Renewable Energy Innovation

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This is where we post about the day-to-day life in the re-innovation workshop. We aim to highlight interesting ideas and projects, show the way we develop products and explain anything that we think might be useful to other people.
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Accurately monitoring lead-acid battery state-of-charge would help with the long-term sustainability of off-grid renewable energy systems.

There are a number of ready-built products already available, mainly for the recreational vehicle market (eg. boats) and are relatively high cost (too high to include within a small off-grid power supply system).

There are also a number of ICs (intgrated circuits) which can perform this function. I wanted to review the few that I had heard about and see how applicable they might be for an off-grid battery monitor.

This ties in with my open-source charge controller project and also the battery monitor project, which has been on my list of things to do for a number of years. The addition of battery monitoring capability would be one of the most useful additions.

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Having been to Derby Mini Maker Faire the previous day I had bought myself a very simple (and cheap) LED light add-on for the Raspberry Pi. This was called the Pi-LITEr. It is a plug-in PCB for the RPi GPIO (general purpose IO) pins. It has 8 LEDs on it.

I have not played too much with my RPi and wanted to have a go with controlling the GPIO.

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This is a post about changing the PWM frequency of an ATTiny85 which has been programmed via the Arduino IDE.

I wanted a faster PWM frequency to remove audible noise on a dump load controller I had been designing. This controls an output load using PWM and a FET. This produced audible noise when running. I wanted to increase the frequency so that the noise is moved into the above-audible range (20kHz or higher).

This needed the internal timers in the ATTiny85 to be changed to 'Fast PWM' mode.

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When using microcontroller in battery-based applications we really need to look at current consumption. This will affect the power consumption and hence the lifetime of the device.

This post shows some tests I performed to try and reduce the current consumption of an ATtiny85 AVR microcontroller using sleep modes and switching off various aspects of the IC when they are not required.

The test results and code for th Arudino IDE is shown here.

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Here are a few photos of the prototype of the open charge controller project.

I have recently got the second version of the PCBs and have designed a simple case for it. I'm in the process of testing all the functions and finishing off the software algorithms for it.

Its based around an ATtiny85 microcontroller and is programmed using the Arduino IDE using an Arduino as an ISP.

I'm trying to update the charge controller project pages with all the build details.

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