It’s alive…or….. is 7 am and where is your elektrikitie?

well it really means..the boat is self sufficient with no shore power.   This morning I disconnected shore power, so we are solely running on solar now. And ate 6 am the sun peeked around and started providing free energy.   Now does this make the sun a socialist, or just a nice entity?   I wil post usage screen shots on this page over the coming weeks.    Jan-Kees was on shore power, just as extra precaution, since there was a period last year where there was not enough energy to keep up with standby demand.   the inverter uses 25 watts for standby, plus the batteries always consume some trickle charge.  The batteries always discharge a bit, and need to be charged to full at least once a month.

Since we arrived we have been floating all by ourselves. Not connected to the atom eating nuclear energy creators, or the coal from Limburg eating fossil fuel plants.  Mr or is it Mrs Sun ( because she is so fierce?) has been filling the batteries of Jan-kees with her cheerful bright energy.  At 7 am the batteries were ‘down’ to 97%.  We consumed 2.2 Kwh yesterday and the sun refilled it .

7_20_am

Wen I looked at the Venus this morning at 7:20 the sun peeking from just above the horizon and was providing more than we are using.  showing a small charge current of 3.7 A.   This reminds me that I need more coffee and I need to clean the panels today.  Btw today will be a ‘scorcher’ 28C . (which is 83F for the non-metic people) . After this 2 days 25 and then back to the 21 -19C . (71-68F)
For energy use we use about 5 hours/day for generation from about 10:00 – 15:00

 

8_30_am.png

11_30_am.png

13_00.png

And they keep ticking and running, ran the wetvac a few times,  did some power sanding.

Screen Shot 2018-06-07 at 2.48.37 PM.png

 

Screen Shot 2018-06-07 at 5.54.23 PM.png

Nearly 18:00 and the solar still keeps the batteries up and fills al our other energy needs, like Coffee, vacuuming the top deck after part of it was sanded

So today it started with an overcast sky.   We are still on mainly battery at 07:45.  As you see the sun is providing some free energy, but the darn clouds act as a border wall patrol.  Yesterday, about the same time we had about 150 Watts of solar already.  BUT it is still early.

Screen Shot 2018-06-08 at 7.43.29 AM.png

now more drizzle @lunch time

drizzle.png

But charging a little

Friday 8th, an overcast morning

grey_sky.png

 

stil_overcast_2.png

The Sun is peeking around the corner

sun_waking_up.png

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

.

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…:)

Follow the electrons

Remember we had the big storms in January ( see Yes dear we do have storms in Holland) .  Right around that time the Venus warned me that the shore power was AWOL.  Well no Biggy was my reaction, the batteries are full , 800 AH 24V batteries ( yes Mastervolt, because I could get them really really cheap.) . so that is 25.44 * 800 = 20.35 KWH.  That would keep the bilge pump and Venus going long enough.

So mid March a friend goes to Jan-Kees,  they had a terrible flight, well they did book United!  Had no luggage and then NO 220V.   So some frantic texting ,  I suggested to look to the shore power , shore breaker, shore cable, breakers.   Well after a lot of work , they found out it was only the 220V primary outlet breaker who kept tripping.  Unfortunately, the shore breaker flips just before the panel breaker, so the harbor master was called a few times.   All what had to be done, was, uncouple shore power and test it while on inverting.  they exchanged breakers on the panel, but the problem persisted.   Perhaps some condensation water.  They gave up, did not wanted to listen to advise, because they knew how it all worked, and stayed on Jan-Kees without 220V for a month.

Then 3 weeks a Dutch friend goes to Jan-Kees, to do some cycling in the area.  Marius was in the same research department as me in the 1980’s so I knew he would find the problem.  We discussed it could be the Fridge or the outside light or outside motion light.   When I got a notification of the Victron Venus that there was no shore power, I knew Marius was testing.  the first thing he did was turn the outside motion light off, and VOILA…..Electrons were coming out of outlets. the Fridge got a shiver, and got cold.   Marius went outside and inspected the light and yes during the storm it must have shorted.  That is what you get with a cheap Chinese Led Motion sensor light in the mast.

lamp

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

Lost of sun energy and dinner with Astrid and Marjan

Friday August 4

During the day the solar panel reached a new record…

800pluswatts

As you can see from the Victron Venus readout we are getting 823 Watts ..free sun energy !!!!!

Late afternoon Astrid and Marjan came for tea and dinner, which was lovely.  One point which was brought up was the egg scare in Holland.  We found out that each egg had their unique code, showing what kind of egg is, and which company it comes from

eggs

 

1 means free range chickens

eggs
0 .                                      1                                     2                                 3

here is the article on egg codes in europe

 

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??

 

Switches

So you want to control things and see what is on and off.  On Serenity we have this breaker/switch panel custom made by BlueSeas Systems.  But that is just not a good fit here.    The breakers will be close to the 2 inverters.  The layout is much simpler, less circuits.

For switches in the pilot house we will have:
24 V
Bilges                        On/Off/(on)
Engine Exhaust fans  On/Off
Remote Battery       On/Off
Water Pump            On/Off
Deck wash               On/Off
Horn .                       (On)/Off
Wipers                      On/Off
Running Lights .     On/Off/On

220V
Hot Water (Vetus)   On/Off
Kabola                       On/Off

These are all Carling Contura switches. Getting switches is easy, but it seems very hard to get 24 V switches with back light  and on/off lights.  I was able to found them at onlinecomponents.com But the 220V and the 24V On/Off/(on) and On/Off/On had a 4 week delivery time.

For actuators.we used rockerswitchpros.com to get  them laser engraved.
Since we also use many many USB powered devices, weusb2 will ad a bunch of USB outlets all over.  First I bought these, but they are too bulky to fit in the carling size panel.

So these will be donated.   And I found smaller ones, without the
usb1voltage readout who will fit in the size of a Carling switch.

 

For some of the other actuators we got tIMG_1239.JPGhe following.

IMG_1238

 

Elektrikity

Now what do we do with electric…….we have 220 V, 12V, 24V .  when do we use what?

Lets view what we have we have 220V from shore, and we have 220V from the inverters ( 2 X 300 W Mutliplus 24V)
In order minimize DC losses we use 24 V, but the engine is 12V and some equipment, like VHF, N2K is only 12V

Lighting can be gotten in 220V and 24V.  Many of the older Led lights are 220V with a transformer going to 12 or 24 V.  So if 24 V led’s are available we use them, so we cut the transformer losses.  At the same time the 24 V is not always 24 V it can go as high as 29.   For the rest we use 220V, like appliances.

We will leave the starter battery for ONLY the engine and the engine critical systems.
The starter battery wil be maintained on a float charge with its own small charger.

All other systems will be connected to the house batteries wit a DC-DC converter
which can also be used to charge the 12V battery.

Just a fun side note.   It is cheaper to buy most Victron stuff in the US and bring it back to Europe.  Yes we can get BTW/VAT back if we buy equipment in Europe, but then we have to take it back to the USA in original packaging and then schlep it back.    Much easier to buy a cheap suitcase, load it with equipment and check it in when flying over.

For switches I found that Carling switches can be etched with pretty much any text and symbol.  I found rocketswitchpros.com  and newwiremarine.com deliver these . ( They are the same company, just a few price differences and offerings in the different websites….Don’t forget ‘marine’ is usually more expensive).  Only problem is …only available in 12 V.  So I had to google and find out a supplier who did the 12V Carling Contura body.  The 24 V is important because of the back light/ on-off indicator light.   Carling has a nice data sheet online which is self explanatory, except there was no code to 220V  switches.  After a few emails I found out it was 5, B = 24 V, D = 12V.  the switch covers can be exchanged.  I selected series V.

Some switches came with the remote battery switches.    I am using the Blueseas systems PN 7700, which also have a manual option.   They switch, but don’t need power to stay in  the open or closed postion.  Why pay about $140 more for a remote battery switch versus a manual one?  Simple, safety, now I don’t have to go in the engine compartment or in the back cabin where the batteries are, in case of an emergency.  Why not put a ‘manual’ switch at the helm, so it is close?  Because of voltage drop.  Now the switch is right next to the inverter. Lets look to cost, and we wil only use the house battery for fun.  If the manual switch was around the helm, there would be about 2 cables of 16 feet.  Lets go for full load 6000 watt. At 24V that would be about  250 Amps. Allowing a 3% voltage drop, means 2/0 AWG cables  ( 70 mm )  a 200 watt los.  Plus it would cost about $200 in cables, include the manual battery switch and you are at a total cost of about $240,   so $60 higher. I’d rather spend on Hertog Jan beer.  ( A case of 24 bottles is about E16, so with 4 cases of Hertog Jan I can bribe Daniel to do ALL the  electric cabling.)

We added a nice large piece of plywood above the fuel tank to mount all the electric equipment on.   The 220 lines are inside the pvc pipes and marked by a label with some clear heatsink over it.

This way the lines are very well marked and putting the clear heatsink over it protects the writing

Last year we got 8 6 V 330 AH Mastervolt batteries  (ManualAGM6V120626) for a steal, E750 via marktplaats.  With Oving1’s boom we loaded them into the back hold and split them up in 2 groups of 4.

Daniel made the connector wires and wired them up to a double fuse box,  where we mounted large Battery fuses and a 100 Amp DC fuse for the 24 V system and a small 6A fuse for the Battery Shunt.

inverter_temp

here we see from left to right .  Fuse box with 2 big fuses, a positive 24V to the inverter

The top grey box is the 220V AC out , Line A output from the inverter ( UPS line and the lines are rated for only 16 amp, which needs to be replaced by 32 A wires ( once we install the 2nd inverter).  The 32 A is important for the induction cooking
The lower grey box is the box for the 220 V AC shore power in, so we can branch from there to the two inverters.
The 100 Amp DC fuse which goes to the front breaker panel, the fuse for the positive MPPT
A bit lower 2 negative going to the BMV shunt and on the other side the negative of the MPPT
Then the first Multiplus, a space for the 2nd Multi plus (currently one is being used on Oving1.)  and the MPPT

Pic fuse box

pic BMV

Pic DC fuses

Sun & Solar

Daniel, the ‘ultimate scrounger’ was able to find a pallet load of 145W solar panels @ E75/ panel.  This is about 1/2 the normal price for solar panels.  I know I would have preferred 300 Watt panels, but we will just offerup some more deck space for future energy needs.

The Voc is pretty high 87 V, so we need to make sure the MPPT has a high enough voltage.

145W_solar_panel

Since the Voc is so high if we put them im series we would need for just 2 an max voltage of 174V, or with 3 of 261V.   Victrons MPPT start at 75,  100, 150 and 250.  But with 3 in series we go over the 250V, so easiest all panels parallel, which will result in 87V max and  with 24 V as  battery, a Imax of 36.25 Amps  (6 * 145 W panels gives  870 watt > 870/24=36.25 )  Realistically it will be below the 36 Amps.  So that leaves us with the Victron MPPT 100/30 (max 880 W ) or 100/50 (max 1440W) .  The 100/30 is about $202   the 100/50 is about $300.   So we will go with the  mppt_100_30

The Mppt will be connected to the batteries directly, and connected to the VenusGX. (Once it comes …it was supposed to arrive Q4 2016, not it is slated Q2 2017, until that time we can grab the CCGX from Serenity, with the GP and use that)

So we got to the point of putting the 6 panels on.  In the mean time Daniel found 4 solar_panel_yingli_panda_yl260c-30b Watt panels, who could be fitted easier.   Because of  the low Vmp (30.8 V) we placed two in series and these two in parallel.  To mount them we added a 20 mm  thick neoprene cell rubber adhesive strip to the long sides of the panels.    We made some aluminum strips to mount them all together.

Marc cutting strips picture

On the boat in the US I had bought the special attachment clamps, but here we opted for some self made aluminum strips, to mount two panels together.  After mounting the strips on the long sides of the panels, we added the foam strip. and just laid the panels on the pilot house roof.  ON a later date we will mount the outside strips through the roof
solar_strips_cleaning

 

 

Marc making aluminum strips to keep them into place

 

 

 

Here Daniel is adding some extra caulk to the cable passthrough

The panels are connected to a Victron MPPT 100/30 and then directly to the batteries.
Here is a view from the Victron CCGX showing the solar power on a sunny day 720 Watts

With the 4 panels being flat 720 watt is a good efficiency for 1000 W solar panels.  If we have 4- 5 hrs we will get 3 KW/day, which is more than sufficient to be self sustainable.