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Does the indoor fan run? Place the fan switch in run. If it doesn't run then the transformer could be bad. Also, there could possibly be some high and low pressure switches that would keep you from getting the 24vac to the contactor. First rule out the thermostat by removing the face and installing a jumper wire between the R and Y terminals. This should make the outside unit run. If it does then your thermostat is not passing 24vac to the unit and should be replaced. If it doesn't run with the jumper in, then your problem is in the outside unit. Trace out the yellow wire from the thermostat in the outside unit and check the components that the wire goes through (high and low pressure switches). Let me know what you find so I can offer more help if needed.
You have a poor low voltage connection from the thermostat or a bad contactor.The contactor is the main relay control inside the condensing unit. The incoming voltage wires connect to it. Contactors are inexpensive. I would change that first. Check all your low voltage wires in the condensing unit for loose connections.