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  #1  
Old 07-15-2012
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Raymarine SeaTalk Troubleshooting

I have been trying unsuccessfully to track down a problem and don't know where to go next.

Everything was working fine when the boat was hauled last fall, but when it came time to launch several weeks ago things were not so fine.

I have a Pearson sailboat with RL70 and RL70RC chartplotters and gps installed by the previous owner about 11 years ago. Autopilot is ST4000+ which i believe was installed at the same time. Instruments are ST60+ wind, speed and depth indicators installed 4 years ago.

The autopilot indicates "Seatalk fail" and displays a heading of 099 degrees. The chartplotters show "No Fix" (gps) and when I select GPS setup (normally displays satellite info) the screen is blank. When I select display of instrument data, there is no information shown. The individual instrument displays are working properly.

I have tried connecting various components to rule out cable or equipment failure but nothing has worked.

Chartplotter connected to GPS (instruments and autopilot disconnected).
Chartplotter connected to one or more instruments (gps and autopilot disconnected).
Autopilot connected to one or more instruments (chartplotters and gps disconnected).

Always have the same results/displays as noted above. The seatalk cables that are connected during these tests always show correct dc voltage on them, and unused cables are completely disconnected for this testing.

What are the next steps in troubleshooting this situation? I have looked for detailed information about seatalk but haven't found any resources to take me beyond the steps i have already tried.

One more thing - the boat was stored with the mast removed, so it is extremely unlikely that there was any kind of lightning strike to cause these problems. I noticed the trouble before the mast was reinstalled. Masthead wind sensors and radar are working ok.
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Old 07-19-2012
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Re: Raymarine SeaTalk Troubleshooting

Seatalk uses a "one-wire" communication. All the seatalk instrument are connected to one wire, that is the yellow one (the others are +12V (red) and 0V (black or shield) for power).
All instruments on the line can talk and/or listen for data.
Normally, the seatlak wire is at 12V (because internally in every instrument it is connected to 12V via a resistor), and whenver one instrument wants to talk, it will pull it down to 0V with the digital pulses (it switches it to 0v via a transistor).
It also listens for its own data transmission, and if accidentally two instruments want to talk simultaneously, they will hear different data that they are transmitting, because any instrument can pull the line to 0V. In this case they will cease transmit and wait some random time to start transmission again. An instrument will also wait for the seatalk line to become idle (+12V) before starting transmission again. If the line never comes to idle, or it is always at 0V, or have invalid data because of noise etc. on it you get a seatalk error on the instrument.

So I would do the following:

First check to see that you have around +12 on the seatalk line, which can occasionally go to 0V. It is quite hard to see it with a normal voltmeter, but you might. You can see occasional drops in the voltage, or some average below 12V. If you can get an oscilloscope that can show it very nicely. Unfortunately seatalk uses 4800bps data like NMEA, but with binary coding for shorter messages and uses the parity bit for signalling, so it is not that easy to simply connect it to a serial port of a PC and see that data.

If the line is constantly at 0 or 12V, check for any shorts in the cable. Shorts to 0V is OK, it wil not damage anything, short directly to +12 might damage the instrument when it tries to pulse the line to 0V.

Disconnect all instruments and use an Ohm meter to see if there is any short to 0 or 12V.

My best advice would be to try disconnecting/connecting the instrument one-by-one from the seatalk line. A faulty instrument can disable the whole setup. Check that when not connected to seatalk, a device should have +12 on its seatalk line, with possible data.

Make sure that all instrument have good power connection. Bad connection on power can introduce noise to the seatalk line.

Check all connections. I have once seen that by accident the seatalk line was connected to the NMEA out of an instrument, which will obviously disrupt it.
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Old 07-19-2012
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Re: Raymarine SeaTalk Troubleshooting

Quote:
Originally Posted by szigi View Post
Seatalk uses a "one-wire" communication. All the seatalk instrument are connected to one wire, that is the yellow one (the others are +12V (red) and 0V (black or shield) for power).
All instruments on the line can talk and/or listen for data.
Normally, the seatlak wire is at 12V (because internally in every instrument it is connected to 12V via a resistor), and whenver one instrument wants to talk, it will pull it down to 0V with the digital pulses (it switches it to 0v via a transistor).
It also listens for its own data transmission, and if accidentally two instruments want to talk simultaneously, they will hear different data that they are transmitting, because any instrument can pull the line to 0V. In this case they will cease transmit and wait some random time to start transmission again. An instrument will also wait for the seatalk line to become idle (+12V) before starting transmission again. If the line never comes to idle, or it is always at 0V, or have invalid data because of noise etc. on it you get a seatalk error on the instrument.

So I would do the following:

First check to see that you have around +12 on the seatalk line, which can occasionally go to 0V. It is quite hard to see it with a normal voltmeter, but you might. You can see occasional drops in the voltage, or some average below 12V. If you can get an oscilloscope that can show it very nicely. Unfortunately seatalk uses 4800bps data like NMEA, but with binary coding for shorter messages and uses the parity bit for signalling, so it is not that easy to simply connect it to a serial port of a PC and see that data.

If the line is constantly at 0 or 12V, check for any shorts in the cable. Shorts to 0V is OK, it wil not damage anything, short directly to +12 might damage the instrument when it tries to pulse the line to 0V.

Disconnect all instruments and use an Ohm meter to see if there is any short to 0 or 12V.

My best advice would be to try disconnecting/connecting the instrument one-by-one from the seatalk line. A faulty instrument can disable the whole setup. Check that when not connected to seatalk, a device should have +12 on its seatalk line, with possible data.

Make sure that all instrument have good power connection. Bad connection on power can introduce noise to the seatalk line.

Check all connections. I have once seen that by accident the seatalk line was connected to the NMEA out of an instrument, which will obviously disrupt it.
Great post!!!

I have noticed that if one instrument has a bad connection, it screws them all up or makes them flaky.

Brian
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Old 07-19-2012
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Re: Raymarine SeaTalk Troubleshooting

Thanks - I have continued troubleshooting and it looks like multiple problems after all.

Here are specific situations I have isolated:

One of the displays (RL70RC) "kills" all seatalk communications when it is plugged into the seatalk network.

Autopilot still indicates "seatalk fail" even when seatalk cable is disconnected from the rear of it. Won't go into autopilot mode from standby.

GPS Receiver is not sending out any data.

The instruments are sending data ok, and the second display (RL70) displays depth and speed from them when the RL70RC is disconnected. The RL70 does display chart data from the RL70RC (sent over hsb), and radar works ok.

Any suggestions as to next steps I can take? This would be a great opportunity (or excuse ) to replace everything but I can't afford it, so need to somehow patch things back together.
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Old 07-20-2012
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Re: Raymarine SeaTalk Troubleshooting

Quote:
Originally Posted by tibtib View Post
Thanks - I have continued troubleshooting and it looks like multiple problems after all.

Here are specific situations I have isolated:

One of the displays (RL70RC) "kills" all seatalk communications when it is plugged into the seatalk network.

Autopilot still indicates "seatalk fail" even when seatalk cable is disconnected from the rear of it. Won't go into autopilot mode from standby.

GPS Receiver is not sending out any data.

The instruments are sending data ok, and the second display (RL70) displays depth and speed from them when the RL70RC is disconnected. The RL70 does display chart data from the RL70RC (sent over hsb), and radar works ok.

Any suggestions as to next steps I can take? This would be a great opportunity (or excuse ) to replace everything but I can't afford it, so need to somehow patch things back together.
Hmmm. Having more than one faulty instrument is strange, there might have been a lighting strike nearby, you don't need a direct hit to cause problems. Actually, a direct hit would probably fry all electronics. If the autopilot won't go into auto with only power and the fluxgate compass connected, then i'm pretty sure there is a problem with that. Since you have noting to loose, you might try taking apart the instrument to check for water ingress, as i just said in an other thread the case of the st4000+ can crack where the studs are screwed into it and salt water can gradually destroy the circuit or simply create problems by its conductivity. This might happen over a long time, even when the boat is out of water) I have just recently repaired such an instrument. It is quite easy to take it apart, just unscrew the screws on the back, pull the back over off (remove the buzzer's wire, by pulling off the connector inside) an check for signs of water, especially where the fixing studs are. If you see white deposit or darkened conductors on the circuit boar, you have a problem. Not all is lost, though, remove the circuit board (3 screws on the back, where the buttons are, i think), be careful not to drop and crack the LCD, and note how everything is to ba able to assemble them later. Soak the whole board in distilled water to remove salt, use a fine brush if needed. Then soak it in isopropyl alcohol (or pure alcohol) for a couple of minutes to remove water. Let it dry for a day, and reassemble. You might need to patch up the circuit board, if the copper is corroded, but that is better left to someone very good with soldering. I have resurrected four or five dead instruments and VHF radios this way, because usually the damage is not permanent, but conductive salty deposits prevent proper operation. Of course, you will need to investigate and fix the root cause of the water ingress.

For the RL70, it might be useful to see what happens on the seatalk line electronically, but if you don't have proper troubleshooting equipment, it might not be worth it. Most modern stuff uses application specific circuits, which are basically impossible to get as a replacement so even if you see that it is faulty, there is nothing to do by yourself.
I would simply buy a new one on ebay, lots of them are available, most without leads and bracket, but you have those anyway.
But still, check that the cables and connectors are ok.

Unless of course you need to convince wife on spending cash on new electronics, in this case any helpful repair shop would give you expert testimony that all of these are beyond repair and have to be replaced
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Old 08-08-2012
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Re: Raymarine SeaTalk Troubleshooting

My boat was hit by lightning a few weeks ago (direct hit everyone saw it). After replacing a relay my ST6001 says "seatalk failure". This is with only the ST6001 and compass plugged into the S2 core pack. I suspect the OP's boat may have also been hit.
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Old 07-17-2014
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Re: Raymarine SeaTalk Troubleshooting

Did you ever fix this problem, as I have the exact same symptoms!
WOMPA
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Old 07-17-2014
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Re: Raymarine SeaTalk Troubleshooting

WOMPA,

Sea Talk is a very simple bus. There is only 1 wire (yellow) that contains data. The red wire is constant 12V battery voltage. Black wire is battery minus. The usual cause is some Sea Talk device has shorted the yellow wire. In less likely cases the 12V may not be present. This is easy to check with a volt meter.

To find which device is causing the yellow wire fault disconnect each Sea Talk device so it is not connected to anything else. Measure the resistance of each yellow wire terminal of each device to the black terminal (ohm meter red on yellow terminal and black on black terminal). The bad device will show low resistance <50K ohms. Good device will usually be >100K ohms.
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Old 07-20-2014
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Re: Raymarine SeaTalk Troubleshooting

WOMPA,

Here's how it worked out:

I disconnected all SeaTalk units from the bus to check them individually. The ST60+ instruments worked fine, the GPS did nothing, the autopilot always indicated "SeaTalk Fail", one chartplotter would transmit on SeaTalk but not receive, and the other chartplotter killed all SeaTalk messages when connected to the bus.

I deduced that there must have been a lightning strike while the boat was stored on land over the winter (I pull the mast every other year and that was one of the years when the mast stayed on). My boat had been stored alongside many other sailboats but nobody else experienced any damage.

I didn't have the $$$ to replace everything, so I bought a used Raymarine GPS125 and two Pathfinder Plus chartplotters on Ebay (I didn't want to have to change out the radar scanner which was still working okay). I splurged and bought a new Raymarine autopilot.

It took some work to install the autopilot (the chartplotters and GPS were simple swap-outs), and all has been well since then (except my bank account...). I now unplug all connections to each of these units when the boat is hauled in the fall.
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