Mosquito Magnet Project
For more information, see the MM blog.
The Mosquito Magnet products, when working, do a very creditable job controlling mosquitoes where they are a problem. The units work by creating a small stream of carbon dioxide (CO2) and combining that stream with an attractant to simulate human respiration, which attracts female biting mosquitoes. The mosquitoes fly to the source of the attractant, and, not finding a suitable host to bite, slowly drift upward into a vortex created by a fan which sucks them into the trap. After a while, they die of dehydration in the trap. The trap attracts and captures only small insects looking for a blood meal. The trap begins capturing hundreds of mosquitoes a day when first used, but even so, it takes a few breeding cycles or several (3-6) weeks to reduce the population to the point where you can go outside at dusk and not get bitten. Still, it is satisfying to empty bags of mosquitoes when first starting, and the population reduction is noticeable within a few days.
The system uses liquid propane in a tank plus electricity to run a fan, power the gas valve and controller, and initially ignite the propane. The simpler models use a low voltage power supply with a long cord to power the unit from household AC power. Other models use thermoelectric modules to generate the necessary electricity from the combustion heat, plus a rechargeable battery for starting.
The propane is consumed to produce the CO2 and heat. A 20 pound tank lasts about 3 weeks, or about $1/day. The attractant lure costs about half of that. Cleaning the system periodically costs about $12 every 12 weeks or so. The total cost is under $2 per day per 1/2 to 1 acre. Additional coverage requires additional traps. We believe the cost to be well worth it.
One huge problem is that the traps, especially if not properly maintained, can become hard to start, and eventually require repair. Repair charges are daunting, but worse, transportation to and from is so expensive and slow, that a hobbyist community has formed to support DIY repairs.
Even aided by the DIY support forum, repairs are tricky and difficult because the trap is well protected from faults, and can stop working for a multitude of different problems. The trap stops working after restarting (due to a propane tank change, power failure, periodic move, etc.), when the trap fails to reach a running equilibrium and shuts itself down. Also, the trap may fail to catch mosquitoes, which is another issue.
The trap contains a controller that uses a micro-controller programmed to safely start the trap when requested and stop the trap when the propane runs out or some other fault condition occurs. Regrettably, the controller does not signal an exact reason, and only flashes rapidly to indicate a fault.
This fault indication means the start of some difficult and time-consuming user troubleshooting, which is perfect for the mosquitoes who can freely bite the frustrated troubleshooter.
Mosquito Magnet Defender Controller Schematic
Dev from this site had a similar problem in June, 2013. The problem was with the Defender model, the low end 1/2 acre corded trap, and the simplest Mosquito Magnet trap. After troubleshooting, the controller would not activate the propane gas valve, which was a fault that had not been mentioned on the support forums. Because of this, an attempt to reverse engineer the Defender controller was made. The result is the MM Defender Controller topic.
In June 2018, a very cheap WIFI internet of things development board was integrated into the controller to aid in troubleshooting and remote control. See the MM Defender IOT Controller topic.
Mosquito Magnet Liberty Documentation
September 2014: an old used MM Liberty has been acquired. It ran during the summer, but after running out of gas, failed to start mid month. While fixing it some timings were documented. See Mosquito Magnet Liberty.
Mosquito Magnet Upgrade Project
Interested parties are encouraged to register and use this site to document progress in understanding and possibly improving the MM traps. Please do not interfere with the main purpose of this site, which is the PalOMoney project.