Panbo

Blue Sea VSM 422, economy monitoring

... written for Panbo by Ben Ellison and posted on Feb 4, 2009

Blue_Seas_VM1800

OK, it's not NMEA 2000, not color, and not touchscreen--kinda homely really--but I'm liking the new Blue Sea DC/AC/tank/bilge monitor. Actually I'm a long-time Blue Sea fan; my experience with their electrical products is that they're well designed, and well made for the money, and that the various collaterals--brochures, manuals, and Web site--are all nicely done and highly informative. The same seems true of the company's first venture from electrical to electronic...

For instance, check out the VSM 422 brochure PDF and you'll find a detailed comparison of this four-in-one monitor with the familiar dedicated systems from Xantrex, BEP, Cruz Pro, BSS, Hart, and Celectron, comparing not just features but street price. (I really like it when companies are public with their competitive claims, as opposed to whispering them in boat show booths; for one thing, it gives the competitors a chance to call them on false claims, which any of the above companies are welcome to do here.)
   If you also read the VSM 422 manual PDF, you'll find that Blue Sea has incorporated a lot of monitoring subtleties, like the ability to fire off a bilge pump alarm based on minutes of run time per hour or cycles per day. Or three types of tank configuration and compatibility with not only standard level sensors but also the interesting and relatively inexpensive SSI ultrasonic Fluid-trace that Blue Sea distributes. West Marine sells both products, and will be showing them off at a press conference in Miami next week. The VSM 422 is not for big boats--limited as it is to one bilge pump, two batteries, two tanks, and either a third battery or tank--but it looks like it could improve system awareness on, and neaten up, a lot of boats I've been on.

Blue_Seas_VM_screen

Comments

Looks like another great Blue Seas product.

What I don't like about these data displays is they don't seem to have an auto scroll function which cycles through user set sequence.

Why do you have to go through the button pushing when you can have the display scan through all the values.

With separate instruments I can see my batt state, and my tank levels in a glance. I would give up real estate to see them sequentially on a single device. Am I missing something?

I have several B&G multi function displays which also can display all sorts of data, but I need to go to the device and press some buttons. How handy it would be to scroll through the data I want to see automatically.

I wouldn't buy this device if it lacks an auto scroll feature. Nice try.

Posted by: SanderO at February 4, 2009 10:16 PM | Reply

Ben,

Thanks... I still haven't finished installing the Nauticast B and the Vespers AISMate and now you've got me coveting one of these. This is very cool and I want one! My project list is getting too long!

Dan

Posted by: Dan Gingras (Captdang) at February 5, 2009 8:26 AM | Reply

Note that this unit fits nicely into the new BlueSea 360 panels as well. Someone looking to upgrade their electrical system with a new panel will find this a very elegant solution with the monitor built right into the panel. My old Link monitor died awhile ago and I have been waiting for 6 months for BlueSea to finally release this unit, a much more capable monitor.

Posted by: Russell at February 5, 2009 8:31 AM | Reply

Thanks for the reminder, Russell. The 360 modular panel design looks neat and I meant to mention it in the entry:

http://bluesea.com/category/40

Posted by: Ben at February 5, 2009 9:00 AM | Reply

Great find, very impressive, especially I like that you don't need to rewire the bilge pump, just run a sense wire, which for my Beneteau could be the bilge indicator light on my DC panel.

Also like that you get measurements in increments rather than just 1/3, 2/3, full like I have now.

This would be a perfect replacement for my 4 tank sensor as it is almost the same size display ... but darn, this can only monitor 3 tanks, or if I want to use the bilge sensor, only 2. (I have two fresh water tanks and two holding tanks.)

Blue Sea ... how about offering a version that I could optionally forego the battery monitoring, for having monitoring of 4 tanks and a bilge?

Also would be neat ... if you could make it touch screen and then small enough to take the place of these silly DC voltage meters in our boat DC panels.

Posted by: Dan Corcoran (b393capt) at February 5, 2009 9:17 AM | Reply

I'm anxious to install one and have rarely been disappointed by a Blue Sea product.

Posted by: Jay Sellers at February 5, 2009 2:32 PM | Reply

We just received this VSM-422 from BlueSea yesterday... will be installed in clients boat in to the new 360 aux. 12v panel we installed. This is what our client picked from seeing it at IBEX this year... took till now to get it, we must have the very first batch as it does not even come with the mounting panel to mount it in the 360 panel... We liked the 360 panel and this system monitor will do niclely. This boat has two fresh water tanks, two holding tanks and two fuel tanks...Fuel will be seen via NMEA 2000 on the new Garmin GMi-10/s, water and holding tanks will be seen on the VSM-422 via 183. To do this with the limitations of the the number of tanks we put a (A/B) swtich in for the holding tanks...This way all water tanks can be seen on the 422. We also put the Maretron WSO100 - NMEA 2000 Ultrasonic Wind / Weather Station on and wow it really looks good and gives lots of info on the GMi-10, along with the Airmar NMEA 2000 depth/speed/temp transducer which also looks very good.

Posted by: Jeffrey at February 5, 2009 6:36 PM | Reply

Am I the only one who wants to see auto scrolling of user selected data on multi function displays?

Posted by: Anonymous at February 6, 2009 5:51 AM | Reply

This looks pretty cool ... I wish it output atleast NMEA0183, let alone N2K, like the VAH110 does, but it does a lot more than the VAH110.

Also, sometimes I wonder why DC shunts are chosen relatively small ... it would be cool if you could choose any 50 microVolt shunt say from 100 to 1200 amps. 500 amps is large, but I can see cases in which Inverters, electric winches, and other loads are running nearing or exceeding 500 amps. I wouldn't want to push the shunt limit, somehow hurting it enough to loose my entire DC system (since it is placed between the battery negative and the return). With the little difference in cost in shunts, why not use a considerably over designed one.

Posted by: Matt Sunderland at February 6, 2009 9:54 AM | Reply

Matt, Note the VSM 422 does have a three wire "communications" connection "reserved for future use". I'll try to ask about it in Miami.

Posted by: Ben at February 6, 2009 10:37 AM | Reply

Thanks Ben, I look forward to hearing back!

PS: If the new rate and great items that have been posted in the last week or two are any indication of the future of the New Panbo, I'm exstatic. As pretty much only a "SAIL" reader, I was a little bumbed, but this has lifted my spirits.

PPS: In your post of your mother passing, you said your wife was 5 months pregenant in march of 78, well my mom was only 3 months, with me, her first born, so I thought that was cool!

Posted by: Matt Sunderland at February 6, 2009 5:32 PM | Reply

Cool news direct from the president of Blue Sea: the VMS is designed to work with a NMEA 2000 interface box that is in development. They are also working on an 8 tank fluid level only model.

Posted by: Ben at February 12, 2009 7:00 PM | Reply

Well I am glad they have an 8 tank fluid unit coming (I have 4 tanks, or 5 if you include fuel), it would be ideal if rather than a fluid level only model, it was a fluid level and bilge monitoring only model .. e.g. just drop out the battery monitoring to pickup additional tank monitors. Then they have something that works for bigger boats that already have battery monitors (I am sure there is no shortage of big boats with tank monitors that could use replacement).

Posted by: Dan Corcoran (b393capt) at February 13, 2009 11:54 AM | Reply

It's not autoscrolling, but the VSM 422 has a "system summary" screen that's fully user-configurable - you can put whatever five parameters you want on that screen so you don't have to keep flipping through the other screens.

Posted by: Anonymous at March 6, 2009 2:27 PM | Reply

Has anyone installed this and have experience with it?

I assume the VSM 422 uses Peukert's equation along with the temp sensor to calculate Amp Hours remaining but can't find any documentation on it. Does anyone know how it's done for sure?

Thanks.

Posted by: Matt Butcher at April 6, 2010 9:27 PM | Reply

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