Jump to content

Cat 1 Electronics


Recommended Posts

You're thinking of going offshore. The list has got to the Nav station.

 

So you need:

International communication.

Position via GPS or Celestial

Depth.

 

You'd like:

Weather Information at sea.

Satellite phone.

SSB

A really big Chartplotter.

Radar

AIS

Speed through the water

Wind gear

Automatic steering

Full integration

Lots of redundancy

Complete reliability

Low electrical draw

 

Of course the wind is free so all this should be low budget!

 

Name brand vs Unknown on Trade Me

 

Chart plotter vs Tablet. Boat power vs independent

 

There's a myriad of options now. What's your pick?

Link to post
Share on other sites

You're thinking of going offshore. The list has got to the Nav station.

 

So you need:

International communication.

 

Don't NEED it, but if wife is not aboard she appreciates a text each day, so a satphone as a bit of a luxury.

Position via GPS or Celestial

 

I'll have celestial because i already have it, but I'm not silly, GPS is cheap and easy these days, and the boat came with it anyway.

 

Depth.

 

There's one on board so I'll use it, old, but it works.

 

You'd like:

Weather Information at sea.

 

a barometer and a book on weather and clouds

 

Satellite phone.

 

As above

 

SSB

 

Don't want one

 

 

A really big Chartplotter.

 

Open CPN on a laptop

 

 

Radar

 

Not keen enough to run out and buy one

AIS

New to me but could consider it for single handed

Speed through the water

use the GPS

Wind gear

not necessary, but the boat came with it, if it dies of old age it will get tossed

Automatic steering

Critical, whatever you choose don't stint. I like a wind vane but the boat doesn't suit so a big mother grunty under deck auto pilot is what I have, working on charging systems so i can survive engine failure.

Full integration

Sounds like maths

Lots of redundancy

always good

Complete reliability

impossible to achieve but a great goal

Low electrical draw

WInd vane and no radio solves that

 

Of course the wind is free so all this should be low budget!

 

Name brand vs Unknown on Trade Me

 

Chart plotter vs Tablet. Boat power vs independent

We have the old GPS that reads lat and long, open CPN on the laptop with a dongle, will probably get a tabletty thing before we go for the helm (under the hard dodger), but for 2 years now I  have been using a phone.

 

There's a myriad of options now. What's your pick?

 

No correct answer but think about it and be comfortable with your choices

Link to post
Share on other sites

I will have -

Compass - 2 stand alone

Speed - part of a std instrument package with manual back up

depth - part of a std instrument package with manual back up

Wind - part of a std instrument package connected to Autodriver

Chronometer - stand alone

Barometer - stand alone

temp - part of a std instrument package

GPS - 2 separate and not inter connected 

Coms (VHF and SatPh) - separate units

Stereo... complete with boom boom upgrade

Autodrivers - 2 separate units, with bungy back up.

 

I'm likely to also have -

AIS

Plotter - so an additional set of GPS, speed, time and compass.

DVD -  probably via a laptop.

Cellph

 

Not much in my list can be allowed to run 24/7. Just doing my bit for climate change  :D

 

Link to post
Share on other sites

You got it Wal, basics first!!

Grant, DVD players suck way too much power. Copy all the music to a USB drive...

 

For the rest, there is really two directions to go. PC based or conventional plotter based.

I've been trying to get to writing an article about this and the pros and cons, but have not got to it yet. Here is a quick summary;

 

Multiple function systems are better for limiting power use.

Basic instrument packages are required, depth, speed, temp, wind-speed, log all in the same transducer now. There are some real low power use instruments available now, way better than a few years ago.

For safety in navigation, the basic rule is never trust one source of data. All the instrument packages (well, nearly all) now speak NMEA2000, so can easily share data to help with this, and they save weight as they only need one cable.

Positioning and plotting are safer on a plotter or PC - and routes can be entered and shared without re-keying (which can introduce errors). Cheapest is a PC with free software - OpenCPN is great! Plotters like the Zeus 11 or even the Vulcan might be better for the technically challenged! They are more robust as well.  GPS's are cheap now, I have 5 aboard. Primary boat one, 1 handheld in the grab bag, the AIS one, and two smartphones! 

International comms can be via Satphone (suitable for short trips, expensive long term), or SSB and Pactor, which gives email from anywhere but takes a bit of time to learn. Irridium go is another option, but I don't have personal experience of it yet. Similar to a sat ph.

Radar. If shorthanded, in poorly charted areas, or bad visibilty, these are invaluable! Often not appreciated by those who have not used them (or don't know how to use them properly!) New radars (Like the Navico -Lowrance, Simrad,B&G) draw very little (2w standby and 18w working!!), no warm up time, and are really cheap now, A 3G radar can be had out of the USA for under $1500 NZD, if used with opencpn (so you only need the dome). Radar overlays and guard zones are fantastic - never sleep, get cold, need toilet breaks, or complain. Mine normally sees other vessels before someone on watch does. Make sure your alarms are loud- a pc is good for this!

Automatic steering. Depends on how many crew you have. Modern autopilots are great, but can be power hungry, depending on boat and trim etc. Again, interfacing is easy (nmea2000 again if you can). Don't worry about those who say that all these things will fail at once. They can all work stand alone if they have to, it's just interfacing makes it so much easier! A wind-vane steering system still suits some sailors and some boats, and uses no power. However it is stupid - it will follow the wind if there is an unexpected shift. Modern APs can sail to wind angle, course, waypoint, route, whatever, with alarms as required.

 

So, what have I got? As you may have guessed, I like the electronics, and I'm pretty confident I can fix most things. I use a PC (draws 10w) as the center of my system. Email, weatherfax, grib forcasts and comms via SSB and Pactor 3 (would be a 4 now). Instruments etc all connected to the PC, as are the radar, AIS, Auto pilot, primary GPS plotter.  Primary NAV plotter is opencpn on the PC with a 15" touch screen which is replicated at the helm. Autopilot is a Simrad AP24 with an AC42 pilot computer and Hydraulic steering. The hydraulic steering is on a separate tiller to provide redundancy to the mechanical main steering system. Radar is a Lowrance 3G broadband dome, gimbaled so it works properly while sailing, connected by ethernet to the PC. VHF is a DSC unit connected to the GPS and the PC. We carry a spare laptop in case of a PC failure. The total package is worth about $15,000 to replace today. The same functions with a plotter based system would be over $25K, and would not do emails etc etc. Most cruisers with plotter based systems have a laptop for comms as well as the nav system. Most offshore racers have a PC or Mac at the nav station.

I have had this system (basically, had 3 PCs and changed the software to opencpn in this time) since 2001, and the boat has done over 30,000 miles with it so far. I have never had a failure at sea, except the AP computer 1x and the Hydraulics loosing oil 1x. 

Link to post
Share on other sites

I'd have radar and AIS for coming through shipping lanes. Having come through a couple on dark and stormy nights I learned how busy these can be. I was amazed coming through Eastern Australia at the speed of these behemoths.

 

If you're using GPS smartphones make sure they are can actually use satellites and not just cell towers for positions. Some use the Russian satellites. What are people using?

 

Take spares of everything including alternators and belts. You might even want triple backup for self steering.

 

We had texts via satellite phone for weather routing info. Sold the satphone after we got back so it worked out cheap. A few years ago there was a company in Sydney who did good deals on sim cards for them.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Holy crap, IT's boat has more computors and lectronics than my entire business uses :D

 

SatPh is cheap for those who aren't long term cruisers. You can buy block of minutes which last for ages and are cheap. Last suss I was able to get 250min for US$250. Interesting to see Kevin comments on minutes in Aussie, over there seemed to be a stand out as to how expensive minutes were, way more then NZ or the US for the same system, Imarsat.

 

DVD for the odd movie. Music already is on USB's.

 

When you boil it down you can cross oceans with only speed, log, a compass, a chart, a ruler and a pencil. Or in todays world just a GPS and for the smarter add a pencil and paper chart..... a ruler would be handy as well.

 

 

 

 

 

Link to post
Share on other sites

Holy crap, IT's boat has more computors and lectronics than my entire business uses :D

 

SatPh is cheap for those who aren't long term cruisers. You can buy block of minutes which last for ages and are cheap. Last suss I was able to get 250min for US$250. Interesting to see Kevin comments on minutes in Aussie, over there seemed to be a stand out as to how expensive minutes were, way more then NZ or the US for the same system, Imarsat.

 

DVD for the odd movie. Music already is on USB's.

 

When you boil it down you can cross oceans with only speed, log, a compass, a chart, a ruler and a pencil. Or in todays world just a GPS and for the smarter add a pencil and paper chart..... a ruler would be handy as well.

 

 

 

 

 

Link to post
Share on other sites

FFS Km we got it the first time!

Interesting choice BP that a barometer & a cloud is OK for weather, can it see that cyclone forming in the Coral Sea? And yes I know sailors for hundreds of years had nothing better but there have been some advances in the last 20 years that are not a complete waste of time & money! 

Forecasting would be the one thing I think it's worth spending time & money on, but hey call me a pussy if you like.

But I've done offshore trips in 55 knots, and I've done them in 25 knots max, & guess what, one is more fun than the other!

Link to post
Share on other sites

It's the software having a hissy fit........ still by the looks. It said it had problems so wasn't posting comments, it seems it lied.... 3 times :)

 

 

Interesting choice BP that a barometer & a cloud is OK for weather, can it see that cyclone forming in the Coral Sea?

It's the challenge BK.

 

Sure you can hop aboard and fire up a multitude of lectronics, coffee makers, flat screens, auto charging didos and all the crap many boats seem to deem as 'necessities' these days.... but does it give you the same satisfaction when you get to the other end? Many would say yes but most, if not all of them, haven't done it without. Having done both one is way more of a challenge than the other and with bigger challenges comes bigger rewards.

 

For some it's the journey, for others the journey is only a means to get to the destination.

 

Besides you can get all the weather, inc cyclone warnings, you like from a very simple $25 radio, have been able to for decades.

 

Ok, disclaimer time, we have specifically made sure my boat can run a coffee machine :D

Link to post
Share on other sites

Yes, you can cross the ocean in a folkboat with no electronics.

Yes you can get a weather report by radio, or DIY by clouds and barometer.

Personally I like Grib files, weather faxes, and forecasts. For me it is part of seamanship - be as informed as you can, make the most of the conditions available, deal with what you have to suit yourself and your boat int he best possible manner. To me, not having decent forecasts is irresponsible in this day and age. Cook took with him the best technology he could in the day ( and early chronometer, for example)...

 

If you go in a race without the gear, a similar sailor in a similar boat, both with that gear will beat you. His routing will be better, his average speed better, and probably he will sail a shorter track in more comfort.

 

Go in the folkboat with nothing if you wish, but don't expect miracles! :-) 

  • Upvote 1
Link to post
Share on other sites

Miracles are right in there with Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny, the Tooth fairy and smart Australians, they do not exist so don't bother lookin.

 

Some people look at lectronic covered heavy cruisers as perfect boats for lazy operators with a low skill set and no desire to improve them. Those people are about as correct as you are with your folkboat comments.

 

I disagree, to a point, with the race comment. Look at the last TT, for just one example, and you can see why. Again horses for courses.

 

All boats are different, the people using them are different, they are used in different ways for differing end desires. Celebrate the differences, don't berate them.

Link to post
Share on other sites

In the last Trans Tasman, to which boats are you referring to KM? My comment was given similar boats, & similar sailors abilities, the one with the most info would win. I do not see any boats that can be compared in that manner from that event.

 

Here is an example of what I mean. A while back, for my boat I did a route plan for a Trans Tasman. This involved the boat's polars, the weather forecasts, pilot charts, current and tide data etc. This was given to a routing program to decide the best course. There were over 65 million calculations to arrive at the result, taking the PC about 30 Mins to calculate. This type of calculation can be used with every new forecast, to make sure that the best possible routing decisions can be made, even for a weather system that is, as yet several days away.

 

I'd defy any "seat of the pants" sailor to be able to get anywhere near the same efficiency in route planning. He would not even know about a system still days away. The top long distance Navigators all use these systems, (volvo boats, vendee globe etc), -  the reason for that is because it works better!  They are, of course, only good for the reasonably accurate forecast period - usually (currently)  3-5 days. 

 

To deny the use of modern electronics is a help to getting the most out of your boat, is similar to wanting to use cotton sails. The new stuff is just better.

 

For me, the satisfaction in a voyage is having made the best possible decisions I can, and to sail the boat to the best of my ability, with the information available. Others may get more from it by "doing without", but I don't. I have an engine, and many other modern gadgets!

 

Each to their own though :-) 

Link to post
Share on other sites

Not doubt about too much of that IT, but still some of it ;)

 

 


For me, the satisfaction in a voyage is having made the best possible decisions I can, and to sail the boat to the best of my ability, with the information available.

 

Exactly mine as well. The only big exception is my boat, like lots out there, does not have the capability to run what yours does without adding 100's of kilos of weight, which is only bad on all levels. So I have to find other methods, luckily ones I am trained in and have used extensively over decades, again like many out there. And there lies a good challenge for me, I must admit to lazing up by using lots of gadgets during the last few trips.

 

In a offshore race in my boat I'm not delusional enough (just yet) to think we're a podium placing package, I am realistic enough to know I will start as the most likely DFL (dead f**king last) boat so if I can finish in front of just one other boat I will be punching above my weight. Again that's because I want to use a small boat to up the challenge level. Sure not a massive goal or one that hasn't already been done a million times but not by me in my boat.

 

Does that make me any less safe than you? Nope, in fact some would argue it makes me safer........... but many of them don't know me so they may change their tune if they did :D

 

As a interesting exercise. Assume a 1200nm passage. How many amps would you expect to consume per average day, all up total boat use? How many hours of charging will it take you to replace those amps? We'll assume no solar inputs as the weather is unusually sh*t.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Yep, ok KM. I'd be amazed if all my electronics weigh 100KG, let alone 200KG. Lets see;

 

Windgen around 7 Kg, say 15KG with mount pole & cables.

Solar panels, 3 KG each (2), say 10 KG with cables and controller

Computer 1 KG, monitor 3 KG x 2, 7 KG total.

AP ram 10 KG

Instuments total (WInd, speed, depth AIS, AP, Radar, etc) 10 KG

SSB and Pactor less than 10 KG

EPIRB 1 KG

 

Probably forgot some stuff, but that total is 63 KG. The Batteries are bloody heavy though, and I probably have more than you. 440ah, about 100 KG total.

 

Power consumption depends on how much hand steering you wish to do. The AP is the most power hungry device in a decent seaway, can consume as much as 43 amps momentarily, but averages about 5, so 125ah per day. Fridge/freezer is big (580ltrs total), consumes about 45amp/hrs per day. PC is 30w with one monitor going, about 60 a/h per 24, radar the same. Nav lights etc are now very small draw, say 2amp hours. All together, my boat uses about 300 amp hours per 24 hours. If you used a lithium batt, that would be 3 hours running with a 100 amp alternator, or a constant charge of 12.5 amps from somewhere. The solar and wind gen often keep up with this, sometimes I run the motor to assist if there is no wind or sun. I normally run the engine an hour a day to run the engine driven fridge, which reduces the amount of running the electric one does. You wont have such a heavy AP, or such a big (if any) fridge freezer, so a lot of the draw won't be there.

 

My boat is not huge -34 ft on the waterline. Your boat would be faster than mine off the wind, and is likely to be faster in a solo tasman than me. Island Time will plane, but only reluctantly.

 

Its not as bad as you think!!:-)

Link to post
Share on other sites

This is a real part of the electronics package selection process too, along with refrigeration, is to get the level of safety and 'comfort' aboard, while doing inside the cost, weight and charging 'budget'.

At sea solar power is often blocked by the sails, so much less use than at anchor. 

But personally I think a modern yacht should be able to sail most of the time, without running an engine for charging. 

Perhaps that's where some of the advances are in amp use reduction, notably Sat Phones vs SSB, and modern Radar. But you can go without either SSB or Radar.

Also it's deciding what you really need, rather than an endless list of electronics and fridges that prevent ever going to sea. 

There are shops at your most of your destinations. Part of the challenge of sailing to another town is finding the local markets surely. So how many freezers do you need? Dare I say it, but freeze dried and can food still exists and has improved too.

I run 300 Amp/hr of batteries, that the wind and solar keep up with, nearly all of the time. So the challenge will be offshore electronics that fits within the amp and weight budget... 

Link to post
Share on other sites

I totally agree Tim, it's the charging that limits the systems.

 

Many cruising boats (remember that the average size must be somewhere near 50ft now - Island Time is small at 40) have gensets to keep up with the demands, and have way more gear than I do - watermakers, garbage compactors, even air conditioning, sometimes even multi zone for each cabin! Weight is a real issue there, and does effect sailing performance, sometimes radically!

 

Large alternators (150amp and up) are common, sometimes more than 1. Make sure they are hot rated and have proper multi stage regulators or they are self defeating!

 

But, as you say Tim, look at the 3G radar - 3 watts on standby, 18w transmit (iirc), my pc nav system with 15" touchscreen total 30 watts, etc etc. Modern stuff can be really low power draw. An example is that Island Time has 14 internal lights, a few years back I changed them all to LED - now I can have them ALL on, and they draw less than 1x 25 w incandescent bulb! The primary Nav light for sailing (masthead Tri Color) draws 0.15 amps! 

 

SSB does draw a lot, but in my case it is only used for about 10 - 20 mins per day, totaling about 4-8 amp hours. 

 

It is certainly possible to have a modern sailboat that is self sufficient for power, without running an engine, if you do the setup right. Sailing East or West especially can be an issue with shading for solar, but if that is the case and you are sailing, there is wind, and that is where the wind gen comes in. Sometimes, downwind, there is not enough wind across the deck, and I have to resort to the motor if there is no sun as well.... nothing is perfect I guess!

Link to post
Share on other sites

Yep, ok KM. I'd be amazed if all my electronics weigh 100KG, let alone 200KG. Lets see;

 

No but the motor you have to power them all certainly does. I don't have one of those motors.

 

I'm just assembling my numbers and will be back shortly. First work out shows I have big issues so I'm checking to see if I've made a cock-up somewhere. Last work out had it hell tight but doable.

 

I can say at the moment though that at my best possible rate of charge and assuming no system loses I'd take 36 hours to generate the power you consume in 24hrs. I am working on trying to improve that but I'm also sussing lithium batteries and I believe they like a specific type of charge so that maybe be a limiting factor in it all.

 

So to run only 60% +/- of your gear means I have to have a motor running 24/7 and that will consume 208 kilos (10% of my boats weight) of fuel alone during a 10 day trip....... if the genny specs are accurate. There is no allowance in that fuel load for the motor that pushes the boat, which needs to be at least 62lts on the startline but I could say that was in the 208 and just hope I didn't need to motor any more than around 50nm, which is about one small fuel tank (12.5lt) range in nice water.

 

Also being a smaller vessel solar panels do create many issues, one being big nasty drag. So we don't have the option of whacking up a couple of 200Watters.

 

Just to clarify things a little. I have no issue with boats like IT's using lots of gadgets and power, hell if I was cruising in a bigger boat I would as well BUT the current project is a light weight small boat primarily aimed at performance (as ho hum as it can sometimes be) rather than cruising luxuries along with just how much can you do with a small one with only having a smallish budget, so along with boat limitations there is a project goal of light and minimal. I can afford to pay for lots of fruit but that's not the end game of the project, that is also way my hands today are suffering carbon splinters not a boat builders. Also add in some challenge element. I've been spoiled in the last few offshores so time to step things up again, it just makes life more interesting..... and I was going to say fun but 60kts 500nm from land in a 30fter is not actually that much fun, the day after it blows through is one you could repeat many times though.

 

I'm likely this thread, it's good to have others inputting as IT has mentioned one or 2 things I didn't know but want too for lectronics and other bits.

 

 

My boat is not huge -34 ft on the waterline. Your boat would be faster than mine off the wind, and is likely to be faster in a solo tasman than me. Island Time will plane, but only reluctantly.

Anything forward of the beam and you'd slaughter me, we are good downhill but decidedly average, at best, uphill. It would be a interesting battle though. You have 2 years to prep your beast :)

Link to post
Share on other sites

But KM, gentlemen don't sail to weather!

 

Fair point about the engine. Without the fridge and big autopilot the consumption is down a lot probably I reckon to not hugely over 130 amp hours. You will need some AP power though....

 

The S panels I have are 1.4m x .56m ans 3mm thick, flexible type, 140watt, so not physically huge, and only 3kg.

 

My time for the Solo Tasman in 2010 was 9 days 17 odd  hours IIRC, 3rd Keelboat, 7 hours behind the wining keel boat. The whole race was close, and pretty interesting! Conditions each time vary a fair bit, so its hard to compare results from other years. 

 

You should be able to work out a power system that will not need much from the engine...

Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.
Note: Your post will require moderator approval before it will be visible.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

×
×
  • Create New...