Automatic Start/Stop Controller
The Start/Stop Controller, SSC, has been designed to start and stop the Ample Power Genie engines as demanded by the batteries. Operation can be fully automatic using internal circuits which monitor the battery and alternator, or other modes of operation are possible as shown below.
The SSC interfaces to a computer via a standard serial port, or optionally via a modem. While a computer is not necessary to operate the SSC, it is helpful during system installation and checkout. A computer is required if operational parameters need to be modified, or a user wants to monitor operational data.
A clock/calendar function is provided in the SSC to allow programming of quiet times when the engine will not operate. A computer is required to program those times.
Operating the SSC via a computer is done by menu choices and data is entered via easy to use forms. Each data item on a form has a help message that shows up when the cursor is over that item, making it easy to understand what each entry does.
Computers running the Windows1 operating system will use the HyperTerminal program, which comes with all Windows versions, to communicate with the SSC. More about HyperTerminal can be found on the Internet.
SSC firmware is stored in non-volatile flash memory and may be updated using the computer interface. Updating involves downloading an updated firmware image from an Ample Power website, and then transferring that image into the SSC via the computer interface.
Internal Battery/Alternator Monitoring
Monitoring circuits include battery voltage, battery current, and alternator current.
In automatic mode, the engine will start when battery voltage falls below a programmed voltage setpoint, and stays below that setpoint for a duration exceeding a programmed time setpoint.
Stopping in automatic mode is based on battery voltage and time, as well as battery current. Battery voltage must be greater than a programmed voltage setpoint, and the voltage must remain above that setpoint for the specified time. Once that has occurred, and battery current declines to a programmed current setpoint, the engine stops.
Engine Starting and Stopping Parameters
The SSC normally operates in various states including:
During the programmable warm up time, the engine is running, but power to the Smart Alternator Regulator, V3, is not applied and therefore the alternator is spinning freely.
Cooling down is the same ...that is the SAR V3 is turned off for the programmable cool down period.
Intermission is a programmable period that rests the engine after cooling down.
The SSC monitors engine speed with a flywheel sensor that signals each gear ring tooth. If engine cranking speed is too low, or engine running speed is too low, the engine will shutdown and wait for operator acknowledgement, either from the local panel, computer interface.
In the event that the engine doesn't start after the programmable cranking time, the SSC enters a retry mode. After the intermission period, the SSC will again try to start the engine. Maximum retry attempts is a programmable parameter.
Engine and Other Controls
The SSC provides the following signals for the engine and associated equipment:
The timing for all the controls is programmable.
Local Panel Indicators and Controls
The local panel has a 3-position toggle switch and a momentary push button switch. The toggle switch selects automatic, remote or manual, (local) start/stop modes. The push button switch is used in the manual mode to start and stop the engine. It also is used to acknowledge, (clear) an error condition and allow the engine to run again.
There are four LED indicators that communicate status and error conditions by various on and off times. The four indicators are:
The running indicator turns on and off to indicate what the engine state is as presented earlier.
The armed indicator simply shows that the SSC is in automatic mode and could start at any time.
The ready indicator shows what the start or stop measurements are. For instance, the voltage is low enough to start.
The error indicator blinks at various timing to show why the engine has failed to start, or was stopped because of an alarm condition.
Engine and Alternator Monitoring
The engine is fitted with an oil pressure switch, and an over temperature switch which are monitored by the SSC. In the event of over heating, or loss of oil pressure, the engine will be stopped.
The SSC also monitors alternator current and will stop the engine if alternator current falls below a programmable setpoint for a programmable duration.
Emergency Stop Input
An input is provided to stop the engine whenever a contact closure is made. This input is provided so that users may install safety devices which will shut off the engine. Safety devices can be wired in parallel and should anyone of the devices actuate, the engine will stop. Safety monitors such as intake water flow switches, exhaust temperature switches, CO2 detectors, etc. can be used to increase the safety of automatic engine operation.
Remote Run/Stop Contact Closure
By putting the local panel in the remote mode, the SSC will start and stop the engine based on an external contact closure. Using this input, the SSC can be started and stopped by the Ample Power Energy Monitor/Controller, or other devices that monitor battery conditions.
Installation and Testing
The SSC has a checkout menu which allows all output controls to be actuated and de-activated from the computer. The state of input switches can also be read. Using the test menu, the intergrity of all inputs and outputs can be tested.
Historical Data Collection
The SSC counts the number of engine starts, and the number of times the engine fails to start. Operating hours and minutes are also collected. This data is stored in non-volatile memory and can be accessed by the computer at anytime.
The Future Start/Stop Controller
As noted previously, the SSC firmware can be upgraded via the computer interface. A new website is being prepared where the firmware upgrades will be available for download. What upgrades are made will very much depend on user feedback and requests for features/data collection.
There are no plans to charge for firmware downloads.
The Ample Power Start/Stop Controller can be ordered with any Genie diesel battery charger. The SSC includes the remote panel with an oil pressure gauge and water temperature gauge.
Battery current sensing requires a 400 Amp shunt in the negative side of the battery bank. This shunt is already present for systems using the Energy Monitor/Controller. Without the battery shunt, the engine will only be able to use voltage and time to automatically shut off.
Alternator monitoring requires a High Side Current Sensor/Shunt, HSCS. Without this device, the engine will not be able to detect a failed alternator and shut off.
Ample Power products are manufactured by Ample Technology,
2442 NW Market St., #43, Seattle, WA 98107 - USA