22 Responses to Monitoring Power Consumption / Production

  1. Nate says:

    This Arduino stuff is looking pretty interesting, might have too do some adventuring! Admittedly, i’m more of a PLC guy haha…at much more expense unfortunatly. Those sensors are interesting, might have to try to interface one with an analog card and output generator status to an HMI.

    • George B. says:

      Nate, glad to have you here.. one thing we need keep in mind.. it’s not the perfect tool we need embrace, it’s the one that most people can find, afford, and use. So many times, groups splinter or fracture because they all go their separate ways and adopt different tools. I embrace the Arduino because it is powerful enough to do the job, and get done what we DIYers normally want to do. And there are paths to move our work onto other platforms.

      • Nate says:

        yea I agree, i’m finding Arduino pretty interesting so i’ll have to play around with it! i’ve always had a soft spot for industrial automation so i’m working towards starting a career in that.

        • George B. says:

          there’s so much left to do, there were ideas I had 20 years ago, I don’t see offered yet, and I’m convinced some would make money.. so much to do, so little time

          • bob g says:

            a couple of comments if i may

            your assessment of how group think works when it comes to this topic is spot on. every darn time you get a group together to start talking about how best to address this sort of thing with microcontrollers, you get a rapidly splintered group, with bs2, comfile, arduino, atmel, pic, 8088, just with processors, then you get all the fun with how best to setup communications with as many schemes, then what programming language? machine, ladder, basic, c, c+. c++++++, and all that. all of a sudden no body gets anywhere.

            this is to say nothing about the plc boys, which have bullet proof electronics that are ruggedized to run in the worst of conditions.

            actually it gets down right entertaining how many ways a group of guys go about doing something as simple as turning on a light switch!

            oh, yes lets don’t forget X10!

            it would seem to me, you almost have to have a team leader, a meeting to set down what exactly needs to be done, hash out how best to do it, and then demand some sort of standard.

            i wonder how the boys set about doing the first personal computer thing? no standards, just a bunch of goofy guys out in their garages doing it how they envisioned how it should be done.

            at least there were operational systems that actually went to market!

            maybe it takes one guy doing it himself or maybe a couple guys? or divide the group into several two man groups and let them take off in all sorts of directions and see who comes up with the best solution?

            hell i don’t know, but all i know for sure is we tried to do the automation thing over on microcogen forum and it was like herding cats.

            and to date i know of no one that has a fully functioning system, lots of partial systems, but no fully integrated system that takes full control of the load management, power generation, storage and thermal issues.

            sad part of it is, it is my firm belief it can all be done very easily… it just takes time.

            bob g
            ps. do you know where we can get more time? i would be willing to buy an extra hour a day.

  2. George B. says:

    I think I have as much experience at failure as the next guy, and there’s likely few that has ever seen yet touched processors as old as the crap I’ve worked on.. 1948 designs.. the year I was born. The answer might be to steer us all towards what I know is the right answer for the majority of us, and that be the Arduino.

    You adopt it by faith I guess, and know that others have issues, someone here mentioned another Gem but it’s back orded for three months or more!

    Even ATMEL stuff was painful before the arduino for most, as it took a lot of screwing around for the newbee to set up the environment and get a first basic project running. The Arduino gives you that first shot of success so quickly, and keeps you from dying on the vine. So I think…

    • Nate says:

      Thats true, if something is easy to use and you see results quickly then ambition sticks around. Otherwise the wind leaves the sails! I swear i’ll finish my tesla coil one of these days!

    • bob g says:

      i totally agree with the concept that if something is easy to use, it will get used.

      but isn’t that subjective in itself?

      whats easy for one guy might be difficult for another?

      isn’t whats easy based on ones experience going in?

      it would seem that someone coming for instance an automation background might think of a particular plc being the easiest to implement. just as someone that has been working with any number of other controllers, or that has a background in a specific programming language?

      now i understand product support wherein you have thousands of very disparate folks all over the world having adopted a platform being able to provide a lot of support, and having lots of stuff already built and coded that could either be directly used or easily adopted, however arduino is not the only one in this regard?

      here is the thing, at least for me… i like the parallax bs2 stamp
      and these are the reasons why.
      1. mature product that is extremely well supported by the manufacture
      2. a huge installed base with an equally large fan base that are eager to help one another.
      3. ease of programming
      4. one of the most copied processors, which might tell us something.
      5. it is something that i find quite intuitive to work with, and i cannot tell you why, other than it is very easy to use and get to work.
      6. and not last by any stretch, or least is the fact that i already have a significant investment in both hardware and time learning to use them. i think i have about a dozen of the bs2’s

      all this does not mean i am dead set against arduino or any other suitable controller. for me it just means i will likely sit back and watch a while before i move to another platform.

      then there is this
      (again, i am a mechanic so my logic is likely very different than someone with a background in controllers/computers and programming)

      isn’t it prudent to first determine exactly what needs to be done? we all know that load management is something many are interested in, however loads are not always electrical? how about thermal? hot and cold? which means monitoring thermal loads, and controlling pumps and such? how about storage needs, both electrical and thermal.

      what i am trying or fumbling around with is this, there are at least a half dozen different aspects that could benefit from some level of control. without first sitting down and deciding what needs control, how best to control it, etc. how do we know if a particular control strategy is better or worse or even sufficient at all?

      once all that is laid out and diagrammed then we pick a processor? which may very well end up being the arduino, however what happens if it is found to be not up to the task?

      what i am saying is this, at least for me, i cannot see a successful system controlling all aspects of a system using a single processor without some very sophisticated coding, and it would appear to me that the more sophisticated the coding the more complicated and problematic to debug it? am i wrong here?

      going back to my corner now, which is not to say that i am not keenly watching with great interest what you guys come up with, using the arduino. i am not married to any hardware yet, nor am i likely to ever be. i just worry that the arduino might be the “flavor of the month” in the end.

  3. Nate says:

    I can’t believe the stuff you can get for Arduino! and its cheap. Other then not knowing C programming it looks like fun.


  4. bob g says:

    this company looks to have grown into something very useful
    and they have all manner or stuff, from basic to quite advanced.


    bob g

      • bob g says:

        sorry George

        remember it wasn’t me that came up with cubloc my friend? 😉

        fwiw, i would not recommend cubloc for one reason, … “support” they historically are a bit more than a little light in that department.

        if you would like please delete my reference to their product.

        my point in posting it in the first place was to illustrate the need to not get blinded by the bells and whistles of any product. just because there are all sorts of things made to work with it does not necessarily make a product good, or useful for a specific project? or so i would think

        again, it seems prudent to set out what one is trying to accomplish before adopting hardware?

        ones need of a tractor should probably be preceded by what his needs are? if he is to plow, plant, cultivate 10k acres his requirements for a tractor might well be different than grandma’s needs to do the same for a 10k sq/ft flower garden?

        this is assuming of course we need a tractor to start with, and not a ferrari? a tractor might not be of much use if we show up to the party and find out it is a road race project?

        me? i am blathering on i guess, but i remember a time when i was doing what i could using simple relay’s and timers, when a very good friend turned me on to the bs2 stamp. that was a wonderful introduction and i thank him for it. a bit later that very good friend introduced me to cubloc products, and a bit later pic products… all useful with various degree’s of usefulness given my limited experience and knowledge. fast forward 5 years or so… and now everyone is all excited about arduino products, and maybe for very good reason? i just don’t know!

        can someone give me a top 5 or 10 reasons why this product (arduino) is the way to go? why is it superior to other products?

        i really want to know? what i don’t want to do is buy into it and have to learn it all by myself only to find it does the same thing i am doing now , but just in a different way?

        if that makes sense?

        what are the primary advantages of the arduino products?

        bob g

  5. Bill knighton says:

    The IDE argument is powerful. The c it comes with is free and superior to ones you would buy for a other mcu. It has floating point too. All kinds of libraries for any purpose and there is a community for it. If you think of a project it’s very likely you’ll find someone who has done it in arduino and can use it as a starting point.
    Also, if you want to do assembly, avr assembly language seems far easier to experiment with than pic, for me. It looks a lot like. 6811. Included in the community argument is the huge range of shield devices/kits that plug in. It’s also a simple matter, if you want to go cheap, to wire wrap a 1-4$ avr bare mcu to some perfboard and program it with the IDE through a 3×2 pin header with a 20-30$ avarisp programmer, or over serial if you have the bootloader flashed.
    There are also easy uprade paths. The newest arduino is arm based and compatible with the shields used on non-arm devices.

    • George B. says:

      Bill, free is a very hard price to beat, I think the newbee need trust we steer them in the right direction. For those who start with nothing, the basic stamp might sound good.. but then they learn the interpeter resides in all that memory they thought they were going to use 🙂

      I was simply dumbfounded after down loading my first project and getting it to run. Was that all there was to it? It all reminds me of some of Forrest Mim’s work. He made is soooo hard for you to fail at your early attempts. Forrest Mim’s Books and Arduino have that in common.

      • Bill knighton says:

        I agree about the dumbfounded. The tutorials that the IDE comes with cover 90%o f what a person would like to do. It’s almost like buying something instead of making it its so easy. The only complexity was in installing the USB driver. The old UNOs had an issue where you have to thwart windows during the install. I believe the new ones use a different USB chip and there are no problems.

  6. bob g says:

    ok fella’s good points,
    cost considerations seem to sway to the arduino
    as well as more capabilities, and speed?

    cost i can’t argue with, provided the programming environment/language is such that it doesn’t eat up a disproportionate amount of time over the rather simple pbasic of the bs2? if that is a fair consideration?

    can’t argue against more capabilities either, provided they are needed?

    speed on the other hand, i am not sure where all this added speed is necessary for rather simple control system’s however, i am not familiar with what is needed for graphical real time interfaces and all the other remote capabilities? is the added speed necessary for these things?

    i am asking these questions not to persuade or dissuade anyone to or from the arduino or any other product, i really am just trying to fully understand the differences between products.

    having spent some time today doing some comparative research between various controllers and their programming requirements it would appear that if one is comfortable with a particular platform/language and it is doing what he needs it to to, there is little reason to change to another platfom. this is probably true in the strict sense however i don’t want to blindly adopt the philosophy if it puts me on the other side of the fence from what others are doing.

    so i have a couple more questions before i make the move.

    if one were to use multiple processors, in a master – slave system, what sort of communication scheme would you guys use between the master and its slaves? i currently use a simple multi line buss strategy that wherein use combinations of hi/low states to address and place commands from the master to the slaves and to answer back to the master. this is very simple, easy to program, however it does take more lines than some other more sophisticated 1 wire or serial communication strategy (neither of which i know anything about other than their existence).

    i would offer this, if possible…

    please go with a simple buss system such as described, coding is so simple and all sorts of processors/languages/coding schemes could all play together without having to share some common and more sophisticated communication scheme.

    maybe someone can direct me to a resource where i can learn more about how a multiprocessor system using the arduino could be made to work.

    i am willing to learn,

    bob g

    • Bill knighton says:

      The compiled arduino program runs fast. Not interpreted.
      Possibly spi for multiprocessor. Not speaking from experience.
      I like 1-wire and think it looks elegant, but the parts are expensive and I had analog problems getting multiple devises on the bus. Like there was a resistor selection involved that changes depending on the load.

  7. Derek Sharp says:

    To all that may help,
    My Changfa 185 got appears to have gotten stopped up in the injection and I cannot get it apart through all the years of corrosion, so I took it off and put on a lister ST2 in it’s place. It has a larger pulley, around 8 inch, as compared to the 5 inch or so that was on the changfa before. The 5kw gen head has matching pulley, 5 or so inch.
    I cannot change the pulleys as they are different mounts so I am stuck with the 8 inch for now pulling a 5 inch on the gen. I also have a Diamond transformer, 5kw, 110/220.
    I had the gen set to 220 to run distance but when I started the lister at lowesst speed, it produced excess of 300 volts. I reset it to 110 and produced about 170 or volts. I cannot get it slower so I ran up the speed a bit so it could produce 220, passed it through the transformer to bring it down to 110. The 75 amp charger runs through it without blowing up and charging the batteries normally and I run my house through the inverter.
    My question is if I can hook my house directly to the gen without frying what might be delicate equipment (computers, etc). I don’t much about hertz and all that, so I thought I’d better ask first and that question is hard to google.
    Anyone know?
    Thanks to all and have a good day!

  8. Don Chris says:


    Thanks for the great tutorial, it is really informative and direct, please when are you going to add the datalogging bit to it?.

  9. Inoace says:

    its very unreliable when using arduino with usb, because codes take ideal 5 volts into consideration, while in real world this dosent happen, and thus the readings fluctuate. I have tried and made this work, now all aspects of sensors and formulas are taken from current voltage, which are measured by secret arduino voltmeter.


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