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Monday, March 10, 2014

PrimusZ: Powered by GRX 1.0

Most Mod and DIY folks are familiar with systems, for example the Evolv DNA 3.0, which provides a single-board solution for controlling your mod.

A basic overview of this technology is provided below (very technical).  Note that these are preliminary specifications and they may change.

The PrimusZ is controlled by a similar single-board solution called the GRX 1.0.  The GRX, like the other similar single-board sysetms, provides a means for the user to set voltage, wattage, read ohms, and adjust various parameters and settings.  However, unlike existing similar single-board sysetms the GRX does not use a display.

Instead the GRX uses secure, wireless BlueTooth communications protocol called XTI to communicate with a remote application using "the PrimusZ Golem" on one or more PC, Mac, iPhone or Android devices designated by the PrimusZ mod owner.  The Golem, in turn, communicates with the sophisticated UI that replaces the "on mod" display allowing the user a richer and more sophisticated graphical experience for viewing and changing mod parameters as well as communicates with a remote cloud-based web site such as VaporsCloud.

(A "Golem," according to Wikipedia, is "... an animated anthropomorphic being, created entirely from inanimate matter.  In this case an "app" that controls the mod on behalf of the user.")

The GRX board uses a 16-bit microcontroller running an embedded variant of Forth called amForth (a GPL microcontroller Forth available from this site.)  As per the GPL license we will be publishing all changes to the base amForth code when the mod is released.

Presently the GRX uses a combination of both dual-sided surface mount (SMD) and through-hole components.  GRX 2.0 will use identical components but instead be entirely surface mount and approximately 1/2 the size of GRX 1.0 (GRX 2.0 will be approximately 2.375" x 1.375" worth of surface area; size will depend on the selected BlueTooth).

The GRX runs a proprietary multi-threaded operating system called grZOS (pronounced "ger zos") which runs "on top"of amForth, i.e., the OS is pure Forth code (approximately 400 Forth words).  grZOS is a simple real-time operating system that provides all the basic functions for controlling a mod that you might find in other products such as those mentioned above.  In addition it also provides an "API" (application program interface) that the "Golem" uses to control the mod remotely via BlueTooth.  grZOS also handles differences in versions of BlueTooth (LE versus classic).
 (Note that "out of the box" the GRX (and hence the PrimusZ mod) is not preprogrammed with the grZOS.  Instead, the user's Golem is used to download the latest version of grZOS into the mod after purchase.  Versions of grZOS will be freely available for mod owners.)

The GRX supports dynamic OS updates.  When a new version of the OS is available the user may choose to update their mod by simply triggering the "update" feature (similar to how iOS or Android versions are updated).

Further, GRX supports dynamic downloading of OS features.  For example, the GRX will support the PrimusZ Dynamic Coil Power Cycle (DCPC) which allows the user to control the intensity of the coil heating during a vape cycle.  Users will be able to use their phone or computer to "tune" their mod to a specific heating sequence.

A given GRX board can be configured for classic BlueTooth, BlueTooth Low Energy, or for both (though only one protocol at a time can be used - a hardware jumper or switch allows the user to toggle between the formats).

GRX also supports a "native communications" model, i.e., button presses and LED flashes, to perform all the major mod functions when a phone or computer is not available.

The PrimusZ "Golem" is a sophisticated, multi-threaded, multi-process platform independent C++  (approximately 100K lines) library supporting Mac, PC, Android and iOS.  It supports the XTI communication protocol over the native BlueTooth available on each device (in the case of iOS only the 4S and above are supported using BlueTooth Low Energy (LE)).

In addition the "Golem" supports the VaporCloud protocols required to send and receive information from VaporsCloud and to forward information between the mod and VaporsCloud.

The "Golem" is clever enough to dynamically communicate with both the mod and VaporsCloud (separately and/or simultaneously) depending on the availability of both, i.e., if the mod is not available via BlueTooth so long as the "Golem" is alive in the phone or PC it will try to reconnect with the mod.  Similarly, if there is information to upload to VaporsCloud the "Golem" will repeatedly attempt to upload data until all data that's available is uploaded depending on the availability of the internet.

The GRX has limited storage for off-line vaping due to the fix memory limit of the microcontroller.  However, while off line from the "Golem" the GRX accumulates both hit counts as well as the "total on time" of the coil.  This allows the "Golem" to estimate the length of "off line" hits.

The GRX hardware is designed around an 8.4V power supply (stacked 3.7V LiPo batteries) using an extremely efficient MOSFET switching system to deliver both VRMS power as well as the "manual" mechanical-style on/off switching found in mechanical mods.

The out-of-the box unit is theoretically capable of switching up to 40A at 8.4V - though the physical limitations of the 1.0 board layout prevents much beyond 20W.  Switching higher voltages is possible with minor software and hardware changes - basically moving the switching device off-board, supplying a heat sink and tweaking the software appropriately.

grZOS supports a well-defined API for remote software access.  This API provides the means to trigger a vape cycle remotely, download and monitor a large variety of mod telemetry data (power data, switching data, and error data), control power as volts, watts, or duty cycle, and manipulate (load, save, change) mod state (power limits, warnings for events like coil changes, etc.).

The "Golem" software also supplies a series of API and callbacks that allow native UI applications to control and monitor the full state of both the mod as well as any active VaporsCloud connection.

The initial PrimusZ will consist of a GRX 1.0 board, two LiPo batteries, and a daughter power board that supplies micro-USB charging (batteries and daughter board):

The combined GRX 1.0 board, batteries and power board configured for the case look like this:

More details will be published as we have time to make them available.

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