Thursday, November 25, 2021

Dinghy Inflator Carrying Bag

 Replacing the Dinghy Inflator Carrying Bag

The last time we inflated the Dinghy using our West Marine Dinghy Inflator, the bag zips had siezed and I had no choice but to rip the top open in order to be able to use the air pump. Grrrr.

It's been a few months, the inflator, in it's defective carrying bag, has been sat on a shelf in the Garage. Every time I saw it, that guilty feeling would rise and I would mentally take a note that I needed to fix that bag.

It's Thanksgiving, I have a few hours to use and figured now would be a good time to stop those guilt trips. I had a few yards of Sunbrella and a new Zipper. Spent about a half hour designing the new bag. The old (original) bag was not big enough to hold the Pump, the Extended power supply wire and the air hose because I had extended the supply cable by about 20' when we purchased Eximius as the pump would not reach to the foredeck where the dink is located and back to the 12v outlet in the cabin. The new bag is 12" wide, 9" tall and 8" deep, there's a divider between the pump and the other stuff (wire and air hose0.) I used the original bag's shoulder strap.

The new bag took about 3 hours all told. Well worth it.

It looks a bit 'baggy' no pun intended, but the extra space ensures that all of  the equipment required to inflate the dinghy are all in one bag.

The strap is the original

The zipper is a YKK #10 Black single pull.

All seams are 1/2" bottom and sides are all double stitched.

The top has a 5/8" rim so that the zipper goes around the corner rather than around the top (that would be a really tight turn for the zipper)

Despite the extra space in the bag, the air hose still requires a fight to get it inside.

I never did understand why West Marine did not include the adapter from the hose to the dinghy air valves. So the adapter has been secured in place using rescue tape.

The power cord extension wire was crimped and waterproofed with heat shrink. There's a quick disconnect at the pump end of the wire.

We'll take it down to the boat on Friday when we install the new Nav Table light.

See you on the water, please let it be soon!

Happy Thanksgiving everybody.


Tuesday, November 23, 2021

LED Nav Table Lighting

Replacing the original Navigation Table Lighting

I'm pretty sure that is the Original Nav Lamp (it's the flexible lamp in the corner of the Nav Table)

It's Red, that's good for use at night but not good for reading charts at night as it basically makes any red markings on the chart invisible.

It's not very flexible and doesn't reach far enough from the corner.

It gets very hot! It's an incandescent lamp, so it draws a comparatively high current compared to a modern LED light fixture and that's 0.5 Amps! A LED should be a lot less.

I found this one on Amazon.
"AnTom 12V LED Dimmable Reading Light, RV Boat Bedside Map Chart Light for Camper,Van,Sailboat,Caravan"

It's advantages are:- Dimmable and it is supposed to remember it's last setting. That should mean that if it's turned off when dimmed, then it should return to the same settings when turned back on ( and, apparently, it's the same when the power is turned off and turned back on, unlike other brands found on Amazon)

The instructions are confusing "Loosen the button and turn the knob to adjust brightness" Not sure how to "Loosen the button"

Looking at this image it appears that color is set by Pressing the Button and then turning it:- Left towards warm white and Right towards Bright Red.

I figured it out! When it reads 'Loosen' it really means - Don't press while turning! 

Mounting is a slight issue. I'm pretty sure that the space to which the existing lamp is affixed is not 2.6" wide and the screws being on the sides would prevent securing it in that spot. So it will have to be mounted elsewhere. That's not a bad thing as the corner location is not ideal primarily because not reach most of the Nav Table.

I'm hoping to be able to mount it close to the center of the instrument bulkhead so that it's not in the way when opening the Nav Table Lid.

I'll use an inline fuse holder for now, it will eventually be wired to a fuse block that is protected by a Voltage Regulator. 

Oh! and it has a USB charger: 5V/1.5A output, always welcome. However that does affect the size of fuse required. The USB output is 1.5Amps, the lamp is probably less than 0.2 amps. The total run both ways from the Fuse Block will be about 3'. Using the BoatHowTo wire size calculator (it's better than looking up the tables) I figure that correct size is 18AWG, however, the ABYC recommend not using an 18AWG cable. Hmmmm. I have over 100' of 18 AWG twin tinned Stranded Copper wire. The Ampacity of the cables is not an issue and the ABYC recommendation has the exception of a length less than 18" outside of the jacket, so I'm confident that it's ok to use the 18AWG cable pair.

On the Boat, I confirmed that this lamp will not fit where the base of the old lamp is located. But the good news is that if I mount it on the decorative rail above the storage over the Nav Table, not only will the lamp fit neatly, but it will also allow the lamp to illuminate the inside of the Nav Table when the lid is open. So I have two locations where it will fit.

I also confirmed that the existing lamp only draws 0.3Amps.

Decision made. I'll mount it to the decorative rail just aft of the Fan that's mounted on the same rail.

(The white battery lamp unit is long gone) With the new lamp mounted there, the light can illuminate the Nav Table, all of the Switch Panel, it can even light up the shelf behind the plastic sliding shelf doors.

The USB connection can still be accessed and the lamp base side securing screws can both be accessed for installation. That last point limits where the lamp base can be located, it has to be secured in place.

The wiring can easily be ran into the shelf area and down to the fuse block that will be located behind the area above the switch panel.

Great, we have a plan. All of the parts arrived from Amazon today (Tuesday 11/23/2021) .

Looks like we can visit the boat tomorrow and get that installed.

More later :)

Sunday, November 21, 2021

Hole in the boat, what to do?

Hole in the Boat.

After completing the new Auto Pilot installation, we're left with the old Raymarine Auto Pilot control Instrument mounted on the Starboard side of the cockpit steering well.  Right now the Instrument is still in place, but it has to go. That will leave a 3" hole in the boat.

Looking for ideas on what to put in it's place. 

I could repair the hole but the chance of getting a match on the gel coat in that particularly visible area are slim.

I could install another instrument, but that's why we moved the new Auto Pilot instrument (p70s) to the helm shelf, it's a bad place for an instrument - it gets knocked when someone enters or exits the helm station and it's difficult to see down there.

Looking for ideas, please comment if you have an idea or experience similar.



Saturday, November 20, 2021

Rewiring our LED lighting circuit

Protecting our LED Lighting Circuit

I recently completed the BoatHowTo 'Boat Electrics 101 - Safe & Reliable DC Systems' online Course and it was worth the time and effort, it will help me when I get into our rewiring job on Eximius.  With what I leaned from the course,  I recently upgraded our Auto Pilot which involved removing all of the old wiring and rewiring the Cockpit Instrument power supplies. That was due to the obvious bad wiring install that was done before we took on the boat.

As part of the Boat Electrics 101, a 'bonus' lesson was about LED lighting, it went way past what I needed to know, but, again, was worth the effort. I have a better understanding of the types of LED lighting and the various options as far as appropriate LED's for particular use. eg. Light temperatures suitable for use inside a cabin etc.

That last lesson also explained an issue with Cheap LED lighting strips, I use quite a few of those: Galley, Head, Cabin and in equipment lockers. The issue is that those low cost LEDs have no power management on the strips and so they receive whatever voltage is available at their connection. When the Batteries are charging, the voltage could be as high as 14v DC when they are designed to operate at 12v DC. This high voltage will reduce their life expectancy.

My initial thought was to install a voltage reducer with a constant 12v DC output between the Lighting Circuit Breaker and the lighting Circuit. But then I thought, what about the Navigation Lights( Bow Lights and Stern Light), Anchor Light, Deck and Steaming light? All of those are now LEDs and potentially suffer from the same issue - over voltage reducing their life expectancy.

That complicates things slightly, I'll have to check the current draw when all of the lights are on, including the Nav lights. If the current draw with all the lamps on is less than 6A, then I can simply create a sub-circuit supply to those circuit breakers which is protected by the Voltage Reducer. Worst case scenario is that I would need to add two of the reducers, one for the Interior lighting circuits and another for the exterior lighting circuits.

This 8V-40V to 12V 6A 72W Voltage Reducer converts whatever the input voltage is (between 8v and 40v DC) to a reliable 12v.

6A is more current than all of our interior LED lighting combined. I'll test it onboard before installing it just to make sure there's no radio interference.

At that time I'll turn all of the lights on the boat, interior and exterior to determine the total current flow ( our electrical management system shows the current flow both In and Out of the Battery) I'll turn off the Solar Charger to ensure we're getting a true reading of the current flow.

If I'm going to go to the trouble of protecting the LED lamps/strips, I might as well rewire them all so that if one shorts out it doesn't flip the breaker and turn off all of the Interior lighting. So the plan is to break the Interior lighting into separate circuits.

Here's my initial diagram for the Interior LED lighting with the Voltage. 
Note. Because some of the circuits, eg. V-Berth, have multiple LED lamps, the Blade fuses will be sized accordingly.
The Exterior lights have their dedicated Circuit Breaker, I'll have to figure those out later, I'm sure they jointly take more than 6amps which is the limit of this particular Voltage Converter. I don't have an issue installing multiple converters, but they do cost $27 on Amazon. I'll update the diagram when I figure out the current in each circuit.

See you on the water - and after another grotty weekend here in South Florida cancelled a long weekend cruise, it had better be soon!

Wednesday, November 3, 2021

Cockpit Table Storage Solution

 Making a storage for our Cockpit Table

The Cockpit table, affectionately called 'The Toe Buster' was refurbished a while ago, turned out pretty good but it won't last in the Florida Sun so we stow it below decks. Not having a set location for the folded table, it tends to get stuffed with all of the other boat gear in the Aft Berth and then is has to be moved around in order to get to the 'other stuff' - we needed an easy to use storage solution.

With a couple of webbing straps secured to the bulkhead just aft of the engine access door in the Aft Berth.  The TAble is not at all in the way, a good solid fixture position.

Those holes in the bulkhead were from some previous fitting that was removed before we purchased the boat.

I'll make another webbing strap that will hold the table in the folded condition when we move it to the Cockpit, that will make it much easier to move it up to the Cockpit or back down to it's new storage location.

An easy mod and already proving to be worth the small effort.

To Do: Make a 3rd webbing strap to easy moving the table around. Fill those old fixture holes in the bulkhead.

Looking forward to getting the boat out on the water.

See you there.