New SW and XW communication "Conext ComBox

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  • SkiDoo55SkiDoo55 Solar Expert Posts: 414 ✭✭✭
    Re: New SW and XW communication "Conext ComBox

    If you want to use an IPad just download Chrome browser.and it works great. Had a few issues with the latest revision of IE 10 but it has seemed to work itself out. Minimum Micro card recommended is 2 GB, I had a spare 32Gb and threw that in and working. If you pull card and put in reader works like you would expect it to. Just browse to the folder and open the Excel.CVS file. Under the settings Icon on the ComBox interface you can select browse and drill down to the separate custom logging files and select and save them to a folder on your main computer or storage drive for simpler access. I work on mine there, graphs etc and then save as .xls files to save the formatting. Since I am GT only I delete the nighttime entries where it's all zero's across the board. One issue I wish they will fix is it not pulling the Device Lifetime totals in and showing that information. Still really nice not to have to have a pc running 24/7 to log. Need to get my DNS link set up for it and my TED system.
    GT3.8 w/4600W Trina 230W, TX5000 w/5000W ET-250W, XW4024 w/1500W ET-250W, 4 L16, 5500W Gen. (never had to use) Yet!!
  • Joe_BJoe_B Solar Expert Posts: 318 ✭✭✭✭✭✭
    Re: New SW and XW communication "Conext ComBox
    SkiDoo55 wrote: »
    Minimum Micro card recommended is 2 GB, I had a spare 32Gb and threw that in and working.

    Wow if 2 GB gives you 10 years of logging, something tells me you will never fill that card!
  • ChrisOlsonChrisOlson Banned Posts: 1,807 ✭✭
    Re: New SW and XW communication "Conext ComBox
    mike95490 wrote: »
    Anyone know how it handles Daylight Savings Time? Does it auto switch, or manual ? I don't have internet, just an Android phone with a hot spot, I guess I can connect it to that, with it's powersupply hooked up, and then connect the Xanbus after it gets the time. The SCP or something, seems to have a battery backed up clock, for total shutdowns, ComBox have anything like that ? If it did "broadcast the wrong time to the net, will it update with the right time at some point, or is it a done-once thing ?

    I'm not sure how it handles Daylight Savings Time yet. The ComBox has a little coin battery in it for backup power. The time updates to your Xanbus stuff are continuous, and not one time only.
    --
    Chris
  • SkiDoo55SkiDoo55 Solar Expert Posts: 414 ✭✭✭
    Re: New SW and XW communication "Conext ComBox
    Joe_B wrote: »
    Wow if 2 GB gives you 10 years of logging, something tells me you will never fill that card!

    With the low prices of MicroSD cards buy the biggest I can reasonably buy, got last ones @ $15 ea. Would probably have trouble finding a 2 GB card.
    GT3.8 w/4600W Trina 230W, TX5000 w/5000W ET-250W, XW4024 w/1500W ET-250W, 4 L16, 5500W Gen. (never had to use) Yet!!
  • ChrisOlsonChrisOlson Banned Posts: 1,807 ✭✭
    Re: New SW and XW communication "Conext ComBox
    SkiDoo55 wrote: »
    If you want to use an IPad just download Chrome browser.and it works great. Had a few issues with the latest revision of IE 10 but it has seemed to work itself out.

    I have tried it with Firefox (my main browser), Chrome and IE8 on WinXP and it works fine with all those. Overall, I like the Android App better than web browser because it's more polished looking. There are limitations with how web browsers can render HTML, etc.. The Android App doesn't have those limitations so it presents a more polished looking, pleasing to the eye, more "fluid" UI, IMHO.

    Yeah, the Device Lifetime Totals could probably be put in a more advanced summary for each device (like under the Devices Menu) instead of showing them on the various Power screens. But it also doesn't hurt to have the lifetime total shown there, so I dunno.

    I notice that for off-grid systems it will show the last time the battery was fully charged in the Battery Power Screen. But when the ComBox does its daily duties and auto-reboot at 3:00AM it dumps the Last Full Charge info. It would be nice if it could retain that for off-grid folks because sometimes our batteries don't get charged for 8-10 days at a time. You can still go back and look it up. And the box that it's in does say "Realtime Info". But still.

    I like the fact that you can have solar power coming in, generator running, big loads on, go to the Battery screen and see the net current to or from the battery. And according to my Sun meter it's pretty accurate too.
    --
    Chris
  • SkiDoo55SkiDoo55 Solar Expert Posts: 414 ✭✭✭
    Re: New SW and XW communication "Conext ComBox

    What I meant on lifetime totals is my GT3.8 Zantrex has almost 21MWh on it since install but the ComBox only shows what has been recorded since the ComBox was installed and system total is only since ComBox install does not combine the real totals of the device. That information is available as it shows on the RS232 information and is queried each time the viewer program is started and running, so the information is readily available.

    I don't really see any difference in the display between android and Chrome display. Those are actually the recommended display choices according to tech support. Was working on problems with IE problems. Appears to be problems with the latest patch sent out by Microsoft this week. Guess I would have to put them up side-by-side to see the difference.

    Wish the code was open sourced, my son would love to dig in and modify it.
    GT3.8 w/4600W Trina 230W, TX5000 w/5000W ET-250W, XW4024 w/1500W ET-250W, 4 L16, 5500W Gen. (never had to use) Yet!!
  • ChrisOlsonChrisOlson Banned Posts: 1,807 ✭✭
    Re: New SW and XW communication "Conext ComBox
    SkiDoo55 wrote: »
    What I meant on lifetime totals is my GT3.8 Zantrex has almost 21MWh on it since install but the ComBox only shows what has been recorded since the ComBox was installed and system total is only since ComBox install does not combine the real totals of the device. That information is available as it shows on the RS232 information and is queried each time the viewer program is started and running, so the information is readily available.

    Ah, I see what you're talking about. I suppose there's some considerations there; some of the things that have Lifetime energy values (like the generator) are not normally logged. So displaying a lifetime value for those things vs things that might show a lifetime value in their internal logs creates some discontinuity in the system.

    Every component on your Xanbus network had a start date when it went into service. Really, the ComBox is the same deal - it collects the lifetime data since its start date in service. At midnite on Jan 1, 2014 it will then show the daily, weekly, monthly, this year as zero, and start collecting new data for the year. And the lifetime value will be retained from the date it went into service - and be contiguous across all the devices on the Xanbus network since the start of ComBox logging.

    IMHO, it can get really messy when you start trying to incorporate one item from incomplete historical data with new data.
    --
    Chris
  • NorthGuyNorthGuy Solar Expert Posts: 1,913 ✭✭
    Re: New SW and XW communication "Conext ComBox
    ChrisOlson wrote: »
    Really, the ComBox is the same deal - it collects the lifetime data since its start date in service.

    I would guess it only collects data during the period it is turned on and connected. If you turn it off for a period of time, it'll be a gap in data for this period.
  • ChrisOlsonChrisOlson Banned Posts: 1,807 ✭✭
    Re: New SW and XW communication "Conext ComBox
    NorthGuy wrote: »
    I would guess it only collects data during the period it is turned on and connected. If you turn it off for a period of time, it'll be a gap in data for this period.

    Well yes, that's obvious. Yesterday I shut our system down for an hour to wire in service to the Main panel for a new pole shed we put up. Xanbus power went down for that hour with the system shut down and no generator running to keep ComBox alive with the wall wart. That showed up as a gap in the data for one hour even though I think the MPPT60's continued to operate and charge the batteries during that hour.

    I guess I've never seen a powered data logger of any type that you can shut off or disconnect and still have it collect data.
    --
    Chris
  • ChrisOlsonChrisOlson Banned Posts: 1,807 ✭✭
    Re: New SW and XW communication "Conext ComBox

    The ComBox collects some very nice data. Even though we had overcast conditions all day, graphing our hourly average inverter load thru 10:00 PM vs hourly average PV output from one MPPT60 controller shows a nice correlation

    Fullscreen+capture+8202013+102507+PM.jpg

    The things I really like about the ComBox for only $211:
    • It completely replaces the SCP for system control and monitoring, and adds comprehensive data logging to-boot
    • The UI is clean and uncluttered, easy to use, yet displays everything you need to know to evaluate system performance
    • Doesn't require a PC running 24/7 to do the data logging
    • Peak power draw of the ComBox is slightly less than 10 watts - normal is about 2-4 watts
    • Allows simultaneous access from any number of PC's or Android mobile devices
    • Has user level authentication for viewing data, admin level authentication for system control functions
    • Doesn't require a special application running on your PC to use it - a regular old web browser is all you need.

    I'm sure there will be some enhancements to it as time goes on. But overall this is a well thought-out product and it's pretty dang decent right out of the box.
    --
    Chris
  • SkiDoo55SkiDoo55 Solar Expert Posts: 414 ✭✭✭
    Re: New SW and XW communication "Conext ComBox

    Agree like the features and the price. Wish the graphs were better resolution like 15 min instead of the hourly. Some other items of information need's to be refined in firmware, but overall good to see it come out. Have pointed out a few to tech support. They don't know if/when they may be addressed. They are aware of some of what I brought up.
    Overall great product and at he right price. Will really like it when I get it set up on DNS for access.
    GT3.8 w/4600W Trina 230W, TX5000 w/5000W ET-250W, XW4024 w/1500W ET-250W, 4 L16, 5500W Gen. (never had to use) Yet!!
  • ChrisOlsonChrisOlson Banned Posts: 1,807 ✭✭
    Re: New SW and XW communication "Conext ComBox
    SkiDoo55 wrote: »
    Agree like the features and the price. Wish the graphs were better resolution like 15 min instead of the hourly.

    I have to disagree about the hourly average graph. The hourly average keeps it clean enough, with high enough resolution to see at a glance what's going on with your system. If they wanted to put 15 minute data points in the graph, that would be fine. But then you lose the hourly average information that I find useful.

    If you want higher resolution because you need to analyze instantaneous load on your inverter or generator, etc, then use the Custom Logs. I had those set for 1 minute resolution, and that can be a pain for graphing because of too much data with squiggly lines on the graph that don't mean diddly unless you blow it up and analyze it by one hour segments max. You'd almost have to dump the csv into a SQL database, then run queries on the database, to perform minute to minute data analysis. And who needs that? We're not measuring energy yield from nuclear detonations here. It's an RE system, for pete's sake. And you need data from it that gives you enough information to fine tune it or tell you what's going on with it, not turn it into a scientific experiment.

    Five minute average resolution in the Custom Logs gives a smoother looking graph that's more meaningful for data analysis at-a-glance.

    It's kind of like the speedometer in your car. Having it with 1 mph resolution is meaningless. 5 mph resolution is plenty good to know how fast you're going at any one point. And when you're looking at the big picture on a cross country trip, do you really need to know if you were going 70 mph for awhile, then had to slow down to 20 mph to pass a slow moving vehicle? Or in analyzing your cross country time, is the average hourly speed vs miles covered during that hour more important?
    --
    Chris
  • SkiDoo55SkiDoo55 Solar Expert Posts: 414 ✭✭✭
    Re: New SW and XW communication "Conext ComBox

    Guess that is your needs and opinion. 15 min interval would just clean up the plot, has nothing to do with the hourly computation. Two separate math function and data is pulled from separate register in the device. Just needs to be more selection for finer interval for graph display, doesn't mean You have to select it.
    GT3.8 w/4600W Trina 230W, TX5000 w/5000W ET-250W, XW4024 w/1500W ET-250W, 4 L16, 5500W Gen. (never had to use) Yet!!
  • ChrisOlsonChrisOlson Banned Posts: 1,807 ✭✭
    Re: New SW and XW communication "Conext ComBox
    SkiDoo55 wrote: »
    15 min interval would just clean up the plot, has nothing to do with the hourly computation.

    Again, you have Custom Logging for that function, if you need to see 15 minute resolution. It's already the software. So why be redundant with it? Example - our loads thru early afternoon displayed as bar graph:

    Attachment not found.

    Now, displayed as line graph:

    Attachment not found.

    You get an instant representation of the hourly average loads thru the day, and what your present daily energy consumption is.

    If you're running at a nominal load and switch in a 2 - 3 kW load for 5 minutes you're still going to get a big spike on the plot at 15 minute resolution. If you need to analyze your spikes you can do that already in your Custom Logs. If you need to look at hourly average (or daily average loads), you can do that with the built-in graphing.

    Are you using the Custom Logging? You can graph data in Excel or OpenOffice Calc any way you want with Custom Logging down to 1 minute resolution.
    --
    Chris
  • Joe_BJoe_B Solar Expert Posts: 318 ✭✭✭✭✭✭
    Re: New SW and XW communication "Conext ComBox

    I have to agree with Chris, the standard graphing functions are good for a quick glance at system performance. I have some custom logging functions enabled and sampled at 1 minute. The raw data has a lot of information but it can get confusing unless you filter the data. Originally I was looking at a CSV file in excel of my PV output. You could literally see when a cloud went by. Pretty cool but not very useful.
  • NorthGuyNorthGuy Solar Expert Posts: 1,913 ✭✭
    Re: New SW and XW communication "Conext ComBox

    I agree. Hourly data give you the best view. You can see the process, spot inefficiecies, perhaps improve something. Muli-day averaging works better. Short term data have too much noise and you cannot really do anything with your system at such a fast pace.
  • Joe_BJoe_B Solar Expert Posts: 318 ✭✭✭✭✭✭
    Re: New SW and XW communication "Conext ComBox

    For us grid tied guys what would be really cool is predictive configuration of the system based on internet weather. For example, if the system knew it was going to be sunny the next day, it could draw down the batteries the night before so the PV harvest could be maximized. I routinely modify my grid support settings based on the weather predictions, it would be great to automate this. Now with the combox, it might actually happen!
  • SkiDoo55SkiDoo55 Solar Expert Posts: 414 ✭✭✭
    Re: New SW and XW communication "Conext ComBox
    ChrisOlson wrote: »
    Again, you have Custom Logging for that function, if you need to see 15 minute resolution. It's already the software. So why be redundant with it? Example - our loads thru early afternoon displayed as bar graph:

    Attachment not found.

    Now, displayed as line graph:

    Attachment not found.

    You get an instant representation of the hourly average loads thru the day, and what your present daily energy consumption is.

    If you're running at a nominal load and switch in a 2 - 3 kW load for 5 minutes you're still going to get a big spike on the plot at 15 minute resolution. If you need to analyze your spikes you can do that already in your Custom Logs. If you need to look at hourly average (or daily average loads), you can do that with the built-in graphing.

    Are you using the Custom Logging? You can graph data in Excel or OpenOffice Calc any way you want with Custom Logging down to 1 minute resolution.
    --
    Chris
    You are missing the point, needs do be a selection, you apparently don't have a need for it but plots would display better, not looking like a mountain range. Very simple coding involved as the information is there. Like I said and you keep missing the point should be put in as an option (selection). There code writer have left out other desirable data that my inverters have available from within and they don't or can't want to include it. If it's available and easily extracted should have option to display or log. Just because your system or your preference doesn't Need that doesn't mean myself or others don't want the information. By my request of a 15 min selection, I never said a 1 min selection, will agree that that produces an erratic graph if conditions are changing.

    Custom logging is being done, those still don't extract daily system or device level total, again no choice for GT or Grid daily kW total production. No accumulated device/system kWh totals. Very accustomed to working with Excel and produce graph plots when required, but I don't Need that resolution all of the time.

    SolarGuppy could pull that information in his version of GT View, so data is in inverter and just has to be queried and displayed. I am producing up to 60+ kW per day at peak which is getting less as the days and weather get shorter, down to the 40's currently depending on forest fire smoke and clouds so I hour plot points can look pretty screwy when displayed.

    Enough said on my part, I have contacted support with my inputs, and have gotten back some input and will wait and see what comes out.
    GT3.8 w/4600W Trina 230W, TX5000 w/5000W ET-250W, XW4024 w/1500W ET-250W, 4 L16, 5500W Gen. (never had to use) Yet!!
  • NorthGuyNorthGuy Solar Expert Posts: 1,913 ✭✭
    Re: New SW and XW communication "Conext ComBox
    SkiDoo55 wrote: »
    Very simple coding involved as the information is there.

    Nothing prevents you from re-coding it to fit your needs. Someone on this thread told it was open source. I think everything that runs on Linux has to be open source anyway.
  • Joe_BJoe_B Solar Expert Posts: 318 ✭✭✭✭✭✭
    Re: New SW and XW communication "Conext ComBox
    NorthGuy wrote: »
    Nothing prevents you from re-coding it to fit your needs. Someone on this thread told it was open source. I think everything that runs on Linux has to be open source anyway.

    I seriously doubt that the source code for the combox is something that Schneider would release to the general public!
  • ChrisOlsonChrisOlson Banned Posts: 1,807 ✭✭
    Re: New SW and XW communication "Conext ComBox

    Yes, here's a graph from today - my Custom Logs - showing XW Load Power vs Net Battery Power for the day at 1 minute resolution:

    Attachment not found.

    You'd have to do some serious data filtering to make that graph even close to being useful.

    NG - I had originally thought that perhaps the ComBox could be running embedded linux. But it's definitely not. It's something else and I don't know what is is. The firmware in the ComBox is obviously proprietary, although Schneider has released all the Modbus stuff for the Xanbus components.

    Some people think this open source stuff is Real Good. I don't. Anything open source always branches off into about 14 different directions with each little group running their own pet peeve developer projects. Just look at the mess that linux is - how many distributions is there? Nothing is standardized in it, and most of it is a half-baked hack. It's basically a nightmare. If you don't want that to happen to your product, you don't open source it.
    --
    Chris
  • NorthGuyNorthGuy Solar Expert Posts: 1,913 ✭✭
    Re: New SW and XW communication "Conext ComBox
    ChrisOlson wrote: »
    NG - I had originally thought that perhaps the ComBox could be running embedded linux. But it's definitely not. It's something else and I don't know what is is. The firmware in the ComBox is obviously proprietary, although Schneider has released all the Modbus stuff for the Xanbus components.

    I see. I thought somebody said it was Android.
    ChrisOlson wrote: »
    Some people think this open source stuff is Real Good. I don't. Anything open source always branches off into about 14 different directions with each little group running their own pet peeve developer projects. Just look at the mess that linux is - how many distributions is there? Nothing is standardized in it, and most of it is a half-baked hack. It's basically a nightmare. If you don't want that to happen to your product, you don't open source it.

    Open source is just that - open source. You know exactly what's in it, and if you don't like it you change it. If you don't like something in Windows, you're doomed. Like few years ago, sound disappeared in my Windows Vista. Had to upgrade to Windws 7 to get it back.

    But it depends. My phone is open source too, but Google went a great distance to make it difficult to change.
  • ChrisOlsonChrisOlson Banned Posts: 1,807 ✭✭
    Re: New SW and XW communication "Conext ComBox
    NorthGuy wrote: »
    I see. I thought somebody said it was Android.

    No, not the ComBox itself. We have a little Samsung Galaxy Tab2 7.0 tablet computer that runs Android and it sets on the microwave so we can use it to monitor our system:

    Attachment not found.

    There is a free ComBox App you can download from the Google Store for Android devices. It connects to the ComBox on the local network so you can use your Android device for a second SCP, and to access all the data logging functions of the ComBox.

    This is an overview video I made showing the ComBox logging and device power screens, and using the little tablet computer. It was really hard to reach around the camera to make the video because it was only about 6" from the tablet screen. But it was the best I could do at the time.

    [video=youtube_share;OurZS1As56Q]
    --
    Chris
  • NorthGuyNorthGuy Solar Expert Posts: 1,913 ✭✭
    Re: New SW and XW communication "Conext ComBox
    ChrisOlson wrote: »
    No, not the ComBox itself. We have a little Samsung Galaxy Tab2 7.0 tablet computer that runs Android and it sets on the microwave so we can use it to monitor our system

    I see. I thought this thing was the ComBox and was very surprised that it's only $200. LOL!
    ChrisOlson wrote: »
    There is a free ComBox App you can download from the Google Store for Android devices.

    This app might be an open source.
  • tjmonktjmonk Registered Users Posts: 1
    Re: New SW and XW communication "Conext ComBox

    Hi All,

    The ComBox does not run Linux, it runs an embedded closed source Real Time Operating System.

    The Android App is also not open source.
  • BB.BB. Super Moderators, Administrators Posts: 32,639 admin
    Re: New SW and XW communication "Conext ComBox

    TJmonk is "associated" with Schneider--So I bet he knows.

    Welcome to the forums TJ!

    Seen some nice things being said about the new Conext box.

    -Bill
    Near San Francisco California: 3.5kWatt Grid Tied Solar power system+small backup genset
  • ChrisOlsonChrisOlson Banned Posts: 1,807 ✭✭
    Re: New SW and XW communication "Conext ComBox
    Joe_B wrote: »
    For us grid tied guys what would be really cool is predictive configuration of the system based on internet weather.

    Joe, I have not seen a weather man (or woman) yet that can accurately and consistently predict the weather even 24 hours in advance. Weather people seem to deal with words like "partly", "mostly", and "percent chance". They go to school to learn how to use those words in a way that lets them off the hook if their weather forecast doesn't work.

    So I'm not sure how that could be incorporated into the ComBox.
    --
    Chris
  • vtmapsvtmaps Solar Expert Posts: 3,741 ✭✭✭✭
    Re: New SW and XW communication "Conext ComBox
    ChrisOlson wrote: »
    Joe, I have not seen a weather man (or woman) yet that can accurately and consistently predict the weather even 24 hours in advance.

    It's even worse in Vermont. The weatherman usually can't even predict what happened yesterday :roll: --vtMaps
    4 X 235watt Samsung, Midnite ePanel, Outback VFX3524 FM60 & mate, 4 Interstate L16, trimetric, Honda eu2000i
  • ChrisOlsonChrisOlson Banned Posts: 1,807 ✭✭
    Re: New SW and XW communication "Conext ComBox
    vtmaps wrote: »
    It's even worse in Vermont. The weatherman usually can't even predict what happened yesterday :roll:

    The local TV station here just got a new hot Weather Babe. So when the weather comes on nobody in the male population really cares if she can predict weather or not :blush:
    --
    Chris
  • Joe_BJoe_B Solar Expert Posts: 318 ✭✭✭✭✭✭
    Re: New SW and XW communication "Conext ComBox

    weather.com is pretty good (at least for my area) and I modify settings manually based "partly" or "mostly" on what it predicts the night before. It was wishful thinking on my part but it sure would be cool! For example; they are all saying this weekend is going to provide pretty much max sun so I will modify my support settings to draw down my batteries to about 80% SOC. If they are wrong, I wont kill my bank but if they are right, I will save a few more KWH's.
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