Saturday, May 17, 2014

Posted v0.1.1 or source and v0.1.1 of Regualtor Guide

Today I have finished the bench testing and final changes I wanted to do in the source.  Follow the Link to Files tabs above for the latest copy of the firmware source.  Major changes in this include:
  • Review and scrubbing of all ASCII commands, trying to have an eye towards an external 'smart' application to make it simple to configure this regulator.
  • Improved Tach Mode support.
  • Added new Battery protection capability 'Adaptive Accept'. 
  • Added new Alternator protection capability for Stalled detection.

Tech Mode is when you have an alternator sourced tech in use (use to be common on diesel engines).  These Tachs rely on stator pulses to signal RPMs.  Well, if the battery is fully charged we turn off the alternator field, and hence stator pulses can drop to 0 as well...  So, when Tach mode is selected (via the DIP switches) a small amount of Field drive is kept - even when the battery is full.  Hopefully this will be below the threshold needed to actually start charging the battery, but above the level needed to be seen by your tachometer.  Worst case, there IS a risk of overcharging the battery..  An improvement in the source is I now look to see if the CPU is seeing Stator pulses, and use that to 'decide' at what level of PWM we need to use for a floor.  (Alternatively, you can fix the value via the $SCT: command).

The new feature Adaptive Accept will cap the amount of time we stay in Acceptance phase to 5 times the amount of time we were in Bulk.  An example of where this comes in handy: if you  start the engine with a fully charged battery  the voltage will quickly raise to the Bulk limit.  If enabled, the Adaptive Accept will then quickly transition from Accept phase into Float. (as opposed to just sitting there, boiling out your battery).    Adaptive Accept is enabled in one of two ways:
  1. User has configured it by setting the Exit Accept Amps = -1
  2. We have never been able to measure Amps..
 The 5x factor is defined in the source code via   #define ADPT_ACPT_TIME_FACTOR.  There is no way to disable the protection trigger #2 above, outside of modifying the source code.  The ability to measure Amps is a prime function of this project, and if we loose that ability it should be corrected.  At the same time, it is good to take steps to protect the battery in case of a failure.

Also added is a feature which will monitor the RPMs of the engine.  If we notice the RPMs stop, then we will assume the engine has stalled.  In this case we will limit the drive of the field to 50% of its max capability.  As RPMs increase, the field drive cap is raised.  See $SCO: command, the PFB - Pull Back Factor value for more details.

Both of these capabilities depend on the regulator being correctly installed, with all its sensors attached.  It is this rich ability to monitor and measure things which gives is the ability to better manage the system for more efficiency and better protection of both the battery and the alternator.

Also posted is a .PDF file with the latest documentation of how to install, configure, and operate the Arduino Alternator Regulator.  Most all the answers can be found here, and if not, look into the source code...  Look under the Reference tab above for this .pdf file.

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