Help needed: demystifying the electric system - SailNet Community
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post #1 of 15 Old 08-16-2009 Thread Starter
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Question Help needed: demystifying the electric system

New to Annapolis and just settling in I want to address my eletrical system on my boat this summer / fall. Nothing is wrong and everything works wonderfully but I feel uneasy not having a full grip on how the systems work and where to start if something breaks down in the future.

This is part of my 2 year plan to get ready for early retirement and start full time crusing in the summer of 2011.

While I am hoping, to make new friends here in Annapolis, I also hope to find someone who might be willing to spend some hours with me on the boat to talk me through a couple of things and explains what happens and how it is connected.

I read Nigel Calders book and there is a lot of information and I can make sense of a lot but not all.

Odyssey's system:
2 AGM for House bank
1 AGM for Starter
2 AGM (bow) for bow thruster
Heart 2000 R monitor system (biggest mystery for me!)
Xantrex Freedom 20 charger/inverter
Echo-charger
Alternator on engine (no paperwork)

I am not quite sure about the best setup for charging while on shorewoer (Bank 1 / bank 2 / booth).
Right now I am not plugged in and the batteries are holding quite well with just the occasional daysail on the weekend.
I want to add Solar/Wind in the future and I think I should fully undersand what I have before adding to it.

With so many sailors around here in Annapolis perhaps someone who knows more than I do is willing to help (Dinner in a nice restaurant provided afterwards).

Anyone (with the neccessary experience) willing to spend a couple of hours with me to go through it?

Thanks for reading my post.


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ODYSSEY
Island Packet 37 (hull53)
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post #2 of 15 Old 08-16-2009
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Too bad you won't be able to be at the raftup, we'd be glad to go over it then. Our time is pretty limited as we're getting ready to leave in Sept, but maybe we can go over at least some generalities. We're just at the next marina downstream from you - it would have to be a week night - PM me or email (my email is my screen name, @att.net). The West Marine here in town has a nice 3-evening boat electrical course (free) every winter. And if you haven't discovered the margaritas at the Mexican Cafe yet, we'll introduce you to that, too! -e.
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post #3 of 15 Old 08-29-2009
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  • Check out the local US Power Squadron: they may offer the USPS Marine Electronics course -- USPS Squadrons & Districts. Don't let the "Power Squadron" name mislead: many individual squadrons are adopting the name "Power and Sail Squadron" since members are both sailors and powerboaters.
  • Draw a schematic of the boat's electronics, starting with charging system and main engine and house supply cables, and then working through the lesser circuits.
  • There is now a ton of useful information on the web at major marine electrical suppliers like Blue Sea and othes, and on various forum archives -- make it a habit to prowl them, and build a personal reference notes system on the computer. Takes a lot of time to sort wheat from chaffe, but worth it in the long run.
  • Get Nigel Calder's Boatowner's Mechanical and Electrical Manual and Wing's Boatowner's Illustrated Electrical Handbook.

Last edited by floatsome; 09-07-2009 at 05:59 AM.
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post #4 of 15 Old 08-29-2009
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Making new friends in Annapolis shouldn't be hard...there are lotsa nice folks there. Just hang out in the sailor's favorite watering holes!

RE: demystifying your electrical system, beware: there are lotsa nice folks out there with lotsa good experience and lotsa incomplete understanding and misleading information to share.

I'd suggest you get a qualified marine electrician to spend an hour or two with you, going over your system and questions with you. This won't cost a lot, and I believe you'll find it helpful down the road into retirement aboard.

Bill
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post #5 of 15 Old 09-17-2009
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I know this might sound like a strange suggestion, but how about going to radio shack and get yourself an electronics experimenters kit and just fool around with the components for a while. Things you'll want to learn about include diodes, batteries, resistors, rectifiers, capacitors, solar cells, and various other components. Get yourself an inexpensive multi-meter and have at it, total investment probably 100$us.

One thing that helped me early on was working with miniature systems like 6 watt solar panels, small 12vdc lead acid batteries (about the size of your fist), and things like that. It all makes a lot more sense if you can hook a volt meter up to a solar panel and see the voltage under various lighting conditions, then measure it while you are charging a battery, etc.

These days you can get a scope that hooks to a computer for a few hundred $us, a multi-meter for easily less than 50$us, etc. Using those to build a few simple circuits can really do most people a world of good.

What are you pretending not to know ?

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post #6 of 15 Old 09-17-2009
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Another suggestion, if you haven't already done it, search the Internet looking for the PDF versions of all the manuals for the equipment you have on your boat, that usually goes a long ways towards demystifying a piece of gear. It'll probably give you a detailed explanation of what each connection is, what the buttons and knobs do, etc.

What are you pretending not to know ?

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post #7 of 15 Old 09-18-2009
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The Annapolis school of seamanship has a great electric class. I am just a happy student. starts in December

Marine Electrical System Classes at Annapolis School of Seamanship

The diesel class was also great.

That derelict boat was another dream for somebody else, don't let it be your nightmare and a waste of your life.
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post #8 of 15 Old 10-21-2009
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Peter Kennedy

in Annapolis was very helpful to me (in New England) last winter when making up new breaker panels for my Pearson 34. I got to him through Google & he had the best prices on Blue Sea panels etc. He also reviewed my wiring plan & suggested improvements. Could be worth buying an hour or two of his time.
Also Charlie Wing's book, for me, was a little clearer than Calder's, but Calder's is a great reference to have re: engines.
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post #9 of 15 Old 10-21-2009
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Peter Kennedy is shyster and a liar... Her personally guaranteed that he'd supervise the work his company was doing, and the quality of the work his company does is crap.

This is the $40 mounting bracket his company installed:





Notice, that two of the screws holding the masthead light in place are held in place using silicone sealant and don't even pass through the aluminum "mounting bracket".

This is the work he did on the GPS mounting bracket, where he only installed two of the four screws and drilled into the bearing surface for the GPS mount, damaging the delrin bearing.


Sailingdog

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You know what the first rule of sailing is? ...Love. You can learn all the math in the 'verse, but you take
a boat to the sea you don't love, she'll shake you off just as sure as the turning of the worlds. Love keeps
her going when she oughta fall down, tells you she's hurting 'fore she keens. Makes her a home.

—Cpt. Mal Reynolds, Serenity (edited)

If you're new to the Sailnet Forums... please read this
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Still—DON'T READ THAT POST AGAIN.

Last edited by sailingdog; 10-21-2009 at 09:11 PM.
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post #10 of 15 Old 10-21-2009
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SD, that job does look kind of lame.

What are you pretending not to know ?

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