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VE.Bus firmware 400: A major step forward

Update 4 sept 2015: Latest version is currently 401. Version 400 had an issue with the virtual switch/ignore ac input, fixed in version 401.

Great news: we have released VE.Bus firmware 400! A major step forward in simplifying working with Multis, Inverters and Quattros. Virtual Switch and Assistants functionality are now combined in one firmware version. Choosing between the two is now a simple selection instead of uploading a new firmware. To use the Assistants, disable the Virtual Switch:

virtualswitch-assistants

Delivery of products with Version 400

The new version will be introduced in production in the coming weeks. As soon as the existing stock has been sold, our Multis and Quattros will be shipped with firmware Version 400 installed which can then be used with Assistants out of the box. This means that the first models with 400 will be shipped to customers within a few months. Other models, with more stock compared to the monthly shipped quantity might take longer.

Change log (compared to 307)

From then till now

A bit of history to explain where we came from and why the 400 firmware is such a major step forward:

In the beginning, many, many years ago, our Multis were already quite flexible in their configuration. Battery type, output frequency and much more could be configured with VEConfigure, the PC application. But we wanted more and quite early on we added the ‘Virtual Switch’. A configurable potential free contact that can, for example, be used to automatically start and stop a generator based on the battery state of charge and AC load. Besides controlling the potential free contact it is also possible to control the behaviour of the inverter/charger, for example force it to inverter mode in certain conditions.

The Virtual Switch was, and still is, a huge selling point to choose and use our inverter/chargers. Several years back we wanted to do even more but the Virtual Switch could no longer do all that we wanted. This is why we came up with the `Assistants`. A very powerful mechanism that added more flexibility and control. Used for self-consumption systems, and also for many other more complex installations, the Assistants often reduce the cost and complexity because they eliminate the need to add an external PLC or another control device. One drawback though: to use Assistants, one had to change the firmware in the unit. And that is where technical names came in: 1xx firmware versions were used for Virtual Switch, and 2xx firmware versions were used for Assistants. There is even a whole document, to explain about all the different firmware types and when to use which one: VE.Bus firmware versions explained.

And the same story continues: a little bit later on we wanted to do more with Assistants. That could be done, but only on recently manufactured units since they had a newer microprocessor which allowed for more code and logic to be programmed into the unit. For this we added yet another firmware version: 3xx. So this is how we ended up:

1xx firmware versions are with virtual switch, available for both old and new microprocessor
2xx firmware versions are with Assistants, available for both old and new microprocessor
3xx firmware versions are with Assistants, available for new microprocessors only

Quite powerful, though complex to explain, understand and a lot of hassle when you want to change a configuration from Virtual Switch to Assistants.

Simplified solution

This complexity detailed above is now solved and improved in version 400, as both options are possible in the same firmware. Therefore we can use it in manufacturing and as a consequence save a lot of time during installations, as it is no longer necessary to always use VEFlash for installations that require Assistants. For new installations, one can forget all about 1xx, 2xx and 3xx: only 4xx firmwares will be used.

Note that most of the advantages will only become apparent once we start shipping our products with firmware version 400.

Dip switches re-added for simple installations without using a laptop

Early on when we started with Assistants, we had to take out the dip switch functionality to create space for the Assistants. Most more complex configurations are made using laptops anyway. But still now and then it can be very convenient to configure a Multi in a simple installation without having to bring a laptop. With the release of firmware version 400 we have re-added a -simplified- version of the dip switch configuration back in to the firmware. They can be used to configure these settings without the use of a laptop:

Other compatibility notes

So to conclude this rather lengthy text, version 400 is a good step out of what I have jokingly called our ‘firmware swamp’. And it is part of a larger process to simplify easy of use and configuration of our products, without having to sacrifice the enormous flexibility we can offer.

I wish you a good weekend!

Matthijs

Avatar of Matthijs Vader
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