Electronics

Back in the day, each electronics unit aboard your boat did what it did, and never the twain did meet. Your depthsounder told you the depth, your radar showed what was around, your GPS told where you were, and so on. Today, of course, most electronics can be connected to onboard networks.
If your boat has a holding tank, chances are it doesn’t have a level gauge. This is odd, as you’d think they would be standard on all new boats, but in fact, just the opposite is true.
Our 1973 Norlin 34 project boat had been used mainly for club racing in its latter years, and it showed. Among its many outdated systems was the battery-management setup. It was no worse than what I suspect can be found on many other boats of that vintage, but it would not suffice for extended cruising.The two Group 27 90AH deep-cycle lead-acid batteries, one for house

Energy Control

by Nigel Calder, Posted June 15, 2010
Recently, as part of my work on hybrid propulsion systems, I attended a demonstration where a large-scale lithium battery pack was deliberately pushed past the boundaries of existing experience. The intention was to run the system at 20 kW of output and 160 volts, creating a current flow of around 130 amps. Owing to a miscalculation, when we threw the switch and brought everything on line we

Corrosion Stopper

by Peter Nielsen, Posted November 23, 2010
If the green grounding cable on your boat’s AC inlet is connected to the DC ground as the American Boat and Yacht Council recommends, you may be asking for trouble.As soon as you plug into shorepower, you’re connecting the underwater metal on your boat—stainless steel propeller shaft, bronze prop and through-hulls, zinc anodes, aluminum saildrive—to the underwater metal on all the other

Don't Get Zapped

by Gordon West, Posted April 14, 2011
John A. Moore of Punta Gorda, Florida, asks:"Is it true that putting portable electronics like GPS receivers, EPIRBs and handheld radios in the ship’s oven will protect their circuitry in the event of a direct lightning strike?"Gordon West replies:Your ship’s oven will, in fact, act like a Faraday cage, and if properly grounded, most anything

A New Battery Monitor

by Charles J. Doane, Posted August 15, 2011
Back in the 1990s when I was cruising full time and living aboard a 1964 Pearson Alberg 35, my electrical system was dirt simple. I had two 100AH wet-cell batteries, a battery selector switch, a 30-watt flexible solar panel and a multimeter. When I wanted to know how the batteries were doing, I put the
When my flexible solar panel gave up the ghost early last summer, I was surprised at how much motoring it took to replenish our Norlin 34’s two Group 27 house batteries after they’d been run down by a week of sporadic bilge-pumping (caused by a slow leak around the keelbolts, ahem).
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