OutBack needs to update their FNDC manual

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Heimhenge
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OutBack needs to update their FNDC manual

Post by Heimhenge » Tue Feb 18, 2020 2:04 pm

And probably some of the other manuals too. Hoping someone from OutBack reads this post and acts.

This is more a comment than a question, but feel free to chime in if you've had a similar experience. Might fix things quicker. :)

So I recently had an OutBack system installed, and have been dutifully going through the manuals learning my way around the system. I don't have Optics RE installed (yet) but figured it couldn't hurt to learn how to read the MATE3s.

I got hung up in the FLEXnet DC manual trying to get to a MATE3s display that was shown graphically on page 17. Probably wasted 2 hours on that before I realized the instructions referred to the original MATE, not the MATE3s. To a longtime OutBack system owner it would have been obvious. To a newbie on a learning curve not so much.

Anyway, once I discovered that the display I was looking for no longer existed, I checked the revision number on the FNDC manual. That didn't help much other than to confirm it was the same document available for DL from the OutBack website. Then I spotted the copyright date for that manual: 2007. :shock:

OutBack: Time to get your IT and/or tech writers on this and get your documentation up to date. </rant>

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Re: OutBack needs to update their FNDC manual

Post by JRHill » Tue Feb 18, 2020 2:16 pm

My gosh, when has someone not had trouble with a manual. By the time a manual is published it is obsolete. And, jokingly, who reads the friggin manuals anyway? Well I do. I think some of the most unappreciated folks are tech writers. They are the ones who have to communicate in writing what many of us can't do face-to-face. That's a really difficult job.

The good ones should have a job in gov't if they could stand it.

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Re: OutBack needs to update their FNDC manual

Post by IanMcCluskey » Tue Feb 18, 2020 2:49 pm

Happy to report we started the project to update this manual last month. We are taking the time to do it right, but it should be published in the coming weeks!
Ian McCluskey
Product Manager


Alpha Technologies Inc. / OutBack Power Technologies
3767 Alpha Way Bellingham WA 98226 USA
http://www.alpha.com

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Re: OutBack needs to update their FNDC manual

Post by raysun » Tue Feb 18, 2020 3:09 pm

I'm going to add just a bit to the confusion and say that the original Mate (the oval shaped one) is still sold and supported. Its offered as the least expensive option for programming certain of the inverters.

The Mate3 is no longer sold and is end-of-life. The Mate3s is the current model.

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Re: OutBack needs to update their FNDC manual

Post by Heimhenge » Tue Feb 18, 2020 3:25 pm

Thanks Ian! Looking forward to it.

And raysun, yes, I too always read the manuals and find them generally difficult. But that's a whole 'nuther can of worms compared to "obsolete". I get that tech writing is a difficult task. Did it myself for some number of years, reasonably well but not much fun. Very difficult to translate from engineers to users. Those that can do tech writing well are truly gifted.

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Re: OutBack needs to update their FNDC manual

Post by ralphday224 » Wed Feb 19, 2020 4:59 am

raysun, do you mean that Mate3 is/will no longer supported? After almost 5 years I'm just getting really comfortable with mine :eek:

I suppose if and when buttons start to malfunction I"ll be into a Mate3s or whatever will be the flavour then.

Ralph

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Re: OutBack needs to update their FNDC manual

Post by raysun » Wed Feb 19, 2020 7:59 am

ralphday224 wrote:
Wed Feb 19, 2020 4:59 am
raysun, do you mean that Mate3 is/will no longer supported? After almost 5 years I'm just getting really comfortable with mine :eek:

I suppose if and when buttons start to malfunction I"ll be into a Mate3s or whatever will be the flavour then.

Ralph
It's still supported, but a discontinued model. The 3s is pretty much identical in form and function when used with OB gear of that vintage.

I swapped a 3 for a 3s, and there were no changes in data or parameters.

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Re: OutBack needs to update their FNDC manual

Post by fcwlp » Wed Feb 19, 2020 9:51 am

Heimhenge and raysun, I read the manuals too but really appreciate that the PDFs are searchable and can be marked up.

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Re: OutBack needs to update their FNDC manual

Post by raysun » Wed Feb 19, 2020 10:00 am

fcwlp wrote:
Wed Feb 19, 2020 9:51 am
Heimhenge and raysun, I read the manuals too but really appreciate that the PDFs are searchable and can be marked up.
The manuals are useful, but I find the on-line application notes often address the issues I am wrestling with at any given time.

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Re: OutBack needs to update their FNDC manual

Post by sodamo » Thu Feb 20, 2020 12:31 am

I too read the manuals -frustrating.
I appreciate the challenge of the tech writers.
I have seen a lot of info either disappear or not easily stumbled upon over the years. I wish I could recommend a way for OB to keep the info both up to date and readily available.
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Re: OutBack needs to update their FNDC manual

Post by wodiwodi » Thu Jul 23, 2020 4:06 am

It would be great value in the section relating to programming of the relay if some specific examples were given to achieve specific results. i.e. how do you set the voltage high and low so that the relay ignores voltage and goes to SOC for directions. How do you set voltage high and low to switch on and off at specific values. The same for SOC. Not everyone is familiar with the logic associated with these settings.

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Re: OutBack needs to update their FNDC manual

Post by provo » Thu Jul 23, 2020 10:10 am

wodiwodi wrote:
Thu Jul 23, 2020 4:06 am
It would be great value in the section relating to programming of the relay if some specific examples were given to achieve specific results. i.e. how do you set the voltage high and low so that the relay ignores voltage and goes to SOC for directions. How do you set voltage high and low to switch on and off at specific values. The same for SOC. Not everyone is familiar with the logic associated with these settings.
You could ask any of those questions on this forum :grin: .

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Re: OutBack needs to update their FNDC manual

Post by BoMagluyan » Fri Jul 24, 2020 2:23 pm

provo wrote:
Thu Jul 23, 2020 10:10 am
wodiwodi wrote:
Thu Jul 23, 2020 4:06 am
It would be great value in the section relating to programming of the relay if some specific examples were given to achieve specific results. i.e. how do you set the voltage high and low so that the relay ignores voltage and goes to SOC for directions. How do you set voltage high and low to switch on and off at specific values. The same for SOC. Not everyone is familiar with the logic associated with these settings.
You could ask any of those questions on this forum :grin: .
Hi @wodiwodi and @provo,

Good points. Thank you.

The current document is here:
http://outbackpower.com/downloads/docum ... _guide.pdf
Pages 12, I think, and 16 address how to set voltage high and low and SOC high and low to switch the relay on and off at specific values, but there aren't any examples in there at the moment.
It's somewhat dated and as @Ian mentioned, we're working on an update for it. We'll happily take any feedback from you and everyone else on the forum that we can use to make the new version better.
There is also an App Note on FNDC programming here:
http://outbackpower.com/downloads/docum ... p_note.pdf
Bo Magluyan
OutBack Product Management

OutBack Power Technologies, Inc.
An Enersys Company
1628 W Williams Drive, Phoenix AZ 85027 USA
www.outbackpower.com

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Re: OutBack needs to update their FNDC manual

Post by raysun » Fri Jul 24, 2020 2:34 pm

BoMagluyan wrote:
Fri Jul 24, 2020 2:23 pm
provo wrote:
Thu Jul 23, 2020 10:10 am
wodiwodi wrote:
Thu Jul 23, 2020 4:06 am
It would be great value in the section relating to programming of the relay if some specific examples were given to achieve specific results. i.e. how do you set the voltage high and low so that the relay ignores voltage and goes to SOC for directions. How do you set voltage high and low to switch on and off at specific values. The same for SOC. Not everyone is familiar with the logic associated with these settings.
You could ask any of those questions on this forum :grin: .
Hi @wodiwodi and @provo,

Good points. Thank you.

The current document is here:
http://outbackpower.com/downloads/docum ... _guide.pdf
Pages 12, I think, and 16 address how to set voltage high and low and SOC high and low to switch the relay on and off at specific values, but there aren't any examples in there at the moment.
It's somewhat dated and as @Ian mentioned, we're working on an update for it. We'll happily take any feedback from you and everyone else on the forum that we can use to make the new version better.
There is also an App Note on FNDC programming here:
http://outbackpower.com/downloads/docum ... p_note.pdf
I have a minor suggestion. When the user guides are posted for download that the file name identify the product. E.g.: The FNDC user guide file name is user_guide.pdf and would be more descriptive if named FNDC_user_guide.pdf

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Re: OutBack needs to update their FNDC manual

Post by Greg T Fordan » Mon Jul 27, 2020 8:37 am

wodiwodi wrote:
Thu Jul 23, 2020 4:06 am
It would be great value in the section relating to programming of the relay if some specific examples were given to achieve specific results. i.e. how do you set the voltage high and low so that the relay ignores voltage and goes to SOC for directions. How do you set voltage high and low to switch on and off at specific values. The same for SOC. Not everyone is familiar with the logic associated with these settings.
There is no option to ignore battery voltage or the battery's SOC. Whatever set point is activated first (voltage or SOC), the relay's contact will close or open depending on the logic used.

Example, below are the chosen settings for a 48V system:
Vbatt high: 58V Vbatt low: 42V
SOC high: 100% SOC low: 50%
High delay: 1 min Low delay: 1 min
Invert logic: No (meaning when High set point is reached, relay's contact will close)

Condition 1. The battery bank voltage is less than 58 but greater than 42. 58 >Vbatt >42.
No contact action. More likely, the contact is OPEN at this time and will stay open at this condition.

Condition2. The battery bank voltage reaches the high set point of 58 and reaches the one minute mark.
The relay's contact will CLOSE and stay CLOSE if voltage stays at 58 or above.
It will not matter what the SOC value is.(But more likely SOC is also approaching the high side)

Condition 3. The battery bank's SOC goes down to 50% and reaches the one minute mark.
The relay's contact will OPEN and stay OPEN if SOC stays at 50% or below.
It will not matter what the voltage value is. (But more likely, voltage is also approaching its low side)

Condition 4. The battery bank goes where Vbatt is less than 58 but greater than 42, or the SOC is less than 100 but greater than 50.
This is another Condition 1, where no contact action will take place, and relay's contact will stay OPEN.
Greg T Fordan
EngTech
Outback Power Technologies

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Re: OutBack needs to update their FNDC manual

Post by wodiwodi » Tue Jul 28, 2020 10:37 pm

Greg T Fordan wrote:
Mon Jul 27, 2020 8:37 am
There is no option to ignore battery voltage or the battery's SOC. Whatever set point is activated first (voltage or SOC), the relay's contact will close or open depending on the logic used.
Thank you Greg, this is an important comment along my road to understanding. Some previous suggestions talk in terms of setting voltages to "ignore" the voltage settings however your comment suggests that it is more a case of the voltage levels are not ignored, they just don't trigger the relay. That is a more sensible way of describing the situation for someone who is trying to learn the process. Subtle but important difference.

Whilst my first post was in another thread, the idea of working examples, such as I suggest below, is relevant to the idea of manuals having real life examples of settings vs task to be done.

See if I have understood :?:

AIM: to switch on panels connected to Non Outback Regulator when the SOC was < 96%

So if the relay was required to be closed when the SOC was < 96% for my 24V system I might do the following (See note **** at end of sequence):

(a) Set Invert Logic to YES
(b) Set HIGH Volts to be 32V (system never reaches this value)
(c) Set LOW Volts to be 20V (system never reaches this value)
(d) Set HIGH SOC to be 96% (relay would be triggered to OPEN thus switching off the extra PV)
(e) Set LOW SOC to be say 95% **** (relay would be triggered to CLOSE switching on the extra PV)
(f) Set times in each case to be 1 minute

**** I have chosen 95% because I do not know if it is possible to have 96% for both. Some previous comments suggested that the difference between the two values should actually be greater.

Having written this I will set my relay accordingly and see what happens.

Regards,

Howard

wodiwodi
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1kW PV secondary array
24 Volt 1320 Ah Lead Acid battery set
2 x FlexMax 80 MPPT controllers for primary array,
1 x Plasmatronics PWM Regulator for secondary array
OB Hub4,
OB Mate2 (not currently used),
OB FLEXnet DC
OB AXS_PORT with OpticsRE

Re: OutBack needs to update their FNDC manual

Post by wodiwodi » Sat Aug 01, 2020 1:06 am

AIM: to switch on panels connected to Non Outback Regulator when the SOC was < 96%

So if the relay was required to be closed when the SOC was < 96% for my 24V system I might do the following (See note **** at end of sequence):

(a) Set Invert Logic to YES
(b) Set HIGH Volts to be 32V (system never reaches this value)
(c) Set LOW Volts to be 20V (system never reaches this value)
(d) Set HIGH SOC to be 96% (relay would be triggered to OPEN thus switching off the extra PV)
(e) Set LOW SOC to be say 95% **** (relay would be triggered to CLOSE switching on the extra PV)
(f) Set times in each case to be 1 minute

**** I have chosen 95% because I do not know if it is possible to have 96% for both. Some previous comments suggested that the difference between the two values should actually be greater.

Having written this I will set my relay accordingly and see what happens.
I have set the relay as above and all seems OK. In fact I have subsequently modified the LOW SOC to be the same as the HIGH SOC at 96% and I find that the secondary array are switching off at 96% SOC as planned and in the morning after the SOC drops to say 90% overnight I find that the secondary array are on and charging as required until once again they get to 96% and switch off.

This is what I had hoped to achieve and the FlexMax80s do their stuff without the Plasmatronics PWM regulator getting in their way.

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