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Dr Bob

Victron Venus GX or Color control GX

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Following on from some discussion on the home automation thread of recording data, I have finally got my head around what the Venus GX and CCGX can do (well sort of!). I am now thinking of either going down this route or alternatively down the Pi route to connect to my BMV712 and victron solar mppt controller. I will deal with the Pi route on the home automation thread but want to find out if the Venus GX or CCGX are worth it here. My objective is to be able to see what is happening with the power (batteries and solar)........at present I can see the power via bluetooth on my phone app..., be able to see the power and solar when I am off the boat ie remotely, and finally to be able to record data so I can look at that historically (graph it etc).

I've gone through the VIcton site again and again and I think I know what the GX units do but have some questions about the units. Does anyone actually use either of the GX units and do you find them useful?

If you use the VRM to record the data, how much data in practice is being transferred on a daily basis over the 4G (if say you have set it to record once per minute). We have 140Gb per month data on our 4G. Will the data transfer put a dent in it?

Looking through the comments on the victron site, one person said that the connection to VRM was flakey if you had a public IP address that changed. As it is GSM this sounds an issue. Is it?

The manual for both GX's talk about storing the data to a flash drive but there is nothing to say how this data is saved. Can you put the flash drive on a macbook and read the file to get the data or does it have to be sent from the laptop to VRM to access or manage the data?

Finally, is it worth spending a load more on the CCGX as it has its own display........but there is no description of what you can do on that display.

Loads more of questions but I seriously doubt if I am going to get any sensible answers. @Sea Dog, I know you have the CCGX but it was still in a box a few months ago. Have you got it out yet? Anyone else with a GX unit?

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I guessed no one has a Venus or a ColorControl.  They must be very useful then!😱

Shirley someone has some experience of them. Anyone have a friend of a friend of a friend who once saw an advert for one?

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22 minutes ago, Dr Bob said:

I guessed no one has a Venus or a ColorControl.  They must be very useful then!😱

Shirley someone has some experience of them. Anyone have a friend of a friend of a friend who once saw an advert for one?

I think they're just a lot more expensive than other lesser equipment which meets the typical Narrowboat owner's needs, probably because they are rather powerful and capable. Mine's still in the box - like you, I can't decide whether to fit a CCGX or not, so it's being left "brand new in the box" until I decide whether to use it or flog it!  I don't own if you're aware Bob, but the deeper you drill down into the Victron website, the more detailed the information available becomes.  Their basic manuals are a bit weak, but their customer support is really quite good, so there's loads of Q and A's to get amongst in the various discussion pages located through victronenergy.com/live - you may find what you're looking for in there.

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I think life is to short to polish brass mushroom vents. As long as the lights come on when needed and the engine starts why worry. If you have solar or are hooked up in a marina your batteries will do their best, and after x years will need changing. 

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5 minutes ago, Detling said:

I think life is to short to polish brass mushroom vents. As long as the lights come on when needed and the engine starts why worry. If you have solar or are hooked up in a marina your batteries will do their best, and after x years will need changing. 

Because you can and these things interest us.

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1 hour ago, Robbo said:

It may be worth asking on http://ybw.com, might be more popular on yachts

Now that's a good idea. I'll have to dig out my username and password from years back......although back then Victron was not a big seller with Raymarine the most common on ocean going yachts ....well at least the smaller ones that didnt have room for oodles of batteries or solar. Most people we knew were using Sterling equipment ....Eeeek!

I'll try and post something tomorrow.Ta.

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1 hour ago, Sea Dog said:

I think they're just a lot more expensive than other lesser equipment which meets the typical Narrowboat owner's needs, probably because they are rather powerful and capable. Mine's still in the box - like you, I can't decide whether to fit a CCGX or not, so it's being left "brand new in the box" until I decide whether to use it or flog it!  I don't own if you're aware Bob, but the deeper you drill down into the Victron website, the more detailed the information available becomes.  Their basic manuals are a bit weak, but their customer support is really quite good, so there's loads of Q and A's to get amongst in the various discussion pages located through victronenergy.com/live - you may find what you're looking for in there.

Still in the box!!

I like toys too much for that! I am very tempted to get the cheaper Venus if I could be sure it worked with the 4G as it seems more plug and play than a Pi and maybe more useful if I ever switch to Lithiums. I have spent quite a bit of time in the victron Q&As so picking up info from there. Still loads more to go through. Thanks.

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33 minutes ago, Detling said:

I think life is to short to polish brass mushroom vents. As long as the lights come on when needed and the engine starts why worry. If you have solar or are hooked up in a marina your batteries will do their best, and after x years will need changing. 

Those dark winter nights are coming and there has to be more than telly and suduko when we are not in the pub. Its not about how long my batteries last. It's about putting my brain to work and do something no one has ever done before!!!!!!!!!!.........and quite likely judging by the response to this thread.🙃 It gives me something to do when not on the boat as well.

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11 hours ago, Dr Bob said:

Still in the box!!

I know, amazing isn't it?  Everything gets opened before the postman is back in his van normally, and this was too, but I sort of didn't buy it on purpose so there was never a plan and I'm not entirely sure whether I can invent one for it!  Well, I can, obviously,  but not necessarily one that makes sensible use of it in my relatively simple set up. 

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35 minutes ago, Sea Dog said:

I know, amazing isn't it?  Everything gets opened before the postman is back in his van normally, and this was too, but I sort of didn't buy it on purpose so there was never a plan and I'm not entirely sure whether I can invent one for it!  Well, I can, obviously,  but not necessarily one that makes sensible use of it in my relatively simple set up. 

It should be fairly easy to connect it up to one of your victron devices and see how it works? Have a go and let me know if it connects to VRM😵

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Just had a bit more research time.

22 hours ago, Dr Bob said:

Finally, is it worth spending a load more on the CCGX as it has its own display.

The GX version has a few more connections, so if you want to connect tank/temperature senders as will as alarm inputs (like Bilge) it has those inputs.   The display version basically just has the display which may be handy on a panel, you can get to this display via a browser (on the local network) so it's not needed.   The GX has wifi, but it's range is limited, so it recommends a Ethernet Cable to your router.

 

I found some youtube videos that you may find of interest.   The first is a bit long winded, but the 15 mins or so is installing Venus onto a Pi, it shows you whats involved and this will give you a basic GX (the rest of the vid is for enabling the GUI and touchscreen to emulate a CCGX).  The second is a 3 episode overview of the Venus software.

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I39uEwnrXWc

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=57rF1aCTkRs

 

I'm just about too download the Venus software and install on ma Pi (a B+), unfortunately I don't have any inputs to really play tho.

 

Edited by Robbo
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1 hour ago, Robbo said:

I'm just about too download the Venus software and install on ma Pi (a B+), unfortunately I don't have any inputs to really play tho.

Okay that was fairly easy, although I have nothing to connect it too tho.   I think Dr Bob you will find it a straight foreward and defo worth playing with.  It should be as simple as adding  USB->VEDirect cables for the devices to your Pi and....

 

I just downloaded the firmware from here; http://updates.victronenergy.com/feeds/venus/candidate/images/raspberrypi2/  any of the zip files will do as they are the same.

Unzip the image.

Used Etcher to flash it to a SD card.  I used a 8Gb card, the image is around 2Gb.

Inserted into the Pi, and switched on - it's connected via Ethernet to the router.

I don't have a monitor or keyboard for the pi, so I used Zenmap to find the IP address.

Used a browser to go to the IP address.

I see the "screen" and can setup, etc (as I have nothing to connect to it, I put in demo mode to emulate some connected devices)

 

Adding to VRM was as simply as registering on https://vrm.victronenergy.com and entering the code under the VRM menu (from the "screen")  

 

It looks like if your want to monitor the AC side, you can purchase Energy Meter like the EM111 (modbus) and connect it to the Pi using a RS485 to USB lead as well.

 

 

Edited by Robbo

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3 hours ago, Robbo said:

Just had a bit more research time.

The GX version has a few more connections, so if you want to connect tank/temperature senders as will as alarm inputs (like Bilge) it has those inputs.   The display version basically just has the display which may be handy on a panel, you can get to this display via a browser (on the local network) so it's not needed.   The GX has wifi, but it's range is limited, so it recommends a Ethernet Cable to your router.

 

I found some youtube videos that you may find of interest.   The first is a bit long winded, but the 15 mins or so is installing Venus onto a Pi, it shows you whats involved and this will give you a basic GX (the rest of the vid is for enabling the GUI and touchscreen to emulate a CCGX).  The second is a 3 episode overview of the Venus software.

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I39uEwnrXWc

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=57rF1aCTkRs

 

I'm just about too download the Venus software and install on ma Pi (a B+), unfortunately I don't have any inputs to really play tho.

 

Thanks Robbo, I will have a look at all the videos.

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2 hours ago, Robbo said:

Okay that was fairly easy, although I have nothing to connect it too tho.   I think Dr Bob you will find it a straight foreward and defo worth playing with.  It should be as simple as adding  USB->VEDirect cables for the devices to your Pi and....

 

I just downloaded the firmware from here; http://updates.victronenergy.com/feeds/venus/candidate/images/raspberrypi2/  any of the zip files will do as they are the same.

Unzip the image.

Used Etcher to flash it to a SD card.  I used a 8Gb card, the image is around 2Gb.

Inserted into the Pi, and switched on - it's connected via Ethernet to the router.

I don't have a monitor or keyboard for the pi, so I used Zenmap to find the IP address.

Used a browser to go to the IP address.

I see the "screen" and can setup, etc (as I have nothing to connect to it, I put in demo mode to emulate some connected devices)

 

Adding to VRM was as simply as registering on https://vrm.victronenergy.com and entering the code under the VRM menu (from the "screen")  

 

It looks like if your want to monitor the AC side, you can purchase Energy Meter like the EM111 (modbus) and connect it to the Pi using a RS485 to USB lead as well.

 

 

Ok, interesting.

"used etcher to flash it to a SD card". Does this card then replace the SD card in the Pi that carries the Pi operating system? ie the firmware is both an operating system and a programme that runs on the pi?

I have used my macbook to act as a screen for the Pi I have at home but cant remember the exact method to do this. It sounds like you are just using a browser and typing in the ip address of the Pi. That sounds easy. Will it work on a 4G type router - I can connect the Pi in via a Lan cable and then wifi into the router with my tablet?

That all sounds quite easy.

 

I have been trying to weigh up getting the venus GX vs the Pi but if the SD card change you describe is putting a new operating system on the Pi then I can use the Pi I have on the boat (which has a Kodi operating system SD card in). I assume I can just disconnect the Pi from the tv etc and swap SD cards to try out the system - all I need to buy  is the VE direct cable.

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4 hours ago, Robbo said:

 

I found some youtube videos that you may find of interest.   The first is a bit long winded, but the 15 mins or so is installing Venus onto a Pi, it shows you whats involved and this will give you a basic GX .

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I39uEwnrXWc

 

 

Just been through this video. Very good. I assume if I use a tablet to connect to the Pi then I can ignore the last 40 mins of the video and that gives me a lot of the functionality the venus GX would give me......I am really only after the logging bit. I think this answers a lot of the questions in my previous post. I will now watch the other videos.

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2 hours ago, Dr Bob said:

I have been trying to weigh up getting the venus GX vs the Pi but if the SD card change you describe is putting a new operating system on the Pi then I can use the Pi I have on the boat (which has a Kodi operating system SD card in). I assume I can just disconnect the Pi from the tv etc and swap SD cards to try out the system - all I need to buy  is the VE direct cable.

Yes that's basically it, nothing more complicated than that to be honest bar setting the Venus software up it self for the hardware you've got.

 

The Venus image you download from Victron is the complete OS, when you flash to the SD card it will completely wipe the card so use a card you don't need. (ie not the one already in your pi!).

 

You access the Venus screen via a browser, can be any broswer on the same network as the pi, so basically anything connected to your router wifi or not.  Finding the IP address of the pi is probably the hardest part. 

Edited by Robbo

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6 hours ago, Robbo said:

Yes that's basically it, nothing more complicated than that to be honest bar setting the Venus software up it self for the hardware you've got.

 

The Venus image you download from Victron is the complete OS, when you flash to the SD card it will completely wipe the card so use a card you don't need. (ie not the one already in your pi!).

 

You access the Venus screen via a browser, can be any broswer on the same network as the pi, so basically anything connected to your router wifi or not.  Finding the IP address of the pi is probably the hardest part. 

Ok, I am there. Fully understand. I think I will give that a try first to check the functionality of VRM and the stability of the Pi to VRM connection before considering the Venus gx etc.

How do you find the IP out? I will be back on the boat Tuesday....youngest son has nicked it for the weekend***..and see if the router has the firmware to let me see what is connected. I have it connected to the tv at the moment so I should be able to see the IP address in the kodi os system but will that change if I put a new sad card in with a new os? I looked up zenmap but that didn't look easy!!!!

 

*** If anyone saw our boat winding below the Folly today and shouted unhelpful comments at the crew....it wasn't me!!!

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11 hours ago, Dr Bob said:

Ok, I am there. Fully understand. I think I will give that a try first to check the functionality of VRM and the stability of the Pi to VRM connection before considering the Venus gx etc.

How do you find the IP out? I will be back on the boat Tuesday....youngest son has nicked it for the weekend***..and see if the router has the firmware to let me see what is connected. I have it connected to the tv at the moment so I should be able to see the IP address in the kodi os system but will that change if I put a new sad card in with a new os? I looked up zenmap but that didn't look easy!!!!

 

*** If anyone saw our boat winding below the Folly today and shouted unhelpful comments at the crew....it wasn't me!!!

Finding the IP can be the hardest part, if your router shows what’s connected then that’s probably easiest, mine only shows what’s connected to WiFi.    If you have a keyboard connect to the pi then there is a command you can run on the console “ip addr”

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3 hours ago, Robbo said:

Finding the IP can be the hardest part, if your router shows what’s connected then that’s probably easiest, mine only shows what’s connected to WiFi.    If you have a keyboard connect to the pi then there is a command you can run on the console “ip addr”

Just ordered 2 VE direct cables and a new micro SD card so I will have a play later in the week downloading and flashing the Pi system. Hopefully let you know how it goes by the end of the week. I'll be back sooner if I get stuck.

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I have 2 Venus.  after I had first a CCGX for 3 years

 

 

Victron is the only marine electronics manufacturer who is doing the software as open source, so if you don't want to buy the Venus, you can download the software and put it on a raspberry.

 

I started with the Color CCGX and was one of the first ones.  Since my one boat is 1 hr away and winters can be very hard It was a blessing to see if shore power was on, to see how much my solar panels provided.

 

I have no clue how much data it uses, but if it was more than 50 - 100 MB/mo I am willing to give you a case of whiskey

 

Then the Venus CCGX came out...the next gen of the color CCGX.  and cheaper and more functionality.  BUT no little display.  But since I always have my 'smart' phone or tablet handy it acts as a display.  That was also the principle behind the decision of Viltron to produce without a display.  They always would have to buy a display OEM, and pretty much everybody has smart phones/tables with a much better screen, why bother and lower the price of the control unit.

 

The good thing with the Venus is...more functionality....I can turn generator , or inverter on /off remotely.  Handy for when friends come and stay a weekend on thereat when I am an ocean away. They don't need to worry .

The Venus CCGX also had digital inputs, so it can alert me when a bilge pump goes on, a burger alarm gets triggered,  the temperature gets low or high.  pretty much anything is possible.

 

Do I want to spend the time putting the software on a Raspberry.....NO....the 200 E / $ savings is not worth it for me.  since all the parts are integrated in the Venus.

 

Victron has a lot more features coming for the unit.

 

another nice feat with VRM is with a Venus or color cccx you can update firmware in the MPPT, BMV etc

Edited by jan-kees

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7 hours ago, jan-kees said:

I have 2 Venus.  after I had first a CCGX for 3 years...

 

 

Thanks for your input jan-kees, welcome to the forum. 

 

Where are you and what sort of boat do you have? 

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8 hours ago, jan-kees said:

Victron is the only marine electronics manufacturer who is doing the software as open source

 

Lots of hardware companies use OSS and provide the source (legal requirement if using GPL code), but providing a image to run on third party hardware is unique.

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On 7 September 2018 at 18:45, Dr Bob said:

I guessed no one has a Venus or a ColorControl.  They must be very useful then!😱

Shirley someone has some experience of them. Anyone have a friend of a friend of a friend who once saw an advert for one?

Bob. We cruised for a couple of hours yesterday and ran the engine till the nasa voltage read 14.4 and 2.6 amps as it happens. That was 3 pm. We watched telly for a change all day and fridge on pooters and General boaty life. Got up this morning and nasa showing 12. 4 volts whilst a draw of 7 amps from batteries. No need for gadgets or smartphones my cheapos still running the boat without a problem. Oh .....sorry, hang on I thought the thread was about some gadget to make your life easier 😜

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