Daemons…..

No not DEMONS..daemons………are small processes running in the background of a computer, doing all kind of tasks, like the teenager mowing the grass, the mailman delivering your mail.  Well there are some of these running around in the Venus.  They keep an eye out many things, especially the digital inputs.  One of the nice items built into the Venus.  The Venus has 5 of these inputs, which can be used for a bunch of tasks.  The first ones which come to mind are bilge alarm (Ok/Alarm),  smoke alarm (Ok/Alarm),  fire alarm(Ok/Alarm), door alarm (Open/Closed), Pulse Meter (water volume pumped), generator (Running/Stopped), etc.   And these ‘states’ are all visible on the screen.

The good thing about the Venus, just these 5 digital input alerts wil pay for the unit by itself, if you compare them to other boat monitoring systems, who have the ‘get rich scheme’ of charging monthly fees.

Now how do we get these to work?
We need to get the different signals to the Venus input, which is a RJ12 input, which is also used in multi line phone system, and had 6 wires.  OHH you said 5 inputs, why 6 wires.  Well wire #5 is Ground.   (we will come to the why later)

The first thing we need to do is get access to these wires.  Now the McGiver way is to get a RJ12 .phone cord, grab a big hunting knife and strip all the wires.  A more ‘civilized’ way is to order a RJ12 Breakout board .  ($5.99 to $12 on Amazon and Ebay)

RJ12
RJ12 Breakout

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rj12-connection
RJ12 connected to Venus

 

 

 

 

 

 

With this setup we can already trigger alerts.

The pin out is

Pin 1-4 and 6 Inputs
Pin 5 Ground.

 

So lets configure Pin 6 as High water alert and connect a float switch.  The float switch just makes a contact, thus to simulate that we just use a wire and connect pin 5 and 6 on and off and see the results.

 

Simple is it not?  Let’s walk through the set up steps.  Connect to the console, via smart phone, tables, or web browser when you are local through the Venus wifi.  Later you can always connect to the console via VRM.

Digital inputs > set up > show name change, show difference  inverted . on / off

These alerts can be triggered by just connecting the input to the ground.  BUT not all alerts can be done that way !!  Now Venus is kind of sensitive about the voltage it wil take. Yes I know the power input can be 8-70VDC, but that regulates it down to 5V and 3V3, the two voltages used with sensors and digital inputs.  So we need to protect the Venus.  We can do this 2 ways.  A relay, where the input is 12DC or 24DC or 110Ac or 220AC and then close a contact, which connects the Venus signal port to ground.  Most of these solid state relays are used to get a 110 or 220V connection triggered by a 5 – 12 or 24VDC input, so I have not tried these.
Otherwise an Optocoupler, one like this 4 channel one from Ebay for  $12.  This is a 24V DC Optocoupler, because Jan-kees runs on 24V DC.

optocoupler.png

 

RJ12-Opto-Gnd
Now one thing which worried me, was the voltage on the output side.  I know the Venus is built on a heavily modified Beagelbone, which is a version or a Raspberry Pi.  These units just like 3V3 DC as signals.  Putting a 5VDC signal on there, even though it says so in the manual of the Venus, it had me worried.  You are talking to person who in 1980 by sheer “mmmm I’ll show you how this works” blew up one of the first optical disk readers costing close to $10,000 by using the wrong input voltage.  The good old laserprinter research at OCE ( Now Canon).  But, since we are switching to GND only the input voltage matters.   As you see the Opticoupler has on the output side GND and VCC, which is 5VDC here.  BUT we ONLY connect the GND.  so when the input gets “high”  the Venus tells me there is an alert.    This optocoupler has a 5VDC output, but the Venus wil also work with the 3V3DC output optocoupler, because we are ONLY using GND.  NO I wil not make the Victron Engineers a compliment, they already know they are brilliant, selecting a very safe way.  (Now you know why line 5 of the RJ12 is GND)

 

The settings for this input are…so check it a bilge alarm

bilge1.png

Then via the main screen go to the bilge alarm and go to the setup screen and click invert ( when there is a voltage on the input of the optocoupler, the alert will go on.   Because the normal ‘on’ state for the Venus is connect the signal to ground)

bilge2.pngbilge 3.png

 

Now when I put 24VDC on my optocoupler input, the Bilge alerts jumps immediately to ALERT and the next screen is the ALERT screen and the buzzer goes off.

Here the bilge alarm is OK Bilge OK  at 7.25.06 PM.png

The bilge pump goes on and 24VDC comes on the opticoupler input

bilge alert.png

And before I can blink twice the alert screen shows

Bilge alert screen 7.25.17 PM.png

 

 

More to come with the pulse counter

 

Do these alerts show in VRM…not yet, but they will, by Christmas…:)

Instrument panel

So besides a breaker panel, we also need some switches to turn things on and off.  We are using Carling Series IV switches

We need the following ones….

Cruising

  • Engine Fans
  • Nav Lights ( Running/Anchor)
  • Wipers
  • Horn
  • Search Light
  • USB port

Every day use

  • Battery Switch
  • Bilge (test)
  • Bilge (test)
  • Fresh Water
  • LED lights cabin
  • Rear deck lights
  • Apero Bell
  • USB port

The head  pump, pump out pump and the shower pump switches will be in the head itself, just as the switch for the motion light on the mast is next to the front steps.

Instead of routing out each switch opening it is easier to just buy a semi pre-made panel and mount it on the the wheel house console (newwiremarine.com)

I decided on 2 sets one for ‘every day use’, like pumps and lights , and the other for ‘cruising’, navigation lights, instruments, vhf , engine fans etc.  So I found these panels with newwiremarine.

 

 

 

Now because we all like clean surfaces, Roy came up with the idea to make them ‘hidden’ so he drew a nice recessed way to mount them, and on top are two little lids with hinges, so only when you need to use the switches wil they be open/visible. I really liked his idea, but I also wanted these panels to be ‘laid in’ so they looked as if they were really part of the set up.  Roy worried about not having the correct router, so I educated him him in how to handle a client in such a case…..subcontract that action, or charge enough to rent or buy the equipment. Which advise Roy followed and……

Roy made following

paneel1paneel2paneel3

 

So all that was left is to mount it in the steering wheel panel and put a little hingeon it..   BUT WAIT…just like in the commercial………there is more.  Roy came up with the idea that if the hinge opens, he might as well use the triangular space under the hinged panel to make a resting spot for an Ipad or Iphone, to be used with the Victron Venus, or Navigation

maten1maten2

Here are the measurements.  No the ‘stand’ is not done yet.  Roy needs to take care of his study first!!  But we have a few weeks to do this

PROBLEM – serenity: Low battery L1 on VE.Bus System

So I get this email around 23:00 Monday the 26th..  from the boat in the US ( Serenity ) who uses the Venus for Jan-kees.

Darn what is going on on this boat ?    So I quickly jump online and log into the VRM ( Victron) website and see that the BMV shows 12.3 V……so what the frell?  Ok I’ll drive there Tomorrow morning.

Tuesday morning I arrive at the boat and find out, no 110V on any of the outlets, the fridge is dark.  OH dear Oh dear.  Open the hatch to the battery/ inverter bilge and the multiplus ( Victron 12/3000 inverter/ charger) is hiding all quiet and dark.  OH darn …an inverter on the blink.  I cycle the switch on/off and it starts humming and a led comes on….I see a charge current on the BMV and poof . …silence, the inverter goes back to the “You don’t see me mode”

Ok so I start testing……yes 110 v is there, yes, polarity is correct, yes 12V is there, so I have declare a code and pronounce the unit dead.

I call the US Victron rep, Justin, I get directed to voice mail jail. Fire off an email to him, and wait.    I get a call back and Justin tells me to try a few other things, like DC connections.  Well I already checked them, but to go with the flow, I disconnect them and reconnect……Same issue…Inverter turns on, a little bit later, a few seconds…..poof…”I go in hiding” the Inverter whispers.    I share another email with Justin with screen shots of the Venus, and go home.

The next morning I get an email to please make sure the DC connections are ok, and if they are, Justin will second my medical opinion and declare the Inverter dead, and it needs to be sent to an authorized repair center to be fixed.   Who says inverter can”t rise from the dead?   Now having guests coming over for the 4th, the chefs family of the Pacific Kitchen, I kinda complain gentle to Justin and putting American customer service he hints that he can get me a  temporary replacement unit, before that time.  Darn such a guy deserve a beer or more.   And an hour later, Justin calls…” I am trying to get it shipped today, so you have it Friday, worst case Monday. Plus you can either keep that unit, or you can get your original back”

Friday bright and early there is it a nice blue Victron box with the replacement, so Saturday morning we drive the hour to the marina, but via The Pacific Kitchen to have Dim Sum with Lam.

Arriving at the boat I decide to hook up the unit first temporarily with some longer cables.   I flip the switch and what happens, the same  !!!!!!   I get worried, check the correct connections….YES…I run out to get a plug and box, so we also have a 110 V load. But same issue.  Ok the only thing I have not changed is the 110V so I plug into another dock pedestal.  Same problem.  Well it means I have to schlep all home to see if the 110V at home is perhaps correct.   The vacuum cleaner works, the fridge works, so I have no clue.   Then it struck me, the only thing left is the cable to the Venus.  I quickly get one of our friends to take one with them.   I unplug the original RJ45 cabe and …the inverter comes alive…….ALIVE….it’s alive……I wait a bit and it runs perfectly. after 30 minutes I accept the unit is NOT dead.    So it might be the Venus..  I log in and reboot the Venus with the previous Firmware.   Inverter crawls starts playing dead again.   I look to the release date and it shows the previous version is from the time the trouble started.  So I make a setup with JUST the Multi, the Venus and a 12V battery and .a 110V lamp as load.  With the Venus plugged in the Multi plays dead.  Without the Venus the multi is alive and cheerful.   I made a few pics to sent to Matthijs, and requested to install an older version of the firmware.  Yes that will teach me to be one of the first ones.  More to come….

Well on July the 4th I got the official word…”There was indeed a bug in the communication with Multis, which we fixed and it will become available as v2.08~8. Thanks for reporting!”   So now we wait for the software upgrade and then see how it work, and take it to Holland.

On July the 6th Matthijs emailed the following :

Good evening all,
Today we have released v2.08~9 for testing. The change log:
v2.08~8 and ~9
– Add ModbusTCP parameter to read & write the ESS minimum SOC setting
– Fix a few bugs in the communication with VE.Bus devices (thank you Shannon and Jan for reporting). The main issue fixed is that it was impossible to switch the devices on or off, in certain configurations. These issues were introduced in one of the v2.08 test versions.
If you see any new issue, let me know.
Best regards, Matthijs

So now we have to insert the cable and see how or what, then we have to take it out and take it to Holland to install it in Jan-Kees.

 

 

 

Houston we have a problem ( and for the Dutch readers also…Dank U Sinterklaasje)

Yes yes yes…It did arrive in the USA.

venus Finally.

Gosh I have been bugging everybody, Matthijs, Justin, Peter Kennedy  (pkys.com) for a few months now, after Matthijs told me last year he was working on the Venus, and I did not had to buy the expensive Maretron equipment to monitor tanks,  temperature and (soon inplemented) bilge pump activation.

But then it is just like VETport software upgrades…later than being told.

Small Blue box, no manual ( it is being developed online) and bunch of cute handy connectors.  A temperature probe with an attached 2 wire connector.  Now where is the one for the DC power ……..not there…..huh …there are others , like for the relays, and one for the all the connections, but not a 2nd 2 wire connector.  So removed the connector of the temperature sensor and slapped it on the DC power line.  It blinks….now connecting…yes we see the wireless network of the Venus…VENUS-HQ1712NTJVI-51f…Gosh I hope we can change that to something easier, or that we can access it easy if the Venus is connected to the ‘real’ internet.  Now I have to try to read the small print of the password …no luck with the Ipad…try again…no luck …Ok Iphone……same .  darn …do I have to call people on a Sunday?  Lets try the Macbook Air…and like the old ads from AT&T …..”Reach out and touch”.. It connects  yes a nice display.  Lets try the Ipad and Iphone now….yep they work too…must have been too inpatient!

Now lets slap the Multi, the MPPT’s the BMV, the GPS, the Temperature sensor on….Multi..perfect…MPPT perfect…BMV . ah no cable ( took it to Holland, Jan-Kees), temperature sensor……..yes/ no….what …the device says connected , and the sensor says disconnected ???

 

 

Ok lets plug in the GPS……wait the unit freezes up?  Ok power cycle try again and wait longer…..mmm same . the moment I plug the GPS with the USB .  ( 2 * MPPT and GPS) the system freezes up.  Well we will email and then wait ..I am sure it wil be solved soon.

YES it was solved very very quickly, an email to Victronenergy on Sunday got a reply in an hour !!! with instructions to do some more digging, so I start digging and organizing the results in a reply email till we come to the model of the GPS.   I revert to friend Google and I can’t find the model number, more running around on the internet and .   mmm my “GPS” unit is in actuality a Wireless wifi unit, which I had used for the CCGX, so with egg on my face I replied to the good folks at Victron ( Matthijs) reporting this .

The connected / disconnected temperature sensor is not solved yet, but I am sure it wil be.

Now lets put the old CCGX on Ebay, sell it and buy another Venus!

GREAT units.

OK and update………Hall of shame…..I tried connecting via the vrm portal, but no such luck…So Friday the 16 June, I drove to the boat, reset everything and checked the temp sensor again. And I could also now connect via the VRM remote control.   And now I saw that the Tank sensors read out was also showing connected.   Darn…lets test the temp sensor……..ok get some water in a pan,….put heath on and put the sensor in the water….but first we need to take the tie wrap off, so we can unfold the cord…but wait …..the ‘temperature sensor’ is 2 O eyes….this is the DC power source cable…    bloody hell.

I never unwound it, since it looked like the temp probe of the Multi plus, I ASSumed it was one.   So with egg on my face I called Justin, and left a voice mail, and when he confirmed I ASSumed wrong, I emailed Matthijs. In his reply Matthijs did show me my observation was correct, that it should not have shown , connected.  The question now is…will I show up on the ‘Stupid yet funny and still a bug found Client of the month” wall at Victron??