Saturday, January 28, 2017

Major release: New hardware, firmware, doc -- and some assembled units as well!

After over a year of work, today I am posting the release of the CAN enabled Alternator Regulator, along with new firmware and revised documentation.  The CAN enabled regulator allows communication of its status over a high reliability Control Area Network (CAN), used for decades in the auto,  trucking, heavy equipment, faming,  and industrial  applications the CAN is proven robust and low cost.  For those in the marine world, it is also the basis for NMEA2000

By adding a CAN to the Alternator Regulator, it is able to effectively communicate its status – and through the application of the open source protocol RV-C is able bring a whole new paradigm to alternator regulators:  Ability to fully cooperate with other charging sources to deliver to the battery what it needs in a well coordinated and prioritized way.  Stay tuned for more about this whole new approach, which as always is opened sourced and fully documented.  Key features of the Generation 3 regulator include:
  • Continued support for 12v to 48v systems with no hardware changes
  • Continued ability to use different voltages for the field vs. the battery (Allows 12v alternator to be used as high efficiency 28v battery charger)
  • CAN communications:
    •  Reduced wiring / installation by remotely sensing the battery voltage, current, and temperature
    •  Full coordination of multiple charging sources to assure battery needs are meet
    •  Prioritization of those charging source – Let Solar finish up recharging vs. burning diesel
    • Wide range of status outputs
    • 'NMEA2000'** status messages

The Firmware has also undergone a major revision, mainly to support the new CAN capabilities, but also to assure backwards compatibility with Generation 2 regulators. The source code will make needed selections based on the target CPU you have selected for each regulator (ATmega328 for Gen2, ATmega64m1 for Gen3).  Do note that there have been several additions and some changes to the ASCII status and commands strings, refer to use users documentation under the reference tab above.

And even more news, I have a small number of assembled Generation 3 regulators on hand.  See the side bar at the right. 

Going forward look forward, look for additional details on the ‘Systems’ approach to charging sources, as well as integration with other devices such as MPPT and BMS.  Will also be working on integration to the SignalK effort, and there is even the potential for a users application to assist in monitoring and configuration the regulator.  Maybe even a 3D printed case design!  Join the mailing list to hear more!

 ** Note:  NMEA2000 is a registered trade mark of  the National Marine Electronics Association.  Though the Alternator Regulator is able to provide some data which can often be read by NMEA2000 equipment, it is not NMEA2000 certified, not offered as a 'NMEA2000 device'

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