More electrical work; tank senders; chartplotter

This weekend also ended up dedicated to the new electrical system.  Last weekend was the hard slog of wiring all the individual loads back to terminal strips and bus bars.  This weekend was all about the heavy duty core wiring (in the electrical cabinet itself), hooking up some of the heavy duty loads, and just making sure everything was together and working in a more or less permanent fashion.

Thursday I spent the morning visiting a marine electronics vendor (more later), and then heading out to Best Electrical to pick up a couple parts and borrow a huge crimping tool for the weekend.  Then later I wandered around Sim Lim Tower and Jalan Besar a bit looking for various parts.  After quite an extensive easter egg hunt I finally found a shop that sells low gauge wire, and I bought 5m of 4AWG wire for the weekend.  For future reference, Lian Electrical Trading at 29 Kelantan Rd #01-113 has lots of good wiring stuff and much better prices than most places in Sim Lim Tower.  I got a lot of incredulous looks all over the place asking for low gauge wire.

Friday I wired up the battery charger but ended up unable to finish the job when I dropped a tiny AC terminal screw into the bowels of the boat and couldn’t find it after a half hour of looking with Doug’s help.  It’s funny where your time goes.  I also wired up the new switches, which have some really huge and inconvenient M10 sized posts, and put a 450A shunt inline in the positive wire between the switch and the battery.  Here are the new switches:

I like having the separate house and start switches with a third emergency parallel switch.  It eliminates most of the problem of forgetting to switch off the start batteries when not using the engine, and keeps them isolated and charged.  It’s also very clear when you’re using the house batteries to help start the engine: only when the emergency parallel switch is on.

Saturday morning I was back at Jalan Besar.  I picked up some spare pieces of wood to make some mini sawhorses for cutting wood and polycarbonate stuff on the dock, although in the end I didn’t get around to doing any of that this weekend.  I also found a screw store that happened to have replacements for the screw I lost from the charger: Poey Huat Hardware at 31 Kelantan Lane #01-20.  Picked up some extra 35-8, 25-8, 35-10, and 16-10 lugs as well.

Then I finished wiring the battery charger, which worked right away.  It went through a quick equalization stage for half an hour or so, and then into the float stage, which is about what I expected since the batteries are new and have been charging via the solar panels all week.  I noted that the echo~charge is also working perfectly.  I’m really happy to have the battery charger, as it means I can now use as much power as I want at the dock and not worry about draining the batteries.  Essentially that means I can now use my fridge.  Maybe I’ll actually start cooking again!  That is, once the huge mess from all these projects is cleaned up.  The battery charger also acts as a power supply: when I turn off the house battery switch, all the DC loads still get powered by the charger.  I forgot about that once and it led to quite a display of sparks when I turned off the house switch, left the charger on, and let the negative wire drop onto the positive post.  Won’t make that mistake again.

I also installed the big new 100A breaker for the anchor winch, in the back of the cabinet.  Here’s a fuzzy photo:

To finish up the day I wired up most of the old ignition and alternator stuff, including the external regulator which I still don’t fully understand.  Because the M10 posts on the battery switches are so huge, I ended up installing a terminal strip for the ignition and alternator positive wires because I couldn’t find M10 terminals small enough for them.

Sunday morning Doug double-checked all my ignition and alternator wiring and we started up the engine.  No problems, and the alternator appears to be working quite well.  Specifically, now that the old battery isolating diode is gone and the alternator is hooked directly to the house positive, the old 1V drop is gone and the alternator is charging at a full 14.3-14.4V.  Doug did some reading about some more correctness tests that we’ll do to make sure everything is proper.

I was hoping to get the new DC systems monitor, a little digital display for battery status, fuel/water tank status, etc installed, but instead I just ended up cutting a hole in the bulkhead to mount it.  I need to go pick up some higher-gauge wire before hooking it all up.  We did however test it out with temporary wire runs and it seems to mostly work.  The readings from the shunt seemed incorrect so it may need some calibration.  Aside from the DCSM and maybe screwing some more cable supports in place in the electrical cabinet, the new electrical system is essentially done.

I had been planning to cut some access ports in the ply tops of the settees for access to the centers of the water tanks, along with some covers for those.  The plan was to have the guys from Swift Marine come and bore holes, tap threads, and install tank senders in those later this week.  I picked up two senders from Neo Thursday.  However, after some discussion with Doug we decided to delay that job for now because there are too many other things to wrap up before our trip on Dec 1.

Also on Friday, I bought a chartplotter.  I ended up picking up a Lowrance HDS-8m for quite a good price from Peter at JJTango, along with Navionics Gold charts for SE Asia.  Other parts of the world have Navionics Platinum or Platinum+ charts (which I guess are a lot more detailed?) but Gold is the best you can get for SE Asia.  The charts were pretty expensive, but I’m just glad to finally have something pretty decent.  I still think I’ll probably pick up a (high-ish level) paper chart or two as backup before our trip, having learned the benefits of paper charts on the trip from Langkawi.  The chartplotter itself is nice (although not quite as fancy as Lee’s Simrad NSE-8).  We did some temporary wiring for it; I haven’t figured out where or how to mount it quite yet so for our trip we’ll probably just have it loose in the cockpit, with the wire stretched back through the companionway.


Filed under electrical, electronics, maintenance, photos, shopping

4 Responses to More electrical work; tank senders; chartplotter

  1. Charlene

    Wah! My bf is pretty awesome!

    When can we sail? When when when?

  2. Lee

    I’ve noticed that it seems like a lot of people in the know go with the lowrance system. I never really checked it out myself, but it does seem like it should be pretty good. Also about broadband radar, it was interesting that the lowrance cost more, it is just the same radar, and I think that I remember from the installation manual that the lowrance could be hooked directly to the chartplotter without an interface box, while mine required an interface box. I would look at the broadband radar more discriminatingly now though, I don’t get good range with it at all if it is anything but flat water (no more than 4 nm). I don’t know if there would be an improvement though with a regular radar.

    • Kris

      The Lowrance items are a little subtle. There’s HDS-8m, which I got, and then normal HDS-8, which has built in support for broadband sonar and therefore costs quite a bit more. As far as I can tell I still need an interface box for the radar. (The USA model of the same unit says it doesn’t need the interface box though. But that’s also the unit that’s geofenced to only work in the Americas.) The main differences with the NSE-8 from my perspective are fewer inputs/outputs (e.g., I have no DVI out and no USB; data transfer is only to SD cards), and the CPU is apparently slower. Doug hooked up the AIS to the chartplotter today and said it slows way down in rendering. Of course that’s in the middle of one of the busiest ports in the world, probably not so bad away from Singapore. Aside from that it’s still a Navico unit and I wouldn’t be surprised if it’s running mostly the same software.

      The guy I bought the item from also mentioned that the broadband radar is scheduled for a reasonably big price drop soon (next year’s models are coming out, I guess). I guess I should look at more traditional ones too though.

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