Fluid Power Journal

Bluetooth Embedded Amplifier Enables Wireless Configuration of Proportional Cartridges


Sun Hydraulics Corp. developed a new way to configure embedded amplifiers without using a PC or connecting with wires. This new version can be configured via a free iOS or Android app using Bluetooth for quick, easy, reliable wireless calibration. This development for the fluid power cartridge industry means that technicians can now be in close proximity to observe machine operation but remain untethered and therefore completely safe when setting up and calibrating the machine behavior. Configuring without wires means the end of special cables, connectors, and the need for an expensive PC in the field, relying instead on a smartphone.

Addressing Environmental Issues

The Bluetooth embedded amplifiers are fully encapsulated for vibration, shock, and environmental protection, sealed to IP69K (with Deutsch DT04-6P connector) and IP65 (with DIN 43650 A connector). They are CE certified to the latest standards, including the 30-V/m automotive standard per Directive 2009/19/EC. The amplifiers were tested on X, Y, and Z axes over a frequency of 33.3 Hz at an overall level of 6.8 Gs for a total of four hours each.

Diagnostic/Operational LEDs

To make it even easier to use, the amplifiers have two indicator LEDs labeled “Power/Status” and “Active.” These LEDs allow users to determine the status of the amplifier from a distance. When the app opens, the Bluetooth scan locates the amplifiers within range and provides a list of available amplifiers. Once they select an amplifier, the “Power/Status” LED starts blinking, providing clear visual indication of the amplifier selected, and then provides further feedback regarding the real-time operational status.

The “Power/Status” LED provides several diagnostic and operational indications:

  • Lights “blue” when power is applied to the unit within the specified supply voltage range
  • Flashes “blue” when connected to a smart device and stops flashing when connection ends
  • Flashes “red” when a coil-open circuit or short circuit is detected
  • Flashes “red” when an analog command input is out of range or wrongly configured
  • Flashes “red” when the supply voltage drops below 8 Vdc
  • Lights “red” if the amplifier is not connected to the AmpSet Blue™ app

The amber-colored “Active” LED varies in brightness, providing visual indication of the amount of current supplied to the amplifier. The brighter the amber light, the more output current being used.

Keeping it Secure

sun2For added protection, the amplifier can be configured with an optional password via the AmpSet Blue™ app, and Sun recommends that all amplifier configurations are password protected. This limits access to the amplifier’s configuration settings to authorized users only. In addition, the amplifier has a time-out feature that disconnects the amplifier from the app after a period of inactivity.

If you forget a password for an amplifier, you can generate a temporary key from the app and, using the key on the amplifier’s serial number, you can contact Sun’s tech support and request a new password.

When connected to an amplifier, manual mode allows the user to control the valve and associated functions directly, making it easy to check for correct operation when starting a new system. To prevent accidental use of manual mode, the app requires an additional password to ensure operator awareness.

Configuration Options

The AmpSet Blue™ app offers three main operational modes: standard, inverse, and two-speed.

Standard mode is commonly used for proportional valve applications, with the increase in the command value increasing the output proportionally.

Inverse mode works inversely from standard mode. As the command value increases, the output will decrease proportionally.

Two-speed mode (available only with the six-pin Deutsch connector) provides low or high settings for either speed or pressure, depending on the valve being controlled. When the command input switch is closed, the amplifier will output the minimum programmed output current; when it is open, the amplifier outputs the maximum programmed current.

The Economics of Bluetooth Wireless Configuration

Unlike the infrared solutions that require special cables, the amplifier is configured without cables. In addition, no programmer or laptop is required – only a smartphone. And in harsh environments, carrying a smartphone in a protective case is a practical, inexpensive alternative to the risk of using an unprotected laptop or the expense of a ruggedized one.

It works out that in an application requiring two amplifiers, the newer, more technically advanced Bluetooth solution is less expensive and much more convenient than two non-Bluetooth amplifiers, cabling, and a handheld programmer. And because one Bluetooth embedded amplifier offers either voltage or current command capabilities, one new unit can replace two standard embedded amplifiers in inventory, simplifying purchasing and stocking parts for an application.

Leveraging Bluetooth Technology in Hydraulics Applications


It’s easy to imagine industrial applications that would benefit from Bluetooth-configurable valves. Within a 30-foot range, Bluetooth reaches places that might otherwise require climbing with programming equipment, operator and equipment exposure to hazardous environments, and greatly increased time to connect and configure valves.

With Bluetooth, the technician can remain untethered, standing clear of equipment, and reconfigure installed amplifiers quickly and easily, saving time and money and reducing risk. In OEM mobile equipment applications, the amplifiers provide a tamper-resistant, easy-to-configure yet secure solution for a range of applications. Especially beneficial in equipment that commonly finds its way into the rental market, this solution keeps meddlesome renters from “adjusting” and potentially damaging the equipment.

Also, by providing a portable, field-configurable solution for remote locations, field service technicians can download the free AmpSet Blue™ app from anywhere with cellular access, avoiding having to buy and carry programmers, laptops, and cables. And because it doesn’t rely on a cellular network or Wi-Fi for operation when out in the field, they can then access the installed amplifiers within Bluetooth range and adjust the settings to meet the needs of specific environments.

Additional Technical Specs

  • Operating Temperature Range: -4° to 176°F (-20°C to 80°C)
  • Analog Input Range: 0-10 V, 0-5 V, or 0-20 mA
  • Supply Voltage: up to 32 Vdc
  • Ramp Time: 0-65.0 s, 1-ms increments
  • Dither Settings: off, 33-500 Hz, in 1-Hz increments

For more information: Contact Sun Hydraulics Corp. at www.sunhydraulics.com or call 941-362-1200.

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