, regardless of age.

Tom Stevens
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  #8   IP: 137.103.82.227
Old 09-15-2020, 11:01 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ndutton View Post
An experience a few years ago might explain why . . . .

For my spare engine I tried a different electronic ignition, a Hot Spark. I installed the correct model for our engine with a little fitment difficulty of the magnetic collar but even so, it was a successful installation. It failed completely within maybe 2 hours of engine run time. A no start episode showed zero spark, reinstalling the points solved the issue within minutes.

Never again and no way would a Hot Spark system ever make it onto my boat.
I am missing something - where does Hot Spark come from? I don't think the OP has one now or is getting one, unless that is another name for Pertronix.

All EIs share the same problem vs. points, while points tend to have the boiling frog issue, i.e. you do not notice them gradually getting worse until the engine is about impossible to start, while EIs tend to be perfect until they are 100% dead.

Both my outboard and A4 failures were sudden and abrupt, the engines ran perfectly fine when shut down and then refused to start ever again until the components were replaced.

Last edited by joe_db; 09-15-2020 at 11:04 AM.
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Old 09-15-2020, 11:19 AM
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I was not suggesting the OP had a Hot Spark. In response to the question of why not fix rather than replace I used it as an example of a knee jerk reaction to a product that failed me. Sometimes we fix, sometimes not.

https://www.hot-spark.com/1-Hot-Spar...c-Ignition.htm
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Old 09-15-2020, 11:31 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ndutton View Post
I was not suggesting the OP had a Hot Spark. In response to the question of why not fix rather than replace I used it as an example of a knee jerk reaction to a product that failed me. Sometimes we fix, sometimes not.

https://www.hot-spark.com/1-Hot-Spar...c-Ignition.htm
OK - I get that. Once bitten deal, people get mad at what let them down and don't want to see another one of whatever it is.
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Old 09-15-2020, 11:51 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by joe_db View Post
OK - I get that. Once bitten deal, people get mad at what let them down and don't want to see another one of whatever it is.
Yeah Joe, sometimes.
Also, it was not in reference to any particular product other than Hot Spark and the comment was about my reaction at the time.
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  #12   IP: 155.186.124.219
Old 09-15-2020, 12:03 PM
Dave Neptune Dave Neptune is online now
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Exclamation

There are two basic types of "EI's" available for conversions today and they are both simple.
First is the "Hall-effect" style like the Pertronix & Hot Spark. They use the "Hall-effect" which is a magnetic signal to trigger the spark.
Second are the "photo-optic" like the one from Indigo. These use an optical signal to trigger the spark.

They all do about the same thing with varying advances in dwell control. This dwell control has led to over saturation of the coil in some applications. The dwell in combination with charging voltages due to the many battery options and voltages are why we need to pay attention to coil limitations due to over saturation of those coils.

In all ignition systems the coil must match with the system. Once the correct coil or coil voltage is achieved you should be set for many years of operation. I had a Pertronix on my hot dune buggie and it is still working fine after many years, at least 15. On my A-4 before EI's became available I adapted a Crane (Allison) EI with the photo optic trigger. It took a bit of machine work to make the trigger window but once done it lasted for over 20 years with no trouble. I then bought an Indigo (same Crane mfg) as it had the led trigger signal for diagnostics. It ran for many years and is still running for the new owner.

I highly recommend either of these systems for any A-4 as the distributor cams are mostly "JUNK" by now. Setting points with a feeler gauge is not an option on a worn out cam!!!!!! The points must be set by dwell for proper coil saturation and spark. Don't forget that the point gap is the dwell and to much dwell can kill any coil !

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  #13   IP: 209.6.133.136
Old 09-15-2020, 04:04 PM
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I have MMI electronic ignition and bought a spare 1st gen Indigo..

Relative A4 Newbie here. Working on other diagnostics...taking a break to post.

Appreciate what I discovered about the design and engineering of early Indigo EI unit.

Photo of original Indigo sensor. Thought I would share a picture of the Indigo optical sensor and plate that rotate like rotor/points to open or ground circuit and fire coil. Very early and impressive using optical sensors and solid state controller, modern controller has more diagnostics and adaptive dwell I think.

Sensor and "rotor"
https://photos.app.goo.gl/sazyxbhZRJHJKXnY8

Early Controller
https://photos.app.goo.gl/AUiJQx4kuvJBTDvS9

Inexpensively bought the early Indigo because I like the fundemental technical approach. And having a low risk backup EI to test and use (also came with distributor cam).

Thankful for this forum. Stay well. Tim
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Old 09-15-2020, 05:49 PM
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I have a spark combiner which combines two coils to one wire to the distributor. One of these days when I get 1,000 other things out of the way I want to add two optical pickups and drive two coils with two EIs. That would make an underway EI failure fixable in 5 seconds by flipping a switch
I am not 100% sure if the combiner is intended to run both at once, but before I get around to this project I will find out.
My goal might look like this:
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Old 09-15-2020, 06:27 PM
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Joe, I used the "Crane" photo optical systems for many years on many engines. My first was on a Rotary project for myself to which we were going for well over 10K RPM's with two plugs per chamber firing just a few degrees apart on the same "burn stroke". Lots of other stuff too and never a failure, but racing we kept things fresh! I ran the one I modified for the A-4 for over 20 years and replaced it only for the "LED" indicator. Kept the Alison for a spare, same plug and I could zip-tie it in place. Not as fast as the switch for sure.

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Old 09-15-2020, 06:50 PM
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I got the idea from a guy that modifies Corvair engines for airplanes.
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