Engine planning; solar controller; chartplotter; inflatable; ascender; LED anchor/tri lights

Had a flurry of boat activity Thursday and Friday last week, which didn’t carry over into the weekend despite my original intentions.  Still, I got a lot done.

Thursday I met with yet another mechanic to talk about a repower.  I mainly just showed them the situation, convinced them a Yanmar wouldn’t fit (they deal in Yanmars) and had them go over the measurements for the Beta 38 and see what they thought.  Consensus was that it’ll fit with room to spare, although custom mounts will definitely be necessary to avoid rebuilding the stringers.  They had some questions about the prop and shaft that I couldn’t answer — I really need to go for a swim with a measuring tape to figure a few things out.  They seem to think it’ll probably be a lot cheaper for me to do the repower in Langkawi or Phuket, but I asked them to give me a quote anyway.  Not really expecting them to actually get back to me — that seems to be how things work here (they come; check out the job; say they’ll give me a quote but instead don’t bother since either they don’t think it’s lucrative enough, or don’t think I’ll accept anyway, or don’t feel like doing it, or whatever).  Still, I got a few good pieces of information out of them.  They seemed to think the current engine will be okay to get to Langkawi if I just tighten down the mounts, and I don’t need to worry too much about alignment for a few-day trip.  (I’m not sure if I agree with that, so I’ll ask for more opinions.)  JP from AFM in Langkawi is returning to Singapore this week and I’ll have him take another look.  Right now I think AFM is the front runner for the job, if only because he’s pretty much the only one who’s actually gotten back to me.

I wired my new MPPT controller between the (old) solar panels and the batteries, and mounted it on a bulkhead back near all the electrical stuff.  It was an exceedingly easy job; I do still need to go pick up some higher gauge wire for one of the small runs, as I didn’t have any aboard.

I wasted a lot of time trying to copy GPS trails from my HDS-8m chartplotter onto an SD card I bought just for that purpose, failing miserably because the chartplotter crashed consistently whenever I tried to export GPX data — but not without working at it for 5-7 mins each time first.  Not very happy with Lowrance/Navico’s software.  I upgraded the unit to the latest firmware, which didn’t solve the issue.  Put in a support request to Lowrance.  I’m pretty sure they make getting support as difficult as possible, and if I wasn’t a web ninja I probably wouldn’t have figured out how to submit the request.  I don’t expect a response from them so I’ll probably end up having to stay up late and call them.  Lowrance: not impressive.

I did successfully order an inflatable, finally.  I went with a Silver Marine Nemo 275AD, which is definitely not a super fancy top of the line model, but the price was really superb, and therefore I won’t mind beating it up pretty badly over the next couple years.  It does seem quite durable, and it has an air deck which was highly recommended to me by several parties.  It’s PVC, not Hypalon, which contributes a lot to the cost savings.  Should be fine as long as I don’t leave it baking out in the tropical sun, which I’m not planning to.  It probably won’t arrive for a month or two though.

I was up and down the mast a few times.  I used my new ascender as a safety device while ascending via the mast steps.  It worked like a charm, and coupled with a locking carabiner to clip in ascending the mast is now much less annoying.  I do think I may add a second ascender for extra safety, even though it’ll be a bit more cumbersome.

Friday I spent most of the day working on converting the masthead anchor and tricolor lights to LED.  The old lights were incandescent and gobbled up lots of power.  In particular, the anchor light used ~2A, which isn’t so great when you need to leave it on all night long.  Here are the old lights after I removed the lenses at the masthead:

I replaced the anchor light (the bottom one) with an Owl pure white light, and the tricolor light with a Masina Malosi Vevela warm white light, both from Bebi Electronics in Fiji.  The warm white tricolor light puts out light that is almost the same as an incandescent bulb, which is necessary for the green lens to meet the COLREG spec.  As an aside, I can’t say enough good stuff about Bebi Electronics: they were super friendly and personable, efficient, and even sent me a postcard from Fiji along with the lights.  I will probably convert the rest of my running lights to use their LEDs, and may even replace some of my cabin lighting with theirs, because I’m very impressed by the quality.

Here for the fun of it are a few in-progress photos of the conversion.  I managed to get up the mast; remove the housing; rip it apart; line up and mount the LED lights; glue everything together; route and solder the wires; test; and replace the unit at the masthead all in a few hours.  Incidentally, the housing was from a company called “Lucas” which I can’t seem to find anywhere.

First, after ripping off the old incandescent bulbs and fittings, I drilled some holes in the upper mount of the housing.  I zip-tied the tri bulb in place and screwed in the PVC spacer that came with it below.  As it turns out I needed the spacer to line up the anchor light properly, but didn’t need it for the tri light.  I attached the anchor light to the spacer with some zip ties and routed all the wiring for both lights through one of the Owl’s cooling holes:

Then I glued everything in place with some 3M 4000UV, which is what I had lying around, and held everything snug with the zip ties.  Sealant is messy:

Once the sealant was dry I routed the wires.  Both lights share a common ground: I soldered them to the base of the ground post.  I soldered the anchor light positive to the old + contact for the incandescent bulb, and soldered the tricolor positive to the positive post.  Had to brush away some dirt from the solder sites to get everything to stick.  There were no nice wire leads to solder everything to so it looks ugly, but it works fine.  I covered all the soldered connections with a nice helping of petroleum jelly to protect from corrosion.  Then I plugged everything in:

I also put the lenses on to see how it looked:

I remounted everything at the masthead and plugged the power back in, and then tested the lights at dusk.  They are wonderfully bright and use almost no power.  I only had them on for a few minutes, but already got a compliment from a passerby on the dock.  Can’t wait to convert the rest of my running lights.


Filed under electrical, electronics, mechanical, photos, planning, shopping

2 Responses to Engine planning; solar controller; chartplotter; inflatable; ascender; LED anchor/tri lights

  1. Doug

    Why’d you go with a white LEDs + filters instead of green/red LEDs and clear glass?

    My guess would be that the one you bought is not a marine specific led, and hence not insanely expensive, where a proper tri-color led would only be bought by mariners, and would likely cost 10x what you got yours for. And the efficiency is probably good enough compared to incandescent. Still, curious if you looked at proper tri-color led lights.

    • Kris

      Guess I didn’t explain it too well, but the lights I bought are specifically meant to replace 12V incandescent bulbs in an existing fitting. So, the lenses and the housing are all the same as for the old bulbs, but I just ripped out the bulbs and mounted/wired in the LEDs. Check out the Bebi Electronics site. The ones I used are specifically anchor/tri lights, watertight and otherwise marinized, and they have a bunch of others too, but yes, vastly less expensive because they’re not from Aqua Signal and don’t include any housing. In general pretty great if you’re just after power savings and brighter lights, but happy with the existing housings.

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