Friday, May 8, 2020


--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!

And the application user forum:

Last Revised March 8, 2018

Friday, October 25, 2019

Mailing list back online

Seems Google made a change to their Groups a while ago that took the mailing list off-line.

Today I made an adjustment to correct that.  Click on the right and you should be able to see the archived messages as well as request to sign up to the list.

Friday, January 4, 2019

An announcement

With the ending of 2018 and the start of a New Year I have an announcement to make.  In short: the VSR Alternator Regulator is Going Pro.

Over a year ago I crossed paths with Rick Jones, who was the VP of Marketing at Balmar before it was sold to a holding company a few years back.  After a few conversations we agreed to form a company Wakespeed Offshore with the VSR Alternator Regulator technology as the flagship offering in a portfolio of regulators.  

It has kept me rather occupied this past year and here is an early photo of the results:

Engineering Prototype of WS500 Regulator

It is a 4th generation VSR Regulator, featuring more robust electrical design and protections, enhanced communications and charge profile for better support of advanced battery chemistry (e.g. LiFeP04),  as well as IP67 design points.   And it is just one of a family of regulators we will be bringing to market soon.

And this brings me to the news:  Unfortunately the VSR Alternator Project as documented in this blog will not be advanced beyond its current state.  There are several reasons for this, including:  Time/resource availability, the fact that the CPU used it at capacity, and perhaps more so – due to my picking up the rest of the portfolio I have been exposed to concepts which are not mine to bring into Open Source.   So, it is with a bit of sad news that I must acknowledge that this phase of the VSR story is coming to a close. 

This has been an interesting project over the years, and I am hoping with 2019 it will continue into the future providing a true state of the art alternator regulator.  It has always been clear that this technology was significantly ahead of anything on the market, and now it seems we are getting proof of that.

Friday, October 12, 2018

Out of stock!

As of today I am out of stock of the VSR Alternator Regualtors  - Please Email me before ordering to check on the latest status.

Sorry about this, and appreciate the continued support.

Wednesday, August 1, 2018

Screen Shots of a 'System' install

I have been using the soon-to-be-available simple 2" dash display, and today took some snap shots.  On Viking Star the VSR Alternator Regulator connected locally to the alternator and working in conjunction with an RBM (Remote Battery Monitor) .  From the VSR Alternator Reference Guide, here is how things are wired up:


With this setup the Alternator Regulator is wired locally at the alternator; monitoring its voltage, current, and temperature.  The Battery Monitor is back at the battery monitoring its voltage, current, and temperature.  A single CAT-5 cable is ran from the engine room back to the battery.  To connect the simple Dash-Display all I needed to do was continue this CAT-5 cabling from the VSR Alternator Regulator up to the dish display.  While running I took these photos:

Shown here are two screens, one for the Battery and one for the Alternator.  (Note, all these screens were automatically created by the simple Dash Display, no setup needed - just plug in the CAT5 cable).  Some details I wanted to point out:
  • A key value of the RBM (Sensor Extender if you will) is that it simplified wiring.  Only a single CAT5 needs to be routed back from the Engine room.  The VSR Alternator Regulator is provided true Battery information in this way.
  • This leaves the Alternator sensing wires to sense the Alternator, voltage and current.
  • And to install the simple Dash Display, only a CAT-5 cable was needed.  No need to run ANOTHER set of sensing wires to the battery and alternator.

While running I also want to point out some details shown on the screen-shots above:
  1. Note how the Battery Voltage is 14.4v (its target) while the Alternator voltage is a bit higher at 14.5v.  This is because of voltage drop of high current over the battery cables.
  2. Note also how the battery amps are higher then the alternator output.  This is because I also have solar panels installed which are not (presently) participating in the systems communications network.
Fun and interesting if you like to watch things like this -- but one thought related to point #1 above:  If while monitoring you see the voltage difference between the battery and the alternator starts increasing, this is an indication of a wiring failure in the high current wires.   Being able to monitor and catch this is one safety ability a Systems Approach allows.

Sunday, July 29, 2018

Gen 3B regualtors ready to ship!

The new batch is in, tested, flashed, and almost ready to ship!  All per-ordered units will be sent out the week of July 29th - once I get them confirmal coated.

Thank you all to those who waited SO long for this next batch; for follow on orders will be taking steps to try to reduce any potential delays.  And with the 3B regulators now available to ship the special per-order pricing will come to an end on August 10th.  In case anyone is interested. . .

Over the next month be looking for that simple 2" Dash Display to become available, as well as a per-machined plastic case for the 3B regulators design.  Plus (I hope) even more news this winter.  Already hear of a larger display in the works, and of course the App being worked on by Rick Bell (See link on hope page of this Blog).  2018 looks to be a good year for the VSR Alternator Regulator, with a lot happening around it.   2019 should be even better! 

And a Thank You to all who have contributed and support this effort over the years - 6 year now  (8 if I go back to the parent DC Generator Controller effort where this all started).    And an interesting thought: using David A. Wheeler's 'SLOCCount' tool the VSR Alternator Regulator represents over 18,000 lines of C/C++ code, 4+ Man-years of development effort with a development cost exceeding $500,000  -- proving you could find programmers for $50K a year.  And that is just the software side!

Firmware v1.3.1 released

Firmware version 1.3.1 has been released.  It is posted both in Source code and per-compiled binary in Github.  Remember, there is a simple to use (Windows only, sorry) update utility under the 'alt-Binary' link:

The three major changes for this release include:
  • Improved load-dump handing - Regulator less likely to pull back 100% after major load removal.
  • Better support for OSEnergy Dash Display
  • Some feedback for dual alts.
Along with the above there continues to be edits and code shifting to allow for common source code reuse among different projects current under development.  Expect more in this area as other projects progress, and also to tidy things up.

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:

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

– Alternator Off
2, 3
- Alternator FAULTED (See Fault Code)
- Alternator in delay mode while engine warms up
- Ramping towards BULK mode.
- In BULK mode
- In FLOAT mode
- In FORCED_FLOAT mode (via Feature_in pin and CPE = #8)
- In OFF (Post Float) mode
- In EQUALIZE mode
- 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.
Default Action of missing sensor
Alternator Temperature Sensor
Enable Half-Power mode
Battery Temperature Sensor
Force to FLOAT mode
Current Shunt
FAULT regulator  (See note**)

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

Force FAULT override
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)