HIP:Outback Serial Interface

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Outback Serial Interface Setup

Serial Communication

  • The Outback Power Systems solar charge controller system installed in the first floor display case in Dennis Hall features a serial interface that polls the system and sends status reports once a second. The RS232 connector is located on the Mate, a system-wide controller featuring an administration interface. To get the Mate talking to your serial-enabled PC, however, some fanangaling must ensue. First check out the mate communications guide.
  • The first step is to set your baud rate at 19200 8N1. This is pretty straight forward in a minicom, kermit, or zTerm. You will now notice that no data is coming from the mate. Do not panic. You will now need to set the DTR line to high, meaning negative voltage, and the RTS line low, positive voltage. To accomplish this under mac os x, you can use a program called PortTerm. Once you change the DTR/RTS lines in PortTerm, you'll see a stream of data coming from the Mate.
  • If this doesn't work for you, verify that you're using good cables, and that the PC Communication flag on the Mate is set to ON, and not OFF.

Parsing the Data

  • OK, so now you have data coming through the serial line, and you're seeing strings of comma-deliminated values pass by. Now we need to figure out what this information means. The mate communications guide mentioned earlier gives a very detail description of what each field represents. Outback power does not provide linux software to poll the data at a high level, like you might find in gpsd, however the format it fairly straightforward.