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Old 13-12-2017, 07:26   #1
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Next Gen Alternator Regulator

Hi All,

Firstly, a personal announcement. Recently, I took a job with CDI Electronics and Balmar. I am on the sales and marketing team, so I won't be your best choice as a troubleshooting/tech person, we have some outstanding folks in that regard - guys that literally have been working with alternators for 40+ years. I am learning. We recently moved to a house in Cambridge, MD, but we still have Gossamer. For the next few years she may serve more as a tinkering/test bed than our home as in the past.

Although I am not a daily poster here, I have been a member for many years, and have gotten so much good advice and information. I am hoping to pick everyone's brain a little bit and perform some market research. So here goes.

If you able to create your own alternator regulator, how would it be different? What would be your recommendations? I want to try and understand what our users and owners want. We have many ideas on next-gen stuff, but we want to hear from you!

If you are a Balmar regulator user, what would you change about our regulators, to make them better?

Please, please refrain from hijacking this thread for other uses.

Thanks in advance,
Chris
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Old 13-12-2017, 08:51   #2
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Re: Next Gen Alternator Regulator

Along with all the adjustability, custom setpoints of MC-614

hold Absorb time can be set to zero

able to disable Float completely, just stop producing charge current until V drops to Restart Bulk setpoint

above are for LFP banks, as per recommendations from Maine Sail and others

for lead, integration with a variety of leading Battery Monitors, e.g. Victron BMV series or perhaps its own add-on shunt, so stopping charge can be based on a customized bank acceptance endAmps

____
More "out there"

Dual VR, ability to handle two banks of separate chemistries, completely different setpoint profiles for each, including ability to completely stop output to one as above, but continue charging another

Slave to central controlling BMS via CAN open-standards (J1939 + RV-C) see FOSS project below

and other protocols

Act as central controlling BMS for solar controllers, shore chargers, generator or propulsion engine autostart
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Old 13-12-2017, 08:55   #3
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Re: Next Gen Alternator Regulator

I would really like to see integration of current monitoring/amphour counting to maintain bulk longer based on acceptance
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Old 13-12-2017, 09:00   #4
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Re: Next Gen Alternator Regulator

​duplicate the feature set (current and not yet implemented) of ​​Viking Star's Thomas OW(?)

Open source "Smart Alternator Regulator" SAR project

https://github.com/AlternatorRegulat...-Documentation

Separately, ability to cede control to one, but act as backup if detecting the main external one has failed
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Old 13-12-2017, 09:35   #5
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Re: Next Gen Alternator Regulator

Improve the user interface (ugh !!!)
Integrate remote communication ability for operating parameters as well as reporting of current operating conditions
Provide a negative input for the voltage sense line.
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Old 13-12-2017, 09:48   #6
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Re: Next Gen Alternator Regulator

Thinking outside the box, why not a NMEA 2000 interface? Bluetooth? Data on a cell phone app?

Only saying this because I'm not smart enough about alternators to give suggestions as good as those above!

[Edit: obviously jd1 types faster than me, too!]
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Old 13-12-2017, 09:50   #7
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Re: Next Gen Alternator Regulator

I think the next gen regulator has to deal with LiFe needs.

I wouldn't pay a lot extra to integrate a current monitoring system--if the batteries go into float too early I just cycle the ignition switch and reset the timer.

I think the battery and alternator temp compensation system could stand improvement.

I think the failure rate is pretty high, mostly due to installations inside the engine room. It would be nice to have a unit which was more resistant to a high temperature environment.

Good luck with the new job!
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Old 13-12-2017, 09:57   #8
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Re: Next Gen Alternator Regulator

Something as smart as modern solar MPPT chargers.

Also integrate to Victron and Mastervolt equipment that many of us have as the information and energy backbone.

Personally, integration to the Victron Venus GX Monitor would be awesome.
Settings and control suitable for LiFePo4.
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Old 13-12-2017, 10:10   #9
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Re: Next Gen Alternator Regulator

lots of excellent suggestions on the performance front above, my wish would be a panel mount version or remote control panel to keep the crucial connections (field current etc.) short. On my boat, keeping the MC614 cool and visible while keeping the connections short means I have to crawl under the table to do the programming.
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Old 13-12-2017, 11:09   #10
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Re: Next Gen Alternator Regulator

Having recently (2 months ago) replaced my Balmar 60 100 amp with the same, it was necessary to replace the old Link external regulator as well. Unfortunately there is no integration between the existing Link/Xantrex 2000-R battery monitor/charge controller and the new Balmar MC-614 regulator. It would be great if some compatibility could be integrated into the existing monitor/controllers.

From a different perspective, I also understand that Balmar is soon to come out with a new battery monitor / charge controller that can be integrated and is very capable in terms of functionality and ease of use?
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Old 13-12-2017, 11:30   #11
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Re: Next Gen Alternator Regulator

The current MC-614 is more than adequate for most cruisers. How about building a small case alternator that can put out consistently its claimed output without going into nanny mode due to getting to hot. ie if the batteries can accept 100a then let's have an alternator that can supply that output without getting to hot and reducing current.
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Old 13-12-2017, 11:36   #12
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Re: Next Gen Alternator Regulator

Quote:
Originally Posted by witzgall View Post
If you able to create your own alternator regulator, how would it be different? What would be your recommendations?
1. Integration of a temperature sensor in the diode bridge such that the regulator can reduce output before the diodes go to hell.

1a. Temperature sensor in the stator. This matters most if the diode bridge is remotely mounted (which you don't do, I realize, I think you should offer it as an option, but that's not what you asked about), but is also a necessary input for automated fault isolation.

2. Use of a hall effect output current sensor so that it is possible to limit input torque in an accurate way and perform automated fault identification (see below)

3. Separate voltage sensors at the output terminals and battery, which combined with the current sensor can detect and mitigate (by reducing output) problems in the battery cabling before they result in equipment damage

4. Reading NMEA engine RPM data so as to be able to detect drive belt slippage (and reduce output)

5. Reading NMEA engine temperature data to inform the soft-start algorithm

6. Programmable output curves vs. engine RPM to suit the nature of the installation. Could allow some innovative things like gradually bringing the output down when approaching WOT so that full power is available for propulsion. Done will this would eliminate the need for a manual output switch.

7. Automated fault identification based on all this data. With the voltages and currents it should be easy to identify cabling problems between the alternator and battery, belt slippage, high ambient temperature, bad diodes, shorted stator. Report all this via NMEA in a detailed yet user friendly way.

I'm guessing some of your products have some of that stuff already. I don't know the product line all that well.

Still, that should be enough to keep your engineers busy for a while
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Old 13-12-2017, 11:40   #13
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Re: Next Gen Alternator Regulator

Quote:
Originally Posted by daletournier View Post
The current MC-614 is more than adequate for most cruisers. How about building a small case alternator that can put out consistently its claimed output without going into nanny mode due to getting to hot. ie if the batteries can accept 100a then let's have an alternator that can supply that output without getting to hot and reducing current.
What is the ambient temperature where the alternator is mounted? Usually when people complain about the alternator running hot, it's because it's mounted someplace that is, well, hot.
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Old 13-12-2017, 12:09   #14
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Next Gen Alternator Regulator

Id like to see it incorporate a shunt so that alternator output could be known, and an end point of absorption can be set based on amps.
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Old 13-12-2017, 12:09   #15
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Re: Next Gen Alternator Regulator

Quote:
Originally Posted by daletournier View Post
The current MC-614 is more than adequate for most cruisers. How about building a small case alternator that can put out consistently its claimed output without going into nanny mode due to getting to hot. ie if the batteries can accept 100a then let's have an alternator that can supply that output without getting to hot and reducing current.
Small-frame is inherently limited without heroic cooling workarounds.

I agree there should be intelligent current limiting rather than dumb just dropping out, but that's a function of the VR not the Alt, right?

I reckon 100A continuous output is just unrealistic. Maybe 50-60A.

The exaggerated marketing, lying by omission is just a fact of life. In an ideal world accurate specs would be standardized as with solar panels.
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