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 xLogicsoft software.
To complement the PLC simulator I bought a4-20mA Current Signal Generator 0-10V Voltage Generator Transducer Simulator for £19.00.
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.
4 Feb 18, Ordered VIVID 200 package for installation on Friday 23 Feb 18 between 13:00 – 16:00. Went through to the Virgin Media shop in Peterborough looking for some form of promotion or deal to reduce costs, this didn’t happen, in fact they suggested I could save money ordering in shop as they would waive the installation and F-Secure costs, this was incorrect as the online booking information has these as free, also they wanted £25 up front, £20 activation fee and £5 which would be returned once the service was active, online it is £20 only activation, so I booked online, as an aside, if I had ordered in the shop my statutory rights to cancel is reduced from 14 to 10 days protection which you get when booking online.
11 Feb 18, received two e-mails, the first containing e-sign contract, the other was what to expect on the day of installation.
16 Feb 18, received mobile call from Callum of the Virgin Media installation team wanting to come and install a microduct from the Toby to my house, fit the Omnibox and blow the fibre from the street cabinet to the Omnibox, this is done a week in advance of the engineers on the 23 Feb, I arranged for the following day to meet them as I was 180 miles away! (this part of the process was not known to me and came out of the blue, I assumed it would be a ‘one hit’ visit).
17 Feb 18, James from the installation team rang to cancel as Callums son had a fall and was needed at home, as the install is a two man job I returned his call and rearranged for Monday 19 Feb after 16:00.
19 Feb 18, James & Callum turned up at the appointed time to install the microduct, fibre and Omnibox.
The guys first photographed a laminated sheet showing my address, date and their names next to my open Toby, once this was done they threaded a black microduct pipe from the pavement Toby through the conduit I had previously laid to the house, the brown Omnibox was fixed to the wall with 4 screws and the microduct pipe clipped into place in the Omnibox, at the Toby a coupling was installed transitioning from the green microduct to the black microduct.
The distance was measured using a measuring wheel from my Toby to the street cabinet (72.5 m), while the measuring was going on, compressed air was blown down the microduct from the house, this caused the yellow protective cap to be blown off the end of the green microduct in the cabinet, identifying which tube out of many, as coming from my house.
In the cabinet a ‘fibre catcher’ was fitted, at the house end the fibre cassette containing 100m of fibre was fixed on a device which enabled the fibre to be blown into the duct until it was caught by the cabinet catcher.
At the cabinet, the fibre catcher was removed and a protective sleeve was fitted over the fibre and terminated in a connection, this connection was then plugged into a breakout panel in the cabinet.
At the house end, the surplus fibre from the cassette was wrapped within the Omnibox, the house end is pre terminated, once this was done, a reading was taken of light losses (-0.13db) to check they were in an acceptable range, the reading was photographed with the laminated sheet used earlier as proof of service in advance of the technical install scheduled on Friday 23 Feb 18.
23 Feb 18, Go Live Day – Engineer Sam arrived between the allotted time of 13:00 to 18:00 to start the installation.
He was quite happy that the hole through the wall into the lounge was already in, as was the dry lining that he could hang the Isolated Power Injector on.
First job was to push a peice of HFC cable though the wall from the Omnibox and put a connector on the end, this was connected to the Isolated Power Injector (IPI) Teleste IP1-G1)), which is mounted within an enclosure on the lounge wall (the screw holes of the enclosure and backplate fit a standard dry lining box), a short length of HFC cable from this goes to a 12v plug in PSU in order to back feed the external optical media converter with power.
The bottom IPI output is connected to a 2 way splitter (Technetix ESX-02), one leg goes to the router (a 3db attenuator was installed to balance the system), the other leg to the TV box.
As the TV box, Router and Optical media converter require power, three 240v sockets are required.
In the Omnibox, the HFC cable was terminated, and plugged into a DC passing port of the 4 way splitter (Amphenol Model ABS104TP), from the splitter this is plugged into the Vector Boostral 610 optical media converters output.
Once the external works was completed, the router and TV box were powered up and an Ethernet cable from the router to TV box was plugged in. The hardware went through three re-boots and software updates and I was good to go.
24 Feb 18, Netflix is suffering lip sync issues when viewed through the VM TV Box, also download speeds vary from 210Mb to 38Mb (wireless tests), it’s early days, so I hopefully this will stabilize soon.
25 Feb 18, Speed test using direct cabled connection to Virgin Media router (200Mb service ordered) :
25 Feb 18 @ 14.11
2 Mar 18, TalkTalk, my existing provider reduced my package ‘Fibre Large’ which is Fibre To The Cabinet’ (FTTC) by £26:25, on knowing I was thinking about leaving for Virgin Media, they did this by moving me to the ‘Faster Fibre Plan’.
I get the same package as before (TV, broadband and phone landline including line rental) for £31.75 per month, the download and upload speeds I’m getting are more than enough for my needs even when all the kids are home battering the broadband, also I keep my landline, Virgin Media have not yet enabled VOIP on the router which was another factor for me.
I called Virgin Media to cancel my arrangement (within the 14 day ‘cooling off’ period), they obviously asked why and I mentioned the main reason was cost and as an aside, that my wireless speeds were faster with TalkTalk rather than Virgin Media.
Perplexed by this, he transferred me to technical in a foreign land and they remotely checked the line and rebooted the router, then asked me to perform a router reset using a paperclip, which I did whilst they were on the phone. They assured me everything was working properly and I did a wireless speedtest and managed 136Mb download.
Checking later I took the following images of speed:
The above results used OOKLA Speedtest on an iPhone 6, as the SSID on the Virgin Media router is the same for 2.4GHz and 5GHz I didn’t know which Wi-Fi band I was measuring, I was however, the only device was connected to it.
For balance I ran another TalkTalk test at 2.4GHz, and the readings came out at Download 41.7Mb, Upload 16.8Mb which wasn’t too shabby, especially as 7 wireless devices were connected.
I also ran a directly ethernet connected Virgin Media router test later with a laptop at 20:00hrs 2 March 18, and managed a download speed of 76.17Mb and upload of 10.3Mb, not brilliant for an upto 200Mb service which I was assured was working as it should.
The upshot is that I staying with TalkTalk meaning that I reluctantly terminated my arrangement with Virgin Media effective from 3 March 18.
8 Mar 18, Disconnected my Virgin Media as per the instructions which came in my returns packaging and boxed up the following way as requested:
Two power supplies;
Leads for the above PSU’s;
Splitter and three CATV cables.
This was then taken to my local ‘Click & Collect’ store and it was winging it way back to Virgin Media at nill cost to me.
14 Mar 18, Text from VM to say the kit has been received and any charge for kit that might have been applied to my account will be credited, also received an e-mail:
21 Mar 18, Received my first and last Virgin Media bill, this covers the week I had the service and the activation charge, total payable – £36.67.
30 Mar 18, Checking my bank statements and no money has been taken by Virgin Media so I cancelled the Direct Debit to them.
1 Apr 18, Received e-mail from Virgin Media thanking me for joining them and asking me to complete a short survey which I did even though I’m no longer a customer.
4 Apr 18, Virgin Media activity showed on my bank statement ( – £36.76 then +£36.67), contacted VM and they said I do not have to pay anything as I cancelled within 14 days.
11 Apr 18, Text from Virgin Media to call 0800 052 2630 in order to clear my outstanding balance, talked to Kirsten and she saw the error that cancelling within 14 days shouldn’t have triggered a bill, so she added a small credit to my account in order to cancel the debt on the system.
25 May 18, Received letter from Virgin regarding GDPR.
Chatteris Fibre To The Home (FTTH) Story:
Headline – The bulk of the infrastructure took 10 months to install (June 17 – March 18), comprising:
Phased civils started in June 2017 and by 4 January 2018 first subscriber activated.
I currently use TalkTalk Fibre to the Cabinet, this the same as BT Infinity, SKY, Plusnet etc, this means a fibre optic cable is brought from the local exchange to a street cabinet, from this the existing telephone copper cable is used for broadband and phone, depending how close you are to the cabinet will determine how fast your broadband is, in may case, I get a maximum speed of 62.79Mbps download, 17.34Mbps Upload and a Ping time of 17.34ms which is probably the best I can get (using Speedtest 15/11/17 @ 18:00).
I was delighted when I saw that the Virgin Media cable enabling works was scheduled for installation via Roadworks.org, bringing up to 300Mb speeds to Chatteris, this will give people an option, rather than be tied to telephone line provided services, so I thought I’d start this blog.
This speed test was done on the 25 Feb 18 @ 14.14 by directly connecting a cable to the TalkTalk router to compare FTTC with Virgin Media FTTH:
The infrastructure in my area was due to start on 4 August 17, expecting to last until the 14 August and I registered my interest in advance using Cable My Street.
My roads infrastructure work started on the 23 October 18 and was carried out very swiftly and with minimal mess considering the civil work required, the works was undertaken during school holidays to minimise any disruption, the crew were respectful of any request to get on and off the drive, also in my case I wanted the ‘Toby’ to be in a particular position, this wasn’t a problem and on the pictures below you can see the original point marking has been crossed out, and the new position marked as a red box.
VM installing my Toby
Time lapse video of Virgin Media installing FTTH infrastructure.
Details on how the Virgin Media infrastructure is installed (for developers but a great resource) is HERE (large file) and a general guide used for another town scheme is HERE.
The wrapped Red and Green double tube is installed from the VMVH1 hub cabinets to the Level 3 (L3) street cabinets via solid ducts. Each tube has an Outside Diameter (OD) is 12mm one tube is used to transport 24 core fibre optic cable, the other bore is spare.
2. The single Red and Green has an OD of 8mm and carries 12 core fibre optic cable from the L3 cabinet to the Level 4 (L4) distribution board. The L3 cabinets are identified by having only two letter and two numbers stenciled on them.
3. The Green microbore is 8mm OD and is ran from the L4 cabinet to each ‘Toby’ outside the property.
4. Black microbore is the same dimensions as the Green microbore and is used from the Toby at the pavement to the house Omnibox.
5. 1.1mm diameter single mode fibre optical cable containing two fibres, I stripped the fibre back in the above picture, from the factory the fibre is pre-terminated.
The image below shows the microduct couplings in use within a pavement trench. Top picture taken at the junction of Dock Road and Bridges Street, bottom picture taken by the library shows a larger 12mm OD striped microduct.
Larger size microduct and coupling, (possibly for a multicore fibre, rather than a single fibre?).
The marker tape which is put over the buried Virgin Media infrastructure and serves two purposes, the first is to allow detection using a Cable Avoidance Tool (CAT), the marker tape has two metal wires bonded to it, so the route of the tape can be found and traced from the surface without excavation, the second purpose is to warn that you are about to unearth or hit cables should you be digging.
VMSDI Level 4 Open Cabinet Picture – undergoing second-fix.
Click Map Pin on the corner of Ash Grove and High Street for more images of cabinet AF0113.
One of the towns two VMVH1 Nodal Cabinets
Inside VMVH1 supply pillar:-
Within the distribution board above is a smart RCD from Tii-Tech which is rather clever as it performs regular operational self tests to avoid the need for a person to visit the cabinet to do them. This write up from Gewiss explains how they work.
End of Line Termination Boxes
From the street termination box, a microduct coupling is used to extend the duct from the street cabinet to your outside wall, the fibre once blown through is connected to a media converter within the externally mounted Omnibox
Showing the three different coloursof Onmibox used in Chatteris, the last one is mine.
The media converter changes the fibres optical pulses of light into electrical data which a coaxial cable then takes to the Super Hub 3 Router and connectivity to the internet.
This configuration will give data transfer speeds of up to 300Mbps, a basic outline of how it connects together is below, the VM Datacentre is in Wisbech and Chatteris is fed by a direct fibre from their:
In advance of Virgin installing the infrastructure in the street I have put a conduit through the wall into a dry lining box with a blank please and installed a length of 20mm flexible conduit from the pavement Toby to the house wall, bit premature, but hey ho 🙂
Links to latest and archived Planning Permissions for Chatteris containing Virgin Media infrastructure works (remedial works have been excluded) :
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.
Mast and Wire Rope protection & lubrication system
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 🙂
For the mast lubrication I use Lithium Grease, this is easy to apply from the spray can and is designed for metal to metal contact, a typical lubrication application for my mast with a rising section of 5.4m is 200ml.
The Hazard Data sheet for WD40LG White Lithium Grease.
Since my last blog on Mast Automation when I thought I’d finished the project, I have made some changes to my weather station which means I no longer have an output to the mast controller, this output used to trigger the mast to lower when the wind speed hits 30 mph.
I decided to update the discontinued version of my Programmable Logic Controller (PLC) with a Rievtech PR-18DC-DA-R from Audon Ltd, this unit is a direct replacement for my old PLC and has 12 Inputs and 6 relay Outputs.
The PLC accepts a number of input types, in my application I’m simply switching a voltage state with the exception of one of the inputs which is configured as an Analogue input, to which I have connected my mast mounted Anemometer as a means to trigger mast lowering during unsafe wind conditions.
Height (base to center): 105mm / 4.1″
Center out to Cup: 102mm / 4″
Arm Length: 70mm / 2.8″
Wire Length: 99cm / 39″
Plug Length: 30mm / 1.2″
Diameter (thickness): 4.8mm / 0.2″
Output: 0.4V to 2V
Testing Range: 0.5m/s to 50m/s (111.8 mph)
Start wind speed: 0.2 m/s
Accuracy: Worst case 1 meter/s
Max Wind Speed: 70m/s (156.5 mph)
Connector details: Pin 1 – Power (brown wire), Pin 2 – Ground (black wire), Pin 3 – Signal (blue wire), Pin 4 not connected
I tested the output with help from my better half by driving at steady speed and monitoring the output from the anemometer:
0 mph = 0.40 mV
25 mph = 0.75 – 79 mV
30 mph = 80 mV
31 mph = 81 – 88 mV
I mounted the anemometer to the top of my mast to get a representative wind speed, the next job was to strip out the old PLC from the control cabinet.
I needed to make several changes from the original design in order to free up one of the PLC’s inputs, also out of the 16 Inputs only the first 6 allow analogue inputs, so some moving of inputs was needed along with some minor works to the LED voltages and override/luffing switch.
All went back together quite nicely but an intermittent problem remained after the PLC replacement in that when the mast completed the mast raise cycle, the motor would immediately reverse and the mast would lower.
Hooking up the laptop to to the PLC, I selected ‘live monitoring’, this displayed the input and output condition, this showed that after operating the ‘raise’ toggle switch (centre bias On – Off – On centre off), the ‘lower’ switch input also went and remained high. This output to the PLC caused the motor to immediately change direction and lower the moment the mast raised sensor was triggered.
To reduce the chance of a repeat problem occurring, I modified the replacement DPDT switch wiring so that both poles need to switch in order for a signal to pass.
Prior to starting the upgrade works I had the programmed PLC on the bench and I thoroughly tested all control permutations by simulation using the software from Audon Ltd to ensure correct operation.
As you can see, the logic has grown with the project, I’m sure this could be significantly simplified, however, it works for me.
Mast Control Logic
Pressing the Emergency Stop button will inhibit any operation and reset any timers which are running.
Switch input via wiping relay with a 1 second ON timer to ensure.momentary trigger to the next stage.
39 second down timer starts to operate Down relay (fail mechanism in case the ‘lowered’ sensor fails).
Down relay closes to energize motor drive. (Q001)
After expiry of Down timer or on activation of the Down sensor, run on timer operates for 0.15 seconds to take slack off winch cable.
After expiry of run-on timer, Down relay opens.
Mast lowered output relay energizes. (Q004)
Wind Speed Triggered Auto Lower
E Stop not pressed. (Input 1004)
Top Securing mast pin IN. (Input 1008)
Mast in the raised position. (Input 100C)
Trigger – Wind measured via Anemometer at 28 mph for 15 seconds. (Input A1001)
0.4 – 2v Anemometer to Analogue Threshold Trigger output set go high at 80 mV and off at 76mV, these values equate to ~28 mph and ~24 mph respectively.
‘On Delay’ timer from analogue threshold trigger set for a sustained output of 15 seconds duration before the next stage is enabled in order to reject gusts.
‘Off Delay’ timer set to 10 minutes, if no input from the ‘On Delay’, ‘Off Delay’ resets.
Whilst the ‘Off Delay’ timer is running, the WX Amber LED is lit. (Q005)
Output from ‘Off Delay’ to wiping relay timer set to 1 second to ensure a momentary output to the next stage.
39 second down timer starts to operate Down relay (fail mechanism in case ‘lowered’ sensor fails).
Down relay closes to energize motor drive. (Q001)
After expiry of Down timer or on activation of the Down sensor, run on timer operates for 0.15 seconds to take slack off winch cable.
After expiry of run-on timer, Down relay opens.
Mast lowered output relay energizes. (Q004)
Battery Charging Process
The winch has 3000lb capacity from Winch-It and is powered by a 12v car battery with a capacity of 45Ah – 360cca.
Normal Operation – 4.5w solar panel connected to the battery via CMP Solar Charge Controller.
Automatic Operation –
Trigger – After 4 operations of the motors (raise & lower twice) or Weekly – Sunday 01.00
Multi-pole relay energizes after a 2 second delay via Q006, this:
Disconnects the solar panel.
Applies mains to a 4A output battery charger (charger sized for Ah of battery).
Connects the battery charger output to the battery.
Charging ceases when:
Battery terminal voltage reaches 14.14v (Over-voltage detection module to Input 100A).
8-hour battery run timer expires.
Manual Operation –
Charging Start – Push button in control cabinet (Input 100B)
Charging Stop – Cursor key on PLC (C3)
If the battery charging cycle has started and the motor (either up or down) is operated, charging will cease and resume after a delay of 2 seconds after the motor has stopped.
Luffing the Mast
E Stop not pressed. (Input 1004)
Top Securing mast pin Out. (Input 1008)
Bottom Securing mast pin In (Input 1002)
Mast in the lowered position. (Input 1006)
Luffing switch set to On (Input 1007)
Trigger – Momentary switch (raise or lower) (Inputs 1003 or 1005)
Action – Operating the Luffing switch supplies power to the wireless receiver and manual switch which came with the Winch-It kit via a relay , the supply for this is taken from the Luffing/Override indicator LED, (the Luffing switch is a Double Pole Double Throw On – Off – On, the LED is fed from one side of the switch).
A further change to the control is to from latching to momentary switch operation allowing the motor to be ‘inched’ via the wireless handset or panel switches in the control cabinet.
Using the handset allows the mast to be walked down whilst lowering or the reverse when reinstating the mast to the vertical.
Operating the Override switch bypass all limit switches and enables momentary manual control.
Chatteris Weather has been publishing weather data to UK Weather Network (UKWX) for a number of years when Martin from UKWX Admin mailed to let me know my data was no longer being shown.
Originaly Weather Display was configured to send data to UKWX and during the changeover to Meteobridge Pro this got missed, fortunatly in Martins mail alerting me to the problem was a link on how to configure Meteobridge.
I followed the above steps but couln’t get it to work, Martin kindly gave me the details of Bob Montgomery owner of Bishop Sutton Weather Station who also uses a Meteobridge, and he was very willing to offer advice in order to help me get the data created in a format which UKWX can injest.
My main domain name is Chatteris. biz, Chatteris Weather and M0HTA.uk are linked to this domain name.
In order to give users confidence that the site they are linking to is secure, I have upgraded to SSL.
SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) is the standard security technology for establishing an encrypted link between a web server and a browser. This link ensures that all data passed between the web server and browsers remain private and integral.
During the transition it was found that some of the existing information displayed broke the security integrity of SSL, and therefore, I have either changed the menu to the remote link directly or removed the link completely, this has been unavoidable.
With the latest round of high winds, my wall mounted 12m mast makes a loud rattling noise which transfers into the house as the mast marginally moves within the top bracket and was getting to be a nusance.
A simple solution was to make a plastic shim to take up the small slack bewteen the mast and bracket, this is visible in the picture to the left of the pin sensor (I put a 90 degree bend in the shim so I can put it out easily).
For the shim I used the a section of lid from 16 x 16 trunking lid from Screwfix.
Grinding the lid lip took only a few seconds.
Finished shim, I used two, one between the fron pin and mast, the other to the side of the top bracket and mast, nice, cheap and easy solution which has solved the noise problem.