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Old 09-27-2009
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Wanna-be salt starting electronics troublshooting

Hi gang,

I'm now part 'owner' of a Tartan 30 in Charleston. Life is grand.

I've never learned much about electronics but I need to learn as a couple of electronics things are starting to flake out.

Mayday mayday -- first and foremost we have no tunes. No power is getting to the stereo. Also cabin lights bid us farewell last thursday night.

So I would like to start from the start and get a good multimeter and kit to start tracing this down.

Does anyone have any advice on getting started tracing all these down? I have the manuals and other assorted goodies but my short attention span has made wiring diagrams something so far I don't enjoy looking at.

Anyone in Chas is welcome to come for a ride!
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Old 09-27-2009
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I think it's worth having a meter with a clamp on RMS ammeter so you can check alternator output, etc. I got a fairly compact one from Sears.

As far as finding your trouble, keep it simple and most importantly be systematic. Is the stereo wired to a switch on the panel? If so I'd start there and work your way along the circuit.

I'd highly recommend taking a class on boat electrical systems. Most find them very helpful.

Last edited by SteveInMD; 09-27-2009 at 12:40 PM.
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Old 09-27-2009
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Ya might wanna start at your battery and see if it is low or dead first.
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Old 09-27-2009
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Buy an inexpensive digital multimeter - $20-30. Start at the battery and check voltage. Make sure the battery switch is on 1 or 2. Check to see if 12 volts is getting to the distribution panel. If it is, make sure the switches or breakers for the circuits not working are turned on. Check voltage from the panel output for these items (stereo, lights). If there is 12 volts out to them when switched on the fault is farther down the line. Hopefully the wires are color coded properly, but if you meter backwards you'll just get a - voltage reading. (I recently worked on a boat where the wiring was all black and yellow with one exception. The black was hot. The exception was one red wire. It was a ground. Took a while to figure out this mess.) If the wiring at the panel looks good there is probably a loose connection somewhere. If the panel wiring looks like a mess it should be sorted out. Many boats have had items added haphazardly and items removed with the old wiring left intact so this could be the case. Good luck.
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