Saturday, March 14, 2015

Electronic Projects

Helm Instruments
Warning: this post gets pretty nerdy as my primary boat project for February involved getting all the instruments and radio/navigation components integrated along with a bunch of wiring cleanup.  Much of the core of the electrical system was cleanly rebuilt before we bought Junovia but there were a number of rats-nests and issues remaining that were both unsafe and unwieldy to work with.

Radio Panel
Main Power Panel
An issue that was bothering me in particular was how all the low-voltage splices in the engine room were just sort of dangling exposed and all tangled up making it really difficult to troubleshoot or trace anything.  For this I mounted a sealed PVC box with a couple terminal strips epoxied inside.  It's become the nerve center for our data networks where information from the mast, helm and radio panel all come together and gets distributed back out accordingly.  We have NMEA0183, NMEA2000, Ethernet and SeaTalk networks along with a number of proprietary links between components such as remote mic's, depth sensors, radar, etc.  I added a Brookhouse eMux that integrates the NMEA, SeaTalk and Ethernet networks together such that all the data is translated between each protocol.  Our Ethernet includes WiFi which means I can get all this wirelessly on our computers, iPad, etc.  We can pull up OpenCPN on my Macbook and see all the nearby ships/tugs, how deep the water is under our sounder and even where the rudder is pointed along with just about everything else the boat knows.  Pretty overkill but I'm having fun with it and building some skills that will be useful for developing marine software or working on big yachts down the road.

We also replaced the windvane at the masthead and added ST60 Wind & Multi-Graphic instruments at the helm.  Feeding a new wire inside the mast for the windvane was the most challenging task of the month.  It took a couple attempts of attaching the new wire to the end of the old before we got a splice skinny and flexible enough to pull all the way through from the mast's top to the base, which is around 56 feet.  Our clearance from waterline to masthead is only 52 but the mast continues through the cabin sole and sits on the keel a few feet below that.  Tara was upside down in the bilge while I was hanging in a harness at the top of the mast, we communicated via radio working together to coax the new wire into place.  Need to remember to bring the camera and snap a picture of our busy masthead the next time I climb up there.

The less interesting electrical tasks included replacing the DC sub-panel that was based on fuses and a bit clunky with a new BlueSea unit using the same type of breakers as the existing main panel.  All the solid copper wires have been replaced with ABYC compliant stranded copper and I've disassembled and re-connected almost all of the AC outlets, most of which appear to be the originals from when the boat was built which are safe and compliant.

Next up is a quick post about getting Junovia's name and port on the hull.  Then it's on to the refrigeration project which I'm expecting to consume many hours, but should be interesting and will also involve a lot of learning.

Engine Room Data Junction
Engine Room Data Junction
Brookhouse eMux

DC Power Sub-panel Back

DC Main Power Panel Back

DC Main Power Panel Terminals

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