Sunday, September 18, 2016

Posted Hardware Design for CAN enabled Alternator Regulator

Today I posted the hardware design files for the CAN enabled version of the Alternator Regulator.  It is the revised design I just sent off to have some blank PCBs created and I hope will be the final prototype.  I am still making some small adjustments to the source code, around integration with a remote battery monitor device, and once I have completed that will post the source code.  A side note, the new source code will auto-compile for either this new CAN enabled regulator, or the original stand alone regulator, based on the CPU type.

Some key features of the new design, and (soon to be released) firmware:
  • Same core regulator functions:  Voltage, current, temperature, engine load.
  • Same Charge Profile capability, and ASCII communications for status / advanced configuration
  • Changed USB connector to smaller Micro USB
  • Improved Stator sensor / Tachometer repeater circuit 
  • Addition of CAN ports
    • Stuffing options for CAT-5 connectors or standard wiring header
    • Outputs NMEA-2000 like status messages
    • Utilizes J1939 / RV-C to implement coordinated 'systems' approach for battery management.

Perhaps the two biggest changes are the CAN port, and the improved Stator hardware.   The CAN port is used to send out status of the regulator / alternator, and currently support NMEA-2000 like messages.  With this one should be able to integrate into existing NMEA-2000 displays, as well as translation efforts such as Signal-K    The improved Stator circuit is very sensitive and able to lock onto stator waves just from the residual magnetism in the alternators core.  This should allow for alternator connected tachometers to function almost all the time, without needing to fine-tune a small field drive..  And this regulator is the 1st of what I hope to be a series of designs which integrate with each other (via the CAN port) to approach battery charging from a 'systems' viewpoint, with all working together in a coordinated / prioritized fashion.  There is much more to come on this last topic!

You will find the CAD files, BOM, Gbr files, and schematic under the appropriate resource tabs at the top.

Finally, I only have one blank PCB left for the v0.1.4 release of the Alternator Regulator.  Once the hardware is stabilized, I want to look into the possibility of doing a short-run of the new design, but fully assembled.  There is a bit of thinking to do here, and I am also looking at porting over to the STM32 line of CPUs (lower cost, more capability) - but in the end I do know many people would find a fully assembled / programmed and tested regulator more appealing than the current blank PCB.  Watch this space over the winter, might do something like a Kick-starter campaign...