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Vantare Remote Control
12-03-2016, 14:53
Post: #1
Vantare Remote Control


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12-04-2016, 12:39
Post: #2
RE: Vantare Remote Control
I have $600.00 into the pieces needed to make this work on my coach, but my coach already has the Powerlink AS PLC and motorized CB's. I have a bunch more money wrapped up into replicating the Vantare panelboard on my workbench. I don't want to experiment on my Vantare; hence, the workbench setup. Plus, Square-D no longer sells the Powerlink AS. They moved on to the Powerlink G3 (which is also good, just bigger and more expensive). So, my workbench setup serves as a valuable backup for my coach system components. There are other remotely controlled CB's on the market. Square-D (now owned by Schneider) makes the Powerlink G3 which like the Powerlink AS are motorized, Eaton/Cuttler-Hammer makes a line of solenoid operated latching breakers that can be driven with Modbus over TCP (the BABRP, BABRSP, BRRP and CLRP set of breakers), Carling Tech provides their range of motor driven remotely operated breakers. A quick google shows a bunch more. If I were to start from scratch I'd look for a system that's currently supported so that you don't have issues down the road with breaker availability. Right now, ebay is my friend.

As far as driving any of the above remotely operated breakers, free software like OpenHAB with it's rich set of bindings, including the Modbus binding, makes things very cheap, simple, extensible, and maintainable by the user. What you need is some sort of PLC that directly interacts with the CB's and then you need a way of talking to that PLC. Most modern day PLC's speak Modbus, so it's a very simple thing to have a dedicated computer in the house that runs an openHAB server that reads and writes Modbus commands to the PLC. The openHAB server can take user inputs from switches or from laptops or any handheld.

The remote capability is also free and provided by openHAB. OpenHAB has their own cloud service called my.openHAB. In my video demonstration my Android is talking to the server in my house via the openHAB cloud. My.openHAB takes care of all the IP addressing needs and it takes the place of the usual dynDNS stuff, so no static IP address or dynDNS is required. The coach can be anywhere and you can be at any other remote location and your handheld can receive openHAB alerts (email or sms text) or send commands to the coach openHAB server via the cloud. My.openHAB proxies your local server site over a secure https link which means it's encrypted and your communication between your remote Android and your my.openHAB cloud server is authenticated, plus there's secret keys involved in the connection between your local server and the cloud, plus you get to control the set of switches that you wish to share with the cloud (my.openHAB), so it seems they've taken reasonable security precautions.

If anyone needs help exploring or setting up some of these concepts I'm happy to help!

david brady,
'02 Wanderlodge LXi 'Smokey' (Sold),
'04 Prevost H3 Vantare 'SpongeBob'

"there is no perfect forum there are only perfect forums"
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12-05-2016, 23:46 (This post was last modified: 12-05-2016 23:47 by SKYCHENEY.)
Post: #3
RE: Vantare Remote Control
(12-04-2016 12:39)davidbrady Wrote:  I have $600.00 into the pieces needed to make this work on my coach, but my coach already has the Powerlink AS PLC and motorized CB's. I have a bunch more money wrapped up into replicating the Vantare panelboard on my workbench. I don't want to experiment on my Vantare; hence, the workbench setup. Plus, Square-D no longer sells the Powerlink AS. They moved on to the Powerlink G3 (which is also good, just bigger and more expensive). So, my workbench setup serves as a valuable backup for my coach system components. There are other remotely controlled CB's on the market. Square-D (now owned by Schneider) makes the Powerlink G3 which like the Powerlink AS are motorized, Eaton/Cuttler-Hammer makes a line of solenoid operated latching breakers that can be driven with Modbus over TCP (the BABRP, BABRSP, BRRP and CLRP set of breakers), Carling Tech provides their range of motor driven remotely operated breakers. A quick google shows a bunch more. If I were to start from scratch I'd look for a system that's currently supported so that you don't have issues down the road with breaker availability. Right now, ebay is my friend.

As far as driving any of the above remotely operated breakers, free software like OpenHAB with it's rich set of bindings, including the Modbus binding, makes things very cheap, simple, extensible, and maintainable by the user. What you need is some sort of PLC that directly interacts with the CB's and then you need a way of talking to that PLC. Most modern day PLC's speak Modbus, so it's a very simple thing to have a dedicated computer in the house that runs an openHAB server that reads and writes Modbus commands to the PLC. The openHAB server can take user inputs from switches or from laptops or any handheld.

The remote capability is also free and provided by openHAB. OpenHAB has their own cloud service called my.openHAB. In my video demonstration my Android is talking to the server in my house via the openHAB cloud. My.openHAB takes care of all the IP addressing needs and it takes the place of the usual dynDNS stuff, so no static IP address or dynDNS is required. The coach can be anywhere and you can be at any other remote location and your handheld can receive openHAB alerts (email or sms text) or send commands to the coach openHAB server via the cloud. My.openHAB proxies your local server site over a secure https link which means it's encrypted and your communication between your remote Android and your my.openHAB cloud server is authenticated, plus there's secret keys involved in the connection between your local server and the cloud, plus you get to control the set of switches that you wish to share with the cloud (my.openHAB), so it seems they've taken reasonable security precautions.

If anyone needs help exploring or setting up some of these concepts I'm happy to help!

Fun stuff. I did not realize the switch to the motorized CB's. What year did they do that?
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12-06-2016, 12:17
Post: #4
RE: Vantare Remote Control
Hi Sky,

Glad your enjoying my foray into handheld and remote control. I'll keep updating this blog with my progress. I've seen pics of Vantare model year 2000 (chassis year 1999) with the manual circuit breakers and pics of model year 2001's with the motorized circuit breakers, so the change took place somewhere between 2000 and 2001. I don't know for sure when, but a quick call to Donny Myers at DMRV will certainly answer that question. The Square D Powerlink AS is very reliable. The motorized circuit breakers are rated for 200,000+ motorized switching cycles. It's a really well thought out system. Kudos to Square D, now Schneider. Schneider has since moved to the Powerlink G3. I ordered a G3 circuit breaker to see if it's compatible with my system. As soon as I receive it I'll post my findings. Given the number of times that we motorcoach users switch our breakers I'd expect a very long lifetime from the Powerlink AS stuff. Unlike a solid state 120VAC relay system, mechanical switching provides latching and requires no power once the the transition has taken place. SSR's require constant power whether on or off and they require energized external circuitry and a non-volatile memory to restore state upon power interruption (shore, inverter, and generator). Plus the motorized CB's are an extremely good use of space. There's a lot of smarts contained into a very small panelboard package. If I were doing this from scratch I'd again go with motorized breakers over an external contactor or SSR solution.

david brady,
'02 Wanderlodge LXi 'Smokey' (Sold),
'04 Prevost H3 Vantare 'SpongeBob'

"there is no perfect forum there are only perfect forums"
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12-07-2016, 22:15 (This post was last modified: 12-07-2016 22:17 by SKYCHENEY.)
Post: #5
RE: Vantare Remote Control
(12-06-2016 12:17)davidbrady Wrote:  Hi Sky,

Glad your enjoying my foray into handheld and remote control. I'll keep updating this blog with my progress. I've seen pics of Vantare model year 2000 (chassis year 1999) with the manual circuit breakers and pics of model year 2001's with the motorized circuit breakers, so the change took place somewhere between 2000 and 2001. I don't know for sure when, but a quick call to Donny Myers at DMRV will certainly answer that question. The Square D Powerlink AS is very reliable. The motorized circuit breakers are rated for 200,000+ motorized switching cycles. It's a really well thought out system. Kudos to Square D, now Schneider. Schneider has since moved to the Powerlink G3. I ordered a G3 circuit breaker to see if it's compatible with my system. As soon as I receive it I'll post my findings. Given the number of times that we motorcoach users switch our breakers I'd expect a very long lifetime from the Powerlink AS stuff. Unlike a solid state 120VAC relay system, mechanical switching provides latching and requires no power once the the transition has taken place. SSR's require constant power whether on or off and they require energized external circuitry and a non-volatile memory to restore state upon power interruption (shore, inverter, and generator). Plus the motorized CB's are an extremely good use of space. There's a lot of smarts contained into a very small panelboard package. If I were doing this from scratch I'd again go with motorized breakers over an external contactor or SSR solution.

I did notice some manual breakers on the panels in some listings and some without but I didn't pay attention to year and I wasn't sure what the new system consisted of.

I agree that the motorized breaker makes much more sense than having a relay. Actually for me, a manual breaker is just fine. I think the remote control feature is neat and fun, but I really don't mind walking to the panel to turn something on or off. I look at much of this new technology as nothing more than a toy to play with. Yet, I still seem to upgrade to it when I can. We all like new toys, after all. Smile

My son would really love this stuff. He's studying Computer Engineering at Michigan Tech.

Keep us posted.
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12-10-2016, 12:19
Post: #6
RE: Vantare Remote Control
Here's a post I made to Prevost Owners Group. For completeness I'm including it here on PreGu. BTW, Donnie Myers said Vantare went to the motorized CB's in the 1998-99ish time frame.

--------------------------------cut here-----------------------------------

Hey Donnie,

Great to hear from you and thanks for the reply. Hope everything is going well down in your neck of the woods.

I have to agree, the Phase Loss boards are a piece of work. Stuffed into those tiny boards is a power rectifier, three voltage regulators, a 555 timer, and ancillary circuitry including three RC time constants. All to basically send a hardwired input signal to the Powerlink AS Interface Module (PIM) to shed loads upon power loss, and to delay 60s before negating the PIM input signal thereby restoring shed loads on power restoration. Most folks today would throw a small microcontroller at it, but back in the day we did it with descrete components. The voltage regulators get hot. I'm equipping mine with heatsinks. There's three per board. Heat sinks improve the case to air thermal conductivity by a factor of 4 making things much cooler.

I'm glad to hear that Vantare went to the SquareD/Schneider Powerlink G3 system around 2006 rather than abandoning the motorized circuit breakers. As you can tell I'm a fan of these CB's. The advantages are numerous: small form factor, latching, no power consumption once switched, 200000 cycles, internal backup power in the form of a super-capacitor, ability to fully shutoff loads at the panelboard, and an interface that allows integration with modern day control systems. Speaking of which, when Schneider bought SquareD and obsoleted the Powerlink AS system (I believe you refer to it as the G2 system) they did a marvelous job of scrubbing the web of any documentation. I had a tough time figuring out how to program the thing. The PIM has an RS232 interface that Vantare's already using to interface with the upstairs EAO switches so I had to come in on the RS485 interface, but the 485 signal isn't interpreted by the PIM. To get my remote control system working I had to add the Powerlink AS42CMT control module. This is the multi-button LCD device that plugs into the PIM; I believe the G3 has a similar device but I think on the G3 it's integrated and required. Vantare didn't include the AS42CMT with the Powerlink AS equipped coaches, so I bought two on ebay. Ebay has plenty of them for sale ranging in price from the low hundreds to over $3,000. I picked up two at $100 a piece.

So now I can command the PIM indirectly via the AS42CMT. The next step was to send command signals to the AS42CMT. To do this I bought a SquareD EXG100 which talks modbus/TCP on one side and SqureD SY/MAX on the other. (I'm too lazy to code a SY/MAX implementation). From there it was simple to send Modbus commands to my PIM via the EGX100 gateway and the AS42CMT all the while the upstairs EAO pushbuttons are sending PIM commands over the RS232 link. Everything fits together beautifully. Switches thrown in the house show up on my remote handheld (Ipad or Android) and switches thrown on my handhelds show up on one another and on the upstairs EAO switches.

IOWs, if you added the AS42CMT and the EGX100 to the older coaches I'm pretty sure your RTI could control the whole thing. Schneider is still supplying the EGX100 but the AS42CMT is obsoleted; however, there doesn't seem to be any shortage of them on the surplus market.

david brady,
'02 Wanderlodge LXi 'Smokey' (Sold),
'04 Prevost H3 Vantare 'SpongeBob'

"there is no perfect forum there are only perfect forums"
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11-06-2017, 13:16
Post: #7
RE: Vantare Remote Control
(12-04-2016 12:39)davidbrady Wrote:  I have $600.00 into the pieces needed to make this work on my coach, but my coach already has the Powerlink AS PLC and motorized CB's. I have a bunch more money wrapped up into replicating the Vantare panelboard on my workbench. I don't want to experiment on my Vantare; hence, the workbench setup. Plus, Square-D no longer sells the Powerlink AS. They moved on to the Powerlink G3 (which is also good, just bigger and more expensive). So, my workbench setup serves as a valuable backup for my coach system components. There are other remotely controlled CB's on the market. Square-D (now owned by Schneider) makes the Powerlink G3 which like the Powerlink AS are motorized, Eaton/Cuttler-Hammer makes a line of solenoid operated latching breakers that can be driven with Modbus over TCP (the BABRP, BABRSP, BRRP and CLRP set of breakers), Carling Tech provides their range of motor driven remotely operated breakers. A quick google shows a bunch more. If I were to start from scratch I'd look for a system that's currently supported so that you don't have issues down the road with breaker availability. Right now, ebay is my friend.

As far as driving any of the above remotely operated breakers, free software like OpenHAB with it's rich set of bindings, including the Modbus binding, makes things very cheap, simple, extensible, and maintainable by the user. What you need is some sort of PLC that directly interacts with the CB's and then you need a way of talking to that PLC. Most modern day PLC's speak Modbus, so it's a very simple thing to have a dedicated computer in the house that runs an openHAB server that reads and writes Modbus commands to the PLC. The openHAB server can take user inputs from switches or from laptops or any handheld.

The remote capability is also free and provided by openHAB. OpenHAB has their own cloud service called my.openHAB. In my video demonstration my Android is talking to the server in my house via the openHAB cloud. My.openHAB takes care of all the IP addressing needs and it takes the place of the usual dynDNS stuff, so no static IP address or dynDNS is required. The coach can be anywhere and you can be at any other remote location and your handheld can receive openHAB alerts (email or sms text) or send commands to the coach openHAB server via the cloud. My.openHAB proxies your local server site over a secure https link which means it's encrypted and your communication between your remote Android and your my.openHAB cloud server is authenticated, plus there's secret keys involved in the connection between your local server and the cloud, plus you get to control the set of switches that you wish to share with the cloud (my.openHAB), so it seems they've taken reasonable security precautions.

If anyone needs help exploring or setting up some of these concepts I'm happy to help!
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