PDA-based monitoring

I'm a datahead, and would love to have a monitoring system that records highly-accurate measurements every second.  However, I'm also an energy freak, so having a computer run 24/7 so that I can collect this data seems like an awful waste, given that so little processing power is necessary to store data.  I also think that there are so many standards out there for data communications (RS-232, USB, etc.), that it doesn't make much sense to use proprietary technology.

So it occurred to me that a PDA would be a great device for storing the data logged by many inverters.  It uses very little power, could be plugged in 24/7, and has practically infinite storage given the cost of today's flash memory.  But the big question is - is there any software out there than can do this kind of thing?  Presumably different manufacturers format their measurement data differently, so either there would have to be different software for each manufacturer or different profiles within a program to handle each manufacturer.

I haven't been able to find anything in some preliminary web searches - has anyone heard about any software that does this?

Comments

  • BB.BB. Super Moderators, Administrators Posts: 33,140 admin
    Re: PDA-based monitoring

    Linus,

    I am not sure you found this thread from a little while ago on a member who wrote a PDA based logging program... It might be a place for you to start with:

    http://www.wind-sun.com/smf/index.php?topic=1840.0

    -Bill
    Near San Francisco California: 3.5kWatt Grid Tied Solar power system+small backup genset
  • System2System2 Posts: 6,290 admin
    Re: PDA-based monitoring

    Thanks for the link, but I looked at his webpage and it appears that the program is just a glorified notepad for data entry.  What I'm looking for is something to keep connected almost all the time, logging readings every couple hours or so.

    I found Sunny Buddy for SMA inverters, and it looks like pretty much exactly what I'm looking for.  Too bad it doesn't support other makes/models.

    I also found KRMicros's DataLogger for capturing serial data on a PocketPC (or desktop).  With some data massaging, it could probably be made to work with just about any inverter that uses standard serial connections. Definitely a less user-friendly solution, but it's free.

    This is a good start, but surely there's more out there.  Post if you find something.  Data geeks unite!
  • BB.BB. Super Moderators, Administrators Posts: 33,140 admin
    Re: PDA-based monitoring

    I am sorry... You are right about the link I posted.

    I could have sworn that somebody wrote PDA software to log RS-232 from their solar array--but I cannot find it now. :?

    -Bill
    Near San Francisco California: 3.5kWatt Grid Tied Solar power system+small backup genset
  • mike95490mike95490 Solar Expert Posts: 9,583 ✭✭✭✭✭
    Re: PDA-based monitoring
    Linus wrote:
    Presumably different manufacturers format their measurement data differently, so either there would have to be different software for each manufacturer or different profiles within a program to handle each manufacturer.

    I haven't been able to find anything in some preliminary web searches - has anyone heard about any software that does this?

    I'm into data collection too, and owning a GT inverter, the only interface s/w is GT-View. I currently have that feeding a laptop (40W instead of 200W desktop) There is another fellow who seems to have written some *nix scripts that I'm looking into, & if I can get GT-view to run under WINE. That info is here: http://solar.js.cx/
    http://www.xantrex.com/forum/forum_posts.asp?TID=329
    Powerfab top of pole PV mount | Listeroid 6/1 w/st5 gen head | XW6048 inverter/chgr | Iota 48V/15A charger | Morningstar 60A MPPT | 48V, 800A NiFe Battery (in series)| 15, Evergreen 205w "12V" PV array on pole | Midnight ePanel | Grundfos 10 SO5-9 with 3 wire Franklin Electric motor (1/2hp 240V 1ph ) on a timer for 3 hr noontime run - Runs off PV ||
    || Midnight Classic 200 | 10, Evergreen 200w in a 160VOC array ||
    || VEC1093 12V Charger | Maha C401 aa/aaa Charger | SureSine | Sunsaver MPPT 15A

    solar: http://tinyurl.com/LMR-Solar
    gen: http://tinyurl.com/LMR-Lister ,

  • System2System2 Posts: 6,290 admin
    Re: PDA-based monitoring

    I'm strongly leaning toward Sunny Boy inverters for my system, so I'm focusing on options specific to that make.

    The easiest solution is to buy a Sunny Beam, which is a small tabletop (or wall-mount) device that stores monitoring data it receives a wireless signal from one or more inverters.  It can store 31 days of data.  Unfortunately, it's fairly pricey (~$430) and it only stores detailed data for a day (at the end of a day, a total power is calculated and all other data is discarded).

    I'm working on a similar (wireless) solution using bluetooth and a PDA.  Looks like I would need an SMA RS232 kit ($140 @ Alt Energy Store), an IOgear GBS301 serial-to-bluetooth adapter ($64 shipped @ ProVantage), and a bluetooth-capable PDA with a cradle.  In theory, I could set up the serial-to-bluetooth adapter to the same serial settings (baud rate, stop bits, parity, etc.) as the inverter output, transmit that in a bluetooth signal that the PDA can "hear", and have a freeware program (DataLogger mentioned above or a new one I found, 5dtool's CommLog) read the COM port designed for the bluetooth connection and deposit the data in a text file.  From there it should be easy - I can program something in Excel or Access that converts the raw data into something more meaningful and useful.

    The PDA is the big question cost-wise...I've seen some with internal bluetooth for ~$80 on eBay, which brings the total cost to ~$285 (maybe as little as $145 for non-SMA inverters) - not bad, given that it preserves ALL of the original data, has near-infinite capacity with an inexpensive SD card, and should work with any inverter.

    Anyone see any flaws with this plan?
  • SolarJohnSolarJohn Solar Expert Posts: 202 ✭✭
    Re: PDA-based monitoring

    Linus,

    I use a USB voltage datalogger to monitor my system. It is set up by a computer, but the computer doesn't have to be running when the data logger is in use. It isn't high resolution, but it's not expensive either.

    You can find more information about this product here: http://www.microdaq.com/lascar/index.php

    I've written about this on my blog: http://solarjohn.blogspot.com . Check my entries for July of 2006.

    John


Sign In or Register to comment.