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1. LonWorks guide
2. Modbus templates for i.LON SmartServer
3. Battery maintenance spreadsheet

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1. LonWorks guide

Text last revised 2022-10-03

TEROC has solid experience of LonWorks (LON), a technology used for networked control systems, and we are glad to assist clients in this area. Our Sven Ruin is an ambassador of LonMark International, which is an organization working to promote open, interoperable systems based on LonWorks. Here we provide a short LonWorks guide with updated information.

LonWorks can use many different types of communication media in a seemless fashion. A unique advantage is that ordinary power lines can be used for communication with optional repeating, which can be very useful where no better media is available. This narrowband powerline communication has long range, but does not go through transformers.

Free Topology Twisted Pair is another option, which makes it simple to for example make a redundant ring network. Communication between different devices (nodes) on the network is usually peer-to-peer in LonWorks, so master-slave architecture can be avoided. Thus, LonWorks solutions can be made very robust, also when integrating products from different manufacturers.

The LonTalk protocol also supports authentication, which can be important for example in metering applications. (With many other protocols that are common in automation, unauthorized tampering is rather easy. That may not be a problem in a closed environment, but could be unacceptable in other environments.)

For general information about the traditional use of LonWorks, see for example: LonWorks technology is still developed. It can be a part of what is called Internet of Things (IoT), where different protocols can be used. The company originally behind LonWorks, Echelon (which became a part of Adesto, which became part of Dialog, which became part of Renesas), calls their Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) technology IzoT, which is compatible with traditional LonWorks. One of the latest communications channels is IP-70 for LON over IP (Internet Protocol). Another recent development is a new high-speed powerline channel, HD-PLC, which can actually be used over ANY wire and coexist with e.g. traditional LonWorks channels. Thus, existing wiring can be used for modern networking, without interrupting existing communication.

Some types of nodes that are available for LonWorks:
  • Wago's modular 750 series is very useful for freely programmable nodes. Wago has an old programmable fieldbus controller with FTT-10 tranceiver, 750-819 (that is used with the LNS Plug-In software TOPLON-PRIO). Other 750 controllers with sufficient memory can be used with their new LON FTT module, 753-648 (with the LON Configurator). Both are made for Free Topology Twisted Pair network (TP/FT-10). At TEROC we provide Free Open-Source Software, which can serve as useful examples of how to use 750-819 and 753-648.
  • Temperature sensors for TP/FT-10 are available e.g. from Thermokon.
  • Loytec makes L-VIS touch panels for TP/FT-10 and other communication channels (plus many other products for LonWorks). For the smallest L-VIS panel, TEROC has developed a type of casing for mounting on the outside of a wall e.g. of concrete.
  • It is possible to integrate EnOcean sensors and actuators (some of them both batteryless and wireless), e.g. using products from Wago and Thermokon.
  • In 2017, STV Electronic GmbH was awarded Certified Product of the Year for the LonMark standards-based product family Powerhouse PL. Their electricity SubMeter with integrated 10 A relay uses powerline communication (e.g. PL-20C) and is compatible with most AC grids in the world.
  • Different types of meters, for example electricity meters like WattNode and several types from Gossen Metrawatt. There are also 3-phase electricity meters with powerline communication, where firmware has been developed for TEROC in order to communicate variables both for import and export of energy.
  • Industrial fibre optic modems, which are ideal e.g. for redundant ring.
Traditionally, a network management tool software such as Echelon LonMaker (now replaced by IzoT Commissioning Tool) or Newron System NLFacilities is used on a PC running Windows to create bindings between the network variables of the nodes, etc. Both those tools are based on LNS, which can be described as a network operating system. Among other things, it enables the use of LNS Plug-Ins (software needed for configuration of certain devices).

To connect the above tools to a LonWorks network, a network interface is needed, for example Loytec NIC709-USB100 (for TP/FT-10, TP/XF-1250 and TP/RS-485) or Echelon U20 (for PL-20). A new product is Gesyline HD-PLC bridge.

A multi-protocol network management software that runs on Windows or Linux is the ARIGO Framework RUMO, by ARIGO Software. They also sell many LonWorks products.

For basic network integration, a simple alternative is the standalone network management in Echelon's i.LON SmartServer FT/PL, which we often use as a main controller for scheduling, data logging, etc. It can do many other things as well, such as function as a network interface and router. It is for example possible to use one of them to connect to a FT network and another to a PL network, while the communication between them goes via an IP network.

Automatic network management is also available for LonWorks. Interoperable Self-Installation (ISI) is one possibility, but it is rare.

A SCADA system with good support for LonWorks is PcVue.

Since 2022, the LON Stack DX and other software from Dialog Semiconductor are available as open source under the permissive MIT license.

2. Modbus templates for i.LON SmartServer

Template last added 2019-08-01

In order to communicate between an i.LON SmartServer and a Modbus slave, a template file for the Modbus device in question is used. The following files, which are placed in the public domain, can be freely downloaded and used by anyone. To unpack compressed files, see 7-zip.org. You are welcome to contact TEROC if you have feedback, would like to buy the suitable hardware preloaded with software or need consulting services etc.
Modbus templates of XML type for i.LON SmartServer FT/PL:
Download template and instructions for Lufft's weather stations WSxxx-UMB
Download template for Thermokon SRC-RS485MODBUS (with up to 3 SR04rH, 2 SR65VFG and 1 SR65)
Download template for Morningstar TS-MPPT-60

3. Battery maintenance spreadsheet

File last updated 2019-08-20

In the book Small-Scale Renewable Energy Systems, it is explained how measurements of cell or block voltages can be used to give an understanding of battery health. The following simple spreadsheet file, which is placed in the public domain, can be freely downloaded and used by anyone. It provides an example with eight blocks of the method explained in the book.
Download template in Excel 2007 format (.xlsx)

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