Life at the end of the road

November 13, 2016

The great smell of Brut :-)

Filed under: daily doings, wind turbine — Tags: , , , — lifeattheendoftheroad @ 11:23 pm

Sunday night, black as pitch outside with only the faintest glow of tonight’s ‘super moon’ as yet visible. Apparently it’s not been so near the earth since 1948 If it does put in an appearance I guess it’ll be in an hour or so just round the back of the house. Probably I’ll be either in bed or have forgotten about it by then. The as yet unopened bottles of red wine having proved too much of a temptation Smile

SMA Inverter fun

Anyway, it’s been a very interesting weekend that’s for sure, first off I went to visit my old mate Chalkie White of White-Wave activity centre on Skye. Chalkie and I go waaaaaaaaaaaaay back to when I first moved to Arnish in 1989. Not that I’ve seen much of him in the intervening quarter of a century but he has the distinction of being the very first kayaker I rescued on Raasay Smile He’s gonna love me for bringing that up Smile To be fair I think it was more a case of the other kayaker accompanying him loosing his nerve rather than they ever actually needed rescuing. However one fresh afternoon on a circumnavigation of Raasay they’d decided it would be more sensible to leave their kayaks on Raasay’s eastern seaboard near the deserted village of Umachan,

Map picture and walk out, which is in itself no easy feat.

Eventually they turned up at the front door of ‘Number 3’ and I drove them down to Raasay House where Chalkie had once worked as an instructor. A few days later he returned by car and we went to collect the two kayaks in my fishing boat. This was something that would become a regular occurrence over the next decade or so, though the addition of the fish farm slip some years later helped. After that it was more usual just to give storm bound canoeists a lift down to the ferry so they could bring their cars over.

Not that we mind in the slightest, ‘been there, got the book, video and T-shirt as they say. Been rescued myself on more than one occasion, either in a similar situation or stuck in a bog with a Land Rover, so best not get ‘holier than thou’ Smile

Anyway, Chalkie is himself a ‘turbineer’ and fellow Proven owner, indeed one of the early ones. He bought his 6kW Proven just before me in 2005 so we have a common interest, usually when they break Smile  This time it was his own that had gone ‘pear-shaped’ when his inverter had failed. The SMA WB6000 GTI was a good 12 years old so not surprising really, 10 to 12 years seems to be about the age they start to die.

Now SMA stopped manufacturing wind inverters several years ago but their wind inverters were only ever solar inverters anyway with different settings. Most of their SB (Sunny Boy) transformer inverters can be altered to work as WB (Windy Boy) inverters if you have the right software and a ‘service cable’.

He’d phoned me a few weeks ago asking if I knew of any for sale and I said I keep a lookout. Just like busses there were none around, then two came at the same time. Net result being that he ended up with two ‘Sunny Mini Central’ solar inverters that needed their parameters changing to work as wind inverters.

So after a stormy Friday night I headed off for the 7:55 ferry armed with my laptop, service cable, tools, meter and the appropriate software.

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Good to see the roof was still on the new distillery, though the gale had managed to ‘black out’ the Hallaig around 1:00AM. Not that that posed a problem, the crew is well trained in that department for sure Smile

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White- Wave’s Proven was spinning merrily as Chalkie had already fitted the SMC inverter the previous day. It will still work when configured for solar PV, just not very well.

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White-Wave have a number of ‘Wigwams’ to let as well as self catering accommodation in the old croft house . The wind turbine makes an important contribution to what I imagine is quite a large electricity bill so it was important to get the turbine sorted ASAP.

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First thing I did was change the ‘mode’ from ‘MPPT’ to ‘Turbine’ using the ‘Service Interface’ cable and the ‘Sunny Data Control’ software. This got the inverter performing much better but still by no means at its optimum. SMA inverters have an unreasonably high ‘start up’ voltage of around 250VDC and will cut out if the voltage drops below this for more than 2 seconds. However, parameter ‘T-stop’ can be extended from its default 2 seconds and this I did to 300 seconds initially.

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The original inverter had this parameter extended to 3000 seconds!!! so I altered the new one to that. Annoyingly you can only set any of these parameters with a DC voltage present, which I guess they do at the service centre with a DC power supply. We had to improvise using a cable connected to the rectified output of the Proven controller. It worked just fine and I copied all the parameters from the original inverter for future reference.

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The two on the left copied from the new ‘Sunny Mini Central’ inverter supplied by SMA and the one on the right from the failed WB6000. SMA obviously keep changing the software on these inverters just to confuse people as many of the parameters have different names. I also noticed that the newer SMA inverters needed ‘rebooting’ prior to the parameters taking effect. On my inverter it does it automatically every time you alter each one.

So, with ‘in service’ inverter set with Proven/Kingspan’s KW6 settings (apart from T-stop which was extended to 3000 secs)


I called it a day and headed back for the 13:00 ferry. The plan being to monitor this one for a couple of weeks then swap it for the new one supplied by SMA.

I spoke to Chalkie today and his turbine had produced some 30kWh in the same period that mine had produced 18kWh so the results are encouraging to say the least.

Serious Fabrication

Of course by the time I got home it was well after 14:00 but I wasted no time and got straight back into my own 6kW wind turbine project.

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I had already bored 12 x 32mm holes into the first 25mm thick steel plate but now I needed to drill 12 more into an 8mm plate. For accuracy I welded the thinner steel plate to the thick one whilst I bored them.

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I ground the welds off when I’d finished then took the thinner plate down to the actual mast which has lain on the car park for two years.

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I then mated the plate up to the base to see if it matched

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and sure enough it did Smile

After that it was a case of cleaning myself up and preparing for dinner, for we had a the entire ‘North End’ around for a veggie dinner feast Smile


Four bottles of wine later and a good night’s sleep saw a breezy, wet Sunday arrive so once more I retired to the shed and my turbine base.

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This time it was to make the template that would allow me to get everything set in concrete in the right place. To do this I used some 19mm play, sandwiched it between the two steel plates and bored the holes for the mast.

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The 8 x 22mm holes for the hinges being carefully measured then drilled on my pillar drill.

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Once the 8 holes were drilled I had to make a stiffener for the hinges that would sit in the concrete. For this I welded to pieces of channel together then used the template to bore another 8 x 22mm holes for the M20 threaded rod.

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When it’s in position the thinner 8mm plate will sit on the end of the 1m long M30 studs with the 25mm plate at the top. The whole assembly being welded to the RSJ’s from the chalet and set in 10 cube of concrete and re bar Smile

Pure 1970’s

Now I’ve never been into aftershave, deodorant or smelly stuff. I could probably count the number of bottles of after shave I’ve possessed on my two hands and I’m 60!!! However, during the last 15 or so years I’ve generally had a bottle of something in the bathroom which I break out on special occasions. Usually something bought for me at Christmas and to be perfectly honest I quite like it. The last one I possessed never really ‘pushed my buttons’ and probably as the result of a ‘Freudian slip’ got left in the Tontine Hotel.

Sad I know but I was kinda missing the odd splash in the morning. Trouble is, from what I’ve whiffed of late, all this new stuff smells sweet and almost like toffee. This got me thinking of my yoof, Old Spice and of course Henry Cooper Smile

Well I never,

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you can still buy it!!!! I got four bottles of Brut off eBlag Smile



  1. Boots have both Brut and Old Spice on their website, though the OS is in nothing like the pottery-coloured bottle with a conical upper half that I remember 🙂

    Comment by San — November 14, 2016 @ 9:10 am

  2. What’s that “service cable” you mention Paul ? RS485 to USB ? – I just carry a BT adapter with me – have you ever used a SB1200 along with a bigger inverter ? – cut in is around 120v, just set the top of that curve to suit the bottom of the bigger inverters curve, there’s a chunk of power being wasted with a 250v cut in. A tip for setting up inverters on the bench, a small UPS connected to a 110v site transformer, straight into the iso box and rectifier – or a separate rectifier – or directly via the 240v mains, being isolated the inverters will be happy.

    Comment by Sean — November 14, 2016 @ 10:59 am

    • Hi Sean,
      What’s that “service cable” you mention Paul ? RS485 to USB ?
      it as many more terminals than RS485, are most of them not required? There are two sets of pins next to the LCD display the ‘service cable’ plugs into both. I know they cost around £90 !!!!!! but I got mine given. I did think of just using a rectifier straight off the mains would that work? or does it need to be isolated via the transformer? Gosh, I never thought of using another inverter as well. I do have a WB1200 spare but they’re only 400V is that not a little low for the Proven 6kW? Would be good to harvest some of that wasted energy.

      Many thanks, Paul

      Comment by lifeattheendoftheroad — November 14, 2016 @ 3:03 pm

      • I prefer using a voltage such as 110 (actually nearer to 150v after rectification) as it’s way down away from the start of the MPPT table – give it to much voltage and it will start wanting to pull big lumps of current. I think I know that service cable, gold dust. Obviously any low startup inverter will need pulling out of circuit just as the second one starts pulling – every little helps – as you’ve found Aurora inverters have a far more sensible startup setting. I’ve been buying a few 1200s for £50 (Inc delivery to Orkney) and Shuco 1200s (exactly the same inverter) for £35. A bit retro but very reliable.

        Comment by Sean — November 15, 2016 @ 10:30 am

      • Hi Sean, I have the makings of a plan here, I’m thinking of using the Proven 6kW to directly heat my store like this :- Use my WB1200 for low wind up to say 1000/1200W which will feed into my mini grid. Then divert at say 300/400VDC into an immersion element using a re jigged ABB 7.2kW wind interface. ABB produce a document telling you how to alter the diversion settings (though it voids the warranty) what do you think? I’ve emailed you the document, see what you think.

        Cheers, Paul

        Comment by lifeattheendoftheroad — November 15, 2016 @ 8:14 pm

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