Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Parts ordered for Stand-alone Arduino based Alternator Regulator

This morning I placed orders for the remaining parts and the PCB for the standalone version of the Arduino based Alternator Regulator.  Here is a 'projected' picture of what the PCB will look like:

And the schematic can be found in the Schematic Link above.  BOM/shipping cost came in at $83 for the regulator and just under $100 for everything:  Regulator, Temp probes, Current Shunts, etc.  All but connection wire and fuses.

The basic concept for this regulator is the same as the integrated Engine Controller and Regulator, with a few differences:
  • Found a simplified FET boost-driver (LT1910) that has a built in Booth PS.  It should allow N-Channel FETs to be used from 12v to 48v on P or N type alternators w/o any hardware changes.  Will be interested to see how it works!
  • Have eliminated the hardware remote LCD panel, the unit will just start when power is applied and optionally communicate status via Bluetooth. (Or the built in Serial port)
  • Have on board DIP switch and LED for stand-alone configuration and operation.  Just select the battery type, size, and some other special features and connect it up.  Nothing else is needed to get it to work in its basic function.
  • Sync port to coordinate functions between two regulators charging the same battery, ala in a twin engine boat.  Mostly this is to share Amps produced, but as the firmware progresses, might find other needs for this coordination.

    It still retains the ability to monitor and manage Amps (Watts) as well as Volts.  This can be used to better decide when to change charging states (terminating the Acceptance phase based on battery need vs. pre-determined fixed amount of time), as well as doing functions to protect the Alternator, or limit the load on the engine.  I plan to have a few 'pre defined' scenarios built in and selectable via the DIP switches, and hope to have a simple user interface available via the Bluetooth (and/or Serial port) to monitor status as well as allow for additional  custom configuration of different scenarios to be saved in the Atmel EEPROM.  Of course, one could always modify the firmware and get any scenario they wanted!

    I should be picking up the parts late June, early July.  Then will be building them up.  Till then, I continue to use my Fixed voltage truck regulator on the main house battery alternator, and the integrated Arduino controller on the Generator.

    Thursday, May 23, 2013

    Posted draft Stand Alone Alternator Regulator Schematics

    This morning I placed the draft schematics for the stand-alone (alternator only) version of this project to the Schematics tab above (click on the Stand Alone Regulator' folder.

    This regulator will be based on the controller project and share a lot of the code, but will not include any of the Engine control functions.  Key features of this stand-alone regulator are:

    • Active management of Alternator for both Volts and Amps (Watts)
    • Ability to use Amps as a way to judge when a battery is fully charged, as opposed to pre-defined time value (this is the key feature)
    • Paralleling ability for coordination between two regulators in a twin-engine setup (ala, marine use)
    • DIP switches to be used to select a series of pre-configured charging profiles.
    • Fully support of P or N type alternators from 12v to 48v

    It also includes a Bluetooth module, for future communication to computers, phones, etc. for status updates as well as finer control of the configuration.

    As always, it is fully programmable via a Service connector, and posted in the Public Domain.

    One major change I am excited about is the Field driver - I located a self-powered Boost driver (LT1910) that looks like it will allow for a fully configurable P or N type alternator support from 12v to 48v without any hardware changes.  Will be going to FAB in a few weeks, if anyone is interested in this let me know.