Well it really means, we just landed in Schiphol ( Amsterdam Airport), get your smartphone out, log into vrm.victronenergy.com, go to jan-kees, go to the console, and press the start button , so it wil be warm when we arrive at the barge.
What really happened is with the help of the VRM website I was able to log into the Victron Venus, and turn on the relais ( which could also be used to start a generator automatically). The Venus has 2 programmable relais. 6A 250V/30V DC. But just for safety we will use the Venus relais to use another 24 VDC relais to turn the Kabola on. Just in the event there is no connection I also installed an over ride switch, and put it in a separate fuse box.
In the fuse box we will have the main heating fuse, the relais, over ride switch and selector switch selecting the Kabola or the Vetus ( see electric schema below)
So I started getting alerts from my Victron Multiplus….AC overloads. Well wat the Frell! So you go to the boat. open the hatch and you see flashing light, turn off the multi , wait a bit and turn it back on and all seems to be working fine and you go home. Later you get again a overload warning, so you use the VRM website to get into the Venus control unit remotely, and set the inverter to charge only. Drive back to the boat and recheck it…and the same problem …it ain’t working….so you call your dealer where you bought it, and hear…… “Most likely the AC board I have seen this before ” and he provides and RMA and yes he sends at the same time a replacement unit, since it is still under the 5 year warranty !! The new unit arrives. Plop it in its place and reconnect all wires, turn it on …and magically…the light work …..So you plug the table into the Venus and poof all goes dark. Ok …must have put it in the wrong input. ve.net, ve.can .ve.direct…..but NO it happens a few second after you plop the network cable in. This happened a year ago also , and then it was a software update on the Venus which did this. A call to Daniel…and I was gently reminded that the moment the Venus detects the multi it will set it in the function set in the Venus, which was not the same as the switch on the machine……so I get into the Venus control , set the Multi to normal and voila….as the professor in the movie the 5th element shouts…”Aziz . LIGHTS”.
So before thinking it was Victrons error…we just have to check the Venus settings.
So we wanted to see Delft Jazz this weekend, plus Frank is throwing his USA BBQ this Saturday, thus…barging from Zaandam to Delft 72.8 KM with many bridges and some locks. The locks in Holland are nowhere near the ones on the Ohio River, or the French Frexeneit locks. The dutch ones are modest, 2- 4 inches sometimes 6-8 inches, don’t forget may times the canals in Holland are 5 – 8 feet above ground level. Just fun , sitting on the barge, and seeing only the roofs of house along the roads.
We set of at 10:00, checklist completed, mast lowered and off we went to Amsterdam, because the quicker route via Haarlem is not passable for recreational boats. The Haarlem lock being close to the big IJmuiden sealocks was bringing in too much salt water. remember, the driest summer in ages.
Did the Zaan then The North Sea Canal, then de oude hout haven and onto the first set of bridges on the Kostverloren Gracht, all went smooth until….the nieuwe meersluis. Last year that was a clusterfuck, and today was a upper CF. When we arrived the lock was opening and a swarm of little boats sped out, the other large boat in front of us was ready to go in, when……the lock closed…..a quick call on the VHF got us the answer ” I had to close it because I am changing shift, my colleague will open it up and have you on your way soon” so we waited . and waited and …the lock started filling from the other side…so we puttered around, wind blowing. Offcourse the little sloops and a few speedboats were jostling for position, even though there was no opening in sight. Got a few times close to them, especially when the only looked forward. Finally over an hour after we arrived the locked opened on our side. A few small boats were trying to get in first, and I did shouted loud to deb ” they have no clue that IF I loose control, we will be totally making them flat like a can of Sardines” . Which caused a chuckle with a few of the more controlled boaters. Once in the lock it took forever to be lowered the 1 inch if that. Most likely the new lock keeper was emptying the lock with a 5 gallon bucket.
But off we went onwards to Schiphol, the Ringvaart van de Haarlemmer meer polder.
Next bridge, Schiphol draaibrug, where we were told to wait 15 minutes, so we attached a line and turned of the engine. A small boat moored along side. The lights jumped to red-green, so I turned the key. Yet NO sound, besides the buzzer. No starter, no noise. Bloody Hell. Ok Deb jumped to my help, moving things away, so I could jump it no the belly of the beast and slay whatever horrors were not allowing us to leave. I decided to to a Mike Cockran solution and bypass the starter solenoid, while trying to do so , I saw a loose connection.
And voila, the beast sprung alive. I haled Schiphol Draaibrug again, apologized and quite quickly the bridge opened.
After de ringvaart we came to the westeinder plassen, a very nice typical polder scene. The canal with many small boats along the sides and houses lower than the canal. I found a mooring place in the Kager plassen and dialed them. The manager lady was very nice and reminded me that the Leimuiderbrug is closed for recreational boating from 16:00-18:00. it was 15:25 and 3 KM to go, so we should be OK. BUT for safety lets speed up a bit. Well J-K listened and started going faster and faster and got up to 15 KM/hr. after a bit I did hear a sputter but the engine picked up again, so I slowed a bit and kept going at around 12 km/hr. Then . ….silence…engine died……turning the key..NOTHING. Holy Moley . …I am barreling down a canal at 12 KM/hr and I have no engine…not much control. trying to steer as good as I could the barge slowed down, but because of the wind an no real good rudder action, the barge was barreling towards some sloops on the side of the canal. I dashed forward, and was able to lasso a mooring pole and let the barge kinda bang into it, stopping it. It did resulted into the ‘Remy Manoeuvre” invented by ( then only ) Ltcl R Michielsen of the Royal Dutch airforce. Where he decided to block the canal du Briare from potentially harmful airplane.
Together with Deb we tried to get the stern to shore, but no success. We waved a small sloop down and with their aide and pushed the stern in so I could secure a second mooring line.
So this was the second calamity today. Ok no sound nothing, so no voltage. Ok lets test first if we have 12V. Well the ONLY thing on the engine battery is the head. Well that worked. next step opening the engine panel. ..A rats nest of wires ….voltmeter out and lets see where we have voltage. Starting with the key switch, none of the contacts had 12V… GREAT another contact that cant stand the ‘good good good vibrations” ( Beach boys). lets follow the wires…..well it would be easier to explain some tax code to 2 year old Amelia !!!! So grab wire, cutters, tools and lets fabricate quickly a wire from the battery to the key switch. Deb was a perfect emergency assistant! Wire done, pressed on what looked like the main 12V ‘contact ‘ of the switch and yes …it was “alive” ( short circuit). But we arrived at 16:12 at the bridge, and moored at the restaurant the marina lady told us about . It was time to give Deb enough Wine to not worry. BUT ..lets call the bridge keeper on VHF to confirm he won’t open for us. The answer we got “Correct I won’t open for recreation boats, BUT you are in luck in about 15 minutes I am expecting a commercial, and you can get through after him”. We looked and Deb was really in need of some beer and food. But gave in to the fact that we could save and hour waiting. So we grabbed the beer from the fridge, chips and olives and sat down on the bow.
15 minutes later….NO commercial yet….mmm should I call the restaurant and see how quickly they can make bitterballen ? No so we kept sitting and then 10 minutes later the bridge opens. Rushed to the back and started the engine, and went through. A bit later we arrived at the mooring ‘keverhaven’ . a really nice peaceful nature mooring.
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)
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.
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
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)
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
The bilge pump goes on and 24VDC comes on the opticoupler input
And before I can blink twice the alert screen shows
More to come with the pulse counter
Do these alerts show in VRM…not yet, but they will, by Christmas…:)
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….
Nav Lights ( Running/Anchor)
Every day use
LED lights cabin
Rear deck lights
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
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
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
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.
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!
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??