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 Post subject: Starting with PLCBUS
PostPosted: Sat 16. Oct 2010, 23:46 
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Joined: Sat 16. Oct 2010, 22:30
Posts: 22
Location: Poland
Hi everybody,

My name is James. I'm a programmer/software developer from Poland. I'm not very experienced in electronics, but I learn quickly and have a good basic knowledge of the subject. Just not too much practise. I must also say that I very much prefer to play with the software part.
I'm very happy to have found this place :mrgreen: - information about PLC and specifically PLCBUS is abundant but very general which makes it quite hard to understand it.

I'm currently in the middle of market research with the goal of building my own home control system. After reading a lot of articles and going through many pages I have decided that utilizing the power line will be the best solution. A not so quick review of existing technologies left me with only two options: X10 and PLCBUS. I've chosen the latter for reasons everybody here know :). I must say that Insteon looked very nice, but it's only available in the US so that's not an option.

There are a few things about PLC(BUS) I haven't been able to find out. Maybe you can help me with some answers? :)

1. I don't know how a home power line is build, but I do know all power lines meet in the "fuse box" (no idea what the correct term is). Does PLC data go through that box? There are actually three questions here:
1.1 How can I secure my data from going outside and prevent signals from the outside?
1.2 What if my neighbour wants a PLCBUS system too - interference?
1.3 Will data be able to pass through that box inside the house? For example from the kitchen to the bedroom via the box? Like so:
Kitchen ------------------ [BOX] --------------- Bedroom

2. I'd like to "play" with PLCBUS. What do I need to start, possibly cheap? My guess is:
-PLCBUS controller
-PLCBUS lamp module (ON/OFF to start simple)
-PC to control it (this I have)
Now I know I can buy the PLCBUS-1141 PC interface which comes in 2 flavours: RS232/USB. From what I've learned the USB one simply creates a virtual RS232 COM port on the PC, so it's simpler to buy the RS232 version. Yes I have a PC with RS232. Anything I should know here? Maybe it's better to buy the USB one after all?
My guess is I get that, install drivers from somewhere, get software to control PLCBUS (like HomePlanner), plug it all in and it should work.

The above solution is simple, but also expensive. The PC interface is about 70€, the simplest lamp module is about 40€ so that's 110€+shipping which totals at some 130€ :(
So I'm thinking about going "lower". I have soldering experience so putting the elements together won't be a problem. I just don't really know which ones I need to buy to make a controller and a simple on/off thing (a LED will do for learning - 230V lamps later). I have a nifty small computer (Alix: http://www.pcengines.ch/alix1d.htm) which has an I2C header (and COM ports) and can be temporally used as the controller back-end (later to be replaced by something AVR-like).
Will this solution be cheaper (and how much)?
Could you help me make a list of required elements?
For the controller I think the PLCBUS-201078 is the best choice. Right?
No idea about the ON/OFF chip. :(
My basic vision is something like this:
[Alix+PLCBUS-201078+plug]-----<power line>------[plug+unknown_chip+LED]

3. I don't think I can buy any PLCBUS hardware in Poland so I'll have to ship it from somewhere. Possible places I've found are UK, The Netherlands and...China. Do you know any other places? Maybe something in Germany?


I know I wrote a lot, and I am sorry ;) I hope someone will have the time and patience to read this... There are just so many things I'd like to know about PLCBUS but haven't been able to learn from the Internet :(

Thanks a lot! :)

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QmQ


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 Post subject: Re: Starting with PLCBUS
PostPosted: Sun 17. Oct 2010, 16:22 
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Posts: 171
Hi QmQ,

welcome to PLC-BUS.info.

I hope I can give you some answers.

First; the cheapest way to “play” with PLC-BUS is to buy modules.
Without any PLC-BUS controller and PLC-BUS modules you will not able to get chip module PLCBUS-201071 working!
Inside each PLC-BUS module and PLC-BUS controller is such a chip-module.
Chip-module is only for own special modules and not easy to handle.

Buy the interface 1141 RS232, one or more modules, download homeVisu (http://www.homeVisu.com) und start playing.

PLC-BUS is a good choose.
You can combine PLC-BUS and X10. But PLC-BUS has some advantages!
Two way communication, you get an ACK back if module has received command and you can ask module status.
PLC-BUS has more addresses. PLC-BUS increase X10 address range by user code.
Be careful X10 and PLC-BUS are address compatible, but not system compatible!
For communication between X10 and PLC-BUS you need a transfer interface PLCBUS 4808 for each phase.
When you use 4808 you can control X10 modules by PLC-BUS controllers and PLC-BUS modules by X10 controllers, but all without ACK.


Back to your questions:
1.1 To block communication you need a filter. The filter blocks noises and PLC-BUS signal (user manual PLCBUS-4815/4816/4817E)
1.2 If your neighbour uses PLC-BUS too. Use different user codes and protect your home by a filter.
1.3 To communicate over 3 phase you need a 3-phase coupler PLCBUS 4825 (user manual micro modules see section System Accessorial Products)
The 3-phase coupler is like a network router, but just for PLC-BUS.



PLCBUSguru

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 Post subject: Re: Starting with PLCBUS
PostPosted: Sun 17. Oct 2010, 18:48 
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Joined: Sat 16. Oct 2010, 22:30
Posts: 22
Location: Poland
Thanks for such a speedy reply PLCBUSguru! :)

I've reread the entire forum and discovered that ¶ is not a user - it's a store in Germany :P I'll ask if they ship to Poland...

But before I buy anything I have a few more questions.

So, the so called chip is not specifically for the controller - it's in every PLC-BUS module? I understand it's a "modem" that translates data:
<power line>---[CHIP]---<I2C>
Is that correct?
And if it is I understand that every module has that chip and some additional electronics that transform I2C commands into real actions like actually changing voltage and so on?

I see on ¶'s site the chip is quite cheap compared to anything else. I will do as you suggest and first buy a ready PLCBUS controller and a single PLCBUS module. Designing my own module will be a next step.

So the basic question is: after installing everything what I get is a (virtual) COM port on my computer right? So I can write my own software for controlling the system simply by writing to/reading from that port? I will of course start by playing with homeVisu but I'd really like to build something of my own for this purpose.

Thanks a lot!

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QmQ


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 Post subject: Re: Starting with PLCBUS
PostPosted: Mon 18. Oct 2010, 07:17 
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Hi QmQ,

The chip module is more than just a modem!
The chip module (PLCBUS-201071) is a standalone PLC-BUS device. The chip module handle all communication by it self. What you can do is manage the registers by I²C and so control the chip module. The chip module needs to work some additional electronic components they are to big for chip module – e.g. big capacitors and inductors.
There are two versions.
PLCBUS-201071 (blue) is for controllers and receivers. It has the I²C. All controllers, like rs242 interface, mini controller or 3-phase coupler have inside the blue chip.
PLCBUS-207078 (red) it is a cheaper version special designed for receivers. All lamp and appliance modules have inside the red chip. The registers of the red version can not manage by I²C.

For writing your own software you can check RS232 commands. (RS-232 Interface 1141)
In my opinion the RS232 interface version is the better choose. Inside USB version is just a RS232-to-USB converter. Such a converter is not expensive. If you buy a RS232 version you can use any RS232-to-USB converter! So you can choose that version where you will get the best driver!

PLCBUSguru

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 Post subject: Re: Starting with PLCBUS
PostPosted: Mon 18. Oct 2010, 21:57 
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Joined: Sat 16. Oct 2010, 22:30
Posts: 22
Location: Poland
Ah, that's very interesting. Until now I believed that the red chip is simply a newer version of the blue one.
So, a question arises - how do you control the red chip?

I afraid I cannot download the RS232_PLCBUS_Interface_V2.3.pdf document - not enough posts or something I think (although it says that I need 0 posts :| ). What do I need to do to get it?

Anyway, I've almost made up my mind. The list I have devised is this:
1xPLCBUS-P 2027G (ON/OFF plug-in module for basic tests)
1xPLCBUS R-2263D (300W lamp dimmer micro-module for more advanced tests and to have more than one device)
1xPLCBUS-T 1141G (RS232 PC interface)

What do you think about this list? Good for starters?
Maybe some other essential component is missing that doesn't cost a lot?

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QmQ


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 Post subject: Re: Starting with PLCBUS
PostPosted: Tue 19. Oct 2010, 06:48 
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you must login for download RS232_PLCBUS_Interface_V2.3.pdf document.

For starting I think your list is OK.
1x lamp module for dimming, brightening, stop and status req.
1x appliance module ON/OFF

With homeVisu community edition (free downoad) and interface 1141 you can setup and control the PLC-BUS system.

PLCBUSguru

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 Post subject: Re: Starting with PLCBUS
PostPosted: Tue 19. Oct 2010, 14:37 
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Joined: Sat 16. Oct 2010, 22:30
Posts: 22
Location: Poland
I'm afraid I am logged in. There is something wrong with that single download. I still see: "Not enough traffic or posts (0 posts required)." :(

Just to be certain: the plug-in module (functionally, not really) is like the micro-module plus a LED and a button (and something intelligent that connects them) in a pluggable casing. Correct?

So if I buy a micro module and connect a plug to it I'll end up with a simple lamp plug-in module, just without a button and LED, right?

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QmQ


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 Post subject: Re: Starting with PLCBUS
PostPosted: Tue 19. Oct 2010, 15:02 
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QmQ

I have checked download – now it must work

Yes; plug-in modules and micro modules have just different housing!
Micro module has also a micro button and a LED.
Functions are the same.

PLCBUSguru

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 Post subject: Re: Starting with PLCBUS
PostPosted: Tue 19. Oct 2010, 16:26 
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Joined: Sat 16. Oct 2010, 22:30
Posts: 22
Location: Poland
Yes, now I can download. Thanks a lot.
I can't read this now, but I just took a sneak peak and found this:
"Each Frame Date: 1 Start Bit, 1Length Bit, 5 or 6 Data Bits, and 1 End Bit"
Shouldn't it say byte? I.e STX is 0x02 which is 8 bits. Is there some unusual RS232 convention or is this simply a mistake?

One more thing:
Do modules (both plug-in and micro) have some kind of non-volatile memory? Do they remember their state/address after power loss?


Thanks! :)

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QmQ


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 Post subject: Re: Starting with PLCBUS
PostPosted: Tue 19. Oct 2010, 19:41 
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As you wrote, this is a mistake. Those are not bits those are bytes!!
It must be:
"Each Frame Date: 1 Start Byte, 1 Length Byte, 5 or 6 Data Byte, and 1 End Byte"

Yes; all modules have a non-volatile memory for main address, scene addresses and state.

PLCBUSguru

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