we're online and making watts! (but a few small issues)

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we're online and making watts! (but a few small issues)

Postby Megunticook on Fri Dec 22, 2017 5:33 am

After a long, expensive, and very educational fall spent designing, installing, and commissioning a grid-tie with battery backup system built around the FP8048A, the inspector gave me the green light and I've been online for a week now. Pretty exciting and rewarding to be pumping out the watts! Thought I'd share some initial thoughts and ask about a few minor issues.

Power production has been impressive given that it's the winter solstice. I've got 6.4K of Q-Cell 305 panels up, and two days ago they were producing well over 4K at midday. Can't wait to see what they do in June!

Still dialing in some of the settings but the grid-selling seems to be working well. I generally check in the morning as the charge controllers are waking up (2 FM80s), there were a couple mornings where one of them went into GT Mode fairly soon but the other just read "charged" on the display and didn't seem to be doing anything. I forced it into float and then it started selling. Not sure what that's about, I would think both would go into GT mode simultaneously ("enable float coordination" is enabled in the settings).

Also, one evening I tried configuring FlexTime to switch the system to backup mode after sundown and back to grid-tie at sunup. The next morning it wasn't going into GT mode, I checked all the settings and finally discovered that the AC source and gotten switched to "GEN" instead of "GRID." No idea how that happened, but I removed my FlexTime schedule.

Finally, you will be shocked to hear that OpticsRE isn't working on the MATE3s. Have it enabled, but can't get the MAC address (when I push the "port" button on the OpticsRE settings screen nothing happens). I worked with an Outback rep. on the phone and after reflashing the firmware and trying a few other things he told me they would be shipping a new MATE. From what I gather on this forum OpticsRE has been a real headache for many people. I tried downloading the WattPlot application but that crashed the first time I launched it (Windows 10).

Interestingly, I can see the lights on the ethernet port of the MATE3s and my router blinking (linked by a CAT5 cable), but so far I haven't been able to view the device in my LAN. Any tips there?
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Re: we're online and making watts! (but a few small issues)

Postby Mike Curran on Fri Dec 22, 2017 8:20 am

Megunticook wrote:Still dialing in some of the settings but the grid-selling seems to be working well. I generally check in the morning as the charge controllers are waking up (2 FM80s), there were a couple mornings where one of them went into GT Mode fairly soon but the other just read "charged" on the display and didn't seem to be doing anything. I forced it into float and then it started selling. Not sure what that's about, I would think both would go into GT mode simultaneously ("enable float coordination" is enabled in the settings).


Your Mate3 has a setting to force CC's to act in unison. From the manual:

Charge Controller Float Coordination
This menu enables the coordination of more than one OutBack FLEXmax charge controller. (This function also works on MX60 charge controllers with firmware revision 5.11). This enables the devices to enter the float stage, or perform other activities, simultaneously rather than individually. Float Coordination means that when one charge controller finishes a bulk charge and moves into the float stage, the MATE3 directs any other charge controllers into the float stage as well.

Can't help with your other issues altho it sounds like your Optics problem has to do with your Mate to LAN connection. - Mike
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Re: we're online and making watts! (but a few small issues)

Postby pss on Fri Dec 22, 2017 2:13 pm

The outback system is it's own intranet. That means it possessed a mini router, acting as a "gateway" to your local internet network and also it's own DHCP server. The DHCP server gives out addresses to the connected devices such as the Radian inverter, Flexmax charge controllers, Mate 3 and Flexnet DC. These are always communicating via the Hub 10 which is why you see all of the lights flashing on the hub. The mate 3 then connects via it's ethernet port to your internet gateway and to the Optics RE web site.

The manuals for the mate 3 explain this. I have never had any need to do anything but access my system via the direct interface on the Mate 3 or via Optics RE. Hope this helps.
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Re: we're online and making watts! (but a few small issues)

Postby intellact on Tue Dec 26, 2017 11:25 am

Megunticook wrote:I tried downloading the WattPlot application but that crashed the first time I launched it (Windows 10).

Hmm. Not really the first impression we like people to get - and not the result that most people experience. :???:

Please let us know which release you got and what message you encountered. Perhaps there was an upload or download gremlin and you need to try the download again. (I am personally aware of at least a few clients who are on the latest release under Windows 10 with no issues.) :smile:
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Re: we're online and making watts! (but a few small issues)

Postby Megunticook on Wed Dec 27, 2017 4:40 pm

Just tried again and it asked for a license key. I need to purchase one before trying the product?
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Re: we're online and making watts! (but a few small issues)

Postby intellact on Wed Dec 27, 2017 8:48 pm

Megunticook wrote:Just tried again and it asked for a license key. I need to purchase one before trying the product?

Of course not. The trial activation process is described in perfect detail in the comprehensive User Guide that installed with the tool.

If you send WattPlot your PC ID, a trial activation will be sent to you right away. (With most installations, WattPlot can even activate itself, if you follow the instructions provided.) :wink:
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Re: we're online and making watts! (but a few small issues)

Postby Megunticook on Wed Jan 03, 2018 11:21 am

You want my PC Mac Address in other words?

Waiting on a new MATE3s from Outback which hopefully will resolve the OpticsRE issue.

Saw my system was cranking out 5.2 kW at solar noon today, not too shabby for two weeks past the solstice. Will be interesting to watch the performance climb as the sun gets higher and sticks around longer in the coming months.

One of the two FlexMax units is getting sporadically dropped by the MATE (it doesn't see it sometimes and when I reboot it often doesn't recognize it or assign in a port in the hub.) After some troubleshooting Outback is shipping a replacement FM. Have been able to manage OK by setting the "standalone" FM to non-temp. compensated values (my batteries are in an unheated space), but it takes some handholding sometimes to get the two FM's to work well together. This morning for some reason the MATE recognized both and they're happily humming along in GT mode. Look forward to getting things dialed in so I can just forget about it and know that it's running correctly.
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Re: we're online and making watts! (but a few small issues)

Postby intellact on Wed Jan 03, 2018 11:51 am

Megunticook wrote:You want my PC Mac Address in other words?

No. I'm suggesting you read the manual (in other words). :wink: That's why I wrote it.

The PC ID is generated by WattPlot.

Megunticook wrote:Waiting on a new MATE3s from Outback which hopefully will resolve the OpticsRE issue.

Best of luck with that. I don't know about the OPTICSre issues specifically, but OPTICSre uses Modbus, and the word I'm getting from the field is that Modbus runs better on the MATE3 than on the MATE3S. (In other words, an inconsistent protocol may have gotten worse.) Disclaimer: I don't have I MATE3S - I'm only passing on what I have been told.

I have yet to see any formal documentation from OutBack as to the specific technical difference(s) between the MATE3 and the MATE3S. If anyone can direct me to such a document, I would appreciate it. :smile:
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Re: we're online and making watts! (but a few small issues)

Postby Megunticook on Wed Jan 03, 2018 1:20 pm

You mean you actually want me to read the manual? Just kidding...I'll do that before asking more questions. May not work right until I get the new hardware, though.
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Re: we're online and making watts! (but a few small issues)

Postby Megunticook on Tue Jan 16, 2018 9:20 am

After reading the manual I redownloaded the installer, ran the installation and again the program crashed during configuration. Specifically, I was on the "Quick Defaults" tab of the WattPlot Monitor settings and had just selected the "maximum detail" radio button at the bottom when an "Unrecoverable Program Thread Error" shut down WattPLot.

This is Windows 10 Professional x64, cleanly installed just about a month ago, fully updated.

Here's the log file that WattPlot generated:

WattPlot™ Monitor 5.1.3.14 16 Jan 18 11:11:26 Home
C:\Program Files (x86)\WattPlot

System.ArgumentNullException: Value cannot be null.
Parameter name: Argument 'Array' is Nothing.
at Microsoft.VisualBasic.Information.UBound(Array Array, Int32 Rank)
at WattPlot.SetupOptions.DataDefaults_Click(Object s, EventArgs e)
at System.Windows.Forms.Control.OnClick(EventArgs e)
at System.Windows.Forms.RadioButton.OnClick(EventArgs e)
at System.Windows.Forms.RadioButton.OnMouseUp(MouseEventArgs mevent)
at System.Windows.Forms.Control.WmMouseUp(Message& m, MouseButtons button, Int32 clicks)
at System.Windows.Forms.Control.WndProc(Message& m)
at System.Windows.Forms.ButtonBase.WndProc(Message& m)
at System.Windows.Forms.Control.ControlNativeWindow.OnMessage(Message& m)
at System.Windows.Forms.Control.ControlNativeWindow.WndProc(Message& m)
at System.Windows.Forms.NativeWindow.Callback(IntPtr hWnd, Int32 msg, IntPtr wparam, IntPtr lparam)


I think I'll stick with OpticsRE for now. Maybe try WattPlot when the next version is released.
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Re: we're online and making watts! (but a few small issues)

Postby intellact on Wed Feb 07, 2018 3:38 pm

Megunticook wrote:After reading the manual I redownloaded the installer, ran the installation and again the program crashed during configuration. Specifically, I was on the "Quick Defaults" tab of the WattPlot Monitor settings and had just selected the "maximum detail" radio button at the bottom when an "Unrecoverable Program Thread Error" shut down WattPLot.

I think I'll stick with OpticsRE for now. Maybe try WattPlot when the next version is released.

Sorry - I missed this post completely. :oops:

Here's a Pro Tip, Megunticook: When the software has a problem, contact the developers - don't post it here. OutBack has no responsibility for WattPlot tools, and no-one else on the forum can help you.

I suspect that this error will not be found in the current release (5.1.3.15). Perhaps you simply need an update. :smile:

Here's the thing: We're trying to get WattPlot 6 out the door, but lots pf people are running into issues with WattPlot 5 and the MATE3S. :mad: Sure, OutBack has every right to change up their hardware, but do they tell us major developers what the differences are? Do they supply updated technical specifications? [-( No.

It turns out that there are huge differences in the MATE3S Modbus blocks. Indeed, I'll guess the 'S' stands for SunSpec, since they have added several SunSpec blocks to their mapping.

Of course, we can't test the tools against a MATE3S because we don't have one. (And based on what I'm hearing, I don't want one until it works better than the now-no-longer-shipping MATE3.) ](*,)
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Re: we're online and making watts! (but a few small issues)

Postby JRHill on Wed Feb 07, 2018 4:32 pm

Megunticook,

I began using WattPlot many years ago. I diverted with the debut of OpticsRE and then came back again. I have it running full time (Pro now) on a tablet. It's always there, working fine.

When coming back I had some problems reinstalling and they were 100% my antivirus running unknown apps in a protected area. I got help resolving the issue and it's probably not your problem. But what I did see from this thread is Andrew attacking this issue of yours with a vengeance. He does that. Pretty cool in these days and times.

Best,
Jim
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Re: we're online and making watts! (but a few small issues)

Postby Megunticook on Wed Feb 07, 2018 5:52 pm

I assumed you were the developer, that's why I posted the log file, just trying to help you identify a possible bug. Since you joined the thread and responded with some details about WattPlot, I figured you were OK discussing it here. Not trying to badmouth your product, like I said I'll give it another shot after this wrinkle has been ironed out. Totally get that issues will come up with new operating systems, MATE versions, etc.
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Re: we're online and making watts! (but a few small issues)

Postby intellact on Wed Feb 07, 2018 5:59 pm

Actually, I wasn't worried about the product's reputation. As you may have noted, WattPlot users will quickly jump in to defend that. :smile: (Thanks, Jim!)

I am more concerned about missing the notification and not getting your problem solved. Email to techsupport at the WattPlot domain is the better way to go.

That new release is already out there. You can update at any time and see if your issue has cleared up.
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Re: we're online and making watts! (but a few small issues)

Postby Megunticook on Mon Feb 12, 2018 6:57 am

Very good, in the future I'll send an email to the WattPlot tech support.

If you think the installation issue I keep having has been addressed in the latest version, I'll give it another crack. OpticsRE seems to be working well for me, and I can pull up the MATE3s in my browser directly through the LAN, but I'd like to check out WattPlot.

I must admit I'm not 100% comfortable with the idea that my system can be controlled remotely through the WAN. Means I'm relying 100% on the folks running the Optics website to be diligent in their security practices. Probably not a huge risk, but putting everything behind my router/firewall is a much smarter way to go. I suppose I could set up some sort of VPN if I really need to access the MATE while I'm away from home.

Anyway I'll download your latest version now and give it a whirl.

p.s. just installed the latest version and it appears to be reading all the data correctly--will play around with it this week and report back. Thanks.

pps. after 40 minutes I got an "unable to open communication link to MATE: A socket operation was attempted to an unreachable host 192.168.1.110:502Got 64120. Does not seem to be reading data now. Optics still working fine and MATE local status page still up. Hmmm....
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Re: we're online and making watts! (but a few small issues)

Postby basrijn on Mon Feb 12, 2018 7:16 pm

Megunticook wrote:Very good, in the future I'll send an email to the WattPlot tech support.

If you think the installation issue I keep having has been addressed in the latest version, I'll give it another crack. OpticsRE seems to be working well for me, and I can pull up the MATE3s in my browser directly through the LAN, but I'd like to check out WattPlot.

I must admit I'm not 100% comfortable with the idea that my system can be controlled remotely through the WAN. Means I'm relying 100% on the folks running the Optics website to be diligent in their security practices. Probably not a huge risk, but putting everything behind my router/firewall is a much smarter way to go. I suppose I could set up some sort of VPN if I really need to access the MATE while I'm away from home.

Anyway I'll download your latest version now and give it a whirl.

p.s. just installed the latest version and it appears to be reading all the data correctly--will play around with it this week and report back. Thanks.

pps. after 40 minutes I got an "unable to open communication link to MATE: A socket operation was attempted to an unreachable host 192.168.1.110:502Got 64120. Does not seem to be reading data now. Optics still working fine and MATE local status page still up. Hmmm....


Welcome to the most frustrating, long running bug in the MATE3: it's extremely sensitive to LAN side interruptions. You can set a reboot interval and that will typically fix it. Also, if OpticsRE is still reporting it online, you can select "Reboot Gateway" from OpticsRE and that will resolve it as well. This has been going on for years, and with the new MATE3S out, I suspect will never be fixed in the original MATE3

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Re: we're online and making watts! (but a few small issues)

Postby intellact on Mon Feb 12, 2018 9:37 pm

Megunticook wrote:I must admit I'm not 100% comfortable with the idea that my system can be controlled remotely through the WAN. Means I'm relying 100% on the folks running the Optics website to be diligent in their security practices. Probably not a huge risk, but putting everything behind my router/firewall is a much smarter way to go. I suppose I could set up some sort of VPN if I really need to access the MATE while I'm away from home.

I hear you. Nor would I be comfortable with the fact that my hardware supplier can record every tiny factor of my daily system use. :???:

Megunticook wrote:pps. after 40 minutes I got an "unable to open communication link to MATE: A socket operation was attempted to an unreachable host 192.168.1.110:502Got 64120. Does not seem to be reading data now. Optics still working fine and MATE local status page still up. Hmmm....

As basrijn says, the networking deaths are the most annoying thing about the MATE3, and the MATE3S has yet to show any sign of being better. #-o (Au contraire, if field reports elsewhere on this forum are to be believed.)

So here's the thing with WattPlot... The current production tools (version 5) were not designed to do Modbus communication - that was a retrofit. The implementation could be better. I know this because WattPlot ACKcess, the version 6 tool in development, was designed for Modbus and only Modbus, and it outperforms everything else for resilience and connectivity - even with the MATE3's challenges. :smile: When the line gets dropped, WattPlot 6 can pick it up again - usually within 40 seconds - the fastest reconnect time that anyone seems able to get with the MATE3.

The other thing that makes WattPlot a bit different... We are constantly improving the tools, correcting issues, and moving forward - and when you get a new release, you'll know exactly what we fixed. :smile:
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Re: we're online and making watts! (but a few small issues)

Postby David LeBow on Mon Feb 12, 2018 10:42 pm

As basrijn says, the networking deaths are the most annoying thing about the MATE3, and the MATE3S has yet to show any sign of being better.


I SO agree with the first part. On that second part, I'm feeling far more positive.

The good news is, the Mate3 issues are (admittedly, belatedly) getting some serious attention at the moment. I've seen beta versions that are much improved going through test. We have a new, larger team addressing the Mate3 and things will be changing. Will we solve everything in the next release? Unlikely. But we're about to make some real improvement.

Now... where's that lightning-rod emoji... (be nice... I've got a birthday this year).

D.
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Re: we're online and making watts! (but a few small issues)

Postby basrijn on Mon Feb 12, 2018 11:44 pm

David LeBow wrote:
As basrijn says, the networking deaths are the most annoying thing about the MATE3, and the MATE3S has yet to show any sign of being better.


I SO agree with the first part. On that second part, I'm feeling far more positive.

The good news is, the Mate3 issues are (admittedly, belatedly) getting some serious attention at the moment. I've seen beta versions that are much improved going through test. We have a new, larger team addressing the Mate3 and things will be changing. Will we solve everything in the next release? Unlikely. But we're about to make some real improvement.

Now... where's that lightning-rod emoji... (be nice... I've got a birthday this year).

D.


Hi David,

I do appreciate you spending time in the forums and keeping us up to date. I think there is a few people here who really care about the local data access from the MATE3. Would you be able to provide an "official" answer on the status of the datastream feature? I've used JSON, but got really annoyed with the timeouts. Then looked at the datastream, but my inverter never shows up (viewtopic.php?f=39&t=12728), never got an answer from support. Judging from other forum posts, that feature might be on it ways out. Getting a confirmation would be good. Now moved on to MODBUS/SunSpec (https://github.com/basrijn/Outback_Mate3) and that looks good so far! Some weird things (INT16 values sometimes use the normal split approach, but sometimes start from the high value counting down. The AC IN USE on my single phase inverter never seems to change (MATE3 UI shows OK).

Sorry to OP, realize I'm moving things off track here
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Re: we're online and making watts! (but a few small issues)

Postby intellact on Wed Feb 14, 2018 10:28 am

David LeBow wrote:I SO agree with the first part. On that second part, I'm feeling far more positive.

The good news is, the Mate3 issues are (admittedly, belatedly) getting some serious attention at the moment. I've seen beta versions that are much improved going through test. We have a new, larger team addressing the Mate3 and things will be changing. Will we solve everything in the next release? Unlikely. But we're about to make some real improvement.

Now... where's that lightning-rod emoji... (be nice... I've got a birthday this year).

You should know that we are all standing by to support your efforts, David! =D>

I know you feel that I can be one of the more negative posters on this forum. :oops: The truth is that it is not the errors or issues that get to me. (WattPlot users know that very few new WattPlot features and functions make it out there without some kind of glitch! :wink: ) But simply acknowledging the problems makes us all feel a huge part better, and melts away much of the frustration.

Once the conversation moves in the direction of finding solutions, I think you'll find this forum to be am extremely valuable resource of test data, case histories, and expert suggestions. And positive encouragement! :smile:

We are all on your side. We like this hardware and we want it to work.

As basrijn wrote:Then looked at the datastream, but my inverter never shows up (viewtopic.php?f=39&t=12728), never got an answer from support. Judging from other forum posts, that feature might be on it ways out. Getting a confirmation would be good.

This is a prime example of what drives us nuts. ](*,) Does the network data stream support FXR inverters or not? This is not a technical-MATE3-network-gremlin challenge. This is a straightforward question that has been ignored for months to anyone who asks it.

Please, help us help you. Make it possible for us to be more supportive! :smile:
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Re: we're online and making watts! (but a few small issues)

Postby David LeBow on Wed Feb 14, 2018 10:34 am

Dudes...

Apologies that it's taking so long, but I am in fact trying to dredge the truth out surrounding the data stream. I'm at OutBack today and have a meeting where I'm hoping to pry the information loose (or at least get some someone tasked with wielding the crowbar).

D.
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Re: we're online and making watts! (but a few small issues)

Postby intellact on Wed Feb 14, 2018 10:55 am

David LeBow wrote:I'm at OutBack today and have a meeting where I'm hoping to pry the information loose (or at least get some someone tasked with wielding the crowbar).

...which, in itself, always seems weird to us. :shock:

Shouldn't this forum's knight in shining armour be someone who actually works at OutBack? :-k

We keep forgetting that you have to jump through the same hoops that we do sometimes.
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Re: we're online and making watts! (but a few small issues)

Postby David LeBow on Wed Feb 14, 2018 10:59 am

"be someone who actually works at OutBack?".

OutBack is part of the Alpha Group. I'm VP of Software Engineering for the Alpha Group. I spent three days a week at OutBack for several years, now my physical presence on site is reduced, but I'm 50 minutes up the freeway from here and a phone call/e-mail away. Customer issues at Alpha and at OutBack are important to me - no matter where I'm sitting on a given day.

David
David LeBow
Vice President, Software Engineering


Alpha Technologies Inc. / OutBack Power Technologies
3767 Alpha Way Bellingham WA 98226 USA
http://www.alpha.com
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Re: we're online and making watts! (but a few small issues)

Postby intellact on Wed Feb 14, 2018 11:14 am

Hey, no slight intended. :smile: We know the corporate structure, and the geography these days is unimportant.

It's just things like your crowbar comment for a product information question that leaves us wondering, that's all... :wink:
Andrew Welch, creator of WattPlot
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Re: we're online and making watts! (but a few small issues)

Postby basrijn on Wed Feb 14, 2018 12:24 pm

With this thread utterly, and properly derailed :) (Sorry OP).

David, would it be helpful if we create a single post that "we" (maybe with Andrew being the poster) keep up to data with known issues, fixed issue, and open questions. Something along the lines:

Issue: FX inverters do not show up in datastream
Product: MATE3
Date Reported: October 2017
Reported by: Intellact
Date Closed:
Status: Open, under investigation by Outback

Issue: FX Inverter AC USE field incorrectly reported in MODBUS
Product MATE3
etc etc

Maintainer of the post would keep it up to date after issues have been confirmed. Does not take a lot of time and will save people time trying to troubleshoot issues.
Gives you something you can print and take with you whenever you go over there ;-)

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My RE system: MATE3, FLEXNET DC, FlexMax 80, FXR3048A, 4x Enersys SBS 170F, Honda EU 1500


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