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Old 15-09-2019, 16:28   #1
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Victron Venus OS, LiFePO4 and "life" onboard

I just pulled my Victron Color Control GX off the boat. It does not really give me a lot of extra functionality.

At the moment I have a multiplus 3000/12 inverter charger, a bmv 602s, a Digital Multi Control and a USB Mk3 interface. Along with a house power BMS and 700 AH LiFePO4 house bank.

Originally I just had the multiplus and Multi Control. That did not really give me the control and tinkering ability that I wanted. I added the blue power control which did allow me to changer parameters and such but that went bad inthe first few weeks. It was replaced on warranty but in the meantime I picked up the Color Control and the Mk3 USB.

I like the Mk3 as that it allows me to program the multiplus quite nicely. The Digital Multi Control took care of day to day charge/invert commands. But, I found that the Color Control really did not do much.

Right now I have taken the Color Control and the Blue Power Control off the boat. The Mk3 will handle most of what I need - programming wise.

The BMV monitor was never wired into the Color control so that functionality was "missing".

I can see where the Color Control would be quite useful in an off grid house. Boatwise what am I missing?

I am thinking that I will sell the Color Control GX and the Blue Power Control GX and load up a Raspberry Pi 3 that I have with the Venus OS for any Color Control like functionality that I need.

Why this thread?

Just someplace to track what I am doing with my Victron setup and a place to get input from others who have experience and insight into Venus OS and such.
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Old 15-09-2019, 18:03   #2
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Re: Victron Venus OS, LiFePO4 and "life" onboard

Many thanks for posting this. It is very timely as I am right now studying various options for controlling Multipluses.


I have been using a single 70/3000/24-50 Multiplus and the ordinary Digital Multi Control for nearly a decade now, and am just in the process of designing a new system for my power system refit this winter.


I will add a second 70/3000/24 and relocate the Multipluses and gang them -- it's going to be a pretty big job.


I was exactly looking at the Color Control GX for control purposes. Now you've given me pause. I'll be interested to hear more.


Are you able to connect the Mk3 and the Digital Multicontrol at the same time, using the 2x RJ45 connectors on the Multiplus?



I'm not sure how I will do that with 2x Multipluses ganged; as one of those RJ45 connectors is needed for the interconnection. I doubt you could connect the Mk3 to the slave Multiplus.


The Color Control GX has a pass-through to let you connect the Digital Multi Control through it.
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Old 15-09-2019, 19:24   #3
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Re: Victron Venus OS, LiFePO4 and "life" onboard

+1 this. I am also looking at the Venus OS on a Rasp Pi. I see that you can connect it to VRM website like a color GX.

I am going to connect the Blue Solar controller first and a BMV712 second. Seems a shame to use wires, but Bluetooth is not supported.

My main aim initally is to monitor the solar and batteries over the net.

AG
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Old 15-09-2019, 19:39   #4
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Re: Victron Venus OS, LiFePO4 and "life" onboard

That's great that I'm not the only one in this "boat".

The Mk3 and the Digital Multi play OK together. They recommend that you not bring up the 'virtual" Digital multi at the same time that the physical one is connected. No harm when I've done it. The software is not designed to have more than one "appliance" and who is in control can cause some skitzo behavior.

I've also connected the Mk3 into the back of the Color Control on the second port. When the software starts talking through the Mk3 the Color Control "disconnects" from the Multiplus/network. It comes back when the Mk3 becomes inactive - so someone anticipated this and wrote some code to "do the right thing".

I may end up with Venus OS on a Raspberry pi (an easy course) and/or pick up the Venus GX device. Having the PI and Signal K going together may give me more of the functionality that I want. Plus, with the Pi there is access to the code so adding functionality is desirable.

See: https://www.victronenergy.com/blog/2...with-signal-k/

There is a great body of people with expertise out there. Hopefully then will chime in.
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Old 15-09-2019, 19:40   #5
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Re: Victron Venus OS, LiFePO4 and "life" onboard

Quote:
Originally Posted by BigAl.NZ View Post
+1 this. I am also looking at the Venus OS on a Rasp Pi. I see that you can connect it to VRM website like a color GX.

I am going to connect the Blue Solar controller first and a BMV712 second. Seems a shame to use wires, but Bluetooth is not supported.

My main aim initally is to monitor the solar and batteries over the net.

AG
My understanding is that the Opensource Venux OS is the same on the Pi and the Color Control....
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Old 15-09-2019, 19:49   #6
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Re: Victron Venus OS, LiFePO4 and "life" onboard

Quote:
Originally Posted by Dockhead View Post
SNIP

Are you able to connect the Mk3 and the Digital Multicontrol at the same time, using the 2x RJ45 connectors on the Multiplus?



I'm not sure how I will do that with 2x Multipluses ganged; as one of those RJ45 connectors is needed for the interconnection. I doubt you could connect the Mk3 to the slave Multiplus.


The Color Control GX has a pass-through to let you connect the Digital Multi Control through it.
I'm not sure that I was clear.

Yes, they can be hooked up that way. The Mk3 in one of the RJ45 and the Digital Multi in the other (that is how I am doing it)

My understanding with ganged multipluses is that you designate one of them as the one that the Mk3 or Digital Multi connect to and then do not use the Rj45 in the other Multipluses. Which one is "master" is part of the setup.

Wait, I see what you are saying. I'll have to look that over.

Better yet you can join the Victron Live site and ask questions there (if you are not already a member)

https://www.victronenergy.com/live/start?do=register
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Old 16-09-2019, 21:06   #7
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Re: Victron Venus OS, LiFePO4 and "life" onboard

I've been pouring over Victron info and playing around with the settings on the hardware that I listed in post #1. This caused me to really review what I want to do with my setup.

Rewinding even further I came to install the Victron Multiplus after removing a Xantrex inverter/charger. That setup allowed disabling the charger as well as allowing disabling the inverter all the while allowing the automatic transfer switch to feed shore power to the boat while at the dock.

The problem was that the Xantrex model I had did not have settable voltages that were compatible with my LiFePO4 house bank.

Enter the Victron Multiplus with the ability to really set the charger voltages/profile and I thought that I was set.

I started with a Digital Multi Control which allowed off, charge only and inverter/charge. As well as the ability to limit the max allowed shore power and a display of the mode of the multiplus.

Programming with the dip switches was a pain to I bought a Blue Power Control GX which allowed setting the multi parameters as well as turning the charger off. ( is that right? Fuzzy memory RE parameter setting ability)

I bought a Mk3 USB and found heaven with the ve configure software. Easy to read and set the multiplus parameters and it can also turn the charger and inverter off.

Then the BPP failed. Actually the BPP works it is just the Ve.bus that failed. It may be the RS-485 circuitry. I may trace the PCB and replace a few parts to see if it will work again. But in the meantime Victron replaced it. So, I have a new BPP GX new in an unopened box sitting around.

Somewhere in there a guy I know ended up buying 2 Color Control GX and only needing 1 of them. I snapped that up thinking that it would have the same functionality as the BPP plus more. Not so, the CCGX is a very nice device but it is not intended to be part of the setup and configuration of a multiplus installation. They are spendy and include the ability to allow access from the internet (and thus the world).

So there is some history. Here I am sitting on a broken BPP, a new, unopened BPP, A new but installed CCGX and a MK3 usb and the Digital Power Panel.

What to do next? What do I want it to do....
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Old 16-09-2019, 21:23   #8
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Re: Victron Venus OS, LiFePO4 and "life" onboard

So what do I want to do?

At dock with shore power I want to charge the house bank and then "float" at a voltage that dones not really bother the LiFePO4 house bank. With the inverter disabled so that should I lose shore power the batts are not drained.

I also want to be able to shut off the charger and allow the house bank to power the boat (with very low to no loads). No inverter, no charger.

Both of those with shore power active in the boat.

I can get that by leaving the Multiplus connected to shore power ad disconnecting the house bank from the inverter. AC from shore and DC from the house bank.

While cruising (no solar yet) at anchor the Multi is disconnected from the house bank most of the time. When we need AC power the house bank is connected to the multi and the Digital Control is used to turn the inverter on and off. It is right there in the galley so that works fine.

I think that the next step is to install the 2 Signal BMS assistant into the Multiplus. This allows for 2 control signal to the multiplus through the aux I/o and temp sense inputs. They become "allow to charge" signal and "allow to discharge" signal.

I am guessing the allow to discharge is just another way of saying "enable inverter".

With those signals I should be able to get the results that I want as well as tying in my BMS.

I won't be on the boat for a week or so.... Just going to have to wait to try this out.
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Old 16-09-2019, 21:31   #9
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Re: Victron Venus OS, LiFePO4 and "life" onboard

So what to do with all this hardware?

The New in an unopened box Blue Power Control GX is on ebay. It is a nice.

The broken one is a toy for fixing on a winter night.

The Mk3 USB is needed for ease of configuration. It really allows you to set the voltage (etc) parameters. A real keeper.

The Color Control GX (CCGX) is the big question. On one hand it was a disappointment because it did not have the set-ability I was looking for (Xantrex spoiled me?).

But then again it does have major functionality for systems that are up and running. Monitoring, logging, remote access, and more. Then there is the Venus GX which is a CCGX minus the color display. Hmm, what to do.

The easy part is to keep the CCGX. The fun part would be to sel the CCGX and buy a Venus GX. (make me an offer on the CCGX!) I guess I'll hold still for a bit.

Next up - connectivity.
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Old 16-09-2019, 21:55   #10
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Re: Victron Venus OS, LiFePO4 and "life" onboard

OK this should be the last in this string of posts.

Right now I have the Digital control plugged into one of the Ve.bus ports in the Multiplus. The Color Control GX is plugged into the other Ve.bus port in the Multiplus.

This works fine and is pretty much as Victron intended it.

Enter the MK3-USB....

When I plug the Mk3 into the seconf Ve.bus port on the Color control the ve config software (through the Mk3) works as expected. It communicated with the multiplus and allows pretty much full control of the multi.

The color control however indicates that there are no devices connected to it. This actually makes sense because the Mk3 and the Color control both want to be "masters" of the ve.bus and having 2 masters would be bad. An easy solution is to have the Color control "drop out" when it detects another master (or a master higher on the pecking order, When happens with 2 CCGX?).

When you take the Mk3 off the Ve.bus the CCGX returns to its normal state. No harm, no foul.

The Ve.bus appears to be a growth of a prior RS485 bus that victron used and as such is a daisy chain. Any bus member can transmit and when they do it at the same time there is a collision and some way to re-transmit is used.

I could have connected the Digital Control to the CCGX and the CCGX to the Multiplus and get much the same results. This would leave one Ve.bus port free on the multiplus. (Hmm, wonder what happens when the Mk3 is plugged into the free port....)

Victron shows the CCGX or the MK3 plugged into one of the multiplus ve.bus connectors and the second ve.bus connector on the multi is daisy chained to a second ( or 3rd or more) multiplus for stacked, split phase or 3 phase operation. With the Digital Control connected to the second ve.bus port on the last multiplus.

The easy solution here is to set up the CCGX and the MK3 on a rj-45 switch (or just unplug one and plug the other in) which goes to the first Multiplus. Daisy chain in as many more multiplus as you need to meet your power demands (and type) and lastly plug the Digital Control into the last multiplus.

I have been tying to find details on ve.bus. This is a closed but and info is hard to come by. It may have "extra" signals on the connectors beyond the "normal" rj-485.

What little information I have indicates that this bus carries a PWM signal used to sync additional multiplus to the master. This sync is needed for any configuration of 2 or more multiplus. Stacked, split phase or 3 phase. This PWM sync signal is in addition to control signals.

Who knows the details of this that they want to share?


OK, done with the dump.
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Old 16-09-2019, 22:07   #11
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Re: Victron Venus OS, LiFePO4 and "life" onboard

Quote:
Originally Posted by BigAl.NZ View Post
+1 this. I am also looking at the Venus OS on a Rasp Pi. I see that you can connect it to VRM website like a color GX.

I am going to connect the Blue Solar controller first and a BMV712 second. Seems a shame to use wires, but Bluetooth is not supported.

My main aim initally is to monitor the solar and batteries over the net.

AG
As a network administrator (of 20+ years) it is strongly my opinion that wires are always superior to wireless, regardless of technologies.
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Old 27-09-2019, 07:04   #12
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Re: Victron Venus OS, LiFePO4 and "life" onboard

Very interesting post. But I'm leaning the other way. My setup with a Multi-plus 24/3000/70 inverter charger and BMV-712 battery monitor to charge my Thunder Sky Winston LiFePO4 battery bank.

I bought the MK3 to USB interface and the Multi control to start.
Totally agree that configuring the multiplus via dip switches is a non-starter so the VEConfigure software is very nice if not a must have. I first setup my multiplus using VEConfigure and the MK3.

But here's where I differ - I later added a Venus GX and now don't really see the need for the MK3 to USB or the Multi Control. The MK3 has been in the spare cable box for quite some time and I'm a bit disappointed that I cut the hole to mount the Multi control as I don't see the need for it.

Unless I'm missing something I can do all the configuration and control of the Multiplus from the web interface provided by the Venus. I use the same VEConfigure software that the MK3 uses and upload the config files through the web interface. Maybe this is more handy for me as I can change the config from home as I'm not on my boat full time. The Venus also lets me see the battery/charge/discharge status from my phone or laptop or computer basically when I'm anywhere with internet (my venus is connected to the internet).
The victron portal is pretty cool and free for logging all your battery info.
Some extras with the Venus GX that I haven't hooked up yet are the two temp sensors and the three tank monitors that come with the Venus GX too.
So, I'm a Venus fan and like doing the config/monitoring and control from it rather than the MK3 or Multi Control.

Next for me is to setup the VenusSignalK server to send Victron data to my network, which looks cool too.

Yes, venus os is open source and you can build it yourself on a pi or similar hardware. I am a computer geek and looked into it briefly but the cost of the Venus GX really isn't that much and the price delta once you add all the connectors to a PI to get the same functionality makes the difference pretty small in boat costs.

Note too that the Venus GX, Color Control GX use the same venusOS software the Color control has the screen where as the VenusGX does not and the VenusGX has a few more ports that are not on the Color Control.

Cheers,
ted
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Old 27-09-2019, 20:02   #13
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Re: Victron Venus OS, LiFePO4 and "life" onboard

Thanks Ted et al,

I pretty much decided to go the Venus GX route but still have the Color Control GX onboard. The extra interfaces would be nice.

More and more functionality is making it into these systems.
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Old 02-10-2019, 19:34   #14
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Re: Victron Venus OS, LiFePO4 and "life" onboard

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I was exactly looking at the Color Control GX for control purposes. Now you've given me pause. I'll be interested to hear more.
I would opt for the Venus, Yes you can slap the OS on a Raspberry, but for the price why bother, unless you heavily want to modify.

I have 2 venus's. on 2 boats, the advantage of the Venus is, more functionality. I attached the bilge pumps, cooling water flow sensor, temp sensors ,and I use it to remotely turn the Heat on. just great to get an email letting me know that a bilge came on and how long it was on. ( for free with VRM)
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