Octoplex, using a computer to turn on a light bulb?

... written for Panbo by Ben Ellison and posted on Jan 27, 2006

OctoPlex dual NMEA 2000 lines

If you checked out Octoplex yesterday you know it can do all sorts of fancy power management and monitoring tasks, but the more cynical might note that there’s a lot of electronic complications between you the boater and relatively simple tasks like turning on the lights! It’s smart then that Moritz Aerospace is pretty paranoid about what could go wrong with a system like this. Hence:

* OctoPlex uses not one but two of the DeviceNet physical networks specified by NMEA 2000 (shown above, and bigger here). This is rugged, heavily shielded cabling, and this also means that there are two CAN processors in each network node. OctoPlex uses the primary network all for itself and the secondary one to connect to other NMEA 2000 systems, but if the primary fails, the secondary can fill in. Both networks are constantly monitored.

* Even if both network lines completely fail, all active AC and DC breakers stay on and continue to protect their circuits. The DC breakers actually have redundant back up power supplies. The AC breakers, by the way, are actually manual ones actuated by solenoids because it’s not yet practical to do AC with a MOSFET.

* If a DC electronic circuit breaker should fail in the ‘on’ position—that is, ZAP, be delivering current after you turned it off—the system will know it and blow a secondary fuse.

That’s a lot of built-in protection and part of why OctoPlex is an expensive system meant for big boats like the Vikings and Hargraves it will first be seen on. But, geez, look at how conventional boat wiring is evolving, seen below on a medium size Hinckley. That’s some beautiful work, bigger here , but imagine the amount of labor involved. Imagine how hard it is to modify or trouble shoot! We are ready for an entirely new way to manage boat electricity, aren’t we?

Too many wires 



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