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Sunday, 4 November 2012

Lost a weekend to GHL

Yesterday i received the starter kit for GHL Profilux system i will be installing to get myself off the ground and start to learn the system.

From around 9am yesterday i have literally not stopped playing and tweaking the system!

I went for the 3.1N eX Ultimate kit, that comes with several probes, the Profilux Touch and a PAB PowerBar, this made a decent saving with a lot of the required bits needed to get going.

GHL Porfilux

GHL Porfilux Ultimate Kit

GHL Porfilux Touch

GHL Porfilux PAB PowerBar

At first i was excited enough to just have the main unit itself connected to the network and getting a feel for the PC application, but went a step too far when deciding to update the firmware to the latest version.

Against an advisory message not to update via LAN or USB, i went ahead and promptly turned the thing into a paperweight!

Luckily i have an ancient laptop of a 13 year vintage that still has a proper hardware serial port. I had chucked it in the shed to make room elsewhere in the house and eventually found it buried under more junk, and full of moisture.

I already knew both the main and CMOS batteries were shot so just took a chance with it and punched the on button. Thankfully it sprung into life, muddled through the complaining POST screen about the battery death and booted happily and very quickly into Windows!

This was with moisture being blown out of the heat sinks! I am so glad i did not bin this laptop years ago as it’s saved my backside several times when nion redundant technology is required for some obscure reason.

Advent Laptop

So with the reflashed and resorted Profilux to the latest firmware using the serial connection, low and behold it worked perfect, although it would be nice if GHL could improve the stability of more modern connections, but i would hazard a guess that its down to the fact its built on a Fujitsu MB91F467D microcontroller. Quite a sophisticated item considering the competition…

With the system back up and working again, i started hooking it up to my Lido 120 freshwater tank to apply it into a real environment.

It takes a bit of learning to understand the software as it’s not always immediately obvious where things are. So for the computer un-savvy it could be a little bit daunting.

For starters, i wanted to monitor and control the temperature.

With the GHL you first set up your sensor with the nominal temperature, which is easy enough, but as you can see from the following image, there are a whole host of additional features for temperature alone.

A hysteresis setting will set the switching points for any heating or cooling equipment, cooling difference and the 1/10v deviation will control how aggressive any cooling system attached will behave.

Nocturnal change allows you to set a cooler temperature at night, as if to simulate the sun being off a body of water and allowed to cool.

Alarms are available should anything go wrong,  and the sensors calibration options can also be found.

The operation mode, offers some expansion to how the equipment will react, with the twoposition shown setting literally being just “on and off” as per demand. Another option called “pulse” means a heater would switch on and off for a length of time until the nominal temperature is achieved. This allows you to control the rate of change, so if you had a very powerful heater, you can have it cycle to heat the water more gently and not shock the livestock with drastic changes.

1-GHL Profilux Temperature Settings

With the sensor setup as you require, you now assign it to a socket that has a heater connected…

1-GHL Profilux Socket Setting

In my case the heater is Connected to socket #4, so it has the “Temperature 1” sensor and the fact that its a heater associated with it.

This means that when the temperature dips below the half hysteresis of the nominal temperature, socket #4 will be powered up, and thus the heater will come on.

Other items can also be seen in that list such as socket #1 which are for the main lights. In that case a timer is set for the lighting period and the socket is linked to the Timer.

In a more simple situation socket #2 is “Always On” as that is the filter pump.

So i reiterate, i wouldn't say the GHL is a straight forward system to operate, it does help to have some understanding of logical systems, but the capability it offers as a result is really quite something!

I got my PowerBar connected up and after registering it on the Profilux main unit, it sprung into life…

GHL Porfilux PAB PowerBar LEDs

The temperature probe is also in a temporary location at the moment…

GHL Porfilux Temp Sensor

Holds fine, but looks ugly as it dangles in open water!

GHL Porfilux Temp Sensor

It’s sufficient for the moment though while i get chance to install the system in a neat and tidy manner.

The Profilux Touch was also added to the whole system…

GHL Porfilux Touch

While this offers a great alternative to the small dot matrix screen on the main Profilux unit, i really hope GHL realise its obvious potential as it feels a bit stunted at the moment.

The info on the screen, as said, look great. The ability to control sockets with a manual override is also another neat touch, as are the graphs for viewing measurement data at a glance.

I also set up a Maintenance Pause for doing water changes on the Lido. This simply powers down the filter pump, heater and power head for a set period of time at the touch of a button. When the timer counts to zero the affected sockets and equipment will turn back on. Alternatively you can press the button again if you finish before the timer completes.

Might seem a little over the top… and i did use to mess about pulling plugs in and out of extension leads, and did occasionally forget to put them back in! So the quick touch of a button on this really is a great little trick.

It’s the same as when i first bought a car with keyless drive and entry, thinking it would be an expensive gimmick, but its something i just wouldn't do without now! It makes something clunky into an effortless and fluid task.

Would be nice to see more functions come to the Touch though, the ability to customise the icon names and layout would be very welcome as would the ability to download the measurement data, as the Touch holds substantially more than the Profilux memory. Thankfully it does look like GHL have plenty of plans for the Touch after reading threads on their support forum.

I also got myself a very simple webpage up and running using the built in webserver…

GHL Webserver Example

It’s definitely a start and can be built on using HTML coding. I would also like to get it so i can view it over the internet, which i will work on in the coming weeks. I also need to work out how to get the email system working too, which i have tried so far with no luck.

I'm sure it will be keeping me busy for a while to come, and cannot wait to get it fully built up and helping to run the system.

Its worth a mention that i got my GHL kit from H2O Aquatics and received some excellent advice and customer service when purchasing.

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