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Need help setting up monitoring station for Solar Array

post #1 of 5
Thread Starter 
It's been a while since Ive posted, but Ive got a problem that I think you all might be able to help me with.

Im doing a project for a community college. We have three solar arrays, each with an inverter tied to the school's power grid. Each of those inverters has it's own ethernet port, for monitoring what's going on in the array.

Id like to have a network switch that all three arrays tie into, then a wireless bridge that goes from the switch to the school, about 500 feet away. The bridge has to be pretty strong, we're on the opposite side of the building, and we may or may not be able to run cables. Once inside the building, we'd like to display the data from the three inverters in a display case.

The display case is the problem. I need a way to open a browser to those three pages, and have the browser cycle between them. People will be looking at this display case, so external inputs such as a mouse arent a good idea. Im also trying to do this cheaply, as our program only has so much funds to set this all up.

The network switches are no problem, but im not sure what would be best for a bridge. Also, switching between three websites (each inverter) is difficult to do without a full PC.

http://www.amazon.com/Business-1912nm-18-5-Internet-Monitor/dp/B008D4XD1S/ref=sr_1_1?s=electronics&ie=UTF8&qid=1380833994&sr=1-1&keywords=internet+monitor

I found this, which would allow me to connect to a page, but I dont know if it would allow me to cycle through three pages, etc. It would be a cheap option to display one page of information for sure.

Im also considering a tablet. If we could use a tablet to do the switching between the tabs and refreshing, at a price point under $500, that might be something viable.

What do you think?
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post #2 of 5
Raspberry Pi + roll your own UI?
If the array monitors already have a nice looking website, Raspberry Pi + Firefox works.

You can use xdotool to simulate a tab change (ctrl+tab) every X seconds. You just need a monitor and a Pi and everything is possible smile.gif
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post #3 of 5
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by gonX View Post

Raspberry Pi + roll your own UI?
If the array monitors already have a nice looking website, Raspberry Pi + Firefox works.

You can use xdotool to simulate a tab change (ctrl+tab) every X seconds. You just need a monitor and a Pi and everything is possible smile.gif

Well, you just blew my mind haha.... Ive never heard of Rasberry Pi and im not all that familiar with linux, but that looks like exactly what im looking for. Ill do some research, but thanks for the tip.
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post #4 of 5
depends on what information you need to display. what do you need to measure how is the data presented?

i personally use rrdtool for everything. it's a complete database, processing and display solution. among other things, i use it to collect mains voltage and amps then i have it calculate kWh and graph usage.

for this project, if it was me, i'd use a linux system like a rasppi to consolidate all three sensors into one database then present the data in one page full of rrd graphs. if you need to see what the box generates on the webpage (you dont have direct access to sensors), a PHP script can load entire webpages into an array with file(), parse the data i need and then either export them into files for use with rrd tool or directly generate a single page with all the relevant information i need.

it sounds complicated but it's not that hard to learn php and html or linux scripting. it would be a fun project.
Edited by Dream Killer - 10/8/13 at 7:38pm
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post #5 of 5
xdotool is what I used in the past for a SolarWinds monitoring setup. We had a SFF PC connected to a 50" LCD in our OpsCenter, with Firefox installed. We had 10 or so tabs open all show different realtime reports, and used xdotool to ctrl-tab through all the open tabs. Firefox also ran in kiosk mode (F11). Senior management loved it, and it was just awesome.
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