Panbo

Category: Electrical & Engines

USB charging on a 12v boat, fie on Apple?

Oct 21, 2014

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It was easy to gather a slew of devices currently on board Gizmo that hunger for a USB power supply at least occasionally. Heck, when the Verizon Android Galaxy phone is providing an LTE WiFi hotspot and also streaming Bluetooth audio to the Fusion IP700 stereo as it is now -- I'm online while listening to a Maine radio station -- it needs to be charged almost constantly. The hard-working phone is also why I keep those two USB charged/charging batteries topped up for shore trips (and, yes, they do make great press event swag, thank you Simrad and FLIR). The Phonak hearing aid accessory needs nightly charging and while the DeLorme InReach Explorer in the background can go for days doing satellite tracking and a few messages, I prefer to keep it plugged in so my Share Map stays complete. In short, I need multiple 12v USB power sources to keep this crew happy and thus this entry will cover several types I've tested. There are a lot of cables involved too, but it's nice that all the gadgets pictured use a standard USB mini or micro size power/data plug, with one very significant exception...

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Appreciating fuel management, wanting more

Sep 18, 2014

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Gizmo is fenders down, awning up, in bustling Baltimore Harbor, and I have tales to tell. This old powerboat sails! That's no surprise given her windage, but now I have precise data about how much wind (and current) can help her along, thanks to a fuel management system. In this photo, for instance, we were making around 10 knots over the ground at 1,350 RPM but still getting over three miles to a gallon, thanks to a stiff easterly wind pushing us down Long Island Sound. That's a wake-pulling, inefficient RPM when running on flat summer water in Maine, but is much easier on crew and autopilot when in seas like these. While I'm usually willing to spend more fuel money to shoulder through conditions like this, I was pleased to learn that the dollar difference wasn't great...

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The DIY lithium battery bank; Bob Ebaugh has 330 cycles so far

Aug 1, 2014

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Bob and Elaine Ebaugh did it, leaving Florida in April, 2011, on their DeFever 44 Mar Azul and spending more than two years cruising a big Caribbean loop. Their blog, Mar Azul Adventures, is a good read, but you might miss the fact that during the cruise Bob managed to research, assemble, test and install a 1,200 amp hour do-it-yourself lithium iron phosphate (LiFePO4) battery bank to replace the 12 golf cart batteries they'd worn out. He also wrote a thorough white paper about why he chose DIY lithium and how he put the system together...

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Gizmo 2014, glass bridge shakedown cruising #1

Jun 30, 2014

Gizmo_2014_fly_bridge_cPanbo.jpgRedoing almost all of Gizmo's electronics has taken longer than I would have guessed last fall, when it seemed like a good idea to rip everything off the boat. And sadly, I'm not done yet. But the hoped-for glass bridge theme is revealing itself and I like it a lot. But then again, new equipment and even just re-installed old gear also means fresh opportunities for things not to work together correctly. In this entry I'll go over much of Gizmo's test setup for the next year and a half -- though by design there's room for more -- and also note a couple of features that have worked well and not so well during recent shakedown cruises...

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Smartgauge battery monitor, RC proclaims "paradigm shift"!

Apr 23, 2014

Smartgauge_testing_courtesy_Compass_Marine.jpgIf you like sailing with some electronics running, or just anchoring without a generator, you're probably very interested in the State of Charge (SoC) of your battery banks. Voltmeters, however, only hint at what's going on, and true battery monitors require careful calibration and the installation of shunts, but still tend to get out of whack over time. Well, darned if the great RC Collins of Compass Marine didn't go to extraordinary lengths to prove that the Smartgauge -- a little known product that's been around for almost a decade -- can somehow accurately measure SoC without calibration and without a shunt, and yet still get even more accurate over time. Apparently when it shows your Charge at 92%, as above, your battery bank really is at 92% capacity...

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NMEA 2000 color instrument power testing, looks good

Apr 21, 2014

Raymarine_i70_power_testing_cPanbo.jpgWhen Garmin recently introduced GNX20/21 displays, it led to questions about the power needs of similar but all-color NMEA 2000 instruments. And that led me to finally make up a special N2K cable that I can use with my trusty Power Analyzer Pro to measure the 12 volt current flow to an individual N2K-powered device. So what you're seeing above is that a Raymarine i70 working with live data at 100% brightness level is using 0.13 amps. That's not much by most standards, but dropping down a hair to 90% brightness reduced the power draw 20%...

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Miami 2014, glass bridge everywhere

Feb 18, 2014

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The Garmin and Volvo Penta Glass Cockpit won a lot of awards and shook up the competitors. I think it's why Raymarine rolled out its nifty-seeming ECI-100 so quickly, and I suspect it motivated Mercury Marine to put together the clean "glass dash" above. The Simrad NSO evo2 driving those two MO19-T monitors is not only doing the boat's CZone switching -- even able to activate the four outboards -- but its Mercury Vessel View app seemed a terrific interface to all those engines...

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Victron Color Control GX, more than a power display

Jan 16, 2014

Victron_color_control_GX_in_action.jpgThe photo could be sharper, but I like it for two reasons. First, it's confirmation that an ambitious product, which doesn't even have a manual yet, actually works in the field. Second, it's doing interesting work on an intriguing new vessel that has deep Panbot roots. You'll learn much more about the boat on February 4th when we celebrate Panbo's 10th birthday, but today, please say hello to the Victron Color Control GX...

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Maretron N2KView: prices slashed, architecture improved, and BNWAS

Jan 13, 2014

FPB-78_w_N2KView_courtesy_Dashew_Offshore.jpgI find Steve Dashew's latest FPB 78 long-range powerboat design so intriguing that I won't link to it until the end of this entry for fear of losing you!  The relevant detail in the rendering above is Steve's plan to occasionally use that giant 65-inch 4K resolution TV monitor so he can still see his radar and Maretron N2KView monitoring info as he moves about the vessel's giant main cabin while underway. I got to spend time with the Dashews on their original FPB Windhorse, and it's one heck of an equipment endorsement to be chosen for the next one. I also know that Steve's expert evaluation of Maretron's hardware and software systems came before the major and excellent-sounding N2KView product changes I'm about to outline...

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Maretron FFM100 fuel flow monitor test (part 1), as good as it gets?

Jan 9, 2014

Maretron_fuel_flow_install_cPanbo.jpgWhen I first wrote about Maretron's FFM100 fuel flow monitor, I was enthused about both its advanced sensor technology and the possibilities of a system designed from the ground up for NMEA 2000. Now that I've installed the system on Gizmo and tested it a bit underway (before the weather closed in), I'm even more impressed. But I have also learned how difficult it can be to accurately measure how much fuel a diesel actually uses in real time... 

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