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Anyone using the Fronius inverter add-ons?

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Posted by Rick F. on July 1, 2007, 7:12 am
 
Hi all.. I'm finally getting closer to having my system installed later this
summer (in August perhaps) and would love to be able to suck down all of
the data on power consumed, power generated and everything else.  To that
end, I was thinking about using their Data Logger/Interface box (something
most online places don't even list), a sensor box for monitoring panel
temps (among other things) and a couple of COM cards for each of the two
inverters.. Anyway, I gather that the interface part of the above box or
the separate "interface" card allows open-protocol data gathering from any
computer that has a serial port (if I recall).. Anyway, I'm not completely
sure I'll have enough $$ for all of the equipment up front but may buy a
couple of the sensors just to put them in place at the time of the wiring
-- particularly the panel temp sensor and perhaps the wire-runs from the
inverter to a central location where the other modules will be installed
(in our laundry room or in the attic).  Anyway, I figured I would ask and
see if anyone had tried this stuff lately and what the general concensus
was on it and if there are any installation pitfalls I should know about
with regards to mounting location, etc.

Thx!



Posted by dold on July 1, 2007, 4:49 pm
 

It may have changed, but the Fronius interface card and proprietary
software cost $00, and never worked on either of my PCs.  I even did a
clean install on a second disk drive.  Then it communicated, but never
captured data, although I could see real time monitoring.

The data kept on the PC is in Access, so you could get at that data via
ODBC or some other MS-Access interface, but it isn't common serial data at
any point.  It travels via RS422, if I recall correctly, to a USB converter
at the PC.

Support was not helpful.  The answer was pretty much "it works here".

In retrospect, unless the system is remote, there is nothing to be gained
via software verses a pencil and paper.

--
Clarence A Dold - Hidden Valley Lake, CA, USA  GPS: 38.8,-122.5

Posted by Rick F on July 3, 2007, 7:00 pm
 On Jul 1, 9:49 am, d...@09.usenet.us.com wrote:


Clarence -- I'm not sure what has changed completely with them, but
the protocol is wide-open now
and any program or system that follows that protocol should be able to
download the data.  The data
does travel from the inverters to the data logger box in RS485 format,
but the connection between the
PC and the data logger is in RS232 according to this link:
http://tinyurl.com/2mjup8

Below is the link to the protocol documentation on their site -- the
first half of it is written in German(?)
but the 2nd half is in English.  According to the spec sheet above,
there's capacity for ~1000 days in their
data logger module -- you might have some good data to download if you
wanted to tinker with writing a
program I guess.. In my case, my data will be sucked out of the data
logger on a daily basis by a Linux
server I've got and I'm thinking that I'll have a set of web-pages
updated in real-time showing output,etc..
Mostly because I've got to run this server anyway for a side-project
and I might as well be able to see
what the inverters are up to.. Should be interesting..

Protocol Docs:
http://tinyurl.com/359rty


Posted by Christian Kaiser on July 3, 2007, 7:49 pm
 
This is ONLY for the interface card, which suffers from not supplying
the historical data, so it's not a real option ;-(

The example program's source code is not at all written by a
professional software developer, which explains a lot. They are hardware
manufacturer, not software developers.

It would have been enough to add new software to the data logger that
supports some new commands, or even publish the ActiveX control's
interface - both would not have needed the developement of a new device
(the "interface card"), and would not have published the protocol.

When I read your posting, I really hoped they would have finally
published it, but they don't as "it's a proprietary protocol also used
in all their other (welding?) machines, so it cannot be published"
(rough quote from what I was told).

Ch.

Posted by Rick F on July 3, 2007, 8:47 pm
 
Ok.. You got me on that one.. I guess I hadn't noticed that their
'open' protocol
setup was only for "daily", yearly and whatnot sort of values which is
not
what I'm after.. You just saved me some money.. (8->

I have an idea though.. Why not run a USB port sniffer to monitor the
binary traffic between the device and the program?  Something like :

http://benoit.papillault.free.fr/usbsnoop/

I've seen other hardware hackers pull this trick off before to reverse
engineer protocols that were 'closed'..  One nice thing is that more
than likely the protocol that flows over the USB port is probably very
close
to what is described in the open protocol manual -- they may have
expanded
or added a field to specify a date..  I don't suppose you'd be
interested
in giving that program a try to see what it sees?   While I've never
written
any software that talks over USB, it's really just a fancy serial port
and not
much else.  Their manuals even talk about using a USB->serial adapter
for
some applications..  Once we have some data, we should be able to
figure
out what the commands and data are.. Anyway, let me know if you're
game
or not..


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