Friday, March 28, 2014

And now for something REALLY different!

Well, perhaps not so much different...  this is a Tech Posting :-)

Integrated Engine Controller + Alternator Regulator
A couple of years ago I developed an integrated Engine Controller and a tightly coupled Alternator regulator for our DC generator.  A key feature of it was the ability to manage the alternator to a point of assuring the batteries were truly fully charged (by MEASURING, not guessing as most all 'smart' regulators do) combined with tight coupling to the little Kubota diesel engine to make the most of any run time.

It has been working very well for us; was a fun project to do.  It have released under the Creative Commons 'open source' licensing, so all the design work and code is available for anyone to use (in a non commercial way).  There are currently 4 other people in some stage of installing this controller on their DC generator.

  I have another blog which covers this design and all the details: http://smartdcgenerator.blogspot.com/




1st stand alone Alternator only regulator
Along the way someone asked if  I would want to break out the Alternator Regulator portion of that project - retaining the major benefit of its ability to fully recharge batteries.  Despite a LOT of press to the contrary, it is not hard to find people whose batteries are routinely left undercharged by the mass-steam 'smart' regulators.  Though not a problem from day to day, such continuous undercharging will dramatically shorten the life of batteries.    If one is a typical 2-3 week a year boater, this is not really an issue.  But if one depends on their batteries for months and months out of the year, it is a sad thing to see $2-3,000 worth of batteries only live up to about half their lifespan.   So, about a year ago I started a 2nd project - still open sourced, still based around the Arduino development environment.  And yet another Blog with its details:  http://arduinoalternatorregulator.blogspot.com/


 To top it off, it has Bluetooth!    After all "Everything is better with Bluetooth":

 



So why this post here?   Well, being Land Locked, I have been working away in the Man Cave, revising the hardware and the firmware.  Last summer we mostly ran the regulator with good results and I am at ready to place an order for what looks to be the final hardware.  Now - I have been hand-soldering these, kind of a PITA - esp the smaller parts.  I also have a few folks interested in having one of these for their boat.  Last week I googled up a bit about short-run assembly houses, and it seems that if about 25 sets of these are made I can have them professionally assembled for under $20 each.  The resulting total board costs (PCB, Parts + assembly) would be around $85 (Maybe $60 w/o the Bluetooth).   Hence, if anyone is perhaps interested in investigating a short run of these check out the link above for more details on the features  and drop me an EMail.  Even if I only get say 15 or so folks to 'sign up' I might just go ahead and do a run of 25, holding back some of the high cost $$ components for later hand soldering...

Want to make some type of decision over the next few weeks - no big rush, but if I do go down the assembly house path I need to start changing over to SMT parts vs. the existing through-hole components.



Anyone interested in one of these???







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