Friday, May 8, 2020

Welcome,


--Protect your Battery --
-- Protect your Alternator --
-- Optimize your System --

These are the three guiding principals of the VSR Alternator Regulator.  Today’s DC systems are more than a simple alternator & battery with a few lights.  In addition to recharging your battery, alternators need to also support ongoing loads and power equipment, even large dynamic swings from perhaps an inverter + washer/dryer which can interrupt a recharging session mid-cycle.  All makes for a complex environment to try to understand and adjust for.   The Alternator Regulator uses a series of sensors to fully understand these complex issues.  Now in its 3rd generation it has been deployed in Marine, RV, as well as off-grid applications across the world supporting battery technologies ranging from traditional lead-acid to modern LiFeP04 technologies.


Protect your Battery:

By carefully monitoring battery voltage, battery current, and battery temperature, the VSR Alternator Regulator is able to closely follow manufactures recommendations for complete and safe recharging of your battery.  High precision voltage monitoring and regulation  – often to within 0.02v of manufactures targets assure no over-stressing of batteries.  Monitoring of battery acceptance current allow for accurate measurement of the battery's charge state (vs. time based estimates) to properly determine when to end charging and prevent chronic undercharging of batteries – perhaps the leading cause of early storage battery failures.  Combined with temperature compensation and a philosophy of "Protect the Battery 1st" the VSR Alternator Regulator delivers proper and safe charging of your battery.


Protect your Alternator:

High capacity storage battery banks combined with high-acceptance rate battery technologies (e.g., AGM, LiFeP04) can cause stresses to your alternator.  The VSR Alternator Regulator is able to monitor the real-time operational status of your alternator and adjusts its output to assure long life while at the same time maximizing its output.  By actively regulating the alternators temperature (as opposed to simple pull-backs), the VSR Alternator Regulator operates your alternator at its peak capacity while not over stressing it.


Optimize your system:

The VSR Alternator Regulator is simple to install and use.  In the simplest installation only 4 wires are needed along with basic configuration via DIP switches.   Adding additional sensing wires (current shunt, temperature sensors, stator signals) each unlock additional capabilities.  The 3rd generation design introduces a CAN (Control Area Network) to provide for coordination and prioritization between different charging sources in your system.  It also allows for the option to utilize the industry proven method of Remote Instrumentation – allowing battery voltage, current, and temperature to be communicated and eliminating the need to route individual dedicated sensor wires all the way to the battery: simple install a BMS or Battery Monitor at the battery and click in a CAT-5 cable.

Able to support a wide range of engines, be it a dedicated engine as part of a DC generator, a large prime mover, or a small sail boat auxiliary engine, the VSR Alternator Regulator is able to match the alternator load to engine and drive belt capabilities –  critical importance when utilize  high-capacity alternators on engines of modest horse power.   A unique Adaptive Idle capability furthers adjusts the alternator load to match the engines power curve throughout its RPM range – assuring maximum alternator output while preventing engine stalling and/or sluggish performance at or near idle.




A full set of ASCII configuration commands allow detailed configuration beyond the simple DIP switches – providing complete control to fit YOUR exact installation needs.  Real time status and configuration is communicated via additional ASCII strings, allowing you to confirm configuration and monitor ongoing operation via simple apps on your phone, PC or tablet – or via available Signal-K providers.  Capable of supporting battery voltages from 12v to 48v with no hardware change (including hard to find 32v) and another unique capability to utilize an alternator field voltage different from the battery voltage, allowing the use of 12v alternators to provide a low-cost high efficiency 24v or 48v battery charging heads.

Gen3 VSR Alternator Regulators may optionally utilize the CAN to communication with other alternator regulators and charging sources as well as battery monitors and BMSes to deliver a well coordinated ‘systems’ approach of all charging sources:  each understanding the exact needs and status of the battery and delivering that in a well coordinated and prioritized ‘systems’ approach.  The CAN also allows for remote configuration and ongoing monitoring of the status as well as limited ‘NMEA2000 type’ status messages.


Designed for high reliability / efficiency, featuring transportation grade design practices and components, internal software logic self-checks as well as independent external fault / limit checking, fall-back / failover modes (both hardware and software) and more.  The VSR Alternator Regulator takes seriously the task of Protecting your Battery and Alternator, while optimizing your System.  Learn more from the resource tables above, as well as the information blocks to the right.

  • Precision voltage regulations, often within 10mV  vs 100mV or more of many commercial regulators.
  • Monitoring of battery amperage to properly implement manufactures defined battery charge profiles, providing increased safety and less stress to batteries while truly fully charging them.
  • Ability to actively regulate alternator current 
    • Protecting batteries, alternators, and load placed to engine.
    • Providing a truly safe self adjusting ‘float’ mode for modern LeFeP04 batteries (0A in and out) while allowing the alternator to power ongoing electrical loads.
  • Support for 12v to 48v systems, including less common 32v or 36v,  with no hardware changes.
  • Battery voltage does not need to be same as field drive voltage:  Allows use of ‘12v’ alternator as a high efficiency 24v battery charging source.
  • Battery temperate monitoring to protect the battery from over/under temperature situations, as well as adjust voltage targets based on temperature.
  • Active regulation (vs. simple capping) of alternator temperature allows safe operation of alternators in high temperature / high load situations.
  • Alternator load capping, to prevent overloading engine as well as help save belts and increase their life.
  • Adaptive idle pullback to further reduce the load on engines while at low RPMs – allows use of modern efficient / high capacity alternators in engines of modest size
  • Support both P or N type alternators.
  • Multi chemistry, predefined charge profiles for traditional FLA, AGM, GEL, LiFeP04 batteries
  • Custom definable charge profiles allows complete tailoring beyond predefined profiles  to fully implement battery manufactures specifications
  • Flexible feature-in port:  One comm usage is to allow a BMS to signal "Stop-Charging" on LiFeP04 batteries.
  • Simple to upgrade firmware for future enhancements and bug fixes.
  • Participation in the OSEnergy CAN based fully integrated systems approach.  Bringing all its benefits of simplifying installation, increased reliability, and better battery / DC charging systems integration 
    • Also supports relevant NMEA-2000 type PGNs.
  • Simplified installation with industry proven Remote Instrumentation ability
  • High-reliability installation options, to allow for continued operation during component and/or wiring failures. 

================================================================================

An App!   ----    After long last an application is  being developed!  Monitoring, configuration, diagnostics -- once completed an application will unlock so much capability in the VSR Alternator Regulator for both the simple user as well as the advanced installer.   Have an early look and download a copy!

https://backstagesailing.com/downloads/category/osenergy-configuration-tool-beta-versions/

And the application user forum:  https://backstagesailing.com/user_forum/



Last Revised March 8, 2018

Friday, March 16, 2018

A few more Regulators are available!

In late breaking news, there are 5x more assembled Gen 3 regulators available!   $80 each, and I have some more temperature probes at $1 each...

Email if interested.  These will be the last of the Generation 3 regulators as I transition to the  3B layout.







Sunday, March 11, 2018

All spoken for...

All the Generation 3 regulators are spoken for, and I am now out of stock until the revised PCB Layout Generation 3B ones come in.

It has been amaizing the interest in this project over the past year, and few months, and I look forward to continued development and support going forward.  Thank you to all to date.


I am at this moment proofing out the 1st article of the relayed out 3B regulator, and expect to be placing a bulk order perhaps as soon as late next week.  Then give 4-6 weeks for them to be assembled, a week or to for testing/flashing/confirmation coating and I should be able to start sending them out the end of April / 1st part of May.   Until then take note of the special pre-order pricing of $100, folks are already starting to stick their name on these regulators - and I will work to get then out as soon as I can!


Thursday, March 8, 2018

An App!

When the VSR Alternator Regulator was 1st created it was envisioned that much of the users interaction -- configuring, monitoring, diag -- would be handled via an application running on your phone / tablet / PC.  The resulting ASCII status and command strings were intended to provide platform independent communications to that app -- more so, that ASCII communications was never intended for humans to futz with. 

But the app never got developed, and it was kind of lucky that the ASCII strings were human readable.  This background may help explain why they are not all that user friendly.


Skipping forward, Rick Bell has been working on an Applications and posted his works at Back Stage Sailing.  Here is a link to the application in its Beta form:

https://backstagesailing.com/downloads/category/osenergy-configuration-tool-beta-versions/

And a users forum:   https://backstagesailing.com/user_forum/

 I am so happy to see an app being worked on, as it opens up so many possibilities to simplify advanced installations, from single users to professional installers.   Few folks will master the ASCII command set, but with a good app they will not need to!

Have a look, download the Beta and give Rick some feedback.  And keep your eye out, there is more to come in this area of communications over the coming year...



Monday, March 5, 2018

A look at SeedStudio USB-CAN Analyzer API

Securing a CAN adapter is somewhat a challenge.  There are several available, commercial as well as open source - with their costs starting at $50 and quickly raising higher.  So it was with great interest that these little guys started showing up on Ebay:

USB-CAN Analyzer Dongle  (Note V7.00)

Costing around $25, they looked to be a promising little device to use, and for some reason they have somewhat wide availability.  Including SeedStudio who offers them for a reasonable price:   https://www.seeedstudio.com/USB-CAN-Analyzer-p-2888.html     I was able to purchase one through Mouser for the same price.  (SeedStudio branded).  And of note:  the one I have matches the photo, including the V7.00 revision.

However, the documentation is very lacking, and what is there is flat wrong.  It does come with a Windows program that one can use to look at CAN messages, as well as send out some packets - but if you want to intercept the USB port and use it for your own programs, well . . . .

So I did a little snooping.  Using a COMM monitoring program I have been able to decipher the ASCII commands to and from the little USB dongle for several of the key functions covering basic config, sending and receiving of packets.   Perhaps some official (and correct) documentation will come available, until then I hope this guide can help some folks.

BASICS:

The USB dongle connects to the USB port via a QinHeng CH340 USB2 serial to USB adapter.  Once your OS has loaded the needed driver a virtual COM port is created.




CONFIGURING

The Configure command is a 20 character string with the following format:

Byte
Use
Value
Notes
1
START TOKEN
0xAA
Fixed value
2
COMMAND
0x55
 Configure
3
?
0x12

4
SPEED
0x01 =  1Mbps   
0x02 = 800Kbps
0x03 = 500Kbps
0x04 = 400Kbps
0x05 = 250Kbps
0x06 = 200Kbps
0x07 = 125Kbps
0x08 = 100Kbps
0x09 =  50Kbps
0x0A =  20Kbps
0x0B =  10Kbps
0x0C =   5Kbps

5
FRAME TYPE
0x01 = Std
0x02 = Extended

6
FILTER
MSB
Example:  0x12345678   --> 0x78
7

    0x56
8

    0x34
9
LSB
    0x12
10
MASK
LSB
Example:   0xFCBA987   --> 0x87
11

    0xA9
12

    0xCB
13
MSB
    0xFE
14
MODE
0x00 = Normal
0x01 = Loopback
0x02 = Silent
0x03 = Loopback + Silent

15
?
0x00 or 0x01
At one time I noted this being 0x01, not sure why…
16
0x00

17
0x00

18
0x00

19
0x00

20
CHECKSUM
Calculated = 8-bit sum of Bytes 2..18



 Example, 250Kbps, Extended Frame, no filtering / no mask, Standard mode. (aka, what the regulator uses):  AA 55 12 05 02 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 01 00 00 00 00 1A     


SENDING  DATA PACKETS:

The format for sending a packet is variable length with no terminator.   It again begins with the 0xAA value, and follows these tables:

Sending STD frame:


Byte
Use
Value
Notes
1
START TOKEN
0xAA
Fixed value
2
COMMAND
Bits 6..7 = 11
Transfer Packet
STD/EXT
Bit 5     = 0
Standard message
?
Bit 4     = 0

LENGTH
Bit 0..3
Number of data bytes being sent


Example: Sending 6 bytes:  0xC6
3
ID
LSB
Example:  ID = 0xBA98  --> 0x98
4
MSB
    0xBA
5
DATA
Data byte 1
Data packet.  Transmit only the number of characters you want to send.
(Matching LENGTH above)

6
Data byte 2
7
Data byte 3
8
Data byte 4
9
Data byte 5
10
Data byte 6
11
Data byte 7
12
Data byte 8




Sending EXT frame:


Byte
Use
Value
Notes
1
START TOKEN
0xAA
Fixed value
2
COMMAND
Bits 6..7 = 11
Transfer Packet
STD/EXT
Bit 5     = 1
Extended message
?
Bit 4     = 0

LENGTH
Bit 0..3
Number of data bytes being sent


Example: Sending 6 bytes:  0xE6
3
ID
LSB
Example:  ID = 0xFEDCBA98  à--> 0x98
4

    0xBA
5

    0xDC
6
MSB
    0xFE
7
DATA
Data byte 1
Data packet.  Transmit only the number of characters you want to send.
(Matching LENGTH above)

8
Data byte 2
9
Data byte 3
10
Data byte 4
11
Data byte 5
12
Data byte 6
13
Data byte 7
14
Data byte 8




RECEIVING DATA PACKETS:

 Receiving is the same as Sending but includes a 0x55 prefix.  Note also, I am inferring the STD packets as I only captured EXTENDED frames.  Again, packets are variable length with no terminator.



Byte
Use
Value
Notes
0
?
0x55
Prefix value?  Help to re-sync??
1
START TOKEN
0xAA

2
COMMAND
Bits 6..7 = 11
Transfer Packet
STD/EXT
Bit 5     = 0
Standard message
?
Bit 4     = 0

LENGTH
Bit 0..3
Number of data bytes being sent


Example: Sending 6 bytes:  0xC6
3
ID
LSB
Example:  ID = 0xBA98  --> 0x98
4
MSB
    0xBA
5
DATA
Data byte 1
Data packet.  Transmit only the number of characters you want to send.
(Matching LENGTH above)

6
Data byte 2
7
Data byte 3
8
Data byte 4
9
Data byte 5
10
Data byte 6
11
Data byte 7
12
Data byte 8





Byte
Use
Value
Notes
0
?
0x55
Prefix value?  Help to re-sync??
1
START TOKEN
0xAA

2
COMMAND
Bits 6..7 = 11
Transfer Packet
STD/EXT
Bit 5     = 1
Extended message
?
Bit 4     = 0

LENGTH
Bit 0..3
Number of data bytes to receive


Example: Receiving 8 bytes:  0xE8
3
ID
LSB
Example:  ID = 0x 19F21280  --> 0x80
4

    0x12
5

    0xF2
6
MSB
    0x19
7
DATA
Data byte 1
Data packet
(Matching LENGTH above)

8
Data byte 2
9
Data byte 3
10
Data byte 4
11
Data byte 5
12
Data byte 6
13
Data byte 7
14
Data byte 8



I hope folks find this of some interest and help.  If you have any addition input, please add to the comments below.  I have this detail in a .wrd file and can send it to anyone who is interested to review / edit and/or correct.