TriStar MPPT Networking
Companion Document
8 Pheasant Run
Newtown, PA 18940
www.morningstarcorp.com
info@morningstarcorp.com
v01 October 2009
I. Introduction
Certain models of the TriStar MPPT family of charge controllers have Ethernet ports and web
features. These models can be connected to your home network so that operating information
can be displayed on any computer on the network.
This companion document covers the steps required to connect your ethernet-enabled TriStar
MPPT controller to your home network. Instructions are also included to configure your network
router to allow remote access to your TriStar MPPT via the internet. For users that only need
to access the TriStar MPPT from within their home network, the Remote Access steps are not
required. Only set up remote access if you would like to view system performance on a computer
or other network device outside of your home network via the internet.
II. Connect to the Local Area Network (LAN)
The following section will guide you through the process of connecting your TriStar MPPT controller to your
home/business local network.
Getting Started
The TriStar MPPT was designed for easy setup on your home or business network through
DHCP. DHCP is a service that automatically assigns a network configuration to a computer or device that appears on your network. The vast majority of residential and business network routers
support DHCP and the service is usually turned on by default. Since DHCP is enabled by default
in the TriStar MPPT, the network settings will be automatically assigned when connected.
How can I tell if DHCP is enabled on my network?
If you have residential or business DSL, Cable, Fiber, or satellite internet service and the network router was provided by the internet provider, chances are really good that DHCP is already
enabled. Just to be sure, you can go to any computer on your network and check its network settings.
Obtain info using a Windows PC
Click the start menu button
Choose the Run... menu item
Type cmd in the Open text field and click OK
At the prompt type ipconfig /all and hit enter. (note: there is a space between the “g” and “/”)
Network information similar to the screenshot below will be displayed
Figure 1. Windows PC ipconfig network info
In figure 1 above, the arrow points to the DHCP information. If your computer has DHCP enabled, then your network supports DHCP. Proceed to Step 1 in this section to connect your
TriStar MPPT controller to your network. If DHCP is disabled, you will need to configure the
TriStar MPPT with the correct network settings before proceeding. Follow the steps in Appendix
A: Manual Network Configuration.
Obtain info using a Mac
Click the Apple icon in the top left corner
Select “System Preferences” from the menu
Click the “Network” icon under Network & Internet
Choose the network adapter to view the network info
If your computer has DHCP enabled, then your network supports DHCP. Proceed to Step 1 in
this section to connect your TriStar MPPT controller to your network. If DHCP is disabled, you will
need to configure the TriStar MPPT with the correct network settings before proceeding. Follow
the steps in Appendix A: Manual Network Configuration.
What happens if my local network does not have DHCP enabled, but I connect the
TriStar MPPT to the network anyway?
The TriStar MPPT will search for a period of time for a valid DHCP server. If no server is found,
the TriStar MPPT will default to the network settings listed in Appendix B.
The default network settings may or may not be compatible with your network. Because your network does not support DHCP, the TriStar MPPT could not obtain a network configuration. You will
need to verify if the default settings are compatible with your network and modify them if necessary. Follow the steps in Appendix A: Manual Network Configuration.
Step 1
Connect the TriStar MPPT to your network using an Ethernet cable. The unit must be powered
up to communicate. Before proceeding to the next step, allow 5 minutes for the controller to connect to the network and acquire its network settings.
Step 2
Next, connect to the controller using a computer on the network.
Microsoft Windows and Mac OS X v10.2 or later
Open a web browser
1. In the internet address bar type the following:
http://tsmpptXXXXXXXX/test.html
where “XXXXXXXX” is the 8-digit serial number of the controller. The serial number can be
found on the label on the side of the unit. This address is the controller’s NETBIOS name,
which is a permanent address that always points to the controller on the network.
2. A test page should load with links to the Live View and Network Setup pages.
3. Click the Live View link to view real time operating information.
4. You may want to bookmark the page for future reference.
NOTE:
Mac OS X users may be required to enable Windows File Sharing (SMB) which uses the NETBIOS
protocol. Consult Apple’s support and documentation for more information.
Final Notes
Congratulations! At this point the controller is successfully connected to your network. Following are a few notes about routinely connecting to your TriStar MPPT on your home or business
network.
•
You can now connect to the TriStar MPPT using a web browser, MSView, or any other software that supports the TriStar MPPT from inside your home network.
•
Windows PC computers can always access the TriStar MPPT using its NETBIOS name
(tsmpptXXXXXXXX).
•
Apple Mac computers may not support the use of NETBIOS names by default.
•
The IP address assigned by DHCP may change periodically and is not a reliable way to connect to your controller. However, if you manually assigned network settings then the IP address will never change.
•
MSView can connect to the TriStar MPPT using the IP address or NETBIOS name. We recommend using the NETBIOS name since it never changes. If you save the workspace, its
better to use the NETBIOS name so that MSView always reconnects properly.
•
At this point, the TriStar MPPT cannot be accessed outside of your home or business
network. See Section III: Configure Remote Access for details on how to connect to the
TriStar MPPT from remote locations.
III. Configure Remote Access
Configure remote access to allow communication with your TriStar MPPT from any computer or
device on the internet. Use MSView or a web browser to view your solar system’s real-time operating information.
NOTE:
Before proceeding, make sure the TriStar MPPT is correctly configured and connected to your home/
business network per the directions in Section II.
NOTE:
Because there are many different types and manufacturers of network routers, the exact steps required
cannot be fully documented here. However, details are provided on where to get further information.
!
CAUTION:
All incoming requests addressed to controllers and devices that are connected (bridged) to the EIA-485
port on the TriStar MPPT will be passed both READ and WRITE modbus requests without exception.
Setting switch #8 on the TriStar MPPT only prevents WRITE requests to the local controller. For this
reason, we do not recommend enabling remote access to systems with bridged EIA-485 networks unless
extra network security measures are implemented.
Is this secure?
The vast majority of viruses, malware, scripts, etc are designed to exploit security flaws in major operating systems and their software. Malicious attackers wishing to do harm will only have
access to the TriStar MPPT. The TriStar does not have an operating system or web browser to
exploit. It only accepts and responds to properly structured MODBUS TCP requests. If setting
switch #8 is in the OFF position, the controller will only allow requests to read information and will
not allow requests to write data. While anything is possible, it is unlikely that this configuration
poses a significant security risk.
It is also worth noting that the networking and charge controller functions of the TriStar MPPT
are separate and executed by two (2) separate processors. If the network processor crashes for
any reason, the charge controller functionality will continue unaffected.
Part A - Configure the Network Router and TriStar MPPT
A router provides a gateway between the internet and your private local network. A router is usually provided to DSL, cable, fiber, and satellite customers by their internet service provider (ISP).
The router connects to the incoming phone line, cable coax, or fiber line and provides one (1) or
more Ethernet ports for your home/business computers.
Most network routers have a web interface for configuration. This interface is usually protected
by password. If your router was supplied by your ISP (Cable, DSL, satellite company), they can
provide you with the login/password needed to access the router configuration. If you purchased
and installed your own router, the factory default password should be provided in the router documentation.
Step 1 - Retrieve the Current TriStar MPPT Network Settings
a. Open a web browser on any computer on your local network
b. Open the TriStar MPPT live view webpage
c. Click the “Network” link at the top of the page
d. Write down all the information in the Current Network Settings section
e. Also note under the “Settings” section if “Obtain IP address from DHCP server” is selected.
Step 2 - Login to the network Router
a. Open a web browser on any computer on your local network
b. Enter the IP of the “Default Gateway” listed in the TriStar MPPT network settings
c. When prompted enter the login/password information for the router
d. Keep this browser window open since access to the router settings will be needed throughout
these instructions
Step 3 - Program the TriStar MPPT with Static Network Information
If the TriStar MPPT is configured for DHCP, you will need to disable DHCP and specify your own
static network settings. If a Static IP address is already assigned to the TriStar MPPT, you can
skip Step 3 and go straight to Step 4.
a. Open the web browser that contains the router settings from Step 2
b. Find the DHCP range (dynamic IP range) under the DHCP settings. It may look something
like this:
Dynamic IP Range
Range Start :
192 . 168 . 1 . 100
Range End :
192 . 168 . 1 . 149
c. Pick an IP that lies outside of this range. For the example range above, 192.168.1.50 would
be a good choice
d. Browse back to the network settings page in the TriStar MPPT live view
e. In the Settings section, change the selection from “Obtain IP address from DHCP server” to
“Use Static IP address”
f. In the IP Address fields, enter the IP chosen in step c.
g. Fill out the rest of the network settings with the info obtained in Step 1. (essentially, copy the
info from the Current Settings section on the same page)
h. Click the “Save” button to use the new settings
Step 4 - Setup Port Forwarding
Next, you need to setup port forwarding. Port forwarding commands the router to direct all incoming traffic from the internet on a specific port to a computer or device inside your private network.
In this case, you want to direct all incoming requests on port 502 directly to the TriStar MPPT.
Addtionally, you may also want to forward port 80 to the TriStar MPPT. This will allow you to view
the TriStar Web View pages from any computer on the internet. This is not required however.
There are many different router models so we cannot provide specific directions in this document
for configuring port forwarding. However, the website:
http://www.portforward.com
provides a comprehensive list of routers and instructions for forwarding ports. The forwarding
information for the TriStar MPPT is as follows:
To enable remote access to your TriStar MPPT using MSView or other 3rd party software
IP:
Static IP assigned to the controller in Step 3f
port:
502 (some routers ask for a range of ports, in this case specify 502 to 502)
protocol:
TCP
If you want to view TriStar Live View webpages from any computer on the internet, the following additional port must also be forwarded in addition to port 502.
IP:
Static IP assigned to the controller in Step 3f
port:
80 (some routers ask for a range of ports, in this case specify 80 to 80)
protocol:
TCP
Part B - Set up Dynamic DNS Service
Many ISPs allocate dynamic IP addresses to their customers. In plain English this means that the
public address that uniquely identifies your home/business router on the internet changes. This is
equivalent to having your mailing address change randomly. The postal service can’t deliver your
mail if they don’t know your address!
Your ISP can tell you if you have a static IP or dynamic IP. If you have a static IP, your address
never changes and you can skip this section - go straight to Part C - Testing Your Connection.
If you have a dynamic IP you’ll need a reliable way to find your router’s address so that you can
always contact your TriStar MPPT controller.
The solution is to use Dynamic DNS Service (DDNS). DDNS maps a static internet address to
your home network’s dynamic IP. A client must be installed on a computer in your network which
will automatically update the DDNS when your router’s public IP has changed.
NOTE:
Many modern routers now support DDNS which eliminates the need to run a client on your home
computer. If your router supports DDNS, it can be configured to automatically update the DDNS servers
whenever the IP address changes. Check your router’s documentation or check the approved vendors
list at http://www.dyndns.com.
Figure 2. Dynamic DNS service
Figure 2 above illustrates how DDNS works. Dynamic DNS servers are notified by a computer on
Jack’s private network whenever the router IP changes. The address: JacksHouse.dyndns.org
points to the DDNS servers which in turn forward the request to the latest IP address of Jack’s
Private Network.
Who provides this service and how much does it cost?
We recommend using Dynamic DNS service provided by www.DynDNS.com. It’s free, reliable,
and has a proven track record. However, there are other free DDNS services that will work just
as well. Detailed setup information is available on their websites.
Part C - Testing Your Connection
Now that the controller has a fixed IP address on your private network and a fixed public address,
you can now connect to your TriStar MPPT controller from any computer on the internet.
Test with MSView
a. From the Devices menu, choose Manual Connection
b. Choose TS-MPPT from the device list
c. Change Connection Type to Remote (TCP)
d. Input the Dynamic DNS address into the IP address field
e. By default, the control address is 1 (leave the same unless you specifically changed this
value)
f. The control TCP Port should be 502
g. Click OK.
h. Right-click on the device icon in the tree and select Connect
i. The icon should turn green indicating a successful connection.
Test with a Web Browser (only if Port 80 is forwarded in Part A - Step 4)
In the browser address bar, type the Dynamic DNS address. The TriStar Live View web page
should load.
IV. Multi-controller Networking Options
Two or More TriStar MPPT Controllers
Whenever possible, network multiple TriStar MPPT controllers using Ethernet. This network scheme results in the lowest cost and most control over each controller in the network.
TriStar MPPT controllers that do not have Ethernet ports should be connected via EIA-485 (see
the next section)
Be sure to set the Ethernet Security settings switch (switch #8) to Disable Writes if the Ethernet
network is accessible via the internet.
TriStar MPPT Controller(s) + Other Morningstar Products
A TriStar MPPT 60 can be connected to other Morningstar products on a network using the
built-in EIA-485 interface. The TriStar MPPT 60 connects to a network router using the Ethernet port. All devices in the system are connected together on a EIA-485 bus. Incoming requests
from the LAN or Internet that are addressed to devices on the network are bridged through the
TriStar MPPT 60 onto the EIA-485 bus.
For products such as the Relay Driver that have a serial port, an EIA-485 adapter (model:RSC-1)
can be used to connect to the EIA-485 bus as shown in figure 3 below. Products that do not
have a serial port require an additional Meterbus adapter (model: MSC) to convert the RJ-11
interface to serial.
TriStar-MPPT-60
Relay Driver
RSC-1
Router
Serial Cable
Ethernet
Cable
RSC-1
EIA-485
SunSaver-MPPT-15L
MSC
Serial Cable
RJ-11
Cable
Figure 3. Networking Morningstar products that do not have Ethernet ports.
The EIA-485 bridging feature must be enabled in the network settings of the TriStar MPPT 60
controller as follows:
a. Open the TriStar Live View webpage
b. Click the “Network” link at the top
c. Under the “Settings” section, check the box for the “Bridge Ethernet MODBUS requests to
EIA-485 network” option.
d. Click the “Save” button
NOTE:
The RSC-1 EIA-485 adapter requires power from the battery or DC-DC converter to power the bus. The
RSC-1 can be powered directly from a 12V system battery. For 24 or 48V systems, a DC-DC power
converter is required.
!
CAUTION:
All incoming requests addressed to controllers and devices that are connected (bridged) to the EIA-485
port on the TriStar MPPT will be passed both READ and WRITE modbus requests without exception.
Setting switch #8 on the TriStar MPPT only prevents WRITE requests to the local controller. For this
reason, we do not recommend enabling internet access to systems with bridged EIA-485 networks
unless extra network security measures are implemented.
Appendix A - Manual Network Configuration
For networks that do not support DHCP, the TriStar MPPT must be configured manually. Follow these
steps to manually configure the network settings for the TriStar MPPT.
a. Open a web browser on any computer on your local network
b. Enter the IP of the “Default Gateway” listed in the network settings information. Instructions
for obtaining the network information are provided in the introductory notes in Section II.
c. When prompted, enter the login/password information for the router. If you do not know this
information, contact your ISP or consult the router documentation for the factory default login/
password.
d. Find the DHCP range (dynamic IP range) under the DHCP settings in the router configuration
menus. It may look something like this:
Dynamic IP Range
Range Start :
192 . 168 . 1 . 100
Range End :
192 . 168 . 1 . 149
e. Pick an IP that lies outside of this range. For the example range above, 192.168.1.50 would
be a good choice
f. Browse to the network settings page in the TriStar MPPT live view
g. In the Settings section, change the selection from “Obtain IP address from DHCP server” to
“Use Static IP address”
h. In the IP Address fields, enter the IP chosen in step c.
i. Fill out the rest of the network settings with the info obtained in the introductory notes in Section II.
Appendix B - Default TriStar MPPT Settings
Port Assignments
Port 80:
Port 502:
Port 161:
HTTP Server
MODBUS via TCP/IP
SNMP Agent Port
Network Settings
Static IP address:
192.168.1.253
Subnet Mask:
255.255.255.0
Default Gateway:
192.168.1.1.
Primary DNS
192.168.1.1
Secondary DNS
0.0.0.0
Bridged Ethernet MODBUS requests to the EIA-485 network are Disabled.
SNMP MIB file TSMPPT.mib can be downloaded from the HTTP Server’s root directory. A link is also provided on the Network settings page.