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comms between inverter and pc


Gabriël
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hi, this might be a simple matter, but i'm slightly computer challenged...

my axpert 5kw is doing its thing in the garage, my pc is in the study; the software for the axpert [and icc] will be on the pc.

how do i get the two to communicate? apparently it is too far for usb cable, >10m. do i use a router from the axpert and channel the signal per wifi or network cable to the pc or can i connect the axpert to the pc directly via cable, and if so, my pc only has one network cable inlet which is for the wifi modem/router... eish - you see i told you, challenged is the word...

i run win10

in Christ

gabriel

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What most do is to put a Raspberry Pi / Tablet  / Laptop next to the Axpert to record the data.

Device used is dictated by your budget / the devices power consumption, for it is running 24/7.

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Something I wanted to do for a really long time is make an even smaller logger device. Probably using an Arduino or something STM32 based. Maybe even ESP8266, then you sommer have WiFi too. Bear with me...

You now get sdcard shields for the arduino. You also get ethernet shields. So immediately two ways to log things. Code is available for all these things. Comms is just serial and easy to interface with. Monitoring is mostly just throwing QPIGS at the inverter repeatedly. I bet you can rewrite ICC as an arduino sketch. It would use less power and be more reliable too.

Is it worth the effort? Probably not. Rpi probably hits the cost/effort/power user spot fairly well at the moment.

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Just a comment left around the tree.

Don't forget small tablets, my research brings them in at a similar price range as a Rpi and you get, added as a bonus, a built in screen / kbd / mouse / WiFi / 16-32gig drive with a UPS sommer pasella. :D 

The Zuma driven prices range are around +-R1400 - R1800.

Pi's are cheap - the board that is. Now add the SD card plus a casing plus the power supply and if you want more, fans / UPS etc, it can easily go above R2k, and you still don't have a screen.

And they use maybe the same power (maybe a watt or so difference) - because the screen is off most of the time.

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5 minutes ago, The Terrible Triplett said:

The Zuma driven prices range are around +-R1400 - R1800.

I saw a China-special tablet over the weekend, R900. Probably Android based though.

6 minutes ago, The Terrible Triplett said:

Pi's are cheap - the board that is. Now add the SD card plus a casing plus the power supply and if you want more, fans / UPS etc, it can easily go above R2k, and you still don't have a screen.

I think you can make up a Pi-based computer with case and screen for around 2.5k.

Rpi 2b, around R700.

Case including space for an LCD, R365.

SD-card, around R80.

LCD touch (comparatively expensive bit), R800.

Total just shy of 2k. With shipping included probably around 2.2k. Then you have to add in your own effort to get it working, and some serial comms hardware and stuff...

(And then consider that a Venus GX is 300 Euro, 4.5k, comes with two canbus ports, 5 digital inputs, 2 tank sensor inputs, 2 temperature inputs, two vedirect ports, a USB port, an mk3/rs485 port... and a warranty and support... yeah I know the GX is no use on an Axpert, just saying, you start to realise that you complain way too much about what things cost).

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8 minutes ago, plonkster said:

I saw a China-special tablet over the weekend, R900.

I have access to Windows 10 tablets for about +-R1600 - stock and Exchange rate. Low specs, perfect for recording data.

 

Tablet.jpg

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Just now, The Terrible Triplett said:

I have access to Windows 10 tablets for about +-R1600 - stock and Exchange rate. Low specs, perfect for recording data.

I'd be interested in the underlying hardware, you know, so one can lift some license restrictions :-)

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Just now, plonkster said:

I'd be interested in the underlying hardware, you know, so one can lift some license restrictions :-)

Posted the pic above.

You forgot the PSU for the Pi in your costing? 

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Just now, The Terrible Triplett said:

You forgot the PSU for the Pi in your costing? 

True. For a 24V system that's easy, add another R35 for a small buck converter to run it directly from the batteries. For 48V it's a bit more problematic, it's hard to find a cheap buck converter for around the 75V range. If you go for a proper white-with-the-logo PSU, add another R125. It still fits within my 2.5k budget and you essentially have a cheap CCGX... sort of :-)

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8 minutes ago, The Terrible Triplett said:

Posted the pic above.

Looks like they could be useful in some form or another.

My application is such, of course, that porting to windows would be way more expensive, but as almost everything now moves to either ARM or low-end Intel, and Linux already runs on those things, I see a wonderful world of cheap ways to run existing software.

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6 minutes ago, plonkster said:

Looks like they could be useful in some form or another.

I have wondered about that in that will the screen still be a touch screen, or would one need to get a kbd and mouse due to no drivers for it on Linux?

Reason I ask, as you say, perfect for CCGX to view it on the screen if you so desire.

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29 minutes ago, The Terrible Triplett said:

would one need to get a kbd and mouse due to no drivers for it on Linux?

It would depend on exactly what is in there. On my side of the world we kinda do things in reverse, we check that we have drivers before we buy the hardware.

29 minutes ago, The Terrible Triplett said:

perfect for CCGX to view it on the screen if you so desire

Agreed. It should be pointed out though that the CCGX does not have a touch screen, although the GUI is touch-capable. When accessed through VNC, it already works too. Such a cheap tablet would make a brilliant remote panel. The only trouble at this point is that the VNC driver that comes with QT only supports one connection at a time, so you cannot have multiple such panels. Believe me I already tried to run multiple VNC services, it didn't work :-)

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2 minutes ago, plonkster said:

... we kinda do things in reverse, we check that we have drivers before we buy the hardware.

Ja, I learned that the hard way.

Now I just have to rag a bit ... my side of the world, I buy the hardware, the drivers are always there. 
 

From Axpert versus Victron to Linux versus Windows ... (CWL) ...

Luckily we agree, I stay my side, you stay your side, both of us living happily ever after.

But, did you hear ... 

 

Windows support.jpg

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20170503_124003.thumb.jpg.98f0e4062081e1e06162eb6b1b4fade6.jpg

My plan when I eventually get off my ass and do it is to use this cheap mini-pc connected permanently running ICC and accessible from anywhere via Teamviewer.

It cost R1500 on Bid-or-But auction and can dual boot Ubuntu/Win 10 - so no need to get into that argument:unsure:

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:mellow:

i understood about ten percent of the above, but i must give you guys credit, it sounds good, especially the acronyms...

yet the solution to my problem seems distant [at least in my mind].

ok, the practical solution, that is what i'm after - in short, how do i link up my axpert to my pc [distance >10m] in order to use either icc or the axpert native sw. i can dual boot into ubuntu but i am more of a windows creature.

any takes on this?

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4 minutes ago, gabriel said:

ok, the practical solution, that is what i'm after - in short, how do i link up my axpert to my pc [distance >10m] in order to use either icc or the axpert native sw. i can dual boot into ubuntu but i am more of a windows creature.

The answer was:

4 hours ago, The Terrible Triplett said:

What most do is to put a Raspberry Pi / Tablet  / Laptop next to the Axpert to record the data.

Tablets are +-R1500 for a Windows 10 OS, depending in where you shop.

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22 minutes ago, The Terrible Triplett said:

THAT is EXACTLY what I was looking for ... can you give me a link  @pilotfish ?

Here is an example of a similar item (closes 17 May 2017);

http://www.bidorbuy.co.za/item/278981496/Z83II_Mini_PC_Windows_10_64bit_EU_PLUG_BLACK.html

Mine is an older version with Intel Atom processor, but does all I need and includes wifi which is helpful where it will be used. I got mine on an auction rather than Buy_Now, but then you must be patient and look regularly, and be prepared to stop bidding when your limit is reached.

At R1890 + shipping for the item in the link it seems like a fair deal and will do the job required.

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thanks t3, i got that and if by any chance my post had an inkling of frustration kindly forgive.

my distance usb option is not possible, even using usb repeater cable.

whilst writing this pilotfish also came up with an idea i am now looking at.

thanks for the ideas - for a couple of extra bucks any inverter should be able to communicate its status via wifi or like a lot of stuff via gsm.

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I believe that the RS232 cable that came with your Axpert could easily be cut and extended to 10m or more using a spliced in length of Cat5 - RS232 is a hardy protocol that can withstand some butchering.

Now all you will need is a PC from previous decade with a built in Com port!

Just kidding, there are various solutions for comm port expansion that will depend on your equipment.

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Another simple solution would be to get the Axpert Web-Box for under R2k, which is connected to your Axpert/LAN and will give Watchpower access from any PC on your LAN. I dont think you will be able to use ICC via the web-box, but you did mention earlier that ICC or Watchpower.

20170503_152531.jpg.4b23a681245ae534ddf82cab2fa8e39b.jpg

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1 hour ago, gabriel said:

link up my axpert to my pc [distance >10m] in

RS232 can easily cross that distance, it can do 15 meters according to spec. It can do even more but it depends on the speed. For reference, the Victron VE-direct cables (which is essentially TTL serial, the same thing but at much lower voltages) can be up to 5 meters long, and USB can also be up to 5 meters long, so you could easily use a USB hub to get halfway and then a usb-serial to go the rest of the way :-)

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i believe the temp solution is to do what pilotfish suggested.

 

4 hours ago, pilotfish said:

I believe that the RS232 cable that came with your Axpert could easily be cut and extended to 10m or more using a spliced in length of Cat5 - RS232 is a hardy protocol that can withstand some butchering.

Now all you will need is a PC from previous decade with a built in Com port!

Just kidding, there are various solutions for comm port expansion that will depend on your equipment.

the solution to connect with my pc is a zar125 comms port to usb connector, i'll bum some rs232 from local it guys who constantly seem to rip old networks apart. an internal  comms card is >1k so don't go that way!

i'll let you guys know as soon as the show is on the road.

4 hours ago, Mark said:

Get a small PC or tablet.  Soon you will want to monitor multiple devices and this will allow for expansion!

re mark's suggestion; it will have to wait. the question arises if there is not an alternative way to get the data of multiple devices via the rs232...?

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