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. 

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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

Tuesday, May 8, 2018

Pre-release v1.3.0RC1 firmware

Today I pushed up a new revision to the firmware, called V1.3.0 RC1   This time I am doing things a little different mostly because there are more people out there who are interested and able to do some testing.  So rather then directly releasing this version after I have completed my testing, I am doing a pre-release.

The other reason for this pre-release is there has been a few changes in the code, specifically around improving how twin engines cooperate:  balancing, and hand-offs when switching running on only one and then the other.   To be honest I have limited ability to test such a situation - being a single engine setup...

Those interested in doing some early validation testing please go to the source code at: 
    https://github.com/AlternatorRegulator/alt-Source

There is no pre-compiled version of this, but if someone is truly interested I can assembly a test package and make it available for the windows BAT file update utility.

If you do find issues or have comments, please open a comment or issue on Github.



Later the Reference Guide will be updated, until then here are two notable changes:
  • Revised AST;  AltState encoding numbers
  • Addition of new advanced high-reliability capability:  required Sensors.
 and here are clipping from the edits:




AltState:              Current state of the Alternator, per the following table:
1.2.x and below
1.3.x and above

0,1
0,1,4
– Alternator Off
2, 3
2,3
- Alternator FAULTED (See Fault Code)
4
10
- Alternator in delay mode while engine warms up
5
11,15
- Ramping towards BULK mode.
6,7
12,20
- In BULK mode
8
21
- In ACCEPTANCE mode
9
22
- In OVER CHARGE mode
10
30
- In FLOAT mode
11
31
- In FORCED_FLOAT mode (via Feature_in pin and CPE = #8)
12
36
- In OFF (Post Float) mode
13
38
- In EQUALIZE mode
14
39
- In CVCC mode (only available in system under direction of CAN master)



 ===================================




$SCA:    <reserved>, < Alt Target Temp >, <Alt Derate (norm) >,<Alt Derate (small) >,<Alt Derate (half) >, <PBF>, <Alt Amp Cap >, <System Watt Cap. >, <Amp Shunt Ratio>, <Shunt Reversed?>,<Idle RPMs>,<Warmup Delay>,<RequiredSensors>
 


 
Required Sensors:  <WHOLE NUMBER ( 0 à  255 ) >    Many capabilities depend on the presence of sensors.  Battery compensation requires the presence of a battery temperature sensor; Alternator Temperature regulation requires the presence of an alternator temperature sensor.  If one or more of these sensors are not installed, or fail during operation, results could be less then desired.  As a precaution against this, Required Sensors allows the identification of critical sensors, and if any of them are missing or fail the regulator will take action to reduce demands placed on the system.
Required Sensors allows the identification of critical sensors.  It is a number created by summing up the value associated with each potential critical sensor.  For example: if you wished to indicate the Alternator and Battery temperature sensors are critical, you would enter 3  (1+2).   The value of 0 disables critical Required Sensor checks and the regulator will utilize other existing fall-back modes.
Sensor
Value
Default Action of missing sensor
Alternator Temperature Sensor
1
Enable Half-Power mode
Battery Temperature Sensor
2
Force to FLOAT mode
Current Shunt
4
FAULT regulator  (See note**)



Engine Temperature Sensor
8
Go into Falf Power Mode, stop Watermaker
EGT Temperature Sensor
16
Go into Half Power mode, Stop Watermaker, Full throttle.
Sea-water(cooling) Temperature Sensor
32
Fault if missing
Watermaker PSI (pre / post) Sensors
64
Disable Watermaker



Force FAULT override
128
Overrides ‘Default’ action and forces regulator into FAULT mode.
Table 6 - Required Sensor Encoding

If at any time one of the Required Sensors are identified as failed or missing the LED will flash its normal patterns, but in RED. In addition if the Feature_out port is configured to drive a dash-lamp (compile time default mode) it will turn on the lamp full time indicating a fault. 
The VSR Alternator Regulator may also be configured to cause a non-recoverable FAULT condition, overriding the default actions listed in Table 6  by adding 128 to the summed number.  In the prior example of Bat and Alt sensors being critical, sending 131 instead of 3 will cause the regulator to FAULT if either is noted as missing or fails.
Note**   It is difficult to determine if an Amp Shunt has failed vs. if are truly reading 0A of current.  Because of this, the VSR Alternator Regulator will delay check for the presence of a working Current Shunt until after Bulk has been completed.  If at any time during BULK a current of greater than 5A was noted it will be flagged as the shunt is present and working.  Once this determination is made no additional checks will be made – as a valid operation condition for the regulator is a true 0A of current (example, when actively regulating current to 0A in FLOAT mode).
(Available with Firmware 1.3.0 and above)