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Old 04-16-2019, 10:46 PM   #1
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CZone and Multiplex Interfaces In General

Does anyone have any experience with the kind of multiplex control systems that Airstream and most higher end RV makers are installing in their upper end models. Airstream is currently (2019) installing the CZone system. I'm interested in including such a system in my rebuild (92 Excella Classic), but I've tried to get info over the winter and I'm getting little to know traction in my attempts to find a provider. I got CZone contact info from AS and the CZone website, but The only folks I could talk to at CZone were techs, nice helpful guys, but unable to help me as far as how I might obtain the system, support for installation, etc. Could not get sales or upper management to respond to emails or phone messages. I've had similar and white luck with other brands. FRUSTRATING.
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Old 04-17-2019, 09:22 AM   #2
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You'll have to buy through one of their dealers. It would seem that they are all located in California, which makes sense since this is originally made for boating.

https://www.mastervolt.com/dealer-locator/
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Old 04-17-2019, 10:34 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ephraim View Post
You'll have to buy through one of their dealers. It would seem that they are all located in California, which makes sense since this is originally made for boating.

https://www.mastervolt.com/dealer-locator/

Thanks very much for this.
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Old 04-18-2019, 12:08 AM   #4
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For anyone else who maybe curious and or following this thread. It appears that Czone has vastly updated their website. They now have prices and equipment pictures and a Contact Us link. Using their Contact Us link I've sent them and email and I'll call them during office hours. It looks like this time might finally be the charm. https://czoneonline.com/
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Old 04-20-2019, 09:59 AM   #5
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Hi

With any of these systems, there is a lot of programming involved. It's not just a "bolt it together" sort of thing. I would suggest that unless you do software for a living (or a hobby) , find a dealer to do the work.

Bob
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Old 04-20-2019, 10:56 AM   #6
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Hi Pete... long time, no see. Hope all is going well.

If you decide to go the route of a multiplex system I do hope you'll chronicle the build on Air Forums. Taking a quick look at the CZone web site the system is certainly not inexpensive. I hope CZone is a more robust product than systems Airstream used in the past.

If you're willing to elaborate, what does this system accomplish for you? Are you unhappy with the current (old-fashioned) system installed in your trailer? Is your goal to have everything controlled from a touch-screen? For convenience? For simplicity? Latest gizmo? Resale value? There's no right or wrong answer... inquiring minds want to know.

We still have our 1992 Classic/Excella along with a 2010 Interstate. Both are built with mostly point-to-point wiring that serves us well. We purchased a new tow vehicle recently and while we appreciate some of the new features the computer control / drive-by-wire aspect of the vehicle is a bit disconcerting at times. I don't like it when systems have to reboot, be reprogrammed, etc. YMMV.

Lucius
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Old 04-20-2019, 12:07 PM   #7
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Converting an existing unit sounds difficult and expensive but not impossible. Iím sure all of the little sensors around the entire trailer need to be updated as well. Lots of wires to try and run without removing furniture and interior walls.

I asked JC if they could upgrade my firefly to Czone. It was a hard no or at least something that they didnít want to try and figure out as it involves too much. Maybe they even believed it wasnít cost effective??

Unsure but best of luck. Would love to hear how the update goes and what goes into it!
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Old 04-20-2019, 10:21 PM   #8
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At this point I have emailed CZone again last Thursday (as mentioned previously). Next week if I still have not heard back from them I'll give them a call, when and if I remember to. I'm also doing an electrical service upgrade in the house we're currently living in. That should mostly get finished on Tuesday with the help of my Master Electrician brother-in-law.

This is a complete rebuild. We pulled the shell last summer and made some needed frame / chassis repairs. Cleaned off the rust, did a rust treatment, painted the frame cut and dry fitted new aluminum for the belly pan, made new water tank pans and fitted them, bought a new fresh water tank, and numerous other details before winter caught up with us and hampered much more progress. Cold, wind and rain made it to miserable to get much done. This project is mostly being done outside and it's been raining much more than normal. At this point, we rarely go more than a few days without rain and then rain amounts have been heavier than normal as well. I'm actually in the process of constructing a temporary reusable Quonset Hut like rain shelter from welded 1/2" rebar, 3/4" schedule 40 PVC and 6 mil poly sheeting to house the chassis so I can work on it during rain. Last Monday morning about 4am we had really powerful rain storm with 70 mph winds that would have probably destroyed the shelter I'm building, so there's also that causing me to think of additional ways to strengthen it to weather the increasing number of "Freak" storms that are now becoming the norm. That said I've got some ideas. So, I guess I'm glad that storm happened before I constructed the hut. To date all of the rebar frames are welded together but I'm still working on a few ideas for the rest of it.

What do I hope to accomplish by adding a multiplex interface? Good question for which I'm trying to determine if it makes sense for us or not. Since my plan is to add a large solar system with Lithium ION batteries, Alde hydronic heat and hot water, Roof Top Heat Pump and SeeLevel II tank sensors, and media options, I was thinking it might be nice to have one touch screen to rule them all so to speak. On the other hand this might be a terrible idea. In the next two to three weeks I hope to have gleaned enough information to make up my mind. This is the longest we've sat still in years and it's getting pretty old. It's definitely warm enough to work outside again and I have a plan to work in spite of all the rain. So, I really need to kick this operation back into gear or I might be looking for a new traveling partner come the fall!

I will update this thread with what I find and decide to do.

p.s. I caught a typo in my first post. white luck should have been worse luck. Thought I'd mention it since editing not possible. BTW it won't be my last typo, by a long shot!
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Old 04-21-2019, 06:31 AM   #9
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Hi

If you are looking at trying to get "stuff" from various manufacturers to talk to each other ... that adds even more complexity to the task. I have no experience with CZone specifically. You would have to dig pretty deep into their software tools and library functions to work out what does indeed work with what.

If you happen to have a device that they do not already have a library to support, next step would be to write the required functions yourself. I don't know if they do this in something standard like C or if they are off into something odd. How good are your C programming skills?

The alternative is to simply run the solar / battery / power system off of whatever hub the guys you buy that stuff from use. For Victron, there are a couple of alternatives. They are pretty much plug and play with a bit of setup via supplied PC based tools. Then run the heat off of whatever the furnace / AC outfit wants you to use.

Why pick plan B? Well, AS, with a full staff of engineers and years to get it working can't quite get it all together with plan A .....

Bob
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Old 04-21-2019, 09:16 AM   #10
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Hi

As an example of a "full" multiplex setup:

It talks to the AC controller and sets temperatures and modes.

It talks to the furnace controller and sets temperatures and modes.

It controls all the lights and (possibly) dims them.

It talks to the converter charger and tracks what it is doing.

It talks to the solar converter and tracks it.

It talks to the battery monitor and tracks data from it.

It talks to the inverter and tracks what it is doing.

It watches the propane tank level indicators.

It watches the water tank level indicators.

It might chat with the power awning controller ....

It might chat with the roof fan controllers ....

It might also monitor inside and outside temperature.

With the exception of the lights and the tanks, pretty much all of that involves the multiplex system interacting via a digital protocol with a device that came from "somebody else". Maybe it works ... maybe not so much. If there is a problem, break out the C compiler and start editing code.

On all of it, you likely have multiple panels with multiple "scenes" on them. On some systems you have custom button labels. On others it's all touch screen. If it's custom button labels, plan on either buying a hundred panels or paying a bit for the customization. In any case, there will be some form of coding to get the panel layouts right and doing what they should.

In all cases, you will have a central hub ( = a computer, probably running Linux) that runs everything. It wires to a set of I/O modules that run lights and talk to the "other stuff". The panels likely drop off of some sort of bus structure from the hub. Squish one of those bus cables in a "can't get there" location and you have a real problem. ( I have been there and done that on my rig ). Since the I/O is all in one place, each and every light you want to control gets run back to that location. Each sensor goes to the same place. Yes that's a lot of wire .... (actually it's a bit more complicated, but that's the quick description).

What do you get when you are done?

You have the ability to set up to do anything from anywhere. If you plan it and wire it, you can control the furnace or AC from bed. You can check the water pump setting via WiFi from your truck. You can see if one of the locker lights has been left on. All that *assumes* that you programed and wired the system to do those things.

The risk is that the more you run through a central brain, the more reliant you are on that device. If it dies, the stuff it runs dies as well. If the lights all go through "the brain" then you have no lights. Squish the bus wire over to the inverter / charger and you have no inverter ... I have data on that.

Lots of fun !!!

Bob
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