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#1 Steam Flyer

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Posted 05 June 2012 - 02:59 AM

Some time ago...last year? year before? I read a magazine article about a very different plan for marine DC power systems.

Basically, the system consisted of 2 heavy gauge wires running around the boat, appropriately channeled & loomed & mounted of course, one 12VDC positive and one ground. Everything that used 12VDC power tapped off these two with a digitally controlled switch. IIRC the data was carried by a 3rd wire but it may have been a multi.

I'm looking for some references to this kind of system; better yet does anybody have a boat wired like this?

Thanks in advance and

FB- Doug

#2 VALIS

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Posted 05 June 2012 - 04:06 AM

I remembered Panbo and Nigel Calder writing about this a few years ago, so I did some searching. Here are some examples:

MasterBus, Cap12, PowerPlex, CZone

Some (all?) of these seem to be using NMEA 2K for the control channel, and it looks like it might be an appropriate solution for a mega-yacht or something. I don't know how well these products have been accepted in the market, or if there has been any useful standardization.

#3 mo fuzz

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Posted 05 June 2012 - 04:25 AM

Systems communication are N2K or some variant of CAN bus.

This fellow installed the Mastervolt system

http://theincredible...abel/Electrical

#4 Innocent Bystander

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Posted 05 June 2012 - 11:20 AM

IIRC, the common feed, BUS fed taps are all proprietary formats. Concept is great. Run a power backbone and tap it for various uses. Connect a digital controller to talk to all the users. Reconfigurable, adaptable, and no need to run every load from the breaker panel and back. In use, you are married to one supplier and support is based on that supplier surviving with that concept for a long time. All you loads need to be "smart" either from a decoder/power supply at the load or built in.

We've adopted CANBUS or CANBUS style layouts in a lot of equipment but I'm still leery of it on a boat I'll keep for a decade or more.

#5 kent_island_sailor

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Posted 05 June 2012 - 11:41 AM

What he said. This seems to still be a flavor of the month thing and not something I would want to be fixing outside of internet and overnight shipping range.

#6 kdh

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Posted 05 June 2012 - 11:55 AM

The communication networks for the digitally controlled breakers/switches seem to be complicated and involve a single source of customer support. I would want a manual override at the inline switches. Indeed I would consider forgoing the central control altogether and just have simple manual breakers spread around the boat. Same basic benefit of less wire, but with a "sneakernet."

#7 kent_island_sailor

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Posted 05 June 2012 - 12:04 PM

My BMW had a system like this and it could do very odd things. For one example, a screwy Ipod connected to the car sent some bad data down the bus and disabled the air conditioning.

#8 sculpin

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Posted 05 June 2012 - 12:42 PM

The Marine Installers Rant has had a few mentions of distributed power systems, like this one.

I like the concept, but don't like the idea of being tied into a particular manufacturer's system, with no guarantees of future support or parts...

#9 Innocent Bystander

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Posted 05 June 2012 - 01:04 PM

The Marine Installers Rant has had a few mentions of distributed power systems, like this one.

I like the concept, but don't like the idea of being tied into a particular manufacturer's system, with no guarantees of future support or parts...



I thnk the biggest challenge is the desire to move from simple data (Turn on. Turn off. Sent a formatted sentance) to also hooking up complicated systems that drive from a universal bus to a proprietary one. Industry standards are not so standard so manufacturers go proprietary where thay can accomodate additinoal upgrades that they perceive as valuable to their customer base. Ultimately, microporcessor driven systems with drivers and "plug and play" may be the way, but I'm not confident the market pull is there to develop it and electrons and salt water just never seem to be happy together for the long term.

IIRC, ND considered a distributed system but don't know what he has decided to use. Given his penchant for "simple is better", I suspect it may be pretty conventional for simplicity and maintainability.

One alternative to a fully distributed system is multiple load centers in a larger boat. 3 panels (main, forward and aft) can simplify long wiring runs and you can put "panic breakers" to each load center so that you can sut down all panles from one location.

#10 mo fuzz

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Posted 05 June 2012 - 01:32 PM

Most of the systems have an override. Usually some sort of physical switch at the switch box.

Yeah, manufacturers are a concern. Some that tried to make a go of it sorta disappeared with the crash. Like the ED&D E-Plex system. Their system had very cool specs and VERY flexible. ED&D was bought by a number of conglomerates over the years, then disappeared.

Uh, as for being "flavor of the month" this stuff has been around for at least five years (I first started reading about it in 2005). And as CANBUS has been around for at least two decades (chances are, your post-80s car has a LEAST five CANBUS networks), the technology is not exactly "new".

I predict systems like Mastervolt's will be around for a while. Victron is also working on a system. Both are well established companies.

Until N2K is filled out with distributed power PGNs (there is a committee working on it I understand), data protocols will be proprietary (but CANBUS can be hacked!).

The strength of these systems comes from event based electronic switching. Meaning you can control multiple devices to respond to multiple events, and mix and match. If you use it to simply replace a breaker in the main panel, it is a waste (and you are missing the point).

Functional capabilities are almost endless once you think about it.

#11 kdh

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Posted 05 June 2012 - 01:56 PM

One alternative to a fully distributed system is multiple load centers in a larger boat. 3 panels (main, forward and aft) can simplify long wiring runs...

This is really the core idea: put the breakers/switches where the wiring runs don't have to be long. Digital control is unnecessarily complex.

#12 kdh

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Posted 05 June 2012 - 02:00 PM

The strength of these systems comes from event based electronic switching. Meaning you can control multiple devices to respond to multiple events, and mix and match...

This is like the "whole house lighting" concept, which has been embraced only by gadget guys. This would cause me major problems with Mrs K. She wouldn't even adopt my gee whiz ipod-touch-based remote control for the TV.

#13 mo fuzz

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Posted 05 June 2012 - 02:12 PM


The strength of these systems comes from event based electronic switching. Meaning you can control multiple devices to respond to multiple events, and mix and match...

This is like the "whole house lighting" concept, which has been embraced only by gadget guys. This would cause me major problems with Mrs K. She wouldn't even adopt my gee whiz ipod-touch-based remote control for the TV.


Almost every boater I know is a "gadget guy". I think the "gadget guy" demographic in the general population is (and has been) on the rise.

As with anything new, if you are not comfortable with it, then it ain't for you.

Heck, I know people who STILL wont go near a personal computer (it scares them). lol

#14 kent_island_sailor

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Posted 05 June 2012 - 02:18 PM

It will quit being the flavor of the month when I can go to the local marine supply and buy a 20 amp control unit that is compatible with all the other ones because they all use standardized codes and not company proprietary stuff. I did some hacking on the CANBUS system my old BMW used. It was fun having the ipod controlled by the steering wheel buttons and displaying on the factory radio until the setup started sending bad data and causing random malfunctions like no air conditioning today and plenty tomorrow. How fun will it be when the anchor light makes the anchor windlass quit working or vice-versa? For a boat my size I just do not see the payoff at this time.


Most of the systems have an override. Usually some sort of physical switch at the switch box.

Yeah, manufacturers are a concern. Some that tried to make a go of it sorta disappeared with the crash. Like the ED&D E-Plex system. Their system had very cool specs and VERY flexible. ED&D was bought by a number of conglomerates over the years, then disappeared.

Uh, as for being "flavor of the month" this stuff has been around for at least five years (I first started reading about it in 2005). And as CANBUS has been around for at least two decades (chances are, your post-80s car has a LEAST five CANBUS networks), the technology is not exactly "new".

I predict systems like Mastervolt's will be around for a while. Victron is also working on a system. Both are well established companies.

Until N2K is filled out with distributed power PGNs (there is a committee working on it I understand), data protocols will be proprietary (but CANBUS can be hacked!).

The strength of these systems comes from event based electronic switching. Meaning you can control multiple devices to respond to multiple events, and mix and match. If you use it to simply replace a breaker in the main panel, it is a waste (and you are missing the point).

Functional capabilities are almost endless once you think about it.



#15 kdh

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Posted 05 June 2012 - 02:32 PM



The strength of these systems comes from event based electronic switching. Meaning you can control multiple devices to respond to multiple events, and mix and match...

This is like the "whole house lighting" concept, which has been embraced only by gadget guys. This would cause me major problems with Mrs K. She wouldn't even adopt my gee whiz ipod-touch-based remote control for the TV.


Almost every boater I know is a "gadget guy". I think the "gadget guy" demographic in the general population is (and has been) on the rise.

As with anything new, if you are not comfortable with it, then it ain't for you.

Heck, I know people who STILL wont go near a personal computer (it scares them). lol

I still don't even have a speck of NMEA 2000 on my boat. Or a smartphone. Mrs K won't even get caller ID. She's just now getting used to having the answering machine.

#16 mo fuzz

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Posted 05 June 2012 - 02:36 PM

It will quit being the flavor of the month when I can go to the local marine supply and buy a 20 amp control unit that is compatible with all the other ones because they all use standardized codes and not company proprietary stuff.


'Spares Kit'





#17 mo fuzz

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Posted 05 June 2012 - 02:39 PM




The strength of these systems comes from event based electronic switching. Meaning you can control multiple devices to respond to multiple events, and mix and match...

This is like the "whole house lighting" concept, which has been embraced only by gadget guys. This would cause me major problems with Mrs K. She wouldn't even adopt my gee whiz ipod-touch-based remote control for the TV.


Almost every boater I know is a "gadget guy". I think the "gadget guy" demographic in the general population is (and has been) on the rise.

As with anything new, if you are not comfortable with it, then it ain't for you.

Heck, I know people who STILL wont go near a personal computer (it scares them). lol

I still don't even have a speck of NMEA 2000 on my boat. Or a smartphone. Mrs K won't even get caller ID. She's just now getting used to having the answering machine.


Me neither on the N2K. But someday! Cause that means I will be buying a full on modern electronics package! Can't wait.

#18 kdh

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Posted 05 June 2012 - 02:45 PM

Me neither on the N2K. But someday! Cause that means I will be buying a full on modern electronics package! Can't wait.

I kind of feel this way.

I have B&G H1000 and Raymarine everything else. C-series classic vintage. But when I really think about what I would get new that I don't already have I come up empty. The radar-to-display connection would go to ethernet and the Seatalk and Fastnet go NMEA2000, but so what? What could I do that I can't already do?

The displays will probably be faster, but due to display hardware not interconnects, and also would draw more power, and my displays are plenty fast as they are.

#19 Innocent Bystander

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Posted 05 June 2012 - 03:06 PM

I think that IP will eventually supplant industry specific or proprietary data systems communication protocols. Nothing really wrong with CANBUS except in my opinion, it is not all that robust and it's a "wild wild west" as far as how things comunicate. Each system is different and unique. Fine if you replicate 500K times for auto production. Not so great for one offs if each load developer made up his own language.

Boats live in the world where we don't drive enough of the market to earn focused attention.

#20 kimbottles

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Posted 05 June 2012 - 03:10 PM

I would consider forgoing the central control altogether and just have simple manual breakers spread around the boat. Same basic benefit of less wire, but with a "sneakernet."


Yes,thank you KDH, this is what I plan for the Sliver.
Simple, simple, simple.

#21 WHL

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Posted 05 June 2012 - 04:04 PM


One alternative to a fully distributed system is multiple load centers in a larger boat. 3 panels (main, forward and aft) can simplify long wiring runs...

This is really the core idea: put the breakers/switches where the wiring runs don't have to be long. Digital control is unnecessarily complex.


+1. This is the approach in Catari's specs,.. distributed panels for DC and there's no rush yet to decide on any instrument bus yet. At the moment the hi tech DC is a bit of "Plug and Pray" until there's use of common standards and protocols, and in any event there's not a heck of lot of bang for the buck on most mortals' recreational boats. The CZone site is selling a bit of snake oil by showing a lousy example of DC wiring in order to illustrate a simpler scheme they are promoting .

#22 VALIS

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Posted 05 June 2012 - 04:05 PM

I'm quite the gearhead geek, but on my boat I just don't see the need for an intelligent distributed power control bus. Given where my electrical loads are located I really doubt if there would be any savings in the weight of the wire, and only a minor reduction in overall wiring complexity. I'm currently (get it?) quite happy using the breakers on the navstation panels to switch circuits on and off, and I can't think of anything on board that would benefit from automatic control.

So tell me, Mister Distributed Control System Salesman, where are the features and benefits for my boat?

#23 Beau.Vrolyk

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Posted 05 June 2012 - 04:26 PM

Doug,

I have to say I've been quite puzzled by this "high tech" approach to a problem that has a very simple "low tech" solution. The idea of a big ass pair of wires that run 'round the boat with each device pulling power from them is a pretty good one, especially when compared to running a separate pair of wires from the breaker panel to each device. But, think about it for a minute, there's a much easier way to do it.

Imagine you've got the two big wires, the Power Bus (PB), running the length of the boat. Next you want to connect something to the PB someplace along the way, like a reading light. First, you make a connection to the PB, any number of things to use for that, and run the positive to a small in-line fuse (cheap and ubiquitous in auto parts stores) that is appropriately sized for the load. Second, you run the ground and the power wire, after the fuse, to the device - in this case the light. You're done. You would want to have a breaker or fuse on the PB to avoid a fire, and I'd suggest running those two big wires at least a large crescent wrench or winch handle length apart so you can't easily drop something metal between them and cause some serious electrical dumpage.

Of course, this "low tech" solution doesn't allow you to turn on and off the lights in the forward cabin from the aft cabin, or have computer controlled mood lighting. But..... huh??!?!?.... does any boat smaller than 70' long need those features?

I wired a number of boats this way and it works great. Typically, I would have a big pair of wires leading to the electric anchor windlass up on the bow and I'd use them as the PB, they aren't doing anything else 99.9999% of the time, they are already fused (if installed correctly) and if you don't use them for something you're just hauling a massive amount of copper around for nothing.

I'd forget about complex system and use fuses, wires and switches that can all be repaired or replaced in any auto parts store in the world.

BV

EDIT: BTW, if I were to wire a boat for instruments, they'd all be wireless.

#24 kdh

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Posted 05 June 2012 - 06:49 PM

BV, yes, that's what we were describing. Put the switches/breakers near the loads.

I was wondering why no one had piped up with the wireless idea. Knowing you it's mainly to save weight. You also know that wireless will never have the bandwidth and reliability that wired can have.

There is a piece in one of the recent magazines that goes something like: NMEA 2000 is not a panacea--you still have to fart around until it all works, despite the plug-and-play claims/hopes.

#25 VALIS

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Posted 05 June 2012 - 08:04 PM

I was wondering why no one had piped up with the wireless idea. Knowing you it's mainly to save weight. You also know that wireless will never have the bandwidth and reliability that wired can have.

Bandwidth is often not an issue -- at least for transducers and such. Even a slow radio link is usually more than adequate for timesharing multiple transducer outputs. Radar obviously need more bandwidth than a speedo or depthsounder, and will require a fast network.

I do agree that a well-wired network may be more reliable than a wireless one, although wire connectors do have a non-trivial failure rate. Anyway, since in most cases you need to run run power wires, you might as well run some data wires too.

I like the NavNet 3D networking system, where it uses 100 Base-T Ethernet to connect chartplotters, radars, and some other stuff, all connections running through an ethernet switch. It still has the ports for NMEA0183 and N2K, but the fast stuff uses ethernet. I suppose you could use WiFi with this (at least in theory), but you still need power for the big boxes.

#26 kdh

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Posted 05 June 2012 - 10:44 PM

I was wondering why no one had piped up with the wireless idea. Knowing you it's mainly to save weight. You also know that wireless will never have the bandwidth and reliability that wired can have.

Bandwidth is often not an issue -- at least for transducers and such. Even a slow radio link is usually more than adequate for timesharing multiple transducer outputs. Radar obviously need more bandwidth than a speedo or depthsounder, and will require a fast network.

I do agree that a well-wired network may be more reliable than a wireless one, although wire connectors do have a non-trivial failure rate. Anyway, since in most cases you need to run run power wires, you might as well run some data wires too.

I like the NavNet 3D networking system, where it uses 100 Base-T Ethernet to connect chartplotters, radars, and some other stuff, all connections running through an ethernet switch. It still has the ports for NMEA0183 and N2K, but the fast stuff uses ethernet. I suppose you could use WiFi with this (at least in theory), but you still need power for the big boxes.

VALIS, once that ethernet switch goes out nothing is talking to anything, no? I'd at least want my GPS antenna talking to my display. And hopefully the radar talking to a display if it's foggy.

Network robustness is a good argument for wireless if it's point-to-point, actually, though the standard setup is through a common access point, a point of common failure.

I once had my autopilot brain get soaked in salt water and there was that burning electronics smell and a shorted seatalk network so nothing worked. Networks can be inherently fault intolerant.

#27 VALIS

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Posted 06 June 2012 - 01:31 AM

VALIS, once that ethernet switch goes out nothing is talking to anything, no? I'd at least want my GPS antenna talking to my display. And hopefully the radar talking to a display if it's foggy.

You are correct as far as common points of failure go. As it happens, on VALIS one of the GPS units is hard-wired (NMEA0183) to the main chartplotter, and this data is networked to the other plotter. The radar does indeed go through the ethernet switch, although in a pinch I could eliminate the switch and plug the radar cable directly into the chartplotter (which would take a few minutes to do, and would disconnect the second chartplotter).

I've also got an AIS transponder with it's own GPS that runs through a NMEA mux to the chartplotter and navstation computer. This AIS/GPS also runs directly to the computer via an RS232/USB adaptor.

And there are the half-dozen hand-held GPS units we seem to have on board (ditch kit, navstation drawer, crewmember's pockets, etc).

As I see it, there are benefits and drawbacks to having your electronics networked. I can't claim that the system on VALIS is anything but ad-hoc, but I like to think that the redundancies compensate for the points of failure, and the connectedness of the system is generally a useful thing.

If it all goes up in smoke, I do carry a sextant, tables, almanac, chronometer (well, just a watch), a battery-powered SSB receiver, and charts. And a "how-to" guide for the sight reductions, since it's been a long time since I practiced. Most of this crap is on board because I enjoy having it -- I'm not pretending to be an expert navigator.

#28 kdh

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Posted 06 June 2012 - 02:05 AM

VALIS, yours sounds like a well thought out setup.

But no authentic salty old chronometer, but one of those newfangled, "watches?" Next you'll tell us about your offset companionway!

#29 mo fuzz

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Posted 06 June 2012 - 03:53 AM


I would consider forgoing the central control altogether and just have simple manual breakers spread around the boat. Same basic benefit of less wire, but with a "sneakernet."


Yes,thank you KDH, this is what I plan for the Sliver.
Simple, simple, simple.


Why stop there? How about kerosene lamps, wood stoves and manual bilge pumps? Posted Image

#30 Ishmael

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Posted 06 June 2012 - 03:57 AM



I would consider forgoing the central control altogether and just have simple manual breakers spread around the boat. Same basic benefit of less wire, but with a "sneakernet."


Yes,thank you KDH, this is what I plan for the Sliver.
Simple, simple, simple.


Why stop there? How about kerosene lamps, wood stoves and manual bilge pumps? Posted Image


Burning twisted human hair in mastodon fat, burning wood soaked in mastodon fat, and swimming to shore when the water is coming in faster than you can bail with your best skull? :)

#31 Beau.Vrolyk

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Posted 06 June 2012 - 05:26 AM

I was simply stunned at how easy it was to set up the TackTics wireless stuff three years ago. It is still working on the Moore, a boat that we literally hose out the interior of after every regatta. There in nothing dry aboard and all that stuff is still working. Every device is solar powered, battery back up. Everything just keeps working.

Really amazing engineering.

BV

#32 kimbottles

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Posted 06 June 2012 - 02:31 PM

Burning twisted human hair in mastodon fat, burning wood soaked in mastodon fat, and swimming to shore when the water is coming in faster than you can bail with your best skull? :)


That might be carrying the concept a bit too far.

#33 kimbottles

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Posted 06 June 2012 - 02:33 PM



I would consider forgoing the central control altogether and just have simple manual breakers spread around the boat. Same basic benefit of less wire, but with a "sneakernet."


Yes,thank you KDH, this is what I plan for the Sliver.
Simple, simple, simple.


Why stop there? How about kerosene lamps, wood stoves and manual bilge pumps? Posted Image


Yes, to all of that. Already have most of those items stored and waiting to be installed.(Anyone know where I can get a nice used Paul Luke Soapstone Fireplace?)

#34 Diarmuid

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Posted 06 June 2012 - 04:23 PM

Doesn't all this seem like running before walking? The fastest, cheapest, simplest way to solve the thorny BigAssWire vs. ManyHomeRuns conundrum is to do what RE installers have been doing for a decade: increase the bloody system voltage.

Most offgrid DC systems are now 48VDC. Copper simply got too expensive; doubling the voltage lets you use half as much of it. This, in an application where weight and bulk do not matter. Boats would benefit even more.

One of the greatest improvements in automotive history came when we abandoned cranky 6V ignition systems for 12V. Everything suddenly worked better. Let's admit running boats on 12V is stupid & move to 48VDC. Then you could do your distributed-bus systems with wire smaller than 4-aught, OR home-run all circuits with tidy little wire looms, or some balanced combination of the two approaches.

As long as we're stuck with twelve measly volts, there's little room to improve. Trying to apply hi-tech controls gloss to a prehistoric backbone seems like gold-plating your condenser & breaker points.

#35 kent_island_sailor

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Posted 06 June 2012 - 04:42 PM

Boats used to be 32 volts. Why not just go back to that instead of making up a new standard? I can buy 32 volt bulbs at West. 48 volts, not so much.

Airplanes moved to 24 volts way back in the day for same reason.

#36 Diarmuid

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Posted 06 June 2012 - 05:45 PM

Boats used to be 32 volts. Why not just go back to that instead of making up a new standard? I can buy 32 volt bulbs at West. 48 volts, not so much.

Airplanes moved to 24 volts way back in the day for same reason.


That works. It's just an unusual multiple re: batteries, inverters, charge controllers, etc. I've seen a few 36VDC home systems, but mostly people jumped to 24V, then straight to 48V. Don't see much electronics in 32V today. If going to the trouble of switching standards, why not go to the highest, non-lethal voltage that is also a multiple of 2, 4, 6, 8, and 12? Lots more flexibility in battery selection & controllers.

Owners want 12V cuz lots of gadgets run on 12V. Manufacturers build gadgets in 12V because most cars, RVs, and boats run on 12V. Circular stupidity. Time for somebody to force the change, and as long as you are doing that, might as well push it to 48VDC. (Could do 60, I guess, but that's right on the NEC borderline. Or just invert everything to AC, like we do with our house. That has efficiency costs most boats could not support. House, yes. Boat, probably not.)

#37 kent_island_sailor

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Posted 06 June 2012 - 06:20 PM

8 volt batteries are used for 32 volt banks. Most marine battery dealers have them.
IIRC, there is an idea on the horizon to move cars to 36 volts (yet another can't use existing 24 or 32 volt standards :huh: ) and if that ever happens, we'll have plenty of new stuff.

#38 kdh

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Posted 06 June 2012 - 06:25 PM

Once you guys have decided on the voltage I'll start petitioning the industry and gettin' 'r done. You boys just leave it to me.

Maybe I'll start with Bob. He's in the industry.

#39 Diarmuid

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Posted 06 June 2012 - 07:33 PM

8 volt batteries are used for 32 volt banks. Most marine battery dealers have them.
IIRC, there is an idea on the horizon to move cars to 36 volts (yet another can't use existing 24 or 32 volt standards :huh: ) and if that ever happens, we'll have plenty of new stuff.


Yeah, but that means buying your batteries, inverters, charge controllers, light bulbs, etc. from 'marine battery dealers'. Limited and expensive. One reason golf cart batteries are cheap is cuz there are more golf carts than sailboats, and golf course managers get pissy about operating costs.:) We can piggyback on that. As boats become more like houses in their electrical loads and comfort expectations, we ought to look at what RE-powered houses and RVers are doing and pool our demand with theirs. Blue Sky, Midnite, And Xantrex MPPT controllers seem to follow the 12/24/36/48/60/72VDC load progression. I suggest 48 volts only because many US codes consider 60V and up to be 'lethal', and then you enter into the realm of armoring, conduit, etc.

Once you guys have decided on the voltage I'll start petitioning the industry and gettin' 'r done. You boys just leave it to me.

Maybe I'll start with Bob. He's in the industry.


I hear rumors Europe has gone to 24VDC for boats. True? I think most big rigs in America are running 24V, with DC/DC converters for their 12V appliances when needed. What may tip the scales is manufacturers like Jeanneau, Bene, Lagoon, and then Hunter & Catalina telling electronics companies, "We want the navpods to run 48V. Make it so." Builders'd save a mint on copper. Everyone seems to want a power windlass and bow thrusters these days. Wouldn't it be nice to NOT need wires as fat as your wrist to drive them?

NMEA-type routing on a central power bus sounds appealing for those who are into that level of fingertip control. But like damn near everything else electrical, it would be easier and more efficient if we dumped the 1950s romance with 12VDC. Just sayin.' :P

(BTW, my house runs at 24VDC, but only because it was built when 48V solar panels were just coming on line and were thus much more expensive, and when choice of small wind turbines was extremely limited. The least sucky turbine ran only at 24V. Also, my batteries are 2V each. But as an example of the downside, those batteries are connected in series using 2.5"x0.25" copper bar stock, except where welding cable is dictated. The fattest welding cables, doubled up, still get uncomfortably warm under sustained peak draws. That would not happen in a 48VDC system.)

#40 Moonduster

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Posted 06 June 2012 - 08:26 PM

Diarmuid,

You have all the dots, but you haven't drawn the line.

A nominal 12V system actually charges at 14.4v. A nominal 48v system charges at 57.6. Toss 5% into 57.6 and you blow through the magical 60V "lethal" limit. Bottom line is that ABYC and ISO standards, combined with some engineering analysis essentially combine to prohibit nominal 48V systems on yachts.

Then there's the real problem of no market for 36V alternators, regulators, starter motors, appliances, light bulbs, etc. The cost and weight of semi-custom solutions at 36V far outweighs the cost and weight of copper for the 24V implementation even for high-end, high-budget programs.

As a result, most big yachts run at 24V and that's unlikely to change any time soon. The real question is why most small yachts still run at 12V - there's really no rational explanation.

Regarding so-called high-tech DC distribution systems,

Their time seems to have come. At least one V70 is equipped with such a system and most recent big boat builds as well. They don't really make much sense on ~40 foot racer/cruisers and likely never will. The conversation about too much complexity, proprietary designs, fault tolerence and so on is the same conversation that's been had about RDF, Loran, Satnav and GPS. Sure, technology has a bloody leading edge, and there's still those who won't leave the dock with out a sextant, too.

#41 Diarmuid

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Posted 06 June 2012 - 09:12 PM

Diarmuid,

You have all the dots, but you haven't drawn the line.

A nominal 12V system actually charges at 14.4v. A nominal 48v system charges at 57.6. Toss 5% into 57.6 and you blow through the magical 60V "lethal" limit. Bottom line is that ABYC and ISO standards, combined with some engineering analysis essentially combine to prohibit nominal 48V systems on yachts.

Then there's the real problem of no market for 36V alternators, regulators, starter motors, appliances, light bulbs, etc. The cost and weight of semi-custom solutions at 36V far outweighs the cost and weight of copper for the 24V implementation even for high-end, high-budget programs.

As a result, most big yachts run at 24V and that's unlikely to change any time soon. The real question is why most small yachts still run at 12V - there's really no rational explanation.

Regarding so-called high-tech DC distribution systems,

Their time seems to have come. At least one V70 is equipped with such a system and most recent big boat builds as well. They don't really make much sense on ~40 foot racer/cruisers and likely never will. The conversation about too much complexity, proprietary designs, fault tolerence and so on is the same conversation that's been had about RDF, Loran, Satnav and GPS. Sure, technology has a bloody leading edge, and there's still those who won't leave the dock with out a sextant, too.


Thanks, MD. I'm au courant on home DC power systems, but woefully ignorant of ISO and ABYC codes. Still seems like 48VDC could be made to work: residential solar systems run that far over nominal, too, yet the NEC allows 48V systems to be wired to low voltage standards. I'd settle for 24 or 36. Not ideal, but better. As you say, the question is why are we still mucking around with 12V?

#42 kent_island_sailor

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Posted 06 June 2012 - 09:21 PM

The real reason:
Cars use 12 volts and 12 volt starters/alternators/batteries/bulbs/relays/etc. are made by the millions.

#43 kdh

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Posted 06 June 2012 - 10:17 PM

Here's a hypothetical.

I run at 12v now. I have four golf cart batteries. If I wired them in series I'd get 24v. On the producer side I have two 100amp balmars. On the consumer side I have a windlass and a fridge, various pumps, temporarily high draw electric winches in the cockpit. The alternators are in the back of the boat, the windlass in front, and the house bank about 2/3 of the way to the bow, so from there I double back separately to the fridge compressor, pumps, and the winches at the stern.

The low draw stuff, led lights, electronics I could wire to half of the bank with small wire.

The alternators, charger get replaced with something 24v and windlass etc. with 24v, including the winches, if available.

So side of the barn a boat length times 3 is the length of the thick-ass copper. 42' boat. What would 3 times 42' going from 12v to 24v be to the reduction in weight? Is the price of copper based on this significant compared to the price of the boat?

My guess is there's a pretty good case here for sticking to 12v.

#44 kent_island_sailor

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Posted 07 June 2012 - 12:21 AM

It isn't weight (for a cruiser) and not even really cost. Technically you just get to the point that even wire as big around as your wrist isn't really big enough. Voltage sag can be very hard on electtric motors too. So - beyond a certain size boat, heavy load items like windlasses and bow thrusters really need to be at 24 or 32 volts. There is also a safety issue. How do you fuse a line that has 200-300 amps as the INTENDED load? You can have one hell of a malfunction and not blow the fuse. Really at that point only a dead short will do it. My relatives once had a boat wired with 120 volts DC. Way back then houses were still DC and all their home stuff worked on the boat. I once worked on a boat with a 120 volt DC holding plate system and a 120 alternator. Why you ask did they do that? If used in DC mode, the alternator can spin any old RPM just like its 12 volt cousins.

*if anyone is math minded, look up ohm's law and model the heat and voltage drop of added resistance in a connection for a 2 HP motor at 12, 24, and 32 volts. You will quickly see why 6 volt systems died a well deserved death

#45 Diarmuid

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Posted 07 June 2012 - 02:35 AM

It isn't weight (for a cruiser) and not even really cost. Technically you just get to the point that even wire as big around as your wrist isn't really big enough. Voltage sag can be very hard on electtric motors too. So - beyond a certain size boat, heavy load items like windlasses and bow thrusters really need to be at 24 or 32 volts. There is also a safety issue. How do you fuse a line that has 200-300 amps as the INTENDED load? You can have one hell of a malfunction and not blow the fuse. Really at that point only a dead short will do it. My relatives once had a boat wired with 120 volts DC. Way back then houses were still DC and all their home stuff worked on the boat. I once worked on a boat with a 120 volt DC holding plate system and a 120 alternator. Why you ask did they do that? If used in DC mode, the alternator can spin any old RPM just like its 12 volt cousins.

*if anyone is math minded, look up ohm's law and model the heat and voltage drop of added resistance in a connection for a 2 HP motor at 12, 24, and 32 volts. You will quickly see why 6 volt systems died a well deserved death


This! Very well explained. DC power is more prone to voltage drops than AC (see Westinghouse v Edison) at the sort of two and three digit voltages we are talking about. And because the wires are so big, so heavy, so bulky, and so expensive, people tend to run DC circuits closer to their rated capacity than AC circuits. The AC side of my house is all 12g Romex, good for 20 amps (with large safety factor built in). I bet it never sees more than ten. But much of the DC input side is handled on 6 AWG (stranded), rated for ~50A (depending on application) -- and when that wind turbine is screaming, 45-50A is exactly what's coming down the pipe. I'd have chosen a larger wire, but #6 is the biggest that will fit under the lugs. DC systems are typically run closer to capacity.

Then you get feedback issues. Wire heats up, resistance increases, voltage drops, current surges, wire gets hotter, resistance increases, and so on, until either your loads fry, or the wire insulation starts melting. Add corrosion or loose connections -- such as one might see on a boat -- and the problems of low-voltage DC become crippling. The Single Backbone architecture being talked about here becomes more practical and more attractive on today's electric-heavy boats insofar as current and wire gauge may be held down to reasonable levels. Easiest way to cut current by 70-85% is to bump up da voltage. Seriously virtuous cycle. :)

It's funny -- the home power field bitched and moaned and dragged its feet for thirty years about moving off 12V. "We'd lose access to RV stuff. All our plugs are 12V. Nobody makes good electronics for higher voltages. Wahwahwah." Finally, PV arrays and turbines got big enuf, and expectations of comfort got real enuf, that even the Luddites could see 12VDC was not going to cut it. You'd need ten parallel strings of normal batteries and double runs of 000 on the DC side to power my cabinet shop at 12V. So finally, about 10-12 years ago, the offgrid mob dipped a toe into 24V. "Shit -- this is great!" The benefits were all that, and more. Within three additional years, the stampede was on to redouble to 48V. Companies like Trace and Outback obliged. I, somewhat stupidly, built my system in the middle years; it was obsolete about the time I torqued the last wire connector. :(

#46 kent_island_sailor

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Posted 07 June 2012 - 01:40 PM

http://www.ebay.com/...=item2c62bf15da

B)

#47 Diarmuid

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Posted 07 June 2012 - 05:16 PM

http://www.ebay.com/itm/Golf-Cart-30-Amp-DC-to-DC-Power-Converter-/190635251162?hash=item2c62bf15da

B)


Yessir. That is the lever that could break the logjam. :)

#48 mo fuzz

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Posted 08 June 2012 - 01:45 PM

I have been wiring my 42 foot boat for 24volts for a couple months now (taking my time).

24v versions of devices (lights, pumps, etc) are just as readily available as the 12v versions. At worst you may have to special order and wait a couple days.

Haven't seen many 32v or 48v devices.

Having done the wire size calculations, there is considerable copper savings if you plan high load devices like a windlass or bow thruster.

Also, it is not difficult to have things like alternators and start motors re-wound for a different voltage. A good alternator shop can do it for a reasonable price.

I have noticed many of these diesel-electric propulsion systems use 48v. If that ever catches on maybe we'll see more support for high voltage devices. But there are plenty of DC-DC converters out there too.

#49 floating dutchman

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Posted 09 June 2012 - 07:00 AM

O.K. here's the mathes on going from 12V to 24V

example one:

12V supply and a 48 watt light and 0.5 ohms resistance in the wiring

The 48W light will draw 4 amps. At 4 amps and 0.5 ohms we will have 2V volt drop (or 17%).

example two:

24V supply and a 48 watt light and 0.5 ohms resistance in the wiring

the 48W light will draw 2 amps. At 2 amps and 0.5 ohms we will have 1V volt drop (or 4%).

Example three:

24V supply and a 48 watt light and 1 ohm resistance in the wiring (we have halved the wiring size because we have doubled the voltage)

The 48W light will draw 2 amps. At 2 amps and 1 ohm we will have 2V volt drop (or 8%)

Also the % volt drop is a direct relation to power wasted as well.

Makes a strong argument for the 24 volt system aye! Personly I would not want to see 32 or 36 Volt, to odd ball and 48 in a wet environment Is faily safe but, I'd rather get a belt from 24 volt myself. I fucken HATE elecrtic shocks. I work on 24 volt control wiring live often, 24 volt DC is standard for control circuits in Industrial places (Sawmills, fish factories etc etc) I would not do that if they were 48 Volt

My vote is for 24 to become the new standard, For boats up to 40 or 50 feet anyway.

#50 Innocent Bystander

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Posted 09 June 2012 - 10:45 AM

O.K. here's the mathes on going from 12V to 24V

example one:

12V supply and a 48 watt light and 0.5 ohms resistance in the wiring

The 48W light will draw 4 amps. At 4 amps and 0.5 ohms we will have 2V volt drop (or 17%).

example two:

24V supply and a 48 watt light and 0.5 ohms resistance in the wiring

the 48W light will draw 2 amps. At 2 amps and 0.5 ohms we will have 1V volt drop (or 4%).

Example three:

24V supply and a 48 watt light and 1 ohm resistance in the wiring (we have halved the wiring size because we have doubled the voltage)

The 48W light will draw 2 amps. At 2 amps and 1 ohm we will have 2V volt drop (or 8%)

Also the % volt drop is a direct relation to power wasted as well.

Makes a strong argument for the 24 volt system aye! Personly I would not want to see 32 or 36 Volt, to odd ball and 48 in a wet environment Is faily safe but, I'd rather get a belt from 24 volt myself. I fucken HATE elecrtic shocks. I work on 24 volt control wiring live often, 24 volt DC is standard for control circuits in Industrial places (Sawmills, fish factories etc etc) I would not do that if they were 48 Volt

My vote is for 24 to become the new standard, For boats up to 40 or 50 feet anyway.


Just ran a quick test. For a macerator pump, a 12V costs $170 at Worst Marine. A 24V costs $240. Yeah, I know tha market will respond to the demand shift. Unfortunately, boats where this discussion matters make up a very small percentage of the market and probably won't drive a demand shift. The production builders are looking for lower build costs so aren't going to lead the shift. The more custom the boat, the more likely you'll see it with a 24V build.

BJ has a 12/24 system. He might share some of the outfitting challenges.

#51 mo fuzz

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Posted 09 June 2012 - 01:13 PM

Just ran a quick test. For a macerator pump, a 12V costs $170 at Worst Marine. A 24V costs $240. Yeah, I know tha market will respond to the demand shift. Unfortunately, boats where this discussion matters make up a very small percentage of the market and probably won't drive a demand shift. The production builders are looking for lower build costs so aren't going to lead the shift. The more custom the boat, the more likely you'll see it with a 24V build.


Wow. I would call that price gouging by Smeg Marine.

All my 24v pumps have been, at worst, $5 - $10 more over the 12v versions. Even the big heavy duty diaphragm bilge pumps by Jabsco are only $423 (12v) vs $431 (24v), a difference of $8. And that is LIST price.
My parts source: www.fisheriessupply.com

#52 kent_island_sailor

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Posted 09 June 2012 - 02:25 PM

BTW - 32 volts isn't oddball, it is just old. It still is pretty common on older powerboats and some commercial vessels.

#53 Moonduster

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Posted 10 June 2012 - 09:51 AM

Kent,

Ok. I'll bite. You say 32V isn't so oddball. Could you find me a single 32V DC motor of any horsepower in any chandlry catalog published since, say, 1980? How about a light bulb? Or, how about an alternator or starter motor?

32V is like tits on a tractor - sure, it's easy to imagine but it's impossible to find.

#54 Ishmael

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Posted 10 June 2012 - 02:03 PM

Kent,

Ok. I'll bite. You say 32V isn't so oddball. Could you find me a single 32V DC motor of any horsepower in any chandlry catalog published since, say, 1980? How about a light bulb? Or, how about an alternator or starter motor?

32V is like tits on a tractor - sure, it's easy to imagine but it's impossible to find.


From the Smeg Marine catalogue:

Attached File  bulbs.JPG   81.14K   30 downloads

#55 Beau.Vrolyk

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Posted 10 June 2012 - 04:01 PM

Voltage vs Wire Size.

We have been having this discussion about voltage, primarily, because of the ability to reduce wire sizes. Some of us, in a prior boat, have gone to mostly 110v or hydraulics to move the energy from one place to an other with much smaller or lighter systems. Which brings me to my suggestion, I think we're discussion the wrong problem. Because we started with a question about the new bus-based intelligent power control systems, it's easy to get stuck in the backwater of voltage vs wire size.

Isn't the real question: How do I control and transport energy when moving it around my boat? (Or something like that.)

I think many of our opinions on good design and ideas in this field are anchored pretty far in the past. Here's an example. Suppose you want to put a big anchor windlass on the bow of a 40' boat. The typical solutions are:

1. Run big wires that get you the right voltage at the windlass despite the transmission losses in the wires
2. Install a big heavy battery near the windlass to provide the current through short heavy wires and recharge it with small wires that are sized for the recharge rate desired.

The non-typical solutions are:

1. Install a gasoline engine off a weed whacker to generate the electricity in the anchor locker - just kidding ;)
2. Install a light weight battery close to the windlass and reduce the long-haul wire size

With the focus on electric cars, battery technology has changed so much that many of us need to re-think the transportation vs storage question (which is the other way of looking at voltage vs wire size). For example, if ND wanted REALLY cool batteries for CatarÝ, he should have a look at these. The carbon fibre cases on Lithium Ion-phosphate make for some amazing pound/amp-hour ratings. Moreover, because Li batteries have far less series resistance, meaning a much smaller battery can dump current into the windlass motor at the same rate as a much large and heavier Lead-Acid battery, the advantage is multiplied.

Again, we need to focus on the right measure. The key thing for the windlass is to provide the amps that match what the motor wants, at a voltage the motor wants, for the amount of time it takes to get the anchor up. (plus whatever reserve one would want) Looking at it this way, it's pretty clear that today you'd have small wires leading from the main power source to the Li battery in the bow, it would be re-charged at whatever rate you decided was appropriate. (Note: You'd need to current limit the source as the Li battery can pull HARD on the little wires when it's discharged and you might melt them, but that's an easy thing to do.) Then, you'd have pretty large short wires that go from the Li battery to the windlass. The complete system would be MUCH lighter than a multi yard run of double ought copper wire and possibly less expensive too.

There is an interesting example of a home-built 10 amp/hour 12 volt battery here made from tiny Li batteries. It cost $35US to build from parts and weighs 3 pounds. There are commercial versions around that are less expensive and weigh less, but they don't show you what's inside. It's fascinating to see that adding a lot of semiconductor technology, in the charging and voltage control, allows the effective use of very inexpensive storage technology. For a boat, you obviously wouldn't need the 120VAC charging circuit, but could include a much less expensive 12VDC charger.

I would guess that 10 amp/hours of 12v would be more than enough for a small windlass. The technology scales and can provide about as many amp-hours as you need for a tiny increase in weight.

This technique, of locally storing the power for large items on the ends of long wire runs (windless, winches, engine starting, inverter), can upend a lot of the reasons that we keep trying to raise the system voltage; which is primarily weight and cost reduction in wiring.

Beau

#56 kent_island_sailor

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Posted 11 June 2012 - 02:06 AM

32 volt Flojet

32 volt rule pump

Raritan 12 24 or 32 volt



Kent,

Ok. I'll bite. You say 32V isn't so oddball. Could you find me a single 32V DC motor of any horsepower in any chandlry catalog published since, say, 1980? How about a light bulb? Or, how about an alternator or starter motor?

32V is like tits on a tractor - sure, it's easy to imagine but it's impossible to find.



#57 Diarmuid

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Posted 11 June 2012 - 03:13 AM

That's a really interesting approach, Beau. Sort of a distributed power system. You'd probably want all sorts of Shottkys on the charging feeds, to make sure running the coffee pot doesn't drain down your windlass battery. ;)

Could use Torqeedo power packs as plug-n-play storage elements, so you always have a spare or two for the dink. I do like the redundancy your idea provides (tho it comes at the cost of complexity, while raising voltage is pretty much a zero fuss changeover.)

One thing you learn fast when living off the grid is the very different requirements of high-draw/short-duration loads and low-draw/long-duration loads. Everybody figures the 1100W microwave is murder on the batteries. Nope. Cuz it runs maybe six minutes a day, in two minute bursts. It's the bloody fridge & internet modem that kill you. Relatively low draws, but the fridge compressor runs about 8 hours every day. It accounts for 0.8kWh/day, or roughly 1/6 of our total power consumption.

So you'd still need large-capacity batteries with fat, rapid-recharge cables from your RE and alternator to power those sorts of loads. For occasional but heavy loads like bow thrusters or windlasses, I think your remote LiIon packs are a wonderful idea. *files away in refit folder*

:)

#58 mo fuzz

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Posted 11 June 2012 - 04:59 AM

With the focus on electric cars, battery technology has changed so much that many of us need to re-think the transportation vs storage question (which is the other way of looking at voltage vs wire size). For example, if ND wanted REALLY cool batteries for CatarÝ, he should have a look at these. The carbon fibre cases on Lithium Ion-phosphate make for some amazing pound/amp-hour ratings. Moreover, because Li batteries have far less series resistance, meaning a much smaller battery can dump current into the windlass motor at the same rate as a much large and heavier Lead-Acid battery, the advantage is multiplied.


I thought it was Lithium IRON phosphate batteries (LiFePO4) that were supposed to be "the thing" and that popular Lithium-Ion (Cobalt) batteries are yesterday.

#59 Beau.Vrolyk

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Posted 11 June 2012 - 11:26 AM


With the focus on electric cars, battery technology has changed so much that many of us need to re-think the transportation vs storage question (which is the other way of looking at voltage vs wire size). For example, if ND wanted REALLY cool batteries for CatarÝ, he should have a look at these. The carbon fibre cases on Lithium Ion-phosphate make for some amazing pound/amp-hour ratings. Moreover, because Li batteries have far less series resistance, meaning a much smaller battery can dump current into the windlass motor at the same rate as a much large and heavier Lead-Acid battery, the advantage is multiplied.


I thought it was Lithium IRON phosphate batteries (LiFePO4) that were supposed to be "the thing" and that popular Lithium-Ion (Cobalt) batteries are yesterday.


Fuzz,

I couldn't really tell you which variant of Li batteries was hot at the moment. I referenced the Li I batteries I did because of the hand built carbon fibre cases build for race cars I pointed at for ND in his cost-be-damned-I-want-the-best boat he's building - which I'm insanely jealous of. Frankly, for high current flow and low series resistance one really might want to use NiCad; but I know of at least one seriously terrible fire from a short in a NiCad battery stack.

BV

#60 Beau.Vrolyk

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Posted 11 June 2012 - 11:30 AM

...snip...

Could use Torqeedo power packs as plug-n-play storage elements, so you always have a spare or two for the dink. I do like the redundancy your idea provides (tho it comes at the cost of complexity, while raising voltage is pretty much a zero fuss changeover.)

...snip...


That is a GREAT idea. I love the idea that you could have a standard storage element that someone else builds and that could be kept in various places around a larger boat as local power storage. Thanks! I'll keep that in my file of ideas for electrical system.

Yes, diodes are your friend. You certainly wouldn't want to just wire these things together in a giant battery power ring running around the boat. :blink: I probably should have said that someplace. Good catch.

BV

#61 kdh

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Posted 11 June 2012 - 12:21 PM

One thing you learn fast when living off the grid is the very different requirements of high-draw/short-duration loads and low-draw/long-duration loads...It's the bloody fridge...that kill you...the fridge compressor runs about 8 hours every day. It accounts for 0.8kWh/day, or roughly 1/6 of our total power consumption.

So you'd still need large-capacity batteries with fat, rapid-recharge cables from your RE and alternator to power those sorts of loads. For occasional but heavy loads like bow thrusters or windlasses, I think your remote LiIon packs are a wonderful idea. *files away in refit folder*

So in this way you size the wire based on charging requirements, not load requirements. Interesting.

On the fridge I've found my holding plate provides better energy storage than I've given it credit for. I manually switch on the compressor to be opportunistic.

BV, when we've discussed modern battery technology in the past you've been justifiably cautious. Do you think the technology is ready now? The charge/discharge control circuitry clearly adds a lot of complexity.

#62 kent_island_sailor

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Posted 11 June 2012 - 12:34 PM

NO to NiCads!
They have some failure modes that are not pleasant. Airplanes with NiCads have battery temp warning systems because of this.
Basically they can enter a mode where the hotter they get, the lower the internal resistance (or voltage if you want to put it that way) gets, which makes them draw more current from their charging source, which then repeats the cycle until they fail/vent/melt/explode/etc.... :o

BTW - A quick look through the Furuno catalog shows most of their stuff being either 12 volt, 24 volt, 12/24 volt, or some AC voltage (120,220,440). OTOH Simrad seems to be covering a wider range to include 32 volts:
7 Inch Touch Screen Multifunction Display
Voltage: 9 - 32 Volt DC, 0.8 A @ 13 V, Waterproof
Compatible with Broadband Radar, StructureScan and SonicHub


24 volts is a better choice for new contruction, but 32 volts is around if you look. Any of the bigger Hatteras/Bertram/Chris Craft boats had it into the 80s. Just sayin'
I know some ham radio techno-geeks that have adapted switching power supplies intended for 240 volts AC to 12 volts DC to run form their Prius batteries. Seems many of them run just fine on DC as well. Sooner or later someone is going to get a junkyard Prius battery pack and stick it on their boat.

#63 olaf hart

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Posted 11 June 2012 - 01:02 PM

I have had a drill nicad pack melt down on me, not pleasant, it eventually caught fire.
The small battery idea for remote units is great, there are a lot of small AGM batteries around now in the 20 ah range for motorbikes and jetskis.
Cheap, light and easy to mount near the windlass.

#64 mo fuzz

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Posted 11 June 2012 - 01:22 PM

BTW - A quick look through the Furuno catalog shows most of their stuff being either 12 volt, 24 volt, 12/24 volt, or some AC voltage (120,220,440). OTOH Simrad seems to be covering a wider range to include 32 volts:
7 Inch Touch Screen Multifunction Display
Voltage: 9 - 32 Volt DC, 0.8 A @ 13 V, Waterproof
Compatible with Broadband Radar, StructureScan and SonicHub



I think this is a result of advances in electronics of general. More and more consumer electronics, not just marine, can take 9-40-ish volts DC.

Of course, the native voltage, which the electronics require to run, is almost never the input voltage. So I am guessing the onboard voltage regulation has become smarter and more sophisticated.



#65 Beau.Vrolyk

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Posted 12 June 2012 - 06:31 AM

Kdh,

My big fear was large battery stacks made of Li or NiCad batteries. It's just too much like a bomb. I am happy with a small bomb battery that just runs a winch. Think of it as a very large capacitor in the circuit. Yes, the technology for charging has become much better. Almost all of them now include temp feed back circuits.

BV

#66 floating dutchman

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Posted 12 June 2012 - 07:17 AM

Kdh,

My big fear was large battery stacks made of Li or NiCad batteries. It's just too much like a bomb. I am happy with a small bomb battery that just runs a winch. Think of it as a very large capacitor in the circuit. Yes, the technology for charging has become much better. Almost all of them now include temp feed back circuits.

BV

How does the temp feed back ckt prevent a fire. I've seen a lithiom battery catch fire (RC car) very impressive! :o

#67 kdh

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Posted 12 June 2012 - 11:32 AM


Kdh,

My big fear was large battery stacks made of Li or NiCad batteries. It's just too much like a bomb. I am happy with a small bomb battery that just runs a winch. Think of it as a very large capacitor in the circuit. Yes, the technology for charging has become much better. Almost all of them now include temp feed back circuits.

BV

How does the temp feed back ckt prevent a fire. I've seen a lithiom battery catch fire (RC car) very impressive! :o

My understanding is that heat increases current capacity, both charge and discharge. More current brings more heat, increasing current, increasing heat... BANG! Or at least melting and fire and nasty shit. "Thermal runaway," I think it's commonly called.

So the basic idea is to limit current when there is heat, both the current going into the bank and current coming out, and to prevent too much current from happening in the first place. I would want these systems to be as simple and foolproof as possible, as failure can be catastrophic.

I have heat problems with even just an old-tech 440ah AGM bank and dual 100amp Balmars, especially when charging. The bank and the alternators are monitored for heat and the Balmar regulator cuts charging current in the presence of either. But I have to be careful with a deeply discharged bank when the acceptance is high.

Of course, more charging current means less charging time, so charge acceptance is good, though dangerous.

#68 Beau.Vrolyk

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Posted 12 June 2012 - 06:07 PM


Kdh,

My big fear was large battery stacks made of Li or NiCad batteries. It's just too much like a bomb. I am happy with a small bomb battery that just runs a winch. Think of it as a very large capacitor in the circuit. Yes, the technology for charging has become much better. Almost all of them now include temp feed back circuits.

BV

How does the temp feed back ckt prevent a fire. I've seen a lithiom battery catch fire (RC car) very impressive! :o


FD,

A simple way to think about a battery is that when it's either absorbing or discharging a side effect of the chemical reactions within it is heat. This is one of the reasons why you don't get all the energy out of a battery that you put in, some of it becomes heat.

Now, the FASTER you put the energy in or take the energy out, the quicker the chemical reaction happens and the more heat that is generated. When charging or discharging a battery slowly, you don't notice the heat because the battery becomes slightly warmer and that heat dissipates from the sides of the batteries. But, if you have big alternators to jam current into the batteries or a big draw (bow-thruster) to pull current out of the batteries, then you can generate so much heat within the battery that bad shit happens.

So, the cure, as Kdh says, is to limit the current flow. You can limit it in many ways, but usually you don't want to limit it with a resistor, which makes more heat etc.... There are great smart voltage regulators that have temp sensors for the batteries and turn down the charge voltage as the temp goes up. The reduction in the charge voltage results in less current flow into the battery and thus less heat. It also means it takes longer to re-charge the battery.

With a current user, like a windlass or a bow thruster, there isn't a similar temperature sensor based device that can limit the amount of current you're using. So, if you hold you foot on the button on the winch for a long time, the batteries can get so hot they do bad things. I've built my own thermal breakers that will simply switch off the batteries when they get too hot, but I haven't found any commercially.

To make matters worse, as Kdh says, as the temperature increases within the batteries, the chemical reaction to make electricity which is generating the heat speeds up and makes even more heat, which speeds things up and makes even more heat, until you get a fire.

All of this is dependent upon the type of battery you use. An old school lead-acid battery has a chemical process that simply can't discharge or charge fast enough (in most cases) to cause an internal fire. This is a results of the chemistry involved not some sort of magic. This resistance to either being charged or discharging is called "series resistance", meaning that the chemistry of the battery causes it to act "as if" there was a resistor in the circuit that limits current flow. Li batteries have a lot less "series resistance" in their chemistry. NiCad batteries have almost NONE!! :unsure: Remember, the less "series resistance" the easier it is to make the battery into a bomb by over charging or discharging it. So, the safest batteries are the old school high series resistance lead acid ones, they just take a coon's age to charge up and have to be massively oversized for a given current outflow.

Hope that helps.

BV

#69 floating dutchman

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Posted 13 June 2012 - 08:48 AM

Thanks Beau.

So the thermal feed-back prevents over discharge/charge that causes the heat. As kdh says I'd want that to be fool proof. After the display I saw with the RC car I don't think I'm one to accept the new technology on a boat yet.

On another note, Thermal cutouts built into electric motors is common, Both a straight cutout or a thermistor that feeds back into an electronic gismo that cuts the moter out are reasonably common, I'm suprised you had to home-build something.

#70 kent_island_sailor

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Posted 13 June 2012 - 12:42 PM

What you'll find on an airplane with nicads:
My link

#71 VALIS

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Posted 13 June 2012 - 02:45 PM

On another note, Thermal cutouts built into electric motors is common, Both a straight cutout or a thermistor that feeds back into an electronic gismo that cuts the moter out are reasonably common, I'm suprised you had to home-build something.


Hell, the motor in my vacuum cleaner's brush/beater has a thermal cutout. These are often (or were often?) bimetallic strip switches. Since this is all about boats, did you know that the inventor of the bimetallic strip was John Harrison, the English fellow who invented the marine chronometer? He used the thermal expansion properties of different metals to temperature-compensate his clocks, and devised the bimetallic strip for use in his third clock (H3, in 1759). I re-read Longitude yesterday.

#72 kimbottles

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Posted 13 June 2012 - 02:52 PM

On another note, Thermal cutouts built into electric motors is common, Both a straight cutout or a thermistor that feeds back into an electronic gismo that cuts the moter out are reasonably common, I'm suprised you had to home-build something.

I re-read Longitude yesterday.


I love that book, have you seen the big illustrated version?

#73 VALIS

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Posted 13 June 2012 - 03:36 PM


On another note, Thermal cutouts built into electric motors is common, Both a straight cutout or a thermistor that feeds back into an electronic gismo that cuts the moter out are reasonably common, I'm suprised you had to home-build something.

I re-read Longitude yesterday.


I love that book, have you seen the big illustrated version?


Yes, that's the one I just read. I've also got the paperback without the illustrations, but the big hardback is definitely worth looking for. Also, A&E did an excellent video production of Longitude, starring Michael Gambon as Harrison, and Jeremy Irons as Rupert Gould (the Lieutenant who restored the long-neglected Harrison chronometers back in the 1930's). This is extremely well done. I bought the DVD set (we've watched it in the middle of the Pacific), but it's also on Netflix and YouTube.

#74 kimbottles

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Posted 13 June 2012 - 03:50 PM



On another note, Thermal cutouts built into electric motors is common, Both a straight cutout or a thermistor that feeds back into an electronic gismo that cuts the moter out are reasonably common, I'm suprised you had to home-build something.

I re-read Longitude yesterday.


I love that book, have you seen the big illustrated version?


Yes, that's the one I just read. I've also got the paperback without the illustrations, but the big hardback is definitely worth looking for. Also, A&E did an excellent video production of Longitude, starring Michael Gambon as Harrison, and Jeremy Irons as Rupert Gould (the Lieutenant who restored the long-neglected Harrison chronometers back in the 1930's). This is extremely well done. I bought the DVD set (we've watched it in the middle of the Pacific), but it's also on Netflix and YouTube.


Yes, the video was excellent.

SWMBO and I visited the Greenwich Maritime Museum specifically to see H1, H2, H3 and H4 in the flesh. H1-H3 were all running and making their weird little noises. I have a H1 app for my i Pad that makes those little sounds. The money to purchase it went to the museum.

There is a rumor that a copy of H4 exists somewhere, wouldn't I like to find it in a garage sale!!

#75 VALIS

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Posted 13 June 2012 - 04:46 PM

SWMBO and I visited the Greenwich Maritime Museum specifically to see H1, H2, H3 and H4 in the flesh. H1-H3 were all running and making their weird little noises. I have a H1 app for my i Pad that makes those little sounds. The money to purchase it went to the museum.

There is a rumor that a copy of H4 exists somewhere, wouldn't I like to find it in a garage sale!!


My wife and I also visited Greenwich to see the clocks (and straddle the prime meridian). This is inspiring stuff -- so inspiring and emotional that I tear up when I watch the Longitude video.

#76 kimbottles

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Posted 13 June 2012 - 05:29 PM


SWMBO and I visited the Greenwich Maritime Museum specifically to see H1, H2, H3 and H4 in the flesh. H1-H3 were all running and making their weird little noises. I have a H1 app for my i Pad that makes those little sounds. The money to purchase it went to the museum.

There is a rumor that a copy of H4 exists somewhere, wouldn't I like to find it in a garage sale!!


My wife and I also visited Greenwich to see the clocks (and straddle the prime meridian). This is inspiring stuff -- so inspiring and emotional that I tear up when I watch the Longitude video.


We completely agree on this Paul! It is a GREAT story and inspirational.

#77 Beau.Vrolyk

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Posted 15 June 2012 - 12:24 AM

When my munchkins were little we made a trip to London just to insure that they got a good dose of the Greenwich Museum before they were too old to resist. They loved it. There is a LOT of stuff on the H1-4 series on-line and the story is wonderful. But there is nothing like seeing the real thing, brass gleaming. My son, who was 2/3 of a guy then, read every display - it took the entire day. One of the best days of my life.

BV

#78 kdh

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Posted 15 June 2012 - 12:47 AM

Beau, I'm inspired by your story.

My daughter's 8. Reads well. Too early?

#79 Beau.Vrolyk

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Posted 15 June 2012 - 02:54 AM

Beau, I'm inspired by your story.

My daughter's 8. Reads well. Too early?


kdh,

I think an 8 year old will "get it". Especially if an enthusiastic parent helps them understand how important time keeping was during that period.

BV

#80 Tucky

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Posted 15 June 2012 - 01:23 PM


Beau, I'm inspired by your story.

My daughter's 8. Reads well. Too early?


kdh,

I think an 8 year old will "get it". Especially if an enthusiastic parent helps them understand how important time keeping was during that period.

BV

+1

It is a great place- my daughter loved it at 12, almost as much as a surprise visit to the London Hard Rock Cafe, back in the day when there weren't that many.




#81 kimbottles

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Posted 15 June 2012 - 02:35 PM

Every boater needs to visit the Greenwich Maritime Museum.

(I mean where else can you see the bloody underwear Lord Nelson was wearing when he was cut down by that French sniper?)

That and the four "H's" all in one facility.

Oh and stand on the Prime Meridian and see where it was located at various times in history.

I love that place, SWMBO and I visit Maritime Museums all over the world and this one, the one in Paris and the one in Auckland are really "must sees".

(Come to think of it, ALL Maritime Museums are "must sees".........)

#82 Expatriated

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Posted 15 June 2012 - 03:00 PM

I like the stern gallery of the French ship Duguay-Trouin displayed in the museum - survived Trafalgar and the 2nd World War to be deliberately sunk in 1949. Criminal.

When I took my wife to the museum she recognised they have the same GPS I do on display...

#83 Beau.Vrolyk

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Posted 15 June 2012 - 07:50 PM

kimb, Hobson's Wharf in Auckland is one of my favorite places on earth! It is a GREAT maritime museum. I have almost completely worn through my last Hobson's rugby shirt :unsure: I'm not at all sure what I'll do - I guess I'll have to go back to NZ and get another one!

BV

#84 Bassproducts

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Posted 21 June 2012 - 02:02 PM

As to the original topic E-plex system is still around. eplex is the new web address. They were purchased in 2010 by Energy Solutions in the UK, The system is still being installed in a number of boats (but no production sailboats that I know of at this time). The current owners are very much in the marine market (unlike some previous owners) and seem to be intent on making the system better and alive for the marine world.

On the side topic yes 24v is very common on bigger boats and is becoming very common even in the 40-50 ft market. Most of these boat are equipped with a DC to DC converter to also run small 12volt loads for certain equipment.

For full disclosure I work for a company the represents the E-plex line in the states.

C

#85 floating dutchman

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Posted 22 June 2012 - 08:20 AM

I'll give you on topic. But you're going to have to give us tit's.

I don't make the rules. I just abide by them.

The real question I have for you is: This technilogy was developed largly in the car indistory, Making cars cheaper to produce and more reliable. Why have no production boats taken up the concept?

#86 kent_island_sailor

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Posted 22 June 2012 - 03:43 PM

Because boats large enough to HAVE enough electrics to worry about are by car standards, handmade one-offs. If I can save $1 per car over a run of hundreds of thousands of units, my boss will give me a bonus. If I save $1 - which is doubtful to start with - over a run of 10s or maybe low 100s of units, who cares? Then you saddle the owner with a system few marine techs will understand and whose support may be long gone when it needs fixing. Eventually there will be a standard, the parts will all intermix, and this will be routine. IMHO we are not there yet.

I'll give you on topic. But you're going to have to give us tit's.

I don't make the rules. I just abide by them.

The real question I have for you is: This technilogy was developed largly in the car indistory, Making cars cheaper to produce and more reliable. Why have no production boats taken up the concept?



#87 Steam Flyer

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Posted 22 June 2012 - 04:33 PM

... ... Eventually there will be a standard, the parts will all intermix, and this will be routine. IMHO we are not there yet.

...


OK, but what about the tech-savvy guy who is building or rebuilding a boat, wants to install such a system, and plans to fix it himself anyway?

FB- Doug

#88 Bassproducts

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Posted 22 June 2012 - 07:46 PM

The E-plex system was used by Searay which is about as high volume as you can get in the boat world in the states but they dropped the system when the economy crashed. Cruisers yachts currently installs the system and it has been used in a number of one off custom builds over the past few years ( we have provided systems to Lyman Morse and Brooklyn boatyard in Maine for custom builds). We have provided Lazzara yachts with more then 20 systems for their large yachts over the past 5 years. They are also being installed in a number of boats in Europe including Sealine, Hanse and Moody. There is a strong learning curve problem with these systems in the marine industry. One of the issues tend to be lack of complete engineering at the start of the project these systems require a little more effort to design initially then traditional DC/AC. Once a boats system has been defined the production costs should come down.
Right now there seems to be alot more systems being installed in Europe then here but only time will tell. These systems are not perfect for every boat but I'm sure they will make a decent percentage of the market in the future.

#89 Bassproducts

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Posted 22 June 2012 - 07:53 PM

As to production there are number of small powerboat builders (skiboats and Bass boats mostly) using this system http://www.digitalsw...ingsystems.com/

#90 Bassproducts

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Posted 22 June 2012 - 08:06 PM

Wow I'm going to get run out of this forum knowing what I know about sailing Anarchy, but here is one more link from Nigel Calder.
http://www.capi2.com...ROBOAT 2011.pdf

#91 kent_island_sailor

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Posted 23 June 2012 - 02:55 PM

I have owned the same boat since 1977 and plan to own her in 2027. This gives me an admittedly odd viewpoint where I have replaced the same parts multiple times and really do worry about spares needed a decade from now. I have got quite good at rebuilding my Autohelm with locally sourced parts ever since the farging iceholes at Ray Marine told me "Don't EVER send this here again - buy a new one or go away".
I do like the E-Plex idea. Are you wededed to the company or is it an open standard?

The E-plex system was used by Searay which is about as high volume as you can get in the boat world in the states but they dropped the system when the economy crashed. Cruisers yachts currently installs the system and it has been used in a number of one off custom builds over the past few years ( we have provided systems to Lyman Morse and Brooklyn boatyard in Maine for custom builds). We have provided Lazzara yachts with more then 20 systems for their large yachts over the past 5 years. They are also being installed in a number of boats in Europe including Sealine, Hanse and Moody. There is a strong learning curve problem with these systems in the marine industry. One of the issues tend to be lack of complete engineering at the start of the project these systems require a little more effort to design initially then traditional DC/AC. Once a boats system has been defined the production costs should come down.
Right now there seems to be alot more systems being installed in Europe then here but only time will tell. These systems are not perfect for every boat but I'm sure they will make a decent percentage of the market in the future.



#92 kdh

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Posted 12 November 2012 - 12:28 AM



Beau, I'm inspired by your story.

My daughter's 8. Reads well. Too early?


kdh,

I think an 8 year old will "get it". Especially if an enthusiastic parent helps them understand how important time keeping was during that period.

BV

+1

It is a great place- my daughter loved it at 12, almost as much as a surprise visit to the London Hard Rock Cafe, back in the day when there weren't that many.


Alright. We're doing it. The Greenwich maritime museum. Spending 5 days in London and thereabouts for thanksgiving. Ann doesn't like fancy hotels, but somehow I talked her into this. Adele's 9 now.

The Corinthia Spa

#93 Anomaly2

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Posted 12 November 2012 - 12:58 AM

KD, you will love it. 5 days total? Or do you have more?

#94 Jose Carumba

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Posted 12 November 2012 - 02:32 AM

Take the tour boat down the Thames from London to Greenwich. I don't know exactly which boat had the best spiel but some of the stories are great. You get off whete tje Cutty Dark is drydocked and walk up the hill to the observatory. The Naval museum is there too,before you go up the hill. Pretty awesome to see the uniform Nelson was wearing when he died at Trafalger, complete with blood stains. Makes it real.

Edit: Wow, talk about thread drift.

#95 kimbottles

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Posted 12 November 2012 - 04:22 AM

Take the tour boat down the Thames from London to Greenwich. I don't know exactly which boat had the best spiel but some of the stories are great. You get off whete tje Cutty Dark is drydocked and walk up the hill to the observatory. The Naval museum is there too,before you go up the hill. Pretty awesome to see the uniform Nelson was wearing when he died at Trafalger, complete with blood stains. Makes it real.

Edit: Wow, talk about thread drift.


+1 for the Greenwich Maritime Museum.

It is all good, but the best part is the John Harrison clock room H-1, H-2, H-3 and H-4. The first three (because they self lubricate) are running. SWMBO and I treated that room like a chapel.

I have the H-1 app on my iPad and run it often, just love that sound!

#96 Jose Carumba

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Posted 12 November 2012 - 03:33 PM

Oops. Fat fingered it. I meant Cutty Sark.

The clock room is indeed awesome.

#97 So˝adora

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Posted 12 November 2012 - 04:43 PM

wtf, is this Thread Resurrection Month? Too bad the CA36 thread was closed ;)

#98 Beau.Vrolyk

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Posted 12 November 2012 - 04:44 PM

KDH,

Great that you're doing this, Adele will love it.

One thing that hadn't sunk in for my kids before they saw H1 was that building clocks was extremely advance military technology at the time H1 was built. As we stood there watching it tick, I asked them to imagine running a fleet of ships that were assigned to cover the entire coast of Europe, blockading France under Napoleon, how would you synchronize when people were supposed to meet? Then, imagine key strategic islands, how would you find them? Latitude sailing?

That let us spend some time talking about what was "technology" and how we take it as a given that everyone knows what time it is.... we all now take it for granted that everyone knows where they are, not just when, thanks to GPS.... what other technologies will disappear into the "normal" landscape of stuff we have in our pockets? We now "expect" to be able to call or text someone to ask: "Where are you? I'm over by the H1 exhibit." What did people do previously? Many young people never consider asking for "directions" on how to get someplace - and some of my friends just give their Lat/Long rather than their street address. What does this say about time and position and technology?

We were planning on spending a couple of hours there - we spent all day and went back the next. Now, they both can navigate with a sextant - just for fun - and are great shipmates.

Have a great trip.

BV


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John n Liz Sailing 1 by bvrolyk, on Flickr

#99 Steam Flyer

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Posted 12 November 2012 - 05:47 PM

... ...
.... what other technologies will disappear into the "normal" landscape of stuff we have in our pockets?

... ...


And, as far as most people undersanding what it's doing & how it works, it may as well be magic.
Changes on the horizon due to both factors... remember in the 'Foundation' series when planets were ruled by nuclear technicians posing as "priests" ? (cue eerie music)


We were planning on spending a couple of hours there - we spent all day and went back the next. Now, they both can navigate with a sextant - just for fun - and are great shipmates.
...


Not only that, they know what a good boat is supposed to be like. Great job BV !!

FB- Doug

#100 kdh

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Posted 12 November 2012 - 09:03 PM

Thanks everyone for the suggestions. The river tour sounds like a great way to get there.

For the first time Ann has a GPS in her new car, a Golf TDI. But Ann doesn't use the GPS, instead asks Adele to use good old fashioned maps to navigate. Adele loves it and is surprisingly good at formulating the directions. She knows in what direction she's going and what streets to look for. The map even stays "North Up" the whole time.

I know some adults that can't navigate a car using a map.




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