I have been after getting a Smart Meter installed for the past few years so I could monitor my energy usage in near real time, my original supplier (EON) said that as my gas was supplied via IGT infrastructure, they could not install Smart Metering, speaking to British Gas (BG) and my IGT they said this wasn’t a problem, so I switched supplier.
Surprise, surprise, when I came to register for a Smart Meter to be installed British Gas, they said it was not possible for the same reason that EON gave.
I took the case to OFGEM, but my case was undermined as the telephone conversation recording with the BG operative and myself could not be found, however, due to an extensive e-mail trail, OFGEM ruled that BG were to give me a written apology.
Winding forward to the 24 August 2017, I upgraded my British Gas mobile app and ‘Book a Smart Meter’ button appeared, with a wry smile I pressed the button and hey presto it accepted my booking, whereas previously this has been declined, and an appointment was set for 3 August 2017 between 13:00 and 17:00.
The BG guy rang before he arrived, he introduced himself as Ashley and was really friendly, taking him to the external meter cupboards I had my fingers crossed that nothing would get in the way to causing a cancellation, as it was, no problems were presented so the installation of gas and electricity smart meters could go ahead.
The picture above shows my old meter with an OWL energy monitor transmitter with a clamp on Current Transformer attached to the incoming phase wire, Ashley started on the electricity meter swap out first after checking the nearest socket with a plug in tester for confirmation of correct polarity and earth continuity, he turned off the consumer units main isolator and central heating boiler before pulling the main service fuse.
Due to the larger size of the smart meter, he had to shorten the tails from the cut-out, apart from that, the exchange took about 40 minutes in total and the OWL monitor is now redundant!
The replacement of the gas smart meter was a bit more challenging as the new meter would not fit without meter exit pipework modifications.
Ashley isolated the gas supply and stripped out the old meter, regulator and anaconda pipe, replacing the regulator and pipe with new, he offered the meter up and noted where the meter outlet pipe needed modifying.
He cut out the existing pipe and soldered in a prefabricated swept connector and it was a perfect fit.
He tightened all connectors after replacing all ‘O’ rings with new ones and gave his works a pressure and leak test, once finished he sealed the outlet hole from the meter cupboard with flue cement.
He then ran through the display and went on his way, overall it took about 2 hours to fit the two meters and one major positive was that he found a loose connection on the neutral from electricity isolator switch to my consumer unit, so well pleased that he did a quality job.
I opted for 1/2 hour reading to be captured throughout the day, the combined log is automatically uploaded daily to a remote server via the mobile network, logging into My Energy Portal will allow you to see you consumption breakdown over time:
So, all done, its taken a few years to get and at one point I thought I would have to wait until 2020, fortunately I was wrong.
11 August 17, my mobile and online British Gas app no longer show half-hourly usage, instead they show seasonal overall consumption, I have raised a service ticket to see if this can be returned to as it was, the old IGT card was mentioned during my converstaion with the service desk and I said I have a screen grab posted to the internet, so I know it was working!!
16 August 17, Yeah!! My Energy portal is back working showing 1/2 hourly usage figures.
When the original Davis FARS motor failed I installed a new motor and kept back some spare motors, waiting for the inevitable motor failure to occur, reading online, changing from the Davis Fan to a PC varient made a lot of sense and not only is the life of motor excellent, but it is possible to monitor the motors output for operation.
I was interested to know the existing Davis fans air flow, mine was running at 2.4vDC and showed 9.7m/s:
With the David FARS removed, the existing fan assembly slides out of the housing as a complete fan & surround, the hole left will take the 80 x 80mm fan with only a very minor filing of the fan case body to make it slide into the body of the FARS.
No modifications are made to the existing FARS body allowing reversion back to the existing fan if I wish (can’t think why, but you never know!).
To form a seal around the gaps, I used self adhesive door/window strip seal.
The finished fan after the seal is applied and checking that the fan is sucking, rather than blowing:
The oringinal fan ran on 2.4v, I replaced the voltage regulators fixed value resistor for the correct one to give 11.54vDC output and this feeds the motor and the motor monitoring Tacho.
The air flow of the PC fan when installed and connected was 5.5m/s, this is less than the original davis fan, but this is still better than static air within the sensing chamber.
The Davis wetaher station I have is the wired version, and I used Cat5e cable rather than the supplied 4 core cable from the ISS to the console, using the Cat5e unused cores, I fed the supply voltage to the fan and the Tacho pulse into the house where they are connected to a 52mm (2″) counter tachometer guage RPM, this was bought off eBay for £6.70 + £1.69 postage.
Tacho installed in the equipment cabinet:
The PC fan connections are:
Black – Negative 12v
Yellow – Positive 12v
Green – Tacho Pulse
Blue – PWM (Not Used)
The Tacho is set for a 4 cyclinder engine using a switch on the back of the unit, with the fan running the backlit RPM display is showing just under 1000RPM (reading slightly low due to voltage drop introducd by the distance from the ISS to the end point), to the left of the Tacho is my Meteobridge Pro weather station server to the internet.
The motor is guaranteed for 6 years, replacement will be very easy and I’m able to remotley monitor that the fan is functioning, all for less than £20.
My home office is also my shack and like most things, the infrastructure grew rather than was managed, so I knew the electrical power was not ideal and the network patch panel was full. The thing that brought it to a head was the need for a new floor covering, and so it began.
First job was to put in a new final circuit ring main to the office dado trunking and add a couple of additional power points for the UPS and mobile air conditioning unit.
As the cables are ran in the loft, I decided to install a decent fold down loft hatch and sliding ladder for ease of access, the loft lighting was also improved by installing 4 x 4′ fluorescent operated by a pull switch fed from its own dedicated circuit, this lighting made a huge diffence.
To move everything out of the office to get access to the floor meant it needed to go somewhere, and the obvious choice was the loft, so off to Homebase for loft flooring and loft legs and of course it was boarded during the hottest days of July.
Once everything was out, I could start tearing down to rebuild:
The existing home network hub needed to come out:
No going back now!
New cable drops for additional tap points near the TV and existing TalkTalk router are shown, I did move/rationalise other tap points around the house and in the garage. In the lounge I drilled through to the external wall and installed conduit in preparation for when Virgin Media install fibre to the home.
The network cables were in and tested using a cheap and cheerful wire mapper and did find a faulty tap point, so well worth £2.59.
Once the power was sorted out, it was time to start on the cabinet, this is a 12U wall mounted jobbie and cost £48.49 from eBay, the power distrubution unit is fed via an 800VA MGE Pulsar Evolution UPS as is the red sockets.
Cables identified and marked up, rather than numbering the tap points, I opted to use a convention which accomadated change easily:
OFnn =Office, tap point nn
BD2/nn = Bedroom 2, tap point nn
BD3/nn = Bedroom 3, tap point nn
LOnn = Loft, tap point nn
Lnn = Lounge, tap point nn
Gnn = Garage, tap point nn
Hnn = Hall, tap point nn
I, well me and my XYL took the oppertunity to start to spruce the place up with a coat of paint as well. This shows the wall ready for the roller.
Wall cabinet finished, I added a small temperture controller which switches on the cabinet fan and the ceiling mounted fan within the cupboard where the cabinet is fitted.
Working top down:
2U blank plate
Telephone line IN, OUT via ADSL filtered ports
24 port patch panel wired in Cat5e, two ports spare
Brush strip to hide surplus cable or manage surplus cable if your a purist
Cabinet closed and locked after making sure it didn’t hit the ceiling light.
Room with everything put back in and tidied up.
To make life easier for working on the radio equipment cables and connections, I didn’t push the desk right back to the wall and also no radio related equipment is on the floor (PSU), apart from the foot operated PTT.
Radio wise I didn’t do much, I added a seperate 12v PSU for auxillary equipment, such as the led signage, VSWR panel lights and SG autotuner to name a few, I also added a common RF earth board for the shack equipment to connect to.
Radio all put back together and cables tidied up, not sure how long the office will stay this neat 🙂
The cheap and cheerful cable tester unfortunatly didn’t last the test of time and started giving some strange mapping indications, returning to eBay, I found a SC8108 Network Cable Tester for £17.98, this is superb value, and hopefully it will last longer than the last cable tester.
The SC8108 is very easy to use and has a number of usefull, menu driven features, but for my small home network, wire mapping is the primary focus.
I decided to give the weather station a revamp, the two mini projects are the replacement of the Fan used to asperate the temperture/humidity sensor and the replacement of the original Davis temp/hum sensor with the more accurate chipset SHT15.
I bought the Davis 7346-174 upgrade from Scaled Instruments in Florida for $67.50 delivered (£51.94), the unit arrived very quickly as expected as I have used Scaled Instruments before and the service is exceptional.
Disassembly was quite straightforward after putting the station in install mode, what I was suprised by was the amount of dirt that had been drawn into to the fan guard and other parts of the Stevensons Sheild which all need a good wash with soapy water:
The original sensor is secured with two machine screws and the cable by a ‘P’ clip:
The replacement sensor was a direct fit as you wpould expects apart from the fact that instead of a ‘P’ clip, the environmental coating was used to form a cable clip, thit need a stand-off and additional machine screw to enable the sensor wire to be secured.
Once the housing was reassembled, sensor plugged up, fan reconnected and the station taken out of install mode everything worked just fine.
I’m awaiting the new fan to be deivered, so the second part of this will be blogged soon.
After playing with a Programmable Logic Controller (PLC) to operate my radio mast, I decided to build a simulator in order to better understand the capabilities of the EASY PR-18DC-DA-R.
I wanted the simulator to have 16 inputs, either momentary or switched and the ability to import signals including an embedded 4 – 20mA current.
I had a sloped project enclosure already, so I made a dimensioned drilling template.
Once the template was stuck down, the pilot holes were drilled, template removed and holes opened to the right sizes.
The template was created in Visio and I used layers, one of the layers was for switch position drilling and alignment cross-hairs, turning that layer off (missed one in I8!), allowed me to print on self-adhesive sticky Matte White Vinyl.
Using a sharp knife, I cut though the Vinyl and started fitting the switches, buttons, Output indication LEDs and 4 – 20mA injector.
Terminal posts next.
Front panel populated.
After a couple of changes, the internal wiring is completed and loomed in.
The simulator uses 24v DC, I used a small 1.5A output switched mode PSU for this, fed via a chassis fuse holder with the supply from an IEC male socket, the output from the PSU is fused separately.
PLC simulator all powered up, the program in the PLC was legacy from my mast control project, this will be overwritten by downloading revised programs from Logicsoft software.
The LD-250 Lighting Detector from Boltek has an internal output for a relay interface, the manufactures units are quite expensive, so I decided to make my own.
Inside the LD-250 is a 14 way header which connects via ribbon cable to the RLO-10, off eBay I bought the 14 way ribbon cable and IDC cable mount socket for £5.00.
Opening the LD-250 the header JP1 is immediately obvious:
Using my multimeter, the header output pins linked to the front panel LED’s and the operating voltage was quickly found.
Using a spare strip of veroboard I mounted a magnetically shielded reed relay 5v, with flywheel diode across the coil, and the switched Normally Open reed output to a 2.54mm x 2 pitch connector, I also put veropins in the board so I can select which function I want the relay to operate on, should it be needed in the future.
The reed switch is used to switch 24v DC to an indicating LED and a a PLC input, the total load was measured at 21.49mA, well within the 500mA rating of the reed switch.
The module was placed in a small enclosure:
The ribbon cable was then plugged into JP1 inside the LD-250:
Switching on the Boltek performs a self test of the front LED’s and internal buzzer, as I have used the output from the ‘Close’ LED, the reed relay operated and the mast which was raised, automatically retracted.
All in all the project performs as expected and cost me £7 (enclosure was £2) saving me £58.95 on a factory unit.
Link back to Radio Mast Automation – HERE where the EASY RL-V23 unit can just be seen attached to the lid of the mast controller.
The above module was from eBay and advertised as a ’12V Voltage Control /Delay Switch /OverVoltage /Under Voltage Protection Module’ for £4.92.
This unit is incredibly versatile, and I’ve included the operating instructions in the blog.
I have used this module to monitor the charging voltage of a battery, once the voltage has reached a pre-set value, an output will trigger to stop the charger.
P-1: Timer ( 1-999 S / 1-999 Min)
P-2: Delay timer ( 1-999 S / 1-999 Min)
P-3: Voltage control relay ( control the load on/off)
P-4: Voltage control Timer- A (release first)
P-5: Voltage control Timer- B (close first)
P-6: Voltage range control relay
P-7: Voltage range control Timer
P-8: Set display off
Timing Range: 0-999 seconds or 0-999 minutes (0.1s-999s optional)
Voltmeter display range: DC 0-99.9 V
Voltage detection error: ± 0.1V
Operating Power: DC10~16V (5V,24V optional)
Coil Voltage: DC 12V (5V,24V optional)
A set of conversion (normally open and normally closed)
Contact load: 10A/277V AC or 10A/30V DC
Contact resistance: ≤ 100mΩ (1A 6VDC)
Mechanical durability: 10 millions
Electricity durability: > 100,000 (10A-250VAC)
Operating Temperature: -40 ~ 85℃
External signal input: (5~ 12V) or passive switch (9 levels delay time can be set)
Timer mode can set the relay contact close and release time, the implementation of a single timing loop
In voltage control mode, can preset upper and lower voltage values limits
Set display shut, the minimum current values are 6mA/12V (delay released)
The pre-set parameters can be saved after power off.
2 Operating modes:
Connect to power, LED digital tube displays words “E-A-Z-Y-t” in turn, system enter into the selection state, the initial mode selection is displayed as “P-0”, press the “SET” button to select “P-1~P-8” mode, press “ENTER” to enter the corresponding mode.while any mode running, press the “ENTER” button for 3 seconds, system will return to the mode selection state.
Press the “SET” and “ENTER” button to connect the power, the controller will be restored to factory settings.
2.1 Timer mode (P-1)
Press the “SET” button to select “P-1”, controller system will enter into the timer mode.
“P-1”/ “P-2”: 1-999 seconds /minute can be set.
In the timer mode, the user can set the relay’s close time T1 and the release time T2,such as setting T1 for 3 seconds, T2 for 7 seconds, the relay will be closed for three seconds then release for 7 seconds, cyclic run.
User also can set cyclic times.
When you have set the values of the T1 and T2 , the system saved the settings, the next time system will be loaded automatically T1 time to wait running.
If you set T1 with a specified time, set T2 (release time) with 0, the relay will stop after the timer run T1 time, no longer running, it can be used as a timer, with running time end, the normally open contact of relay release, then press the “ENTER” button, the system re-start the timer for T1 time.
In timer state, you can use external switch or pulse signal input Interface on controller to start the timer (trigger).
Timer setting steps:
1) For the first time of set , select “P-1” time relay mode, LED digital tube display” 000 “;
2) Press the “SET” button, system will enter into the T1 time values settings first, the digital LED that wait for set flashing with 1Hz frequency, press “ENTER” to select the number of values, press the “SET” button for three times to enter the T2 time values settings, and cyclic times, press the “SET” button to exit the set state, the system waits to press “ENTER” button to start running.
3) In the time setting state ,time values’ unit can be switched to minutes unit or second unit, press the “SET” button to enter the time set by state (set LED digital tube flashing) ,at this time Press the “SET” button for 3 seconds to release ,the LED digital tube will light the right decimal points, it means that timing values with minutes unit, if the decimal point dose not light, it means that timing values with seconds unit.
4) After setting is completed, press the “SET” button to exit the setting state, press “ENTER” to start timing, if timing values is set with second unit, seconds values will display with countdown form. If timing values is set with minute unit, the right decimal point flashing with 1Hz frequency, means the countdown is running. While timer is running, the normally open contact of relay connected, the normally closed contact of relay disconnect, press the “ENTER” to halt run, press the “ENTER” for three seconds to return mode selection state “P-0”.
2.2 Delay timer (P-2)
The Setting method of “P- 2” is the same as “P- 1”, in the mode of “P-2”, the relay will first execute release of T1 time then closed with T2 time.
2.3 Voltage control relay mode (P-3)
In mode selection state(“P-0”), press the “SET” button to select “P-3”, then press the “ENTER” to enter the voltage comparison control mode, the controller will detect voltage from “VOL” Interface and display values (DC 0-99.9V),it also can be used as a DC voltmeter ,the default initial run state relay contact is closed (normally closed contact is disconnected, normally open switch on), press the “SET “button to set the three bit values, the LED digital tube is set to flashing with1Hz frequency, first to be set upper limit voltage values , press the “SET” button three times, lower limit values of voltage to be set,press the “ENTER” button to increase the number of values, the lower limit voltage can not exceeds the upper limit, press the “SET” button to make digital tube is no longer flashing, this time system enter into voltage control mode , the controller detects DC voltage from external input Interface , when voltage detection exceed the upper limit of the pre-set, the relay close (normally open contact connect ,normally closed disconnect), until the voltage drops below the lower limit pre-set, the relay will release (normally closed contact connect , normally open contact disconnect).
In voltage control condition, press the “SET” button for three seconds then release the button, the contact of relay state will be reversed. such as: the relay close when detect voltage below the lower limit voltage.
If the pre-set voltage upper and lower limits set to the same, such as 12.0V, when controller detect volts at 12.0 fluctuations may cause the relay contact frequent action, we recommend to set the voltage to maintain the difference between the upper and lower limits.
Note: The detection voltage terminal must connected reliable, have not loose wiring around the circuit board insulation ,may lead to the induced voltage detection values is not accurate.
2.4 Voltage control Timer mode (P-4 / P-5)
“P-4” or “P-5” mode is composed of “P-1” and “P-3” or “P-2” and “P-3”.When the system switched to “P-4” from “P-1”or“P-2”,it will enter the voltage control timer mode, the controller will detect voltage from “VOL” Interface ,when detect voltage exceed the upper limit of the pre-set voltage, the timer will start , until the volts drops below the lower limit pre-set , the timer stop.
If you set time in “P-1” mode previous, then enter the “P-4” mode , the relay will close with timer first ,then release, If you set time in “P-2” mode previous, then enter the “P-4” mode ,the relay release with timing then closed.
The difference between “P-4” and “P-5” is the relay’s Initial state, “P-4” mode relay release first, but “P-5” mode relay close first.
Press the button of “SET” last for 3 seconds, the timer will start in the case of the voltage is below the lower limit. the setting method of limit pre-set voltage, please refer to section 2.3.
(1) In P-2 mode , set T1 005, T2 000, then enter P-4 mode , voltage detection exceed the upper limit of the pre-set the relay will close after 5 seconds, voltage drops below the lower limit pre-set the relay release Immediately.
(2) In P-1 mode , set T1 005, T2 000, then enter P-5 mode, voltage below the lower limit pre-set the relay close immediately, voltage detection exceed the upper limit of the pre-set the relay will release after delay 5 seconds.
Voltage control logic can be reversed with press SET key for 3 seconds.
2.5 Voltage range control relay (P-6)
If the voltage controller detects exceed the upper limit of the pre-set voltage, or the voltage drops below the lower limit pre-set voltage, the relay will close, otherwise the relay release between upper limit and lower limit range. Press the button of “SET” last for 3 seconds, the relay reversed. The relay will close between upper limit and lower limit.
2.6 Voltage range control Timer (P-7)
If the voltage controller detects exceed the upper limit of the pre-set voltage, or the voltage drops below the lower limit pre-set voltage, the relay will run follow time relay mode that has been set in P-1 or P-1 mode previous.
When voltage values between the upper limit and lower limit range, press SET key for 3 seconds, relay reversed between close and release (ON/OFF).
In P-1 mode, set T1 005, T2 000, then enter P-7 mode, set relay close between upper limit and lower limit range. When voltage below lower limit or exceed upper limit, the relay will release after 5 seconds.
2.7 Set display shut (P-8)
The display shows “d-0” means keep bright, you can press the button of “SET” set 0-9 minutes for display shut.
Graph showing operation of raise and lower including the automatic charging cycle.
I wanted a quick and easy way of applying protective lubricant to the wire rope which raises and lowers my mast, my first effort involved a paint brush and a tin of grease and I thought then that their must be a better method, both in terms of speed and effective application.
The option I chose was to use a spray wire rope and chain lube in conjuction with a home brew applicator.
The FORCE spray lube costs £6.25 for 400ml from eBay, the details of product are:
A long lasting highly tenacious spray grease which reduces wear and increases chain life.
High grip, anti fling properties provide long lasting, high depth lubrication and protection.
Penetrates inner rollers and resists the highest shock loads.
Ideal for chains, cables, wire ropes, fork lift chains, open gears and tail lift assemblies.
Reistant to weather and salt, provides high resistance to wash off.
‘O’ Ring Safe unlike other greases!
1 off 10mm copper pipe 150mm in length
1 off 15mm copper pipe 135mm in length
1 off 4mm copper pipe 60mm in length
1 off 12mm panel grommet
The 10mm pipe had a 5mm slot cut down the complete length to allow the pipe to fit over the wire rope, at the base of the 10mm pipe I ‘flared’ this to 14mm.
The 15mm pipe was cut at one end with a roller type pipe cutter (pipe slice) and this formed a nice curved lip, at the other end I used a hacksaw, this pipe also had a 5mm slot cut down its length, for the cutting of the slots I used a dremel with a mini abrasive disc.
As the spray gease doesn’t come with extension tubes, I decided to use 4mm copper pipe (the 2mm inside pipe bore is perfect to slide over the spray cap nozzle), this was soldered half way up the 15mm pipe, this pipe enters directly opposite the cut slot. To act as a ‘key-way’ it protudes into the pipe by 1mm.
A 12mm panel grommet is cut to fit inside the 10mm pipe.
The 10mm pipe is slid over the cable with the flared section at the bottom:
The grommet is installed at the top:
The 15mm pipe is now slid over the cable above the 10mm pipe and rotated so the grease inlet is inline with the slot in the 10mm pipe:
Noting the alignment, the 10mm pipe is pushed inside the 15mm pipe, the 4mm pipe protuding inside the 15mm pipe ensures the 10mm pipe can only fully slide in if the slot aligns, The lip on the 15mm pipe holds the grommet in place:
The finished product works quite well and gives an even coating to the wire rope, the length of the 4mm pipe was to allow the spray can to rest on a bracket, so I simply raise the mast and hold the spray button down 🙂