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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hey all,

A used car company just over the road from us has closed down and are selling off their Chargemaster floor mounted and wall mounted units for a bargain price. I quite fancy one for home use but they said that all the contracts have expired with chargemaster and are no longer validating the RFID cards. Is there anyway I could use one of these things at home (properly installed on an appropriate feed by an electrician) and somehow get them on to free vend? Not bothered about any kind of monitoring or smart charge function. Many thanks in advance.
 

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There's almost certainly going to be a way to hack them to get them to work, the question is whether the hack would be more trouble than it's worth. Might get lucky and find there's a test link internally, to be used during commissioning to make the units live for testing. Make sense for there to be something like this in them, but I've never dug around in the internals to find out.

Getting info on the Chargemaster wall mounted units isn't easy, I spent an hour or so doing that to no avail earlier. Not looked into the post mounted units, but would hazard a guess that they use very similar internals.

If you can get them at a silly price, then they are probably well worth buying to play with, if you know someone that would be prepared to have a look inside to see how they might be enabled. If you're anywhere near Salisbury, and they are available cheaply, I might be interested in a post mounted unit to play around with, as long as it's not a daft price.
 

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For the FDF floor-standing model, from the datasheet: "These intelligent units are managed remotely over the GPRS network or via Ethernet access to the internet and require the Chargevision or OCPP service to operate."

So, there's an ethernet port on them, and you could configure it up with an open source OCPP backend and have a charging network of your own.
Whether BP (Chargemaster) would help you to reconfigure them is another matter, since they're in the business of selling support contracts and connection to their own network.
I'd expect the wall-mounted ones equipped for public charging have very similar firmware capabilities.
 

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For the FDF floor-standing model, from the datasheet: "These intelligent units are managed remotely over the GPRS network or via Ethernet access to the internet and require the Chargevision or OCPP service to operate."

So, there's an ethernet port on them, and you could configure it up with an open source OCPP backend and have a charging network of your own.
Whether BP (Chargemaster) would help you to reconfigure them is another matter, since they're in the business of selling support contracts and connection to their own network.
I'd expect the wall-mounted ones equipped for public charging have very similar firmware capabilities.

I'd be surprised if there isn't some sort of "installer mode" setting inside them, though. When installing a charge point the installer has to be able to power it up in order to do the required functional and safety testing, and often may have to do this before there's any network connectivity to the site. My guess is that there will be an internal setting of some sort, perhaps even a master RFID card, that puts the unit into always-on mode for testing. Hard to see how they could be safely installed without this feature, TBH. The chances are it's something like a switch or link setting inside the unit that the installer sets to do the testing, then resets when finished to put it back under network control.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Thanks for the replies. BP Chargemaster have been absolutely zero help (obviously as no money in it for them). So if anyone has any info on a possible internal switch or setting then this would be much appreciated. I was thinking that the other possibility might be to just pull the SIM out (assuming they have one and are not on an ethernet cable), maybe they default to free vend if the offline policy is set to that?

If I was just to plug an ethernet cable into one of these things with a laptop, how would I get to the configuration menu?
 

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Ampera aka IGOR
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I'm no sparky but might it be possible that these might be set up for a 3 phase supply and do you have 3 phase, if you don't can they can't be locked to a single phase?
 

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They will work fine on single phase as well as three phase, as the control board is only powered from L1 anyway, so no problem if you wanted to use one as a single phase charge post, just ignore the L2 and L3 connections.

Be good to get some photos of the inside of these, as there seems a fair chance that the test setting that just turns them on all the time may be fairly obvious. Damned nuisance that they don't make the MIs easier to get hold of, as they are bound to mention how to get the things powered up for the post installation testing.

Any idea how much the place wants for them? If they don't want silly money I'd be tempted to buy one just to tear down and find out how to get it to work without network connectivity. Come to that, another member here (@mikeselectricstuff might also be interested, as he tears stuff down for his YouTube channel). I'm damned curious to see how to get them to just stay active without a network connection, as I'm certain there must be a way to do this.
 

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Hard to tell without getting a close look - could be something as trivial as an internal DIP switch, or could be they can only work with a connection to the Mother Ship.
I have seen units that look the same as the wall-mounted one on houses, and as connectivity appears to be optional ( keyswitch on front), I'd think it fairly likely you could get it to work standalone, but note there are 16 and 32A versions, so you probably wouldn't want the 16A one.
If the key is missing, the switch wouldn't be hard to swap or bypass

If you actually had a need for a dual-port unit, that might be worth a punt for maybe a couple of hundred quid max.
 

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My moneys on a DIP switch
 

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My moneys on a DIP switch

Mine too, as it would be near-impossible to safely install a unit like this if there wasn't a safe way to switch it to manual control for commissioning. In essence, installers would be reliant on the back end server connecting automatically and doing what they need it to do in order to apply power to the unit for testing. Not only unlikely to work, but pretty unsafe, too. There must be something in there that just turns the charge point into a dumb one, that can just be controlled by a vehicle simulator for testing, I'm sure.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
I think the internals may look something like what was in this post by @Wildatsun , unfortunately the images are now missing but there are low res versions cached by Google...


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Doesn't look to be any DIP switches (the LK2 seems to set it up for 16A / 32A operation. I would place a small bet on some link fitted on CON9 but which pins is anybody's guess?
 

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Not sure that's the same version as used in the commercial units, TBH. It may be though, as it could be that there's a connectivity module that gets plugged in to that USB B connector on the board, perhaps. Could be that something as simple as unplugging a daughter board plugged in to that USB B may just put the thing into dumb, always on, mode, perhaps. Be fun to play with one, all the same!
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
Good suggestion Jeremy. I'll see if they will let me take the cover off and snap a few pics before the weekend and will post up on here....
 

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Good suggestion Jeremy. I'll see if they will let me take the cover off and snap a few pics before the weekend and will post up on here....

If they believe these are now just scrap, and won't work without a contract and reconnection, might they be prepared to let them go for a low price, say just the cost of getting them removed and the supply to them made safe?

If so, they may well be worth acquiring, as long as you are competent, or know someone that is, that could disconnect the supply cables to them and make them safe (pretty easy to do in all probability)..
 

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There appears to be a USB type B socket.
I'd wager that plugging into that might yield some sort of serial port presented to your computer that might let you get at some config interface and maybe let you upload firmware.
 
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