Sunday, September 3, 2017

Design Refresh!

It has been 3 years sense I last looked at the DC Generator controller board design.  In that time we have accumulated over 1,000 hrs of run-time on our system, and 20x other systems boards have been ‘sent out’  (though I am not sure how many are actually running to be honest).  Over the years I have had a few folks inquire about the design, and if there were any more PCBs left – which I had to say no.  But this winter I want to do a design refresh – bring in the learning from the Alternator Regulator project, and specifically add a CAN connection capability.  CAN (following the OSEnergy open standard) will allow for coordination and cooperation between charging sources, simpler remote panel integration, as well as integration with more modern standards such as SignalK.  Much of the ground work has been put into place, and is being proofed out with the Gen 3 design of the Alternator Regulator.  It is time to refresh the controller its self.

So, here is a 3D rendering of the design I have drafted up:




As before it is a fully integrated engine and alternator controller, with the addition of some additional sensing ports to allow for monitoring of an optional water-maker  (Monitoring for alarm, not active control / automation of the water-maker).  It also includes the aforementioned CAN communications capability.  It does feature a different CPU, the STM32F072, a bit lower cost – but also more programming pace, so the IDE will be a little different (A future project is to see about creating a board-type to support this new CPU under the Arduino IDE).  I have the initial design completed, want to sit on it a while to do desk-reviews, but am looking to make up a prototype this fall, with perhaps a small professionally assembled run later this winter.

Will also be looking at refreshing the optional remote.

A major effort will be bring the firmware up to date.  A major change I want to make is move from include file / compile options for configuring to using the ASCII command approach as on the Alternator Regulator.

OK, this is just kind of a heads up – letting anyone who stumbled across this blog know there is still life in the DC generator project!  If any questions, and if you are perhaps interested in a controller this winter – drop me an Email and/or leave a comment below.

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