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Cat 320C excavator. Thumb will intermittently stop working.

While watching live data on...
Cat 320C excavator. Thumb will intermittently stop working. While watching live data on cat ET while the thumb stops working it shows basically all the AUX hyd valves and thumb rollers on left and right joy stick as not installed or disabled. Then it will go back to normal and work fine and so on.
When this happens we get a active code 254-9 electronic control module: abnormal update rate.
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Answered in 12 minutes by:
4/15/2022
Mechanic: catmastertech, Technician replied 5 months ago
catmastertech
catmastertech, Technician
Category: Construction and Road Equipment
Satisfied Customers: 3,994
Experience: Field service technician for CAT 19 years.
Verified
Hello,

I would start by watching the voltages. Too high is just as bad as too low.

The ECM must have more than 18 volts and less than 32 volts at all times or it will shutoff the ECM. Some seem to stop working certain circuits and that could be happening here.

Also, the joystick voltage could be lost when this happens.

The worst case would be an ECM is failing.

You did not note which ECM logged this code. This is normally seen in the product link modules and is due to them loosing communication with the other ECM.

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Customer reply replied 5 months ago
Wish I could send you a video. While watching live data for the aux hydraulic where it shows pressure and percentage thumb roller switches on both joy sticks.
All the sudden it will show it all as disabled/ not installed. Then the next minute it will all come back they was it should be and start working again. It seems to get worse as you run the machine. The first 20 mins or show everything works great then goes down hill from there.
Mechanic: catmastertech, Technician replied 5 months ago

Why do some images say 305E2 and the first says 320C?

It is likely the joysticks are loosing the connection to the ECM and that triggers the code.

Verify this action by unplugging the rocker switches and see if you get the same code.

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Customer reply replied 5 months ago
Yeah sorry the 305 was a different machine I’m sorry.
So your thinking disconnect the joy stick harness and see if we get the same reaction on the cat et?
Mechanic: catmastertech, Technician replied 5 months ago

Yes

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Customer reply replied 5 months ago
Do you have a diagram of those wires going to the module by chance?
Mechanic: catmastertech, Technician replied 5 months ago

I need the serial number.

Which wires are you asking about?

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Customer reply replied 5 months ago
Looking like this is going to be a tricky one.
Local cat tech already replaced the joystick and a couple valves thinking it would cure the issue. Then he though it was a ground issue so he made a attached a temporary grand wire to the cab and that didn’t seem to help either.Ground*
Mechanic: catmastertech, Technician replied 5 months ago

Yes, it will be tough to find. It is likely a poor connection or a broken wire in a harness.

Use the ET wiggle test and alarm to see if you can find the break. Sometimes it will help narrow down the bad harness.

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Customer reply replied 5 months ago
Ok, if the ECM is glitch out would the wiggle test pick that up?
Mechanic: catmastertech, Technician replied 5 months ago

Maybe, but that is not the purpose of the wiggle test though. Kind of hard to wiggle an ECM. the best case would be a spot in the harness you can flex slightly and have the code triggered or the status of the joysticks change.

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Customer reply replied 5 months ago
Gotcha. Thanks I’ll keep you updated as time goes on! I really want to get this one figured out! Have seen this one before. I’m Always trying to learn something new.
Mechanic: catmastertech, Technician replied 5 months ago

You're welcome! Glad I could help.

Thank you for using JustAnswer, if you do need further help, please let me know.
If you are satisfied with my service, please take a moment to provide a rating.
Thanks again, Don
CATMASTERTECH

catmastertech
catmastertech, Technician
Category: Construction and Road Equipment
Satisfied Customers: 3,994
Experience: Field service technician for CAT 19 years.
Verified
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Customer reply replied 5 months ago
Unplugged the joy stick and we go a different code. Wiggle test will sound a alarm on left joystick thumb wheel position, right joystick thumb wheel position and right joystick switch #1 status. On its own at time with no wires being touched at all. Other times it will sound by us just moving the thumb wheel on the joysticks.We got*
Mechanic: catmastertech, Technician replied 5 months ago
Did you find it?

Yes, the wiggle test alarm will sound anytime a parameter changes. Even a temperature sensor that cools off can turn on the alarm.

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Customer reply replied 5 months ago
No we did not find it . Wiggle test would alarm on it own with out us touching anything. We think it the aux controller failing and glitching in and out.
Mechanic: catmastertech, Technician replied 5 months ago

-That is very rare for any excavator. Which circuit caused the alarm?

I have seen monitors fail but, they just go out. That will not cause any other problem.

I have never seen a controller fail but, the auxiliary controller is not common in my area.

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Customer reply replied 5 months ago
Wiggle test will sound a alarm on left joystick thumb wheel position, right joystick thumb wheel position and right joystick switch #1 statusKeep in mind it will do it on its own. With out us touching anything.
Mechanic: catmastertech, Technician replied 5 months ago

Do all three sound the alarm at the same time?

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Mechanic: catmastertech, Technician replied 5 months ago

Ok, that is something. Let me check the schematic to see what they have in common.

The power supply and the grounds are common to both joysticks.

Have you checked for a short in the harness. Is it possible the other handle is causing the problem?

This power supply is 12 volts, it goes to a different connector that is not used on this machine but, the harness may be installed. Is it possible a radio was connected to this circuit.

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Customer reply replied 5 months ago
What wires should we look for on the joystick to check for a short between them and the aux computer.
Mechanic: catmastertech, Technician replied 5 months ago

At the joystick connector, pins 1, 2, and 4 are shared with both joysticks and the unused connector.

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Customer reply replied 5 months ago
took the aux controller out and put it in another 320 with same prefix and problem followed to the other machine.. safe to say the control is what’s causing the problem now. Wouldn’t you agree?
Mechanic: catmastertech, Technician replied 5 months ago

Absolutely! Didn't know you had a spare. Make troubleshooting easier!

I would try to get a full download for Product ECM replacement and download the configuration file too. This will save all the needed program data to transfer it to the new ECM.

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Customer reply replied 5 months ago
A new one from cat won’t come plug and play?
How would I get a down load off of it?
Mechanic: catmastertech, Technician replied 5 months ago

Most new ECMs are blank. But, this is an older design and some of them do come with the software.

I see the software is shown with the ECM and not part of the normal machine software. That seems to point to the Auxiliary ECM Will be pre-programmed.

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