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Beta Patched Firmware version 74.40e

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Beta Patched Firmware version 74.40e for 48 V PF1.0 58.4 V 5 kW models

This is the first version of our patched firmware based on factory firmware version 74.40 for the Axpert MKS  (NOTE: NOT 64V) and equivalents. There was no 74.40a-d. We jumped straight to "e" so that "e" (and later) would indicate the presence of the kettle-compensation feature, as in 73.00e for PF0.8 models, and 72.20e for PF1.0 64 V models.

This patched firmware has all the same patches as both 73.00e, 72.20e, and earlier patched firmwares, including Dynamic Charge and Load Control, AussieView™, and KettleKomp™. This includes fixing the infamous premature float bugs.

For more detail and the actual files to download, see the AEVA post in PIP-4048MS and PIP-5048MS inverters.

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Posted (edited)

Hi all

Please help: can I install the "Beta Version of Patched Firmware 71.80d for PIP-5048MK/Axpert King 5K" on my machine (details below)?

I've got a machine that says "Model: SOL-I-AX-5KP" on the side. It's branded Mecer. Solar charger is rated at Max 145 VDC, rated current 80A.

As far as I can tell it is a genuine Axpert King 5 kW machine. I purchased it a few days ago to replace a dodgy CB Solar clone unit (Must Power PH1800).

Current firmware versions (app):

Main CPU: 71.90

Bluetooth: 0.24

SCC CPU1: 1.10

and firmware versions on display:

V1: 71.90

V2: 02.40

V3: 00.24

V4: 01.10

The machine mostly works, it just exhibits the premature float voltage charge mode bug (I'm using it with Lead Acid batteries) and it also sometimes gets into a mode where it continuously connects and disconnects the solar array (6x270w panels installed in 2012). The PV continuous connect/disconnect behaviour seems to only occur, so far, if the inverter is turned off and back on when the sun is out (a slow ramp in voltage doesn't seem to trigger the behaviour).

Separately, for those who like Linux and run Home Assistant/MQTT, I've taken an app written for the older Axpert model inverters and modified it for use with my King unit (based on a protocol spec PDF). It is a headless app that comfortably runs on a Raspberry Pi Zero W and bridges the inverter to MQTT, allowing Home Assistant to read stats from the inverter and even more critically allows apps to write commands to the inverter (think NodeRED in HA). I'm still testing it and ironing out some minor bugs but I'll package it up neatly when it's ready. The COOLEST part of this is that the Pi Zero W comfortably runs off the OTG port on the inverter - so one cable allows the Pi to both get power from the inverter and query the inverter via the virtual USB serial port.

Any suggestions regarding firmware would be great :)

 

20200313_135838.jpg

Screenshot from 2020-03-15 13-49-01.png

Edited by aquarat

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Posted (edited)
12 hours ago, aquarat said:

Please help: can I install the "Beta Version of Patched Firmware 71.80d for PIP-5048MK/Axpert King 5K" on my machine (details below)?

You perhaps could, but I'd hold off for now; see below.

Quote

I've got a machine that says "Model: SOL-I-AX-5KP" on the side. It's branded Mecer.

Mecers are genuine Voltronic Power inverter-chargers. As long as your label is genuine, it's a genuine Voltronic.

Quote

Current firmware versions (app):

Main CPU: 71.90

That's more recent than what I have.

Quote

V2: 02.40

That appears to be quite a lot more recent than what I have (02.00). It might not work properly with 71.90. The incompatibilities might only be in PylonTech support, but we can't be certain. 71.90 quite possibly has a lot of bug fixes for PylonTech support. But you are using a lead acid battery at present. Do you think you might use a PylonTech battery (or one that emulates PylonTech commands) in the future?

Quote

The machine mostly works, it just exhibits the premature float voltage charge mode bug (I'm using it with Lead Acid batteries) and it also sometimes gets into a mode where it continuously connects and disconnects the solar array (6x270w panels installed in 2012). The PV continuous connect/disconnect behaviour seems to only occur, so far, if the inverter is turned off and back on when the sun is out (a slow ramp in voltage doesn't seem to trigger the behaviour).

The problem with 71.80 [ edit: was 71.90, sigh ] is that it might have more PV bugs than that, causing the dips and freezes. These should be fixed in 71.86, but I've not seen confirmation. Weber and I have not gotten around to patching 71.86 for Kings as yet. It's possible that time will tell that 71.90 is stable and relatively bug free (except for the premature float bugs of course), and Weber or I might come across a firmware update file for 71.90. At this point we'd prefer to wait to see if that happens and then patch that rather than 71.86.

For now, consider 71.80d obsolete (for recent King models at least).

To work around the premature float bug for the time being, I suggest you try using setting 32 ("bulk charging time"). I'd set it to something like 150 minutes (2.5 hours). That's because of your present relatively light PV power total of 1.6 kW. You didn't say what the capacity of your battery is, so I can't guess closer than that. When you get it right, the battery charge current should fall to about 6 amps (a fifth of your maximum charge current, which should be in amps about 15% of your battery capacity in Ah) and the battery voltage should still be around the bulk/absorb setting (setting 26).

Sorry we don't have better options for you at this point. We're at the mercy of firmware update file availability. Also, 74.40e was a lot of work, and I'm sure Weber and I would like not to have to patch more firmware for a while 😴

Edited by Coulomb

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Posted (edited)
2 hours ago, Coulomb said:

That's more recent than what I have.

Ah interesting! Is there any way of dumping the current firmware without opening the machine? (I don't want to break the warranty, like I did with the Must Power unit... long story, I was trying to clean it)

Quote

But you are using a lead acid battery at present. Do you think you might use a PylonTech battery (or one that emulates PylonTech commands) in the future?

I'm *mostly* not planning on adding fancy batteries currently (sticking with VRLA(?) mostly for backup).

Quote

The problem with 71.90 is that it might have more PV bugs than that, causing the dips and freezes.

It mostly works, it seems, it just sometimes disconnects the array, waits a few seconds, reconnects and repeats continuously until the sun goes down. It generally doesn't seem to be as efficient with solar conversion as the dodgy MUST POWER unit I had - but the MP unit may have had inflated numbers.

Quote

Weber and I have not gotten around to patching 71.86 for Kings as yet. It's possible that time will tell that 71.90 is stable and relatively bug free (except for the premature float bugs of course),

haha @ "of course". How are you doing the firmware patching? As in, are you trying to read, understand and modify the firmware machine code directly (as opposed to compiling from source)? That's not for the faint of heart/headache material.

Quote

To work around the premature float bug for the time being, I suggest you try using setting 32 ("bulk charging time"). I'd set it to something like 150 minutes (2.5 hours). That's because of your present relatively light PV power total of 1.6 kW. You didn't say what the capacity of your battery is, so I can't guess closer than that. When you get it right, the battery charge current should fall to about 6 amps (a fifth of your maximum charge current, which should be in amps about 15% of your battery capacity in Ah) and the battery voltage should still be around the bulk/absorb setting (setting 26).

Sorry we don't have better options for you at this point. We're at the mercy of firmware update file availability. Also, 74.40e was a lot of work, and I'm sure Weber and I would like not to have to patch more firmware for a while 😴

no worries :) My setup is fairly basic, but I will probably expand the size of the PV array before next summer. Unfortunately my house's roof(s) are poorly oriented for solar. I'm using a set of 4x 12V 102Ah silver-calcium lead acid batteries from National Battery in series. I phoned them and they gave me a figure of 59.2 V (series) for bulk/absorb, 54.4 V float and 45.6 V lowest permissible voltage. My unit seems to go to the float voltage prematurely regardless of the absorb timeout setting, but I need to test this, I'll do this tomorrow :)

There's a metric from the inverter called "Time until the end of float charging"... but it emits values that don't really make sense. I've attached a graph of the output over the last 24 hours (ignore the 'm' unit, that's part of my HA unit config).

Screenshot from 2020-03-15 18-10-45.png

Edited by aquarat

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7 hours ago, aquarat said:

Is there any way of dumping the current firmware without opening the machine? 

Short answer: no.

7 hours ago, aquarat said:

How are you doing the firmware patching? As in, are you trying to read, understand and modify the firmware machine code directly (as opposed to compiling from source)? 

Yes. It's time consuming.

7 hours ago, aquarat said:

I'm using a set of 4x 12V 102Ah silver-calcium lead acid batteries from National Battery in series.

That's very light for a 5 kW inverter. Half the recommended capacity (200 Ah).

Quote

I phoned them and they gave me a figure of 59.2 V (series) for bulk/absorb, 54.4 V float and 45.6 V lowest permissible voltage.

Wow. 59.2 V (14.8 V per 12 V module) is quite high for a sealed battery. 45.6 V (11.4 V per 12 V module) is quite low; I would not go near there for longevity of the overworked battery.

Quote

My unit seems to go to the float voltage prematurely regardless of the absorb timeout setting, but I need to test this, I'll do this tomorrow :)

Oh. Well, please let me know, because otherwise I need to change my advice (to others as well as you) for working around the premature float bug.

Quote

There's a metric from the inverter called "Time until the end of float charging"... but it emits values that don't really make sense. 

I can't imagine where that comes from, or what you'd do with it. Float charging is forever, unless the battery voltage drops low enough, and then it's to soon start a new bulk charge stage.

9 hours ago, Coulomb said:

The problem with 71.80 [ edit: was 71.90, sigh ] is that it might have more PV bugs than that,

Sorry about the confusion.

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Posted (edited)
8 hours ago, Coulomb said:

That's very light for a 5 kW inverter. Half the recommended capacity (200 Ah).

It was a somewhat rushed purchase due to load shedding. I have a generator, but naturally it makes a noise (despite it being "silenced), so I don't run it at night/early morning. The generator output is also unstable. We had existing solar panels with *very* dodgy grid-tie inverters installed circa 2012 (DIY/self-install). These micro-inverters generated a ton of RF noise. The King is mostly great because it smooths out the generator output (in online mode), utilises the existing PV array and provides a load-shedding backup. It's definitely on my to-do list to upgrade both the batteries and panels. The batteries to something LiFePO4 based probably, I just need to research the topic properly.

Quote

Wow. 59.2 V (14.8 V per 12 V module) is quite high for a sealed battery. 45.6 V (11.4 V per 12 V module) is quite low; I would not go near there for longevity of the overworked battery.

and here I was thinking I was doing the right stuff to make them last longer 😕

So this machine is really odd. Maybe I've got the config wrong:

If I set the float voltage to 56.4 V, the unit does the PV array on/off continuous cycling thing. If I set the float voltage to 59.2 V, it connects the array and powers the load with the PV power. This is obviously not a sustainable configuration. I've noticed the bus voltage shifts from ~390 V to 410 V when it's conforming power from the solar array. It may be related to "battery_recharge_voltage" and "battery_redischarge_voltage" (this is the equivalent of stop discharge when grid is available/stop charge when grid available).

I've quoted the current configuration below if you don't mind checking over it (I've removed the obvious config options - the defaults are first):

            ================ Settings ==================
Parameter                       Current         Unit       Default
Over_Temperature_Restart        enabled                    
Overload_Bypass                 enabled                    
Overload_Restart                enabled                    
Power_Saving                    disabled                   
ac_input_voltage                230.0           V          
ac_output_active_power          5000            W          
ac_output_apparent_power        5000            VA         
ac_output_current               21.7            A          
ac_output_frequency             50.0            Hz         50.0
ac_output_voltage               230.0           V          230.0
battery_bulk_charge_voltage     59.4            V          56.4
battery_float_charge_voltage    59.3            V          54.0
battery_recharge_voltage        57.0            V          46.0
battery_redischarge_voltage     57.0            V          54.0
battery_type                    User                       AGM
battery_under_voltage           45.0            V          42.0
battery_voltage                 48.0            V          
charger_source_priority         Utility first              Solar + Utility
input_voltage_range             UPS                        UPS
machine_type                    Off Grid                   
max_ac_charging_current         10              A          0030
max_battery_cv_charging_time    900             s          
max_charging_current            010             A          60
operation_logic                 Online Mode                automatic
output_mode                     single machine output      single machine output
output_source_priority          Solar first                Utility first
pv_power_balance                PV input max power will be the sum of the max charged power and loads power

 

Screenshot from 2020-03-16 09-25-33.png

(the dip towards the end of the graph is the MPPT system engaging after setting the float voltage higher)

Edited by aquarat

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3 hours ago, aquarat said:

If I set the float voltage to 56.4 V, the unit does the PV array on/off continuous cycling thing. If I set the float voltage to 59.2 V, it connects the array and powers the load with the PV power.

That's pretty weird. When it connects to the array, it presumably isn't in float stage at all (in float stage, the middle LED will be lit solid).

 

3 hours ago, aquarat said:

I've noticed the bus voltage shifts from ~390 V to 410 V when it's conforming power from the solar array.

This may have something to do with the buck converter. By presumed block diagram doesn't have the buck stage, and I don't know what side of the buck stage the AC to DC converter connects.

Quote

It may be related to "battery_recharge_voltage" and "battery_redischarge_voltage"

? I don't see why.

3 hours ago, aquarat said:

I've quoted the current configuration below if you don't mind checking over it

Nothing stands out, apart from your experimental bulk/absorb and float voltages.

3 hours ago, aquarat said:

Screenshot from 2020-03-16 09-25-33.png

I note that the open circuit PV voltage is getting awfully close to the 130 V rampdown point, and is often over the 115 VDC "PV Array MPPT Voltage Range" specification. I wonder if that has something to do with the PV disconnection. I've never seen firmware for a King's SCC to see if the power derating ramp differs to the ones I know.

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I experimented a bit more today: it seems to start disconnecting/connecting the PV array when the float voltage is set to a value lower than 57.1 VDC. I'm guessing that it can't bring the voltage from the array close enough to the normal float voltage, so it just drops the array (in simplistic terms).

I originally based the wiring of the panels on wanting reduced current and the Must Power clone unit, which indicated that up to 130 VDC was acceptable (the panels don't seem to get above 121 VDC open circuit) - whoops. I'm really not in the mood to rewire them haha 😂.

Thanks for the insights/verification of my unit's config^

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6 hours ago, aquarat said:

I experimented a bit more today: it seems to start disconnecting/connecting the PV array when the float voltage is set to a value lower than 57.1 VDC.

Interesting. I note that 57.1 x 7 = 399.7 V, so maybe something is trying to keep the bus voltage above 400 V. A long shot, but something for me to look out for when reading the firmware.

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Posted (edited)

Ah that is insightful. On that note, I thought you might find the bus voltage graph for today interesting (along with the PV output).

The bus voltage seemingly dropped in sympathy with the PV output during the course of the day. There were no drop-outs; the gap in the afternoon data was due to me refining the bridge software.

The inverter also indicated occasional "battery discharge current"... which is odd. I assume this is something to do with 57.2 V being above 57 V probably not great.

Screenshot from 2020-03-17 21-39-13.pngScreenshot from 2020-03-17 21-40-48.png

Screenshot from 2020-03-17 21-43-16.pngScreenshot from 2020-03-17 21-44-26.png

Edited by aquarat

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I reconfigured the solar array from 3:2 (series:parallel) to 2:3. This brought the theoretical open circuit voltage from 130 VDC down to 86.8 VDC (Pmax of 105 V to 70 V). The inverter seems to target 62 V as the Pmax voltage.

The inverter still continuously cuts out the array if the battery float voltage is set to anything lower than 57.2 V.

There seems to be an improvement in power generation of around 33% - so that's nice (this could also be due to renewal of the connectors during array reconfiguration).

 

Edited by aquarat

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