Getting Data from the Outback Mate:

Item Description Current Production

Introduction

The MATE transmits data from its serial port each second with the status of everything attached to it.

Normally, this data looks like this
1,00,00,00,124,126,00,10,000,02,256,008,000,041
E,00,00,00,027,089,00,00,000,00,256,000,000,060
1,00,00,00,124,126,00,10,000,02,256,008,000,041
E,00,00,00,028,089,00,00,000,02,256,000,000,063
1,00,00,00,124,126,00,10,000,02,256,008,000,041
E,00,00,00,028,089,00,00,000,02,256,000,000,063
1,00,00,00,124,126,00,10,000,02,256,008,000,041
E,00,00,00,027,089,00,00,000,02,256,000,000,062
1,00,00,00,124,126,00,10,000,02,256,008,000,041
E,00,00,00,027,089,00,00,000,02,256,000,000,062
1,00,00,00,124,125,00,10,000,02,256,008,000,040
E,00,00,00,027,089,00,00,000,02,256,000,000,062
1,00,00,00,124,126,00,10,000,02,256,008,000,041
E,00,00,00,027,089,00,00,000,02,256,000,000,062
1,00,00,00,124,126,00,10,000,02,256,008,000,041
E,00,00,00,027,089,00,00,000,02,256,000,000,062
1,00,00,00,124,126,00,10,000,02,256,008,000,041
E,00,00,00,027,089,00,00,000,02,256,000,000,062
1,00,00,00,124,126,00,10,000,02,256,008,000,041
E,00,00,00,027,089,00,00,000,02,256,000,000,062

Not much use to anyone in this form... But there are at least two companies that write software for Windows XP to package this data & make it easier to understand.

 

Software

Intellact's WattPlot

Download the software and email for a trial license: www.intellact.ca/energy
RightHand Engineering's WinVerter FX & MX

Download the trial software: www.righthandeng.com
 

Serial Ports

The MATE has a serial port and the PC will need to have as well in order to communicate. I am running on a not-so-fast surplus notebook that I also use for a backup location and printer sharing host. Some notebooks, especially newer ones are starting to show up with out them. In my case, I had to get a USB to Serial Adapter. I happen to buy a Planex URS-03 USB Serial converter and it works fine.

I temporarily connected the notebook to the MATE to test out the software. I used terminal program to make sure I was getting data from the MATE. This requires a terminal program that can manually set DTR=on and RTS=off. It also requires that you enable data sending on MATE via the ADV setting. You may also need advanced help... See the MATE Serial Manual

 

WinVerter Setup

I used WinVerter to check the setup. I like the inverter icon and charge controller icon. This layout makes for a tidy display, but I wanted something with graphical history built in.
Click Image to Enlarge

WattPlot Setup

I moved the notebook back into position at the printer and used Intellact's WattPlot 3.6 beta to continue. I made a serial cable to reach from the MATE to the printer area using Ethernet cable and the RJ-45 to 9-pin adapters. I will route this cable through the attic later. Or put the MATE back outside and use that Ethernet cable rerouted to the printer area???
Click Image to Enlarge

Finishing Touches

I addition to using WattPlot, I am also capturing the screen image and sending it to a web site for viewing using SnagIt software from http://www.techsmith.com/download/snagittrial.asp.

What WattPlot does:
1. Capture data from serial port of PC via serial port of Mate
2. Store data captured to files for later review by WattPlot or WattPlot Viewer
3. Display important status information for at-a-glance retrieval and graph the data collected from the MATE for a complete system histogram. See the example image to the right.

What SnagIt does:
1. Grabs the Screen, in my case the WattPlot Window. (like pressing Print-Screen key only better)
2. Saves the grabbed image locally and sends the image to my web site via FTP
3. Does this on a timer (I've set to 5 minute interval, may go longer, we'll see...)

What Maverick Solar web page does:
1. Created a button to start a pop-up window (free java script) showing the current energy graphs.
2. Create a small web page with just the image from my notebook with Auto Refresh (free javascript).

 


Click Image to Enlarge

What's Next

Who knows! This setup appears to work and uses zero power (since I already have that PC running 24/7 for printer and file sharing, etc). I recycled an old notebook (Search e-bay for Dell Latitude CS or a million other older lower power notebooks).

Check this out: Using a Sony PSP can get a updated image of the daily output (needs work).

 

What's Next

Check this out: Using a Sony PSP can get a updated image of the daily output (needs work).


Click Image to Enlarge

Hit Counter

 
DIY Home

Maverick Solar Online Store | Contact  2006-10


Do-It-Yourself Workshop

Maverick Solar
Help Yourself to the Sun

Copyright 2006-2009, All rights reserved.
Other Trademarks and Copyrights are used for informational purposes only.
Updated: July 02, 2010