Kar-Tech Mini Guider Proportional Calibration

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The Kar-Tech Mini Guider is a good wireless remote control for the Steelhead ES-series of cranes including the ES-1000 and ES-1500. It’s easy to use and works quite well. For install instructions, see Steelhead Wireless Remote.

Part of the installation is configuring proportional control, and the Kar-Tech instructions are a bit opaque. But once calibrated, the proportional functionality works quite well. Here’s our more detailed version of the instructions, that allows calibration to be completed in under a minute once you get used to it:

  1. Turn off remote (push E-stop down).
  2. Turn crane circuit breaker off.
  3. Turn on remote (E-stop up).
  4. At the same time, switch up the first three switches remote switches (boom up, winch down, rotation CW).
  5. When the red LED on the remote blinks rapidly, release the three switches and you are now in calibration mode.
  6. Turn crane circuit breaker on.
  7. Switch extension out switch on.
  8. When the red LED on the remote blinks slowly, release the extension out switch. You are now in minimum calibration stage.
  9. Hold rotate CW switch and slowly pull the trigger to absolute minimum amount that allows the crane to move.
  10. Continue to hold the rotate CW switch on with the trigger at this minimum position where the crane just barely moves and then switch the boom extend on and then back off.
  11. Red light should blink rapidly indicating in maximum calibration stage.
  12. Release rotate CW switch and trigger.
  13. Hold rotate CW on and slowly pull the trigger to the minimum required to get full crane swing speed and then hold the trigger there. The goal here is the minimum trigger position that gives full crane speed.
  14. Continue to hold the rotate CW switch on with the trigger at this minimum position where the crane moves at full rotation speed and then switch the boom extend on and then back off.
  15. Red light should blink slowly indicating valve dither frequency calibration stage.
  16. Release rotate CW switch and trigger.
  17. Switch boom up on and off three times to set 200 hz PWM frequency. Each time the boom up is switched on should show a green LED light on the remote. 
  18. Switch boom extend switch on and then off to save calibration and end calibration mode. The red light should be off at this point.
  19. Turn off remote (push E-stop down)
  20. Turn the crane breaker switch off, wait 10 seconds, and then turn the crane breaker back on.
  21. Turn on remote (E-stop up) and test crane operation

We’ve also updated the wiring description in Steelhead Wireless Remote to make the wiring needed to install the Kar-Tech Mini-Guider more clear. We also include the pin-out description for the 16-pin circular wired pendant connection. Strictly speaking, the latter is not required, but can make problem determination much quicker.


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8 comments on “Kar-Tech Mini Guider Proportional Calibration
  1. Markl McGillivray says:

    Our SteelHead SM1500R controller has always worked although the proportional feature is redundant as either it is stuck on one speed or the pump is so small that we are happy with the maximum it operates at. I have heard too many stories about the controller failing that I wish to have a backup. I have a 10 switch controller and proposed to have the following switches: Power On, Power Off, and then the Up/Down/left/right. winch In/Out, and boom In/Out and ignore 10. (Pnk: Pump). Would that be correct? or should 1. be tied to 10?

    • The leading cause of failure on the hardwired Steelhead controllers is proportional control failing. In this failure mode, the crane will not operate. If you wire the motor control solinoid that turns the motor off and on to the proportional control hydraulic soliniods, the crane will continue to operate without proportional control. Presumably someone has done that on your crane. We ran that way for years before installing the Kartech remote crane control. With the proportional control so incredibly fault prone on the Steelhead hard wired remote, this work around is advised.

      The proportional control is programmable and it might be the case that yours just isn’t calibrated properly. You can contact Steelhead for instructions on how to calibrate the proportional control. I found their process complex and, with failures so frequent, I just elected to operate without proportionality.

      When we installed the Kartech remote, we re-enabled proportional control and liked it. Generally, it’s nice to have proportional control but it’s not that hard to control the load either way. Proportionality just allows you to safely run higher slew rates. I wrote up the wiring of the Steelhead ST1500 crane here but I suspect the SM1500 will be the same: https://mvdirona.com/2019/02/steelhead-wireless-remote/.

  2. chris says:

    can this product work on a stump grinder?

    • Yes, these remotes can drive just about anything that is controlled by off/on digital controls. For example, I adapted a crane remote control system sold on Amazon (https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B073RXXQ55) to run our Nordhavn 52. This $100 remote controlled the transmission direction and both forward and aft thrusters. You need to ensure that your use case has appropriate safety controls and that the system will fail safe but, generally, crane controllers can drive any machinery with digital controls. Some remotes like the Kartech also have proportional controls that can be adapted to drive analog controls but proportionality is more complex to adapt to arbitrary system controls.

  3. Chris Barber says:

    Hi James

    I’m getting some confusing info from Kar-Tech on this controller. My crane is an Aritex with a simple wired on/off control. In a first conversation with Kar-Tech they left me with the impression that their proportional controller would PWM the whatever-it-is that makes the pump go and I would have a proportional crane.

    Then in a second conversation they stated that I should buy their on/off controller because my crane is an on/off control crane.

    Was your SHM crane originally on/off and you made it proportional with this controller, or was it always proportional and you just added this controller for wireless operation?

  4. Eric Patterson says:

    Does the Kar-Tech fully replace the wired control included with the Steel Head? Also, is this a product offered by Steel Head or do they have their own? Looks like a solid company and quality product. I really like the idea of a wireless on the crane.

    • The Kar-Tech certainly could replace the wired controller but a better approach is to install a Y-connector which allows the Kar-Tech remote to control all crane functions but still leave the wired remote available as a backup. We’ve not used the wired remote since moving to the wireless but we kept it operational in case we ever experience a wireless remote failure. They both can be used and both are fully functional.

      Steelhead does OEM the Kar-Tech remote and has also recently released a new wireless design. I tried the new Steelhead wireless remote at the METS trade show in Amsterdam and it appears to work very well.

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