> Privately, I observed that the most likely problem was
> IR drop, or a bad relay. Let me repeat it publicly:
The most common problem (by far) seen at Ameritron and other
companies that use relays in hard-wired applications is flux
contamination of contacts.
It's pretty tough to get a high-resistance connection via separate
control cables. I often just twist wires out in the field, and have
thousands of feet of control wire! In 12 volt systems, you can
usually tolerate dozens of ohms of loop resistance in control lines.
I have systems switching multiple parallel relays reliably at 2500
feet, just using thin telephone-type wire. I can't imagine a case
where a 3-foot wire would have enough resistance to cause unreliable
or "soft" switching.
Personally, I'd check and clean the contacts. Hopefully they are gold
flashed, or at least silver plated. You do NOT ever want a high
current relay designed for switching operating loads, because the
contacts will make bad connections after time.
Clean the contacts by taking a hard paper like thin smooth semi-gloss
cardboard (sometime on matchbook covers) and soak it in WD-40 or some
other cleaner and rub it between the contacts. When you are done
clean it with 100% pure alcohol or a very light cleaner like Toluene,
Methyl Ethyl Ketone (MEK), or Xylene.
Tension should be set so the relay pulls in at about 50-70% of rated
Virtually any relay that is working at all, and has not had the
contacts ate up by switching during high-power operation or arcing
from lightning, will be 100% repairable using the above methods.
Even brand new relays are subject to flux contamination, so
replacement should be as a last resort.
I don't know how Jay does the ground return, but I always make the
ground common with coaxial cable grounds so the shields augment or
entirely can replace the ground wire.73, Tom W8JI