RPi Internet and Victron Monitoring

willo

Solar Addict
Got a request for info, so I figured I'd bring this over here.
I use a bunch of victron bits in my RV now and have added a raspberry pi running the victron venus image and I have a second pi that rocks a 4g card to provide internets.

First up, the Internet Pi:
This is a Pi 3+ that has a sixfab 4g hat installed. I've now got it wired to my 24/12->5v converter that powers both raspberry pi's.
The image is simply Raspbian, and I used the setup instructions on the sixfab site to get it going.
I can't lie, this was annoying - the OSS bits were EASY. The hard part? Getting it activated with a carrier who's name rhymes with IGottaPee. In the end, Calling them was fruitless. I had to activate the sim card with a spare smart phone, then I swapped it over to the pi. It worked perfectly.
For extra modding points, the hat is now wired into the 4g antenna's inside my Furrion rooftop TV/LTE antenna. This required a couple of SMA to u.fl connectors that are east to find on Amazon. The Pi is configured to act as an access point, providing both NAT and wireless AP with DHCP using the onboard wifi chipset.

The Victron Pi:
This was an experiment, and I love it. It's another 3+ that's installed in my battery/electrical bay and runs the victron released venus firmware. I've added a USB GPS receiver as well as three victron usb interfaces: a mk3 and a pair of ve.direct interfaces. One of the directs is cut and extended up to the head end of my BMV712, the second goes into my 150/45 smartsolar controller. The mk3 connects to my multiplus 3k inverter. Between these three, I get a solid picture of all my power generation and usage. The Best part is when I'm in storage, I still get data from those boxes. I can keep an eye on the SoC, power usage (I'm currently maintaining my dometic cooler/freezer with some spare pizza inside) and solar collection stats.

Questions? ask away.
 

willo

Solar Addict
Oh, I suppose I should comment on performance here.
I use a firetv in the living room and have a roku tv in the bedroom. Both seem to work just fine over this system.
I've successfully used it for video meetings and general online work as well.

I've had issues in two locations.
First, on the outer banks, the carrier was literally offline for a day. I snagged a cheap t-mobile android at CVS and used it for a day.
Second, down in Texas where my FIL lives, the signal is just awful.

Anywhere that my phone has worked at all, this setup has worked perfectly.

Some thoughts on VRM (Victron's portal)
Honestly the thing just works. I don't have to maintain a cloud machine. I don't have to do anything really. It just works.
I like to geek out, but it's just super nice to have the VRM portal available.
For example, right now I can pull it up and see the solar performance for the day, battery state and current loads.
I have this data across weeks. It's really helpful for seeing where your system is underperforming or could be upgraded.
 

willo

Solar Addict
To illustrate how handy this thing is, here's a screenshot off my phone from this morning. I was amused by the 2 watts from solar.
Yes, I totally call it the Glamper.
1616598892746.png
There are detailed views, but this is the snapshot screen.
I noted before that I have a gps plugged into my victron pi, but you can just set the location manually.
Since the camper moves, I went with the gps.
At first, I thought this view was a bit simplistic, but after using it for the last couple of months I've come to appreciate it.
When viewed on a PC, there's a mini graph of the day at the bottom of each of the data boxes.
For more detail, you just hit the three bars up to and go into advanced which has detailed graphs that can be zoomed, etc.
 
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1holaguy

Solar Enthusiast
Thanks so much for posting this. I had never though of using the Pi for these applications. I appreciate your offer to answer additional questions but first I want to digest all the info you have already provided.
 

JoeHarley13

New Member
I've started setting up the same system. Got my PI, and the Venus OS on it. Was pretty easy to do for even a first timer.

Have you attached a touchscreen to your Victron PI yet in your glamper? Been trying to find one on amazon/ebay that would mount in the RV wall easily & cleanly, and not have the ports on the side or any other location that doesn't work well.
 

willo

Solar Addict
No, my power systems are all down in the basement of my camper. I suppose I could, if I ran an extended USB hub and relocated the pi.
 

corporate.joe

Solar Enthusiast
No, my power systems are all down in the basement of my camper. I suppose I could, if I ran an extended USB hub and relocated the pi.
There are ways to forward GUI applications to remote *nix machines running X/org over any network connection. But I'm not sure if that is baked into the Venus OS image. I'm not even completely sure if the Venus OS is android based or a striped down Linux distro.
 

willo

Solar Addict
The thing supports remote access (if you turn it on) via web for gui control.
It also supports local network access. It's not super responsive (slow as heck) but it works.

Anyhow, I mainly access data from the VRM portal when I'm away from the camper, and check battery soc on the BMV display that I installed before I ever got the venus pi setup. I use the victron inverter control panel inside as well. It was overpriced but is wife friendly.

1618671690744.png
 

willo

Solar Addict
Or use a long HDMI cable?
Possible, but you still need usb for the touch interface. Since you have to extend usb one way or the other, I'd probably relocate the pi up top and just run usb down to my bay with a powered hub to provide good signal repetition. Alternatively, ve.direct supports around 25ft total length, their bus does at least that if not more. (I've used it with a 50ft cable before) So there are plenty of options.

For me, I just don't need it with the manual controls, bmv display and various apps/browsers on devices.
 

Q-Dog

¯\_(ツ)_/¯
I just ordered a Raspberry Pi and some cables to attempt to set up monitoring for my system. Should be here next week. Does anyone here use a Mac to set up their Pi? I have been through some instructions (and I'm still reading) but I don't quite understand what I need to get the Venus OS onto the SD card.
 

willo

Solar Addict
It's very easy. But yeah it can be annoying the first time. (I use mac, windows, linux, etc)

you can use the command line instructions OR they now have a raspberry pi imager program you can grab from:

The only difference is that instead of using the imager to download the venus image, you need to grab it from:

And then when you click the choose os button, scroll down and select use custom.

Cheers.
 

Q-Dog

¯\_(ツ)_/¯
It's very easy. But yeah it can be annoying the first time. (I use mac, windows, linux, etc)

you can use the command line instructions OR they now have a raspberry pi imager program you can grab from:

The only difference is that instead of using the imager to download the venus image, you need to grab it from:

And then when you click the choose os button, scroll down and select use custom.

Cheers.
Thanks.

I found the RaspPi imager and it won't install for me. I am running an older OS that does everything I ask of it so I had zero reason to update it until now. I have some time until the Pi shows up so I have a few days to figure it out.
 

rmaddy

Solar Addict
Then you can use the old command line instructions.
You need to stick the card in, identify which disk it is then use the dd command to copy it over.
I did this just last week on my Mac using those instructions. Works great. But I've been working with Unix for 35 years so the command line doesn't scare me. :)
 

Q-Dog

¯\_(ツ)_/¯
I think I have the disk image copied over. My wife supervised me over the phone (she's the programmer). I won't know if it works until the Pi actually gets here ... hopefully next week.
 

Q-Dog

¯\_(ツ)_/¯
The Ras Pi came in yesterday. Plugged in the micro SD, powered it up and it just worked. Took about 3 minutes to make up the cables. Now have remote access to my system from anywhere. Crazy.
Screen Shot 2021-05-13 at 9.51.17 AM.png
 
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