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Monthly Archives: January 2014

Technology

INVERTER INSTALLATION: TROUBLESHOOTING 101

Quick Tips to Maximize Your Inverter’s Zesty Performance

By Tech Doctor Don Wilson

With all the interest generated by our previously posted edition of TECH DOCTOR, I reached out for this additional and rather relevant paper on inverters. These highly advanced additions to the electrical needs of many boats and yachts have become as important and necessary as any other piece of equipment aboard. -Capt. Ken

So you want to install an inverter, but with all the features and complexity of today’s more sophisticated units, you’re hesitant to take the plunge? Or, perhaps you’ve had some problems with your inverter, and you’re not sure if it’s a faulty unit … or a simple installation problem? Let the Tech Doctor help! This issue offers up some basic troubleshooting tips to help ensure your inverter
is installed correctly in order to deliver maximum, trouble-free delivery. Success in this area will save aggravation and potentially money associated with having to engage a support technician for unwarranted and unnecessary repairs.

Xantrex PROsine™ Inverters deliver true sine wave output that is identical to AC power supplied by your utility. This clean output makes PROsine™ Inverters ideal for handling sensitive loads, while also improving AC equipment performance. Designed for recreational and industrial applications, expect the best performances from televisions, audio systems, speed tools, and any other electronics where you want nothing but the most optimal performance.

Xantrex PROsine™ Inverters deliver true sine wave output that is identical to AC power supplied by your utility. This clean output makes PROsine™ Inverters ideal for handling sensitive loads, while also improving AC equipment performance. Designed for recreational and industrial applications, expect the best performances from televisions, audio systems, speed tools, and any other electronics where you want nothing but the most optimal performance.

LET’S GET STARTED.
First, an overview. When working with electrical circuits, you must always ensure the circuit is powered down and cannot be re-energized while you are working on it. If you’re not entirely comfortable with this task (or any other cited in this article) then by all means, leave it to the experts. Your attention and compliance to all safety directives must always be first and foremost!

THE BASIC BENCHMARK.
If for any reason, things don’t seem to be working as they should with your inverter, understand that these types of products simply don’t “kind-of” fail. When an inverter goes bad, typically nothing will work … or, one of the features simply won’t work consistently.

If an inverter system was not part of your original purchase, always seek out the experts when doing a retrofit or addition.

If an inverter system was not part of your original purchase, always seek out the experts when doing a retrofit or addition.

STRATEGIES FOR INVERTER INSTALLATION SUCCESS.
1. Revert all settings to factory defaults. This may seem obvious, but the factory default settings are usually default for a reason. They are the values that allow the inverter to work in the vast majority of environments. While you don’t want to leave these settings to factory default in the long-term, for a quick test, it’s ideal. After completing the test, then you can easily readjust the settings to meet your specific needs. Check the settings, one by one, until the problem is identified, or the settings are adjusted to work. Note: If the inverter came installed with your vessel, the manufacturer would likely have changed the factory default settings to custom settings to suit the design and application. In such circumstances, once you reset the inverter to the default OEM/manufacturer setting, you may not need any further changes.

2. Disconnect all loads. This action will remove the installation as a possible cause of the problem. This is also a good time to disconnect the  battery, wait a few minutes, and then reconnect, in order to reboot the inverter’s processor.

3. Power up the inverter. If this works, bring the loads on-line, one by one.

4. Watch the DC voltage at the inverter and make sure the voltage stays within the DC voltage range of the inverter. This eliminates the possibility that an ineffective circuit from the battery is causing the issue. If the voltage is erratic, solve that problem by tracing the cause of the erratic voltage and fixing it, and then get back to the inverter. Recommendation: if you don’t have a spare DC fuse on board, get one! Also, read up on and review the features of your inverter. Some perceived problems actually arise from features in the inverter like idle mode, or power save. Such features, when enabled, allow the inverter to turn off when the load is low, but can create the very real perception of a problem. Remember: inverters don’t produce energy; they simply convert what they’re given. If you have a combination inverter/charger, and the inverter doesn’t work, but the charger is humming along fine, then check the DC voltage at the inverter when inverting to gauge whether it is within the inverter’s DC range. If the inverter works, but the charger is problematic, then check the AC input voltage at the inverter and ensure it is within the inverter’s AC range. With a sound read of what the unit is receiving, you can eliminate most causes of perceived failure.

Tech Doctor Don WIlson.

Tech Doctor Don WIlson.

A FINAL TROUBLESHOOTING REVIEW.
1. For the most part, inverters either work, or they don’t.
2. From my experience and in working with dozens of tech service centers, I have concluded that more than 80% of inverters that are returned without hands-on troubleshooting have absolutely no issues on the bench. The problem in at least 20 percent of the returns correlate directly to faulty installations.
3. Erratic behavior, or inconsistent problems, are almost always a loose connection…somewhere. While it’s not easy to find them, it’s worth the time and the effort.
4. A quality volt-meter is worth the investment. While there is a cost associated with ownership, it may pay off in eliminating shipping and diagnostic bench time at the service center that is unnecessary.
5. Safety first!. Power down as much as reasonable when working with circuits. Always use one hand when working with wiring. If you’re not qualified, or are not 100% confident in the process you’re attempting, hire a qualified electrician.

SUMMARY.
Remember, inverters are nothing more than an appliance that does what it’s told to do. If it doesn’t receive the right instructions, or can’t interpret its input, it likely will not perform to your expectations, through no fault of its own. Take the time to ensure the proper installation in order to maximize the performance of your hard-working inverter! Then, you will realize its ultimate return on investment.

To view the Xantrex TECH DOCTOR LIVE, visit www.youtube.com/xantrextechnology
To request print or video editions of Tech Doctor, please email Marketing Manager Mitul Chandrani – Mitul.Chandrani@schneider-electric.com
And please mention that you read this edition on The Boat & Yacht Report.

About Xantrex Technology Inc.
Xantrex Technology Inc., a subsidiary of Schneider Electric, is a world leader in the development, manufacturing and marketing of advanced power electronic products and systems for the mobile power markets. The company’s products convert and control raw electrical power from any central, distributed, renewable, or backup power source into high-quality power required by electronic equipment. Xantrex is headquartered in Vancouver, Canada, with facilities in  the United States. www.xantrex.com

About Schneider Electric
As a global specialist in energy management with operations in more than 100 countries, Schneider Electric offers integrated solutions across multiple market segments, including leadership positions in energy and infrastructure, industrial processes, building automation, and data centres/networks, as well as a broad presence in residential applications. Focused on making energy safe, reliable, and efficient, the company’s 110,000 plus employees achieved sales of 19.6 billion euros in 2010, through an active commitment to help individuals and organizations “Make the most of their energy.” www.schneider-electric.com

About Don WIlson
TECH DOCTOR DON WILSON has worked in technical capacities in the automotive, RV and marine fields and for the military since 1989 and has extensive experience in designing and troubleshooting onboard electrical systems. A former customer service manager dealing with electronic issues, Wilson currently serves as a technical instructor for the RV industry’s RVIA Trouble Shooter Clinics and is a full-time sales application specialist for Xantrex Technology.

 

 
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Posted by on January 23, 2014 in Technology

 

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Photo Op

Photo Op

 

Many thanks to all those who have sent in photos of their journeys, adventures, nature, and other related themes to this site. Keep them coming! -Capt Ken

 

 

 

DSC_1789Hey Cap, read your excellent review of the 77′ foot, Jarrett Bay-built Blank Check and remembered I was on the Beaufort, NC town dock on the same day you were there. Snapped this shot of this most beautiful boat and watched as you and the crew went out for the day. Enjoy the site. Keep up the good work. –Daryl W., Beaufort, NC

 

 
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Posted by on January 23, 2014 in Photo Op

 

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Sea Trials

DSC_1255Apart From The Rest

The Sealine F48 makes a bold design statement with an outstanding, well-built cruising boat whose primary function is to keep you away from the dock.

By Capt. Ken Kreisler

In my world, this is what powerboat cruising is all about. A spectacular day with warm sunshine, flat calm seas, blue skies with only fair weather clouds drifting by and just the notion of a breeze as, with my hand on the wheel, and a quick glance at the instrument panel telling me all is okay, I can sit back in the comfortable chair up on the open bridge and take it all in. And of course, there is a great deal to be said about the boat I am presently on as well: The all new Sealine F48.

Sporting a daring profile, the Sealine F48 offers something a bit different for the the cruising boater.

Sporting a contemporary profile, the Sealine F48 offers something a bit different for the cruising boater.

In the very competitive cruising market, and right in the sweet spot for a boat like the F48, Sealine has come up with a design that fits hand in glove as it were, for a couple or a family that considers, as their paramount function, the ability to get from here to there and back in comfort, with economy and safety as added perks.

This open bridge puts the pleasure in pleasure boating for this sea trialing scribe.

This open bridge on the F48 puts the pleasure in pleasure boating for this sea-trialing scribe. Note the fully equipped helm as well a the conveniently located joy stick control just to port of the wheel.

“The thoughts that went into this particular design, as well as in all our boats, including the detailing, are geared towards people who want to be on the go and are active boaters. All the collected data from Sealine owners shows our people are not in the marina,” said Sealine PR rep Sue Hardwick as she hosted me on my day out on the F48, and away from the dock.

This cruising boat's aft deck offers just the right amount of open space for comfort as well as exciting entertaining opportunities.

This cruising boat’s aft deck offers just the right amount of open space for comfort as well as exciting entertaining opportunities.

My first impressions, as I made my way aboard and boat shoe met deck, was that I had stepped on a very solid platform. There was not even the hint of flexing underfoot no matter where I went both inside and out. And that also included the sturdy construction I discovered on all the cabinetry, drawers, hatches, doors, and those extra beefy rails. “While we are exploring utilizing more infusion procedures going forward, we’re basically a hand-laid boat, using all the latest in materials and techniques to make sure we build a safe, secure, and strong boat,” Hardwick said.

To that end, and according to Richard Crocker, Sealine’s Design Director, the company designs and manufactures all hulls, decks, and overheads to meet the strict ISO regulations concerning, among numerous other recognized international standards, structural integrity, stability, and buoyancy. In addition, all new designs are verified by two independent third-party engineering consultancies for integrity and development before prototype manufacture.

Vinylester and polyester resins are used in the hull construction and all hulls are a mixture of hand and spray layup. The first two layers of each hull are hand laminated using vinylester resin as a skin coat. The bottom shell laminates are a single skin while the topside laminates include a thick balsa core. The hull structure is strengthened by longitudinal stiffeners, which are supported by transverse frames, deep soles, and composite bulkheads.

With her lower helm, should the weather or sea conditions necessitate it, safe and comfortable navigation is available.

With her lower helm, should the weather or sea conditions necessitate it, safe and comfortable navigation is available.

Topsides, on the flybridge, the deck and structural bulkheads are of foam sandwich panel construction and are fabricated using resin infusion. Carbon fiber is used as reinforcement in strategic locations to stiffen the overhead and hull structures.

While Richard Corbett, Sealine’s media relations person got our F48 ready for sea, it was time for me to have a look around.

Sealine’s F48 offers a contemporary exterior; one that, while pleasing to the eye, not only indicates a rugged, no-nonsense approach to the design but presents something a bit different from the usual lines we are used to seeing. “Sealine has always been known for innovation and with this design, we fell we are once again, out in the forefront,” Hardwick said as we entered the main deck salon area.

Here is where the pleasant surprises begin to materialize and serve to show off the versatility of the Sealine design team’s vision for the F48. The cockpit area features a comfortable aft couch and plenty of room for alfresco dining. Add to that, the convenience of a wet bar and bbq station, and that time on the hook in a special anchorage will be a memory in the making. There is also a large hatch in the sole here for accessing the engine room, a space I found adequate for inspecting any critical maintenance areas as well as being able to check the all-important fluid levels on the mains and genset.

The main deck salon utilizes all the ambient light coming in from large windows fore, aft, and to either side.

The main deck salon utilizes all the ambient light coming in from large windows fore, aft, and to either side.

Stepping inside the main deck salon, I was greeted by wide open spaces, finely finished woodwork—dark walnut here, with many types of woods available—plenty of ambient light courtesy of large windows all around, including the glass doors aft, and the kind of interior headroom, averaging almost 6 ½ feet, usually found on larger boats. The lower station is to starboard and as I eased myself down into the comfortable helm seat and immediately, whether seated or standing—no head bumping or leaning over courtesy of the excellent headroom—noted favorable sight lines into the seaway.

Directly opposite the helm is a two-person seat that if desired, can be a dinette area. Aft of that is an entertainment center and opposite, a C-shape seating area. “Because we are flexible on the interior layout, there are options that an owner can genuinely feel will create the kind of elements that are personal to them,” Hardwick added as we discussed the possibilities of changing certain aspects of the interior design.

The forepeak VIP continues with the contemporary theme in both design and practical living space.

The forepeak VIP continues with the contemporary theme in both design and practical living space.

The well-appointed accommodation deck below, accessed via a centerline staircase, also defines the imaginative and purposeful Sealine approach to space configuration. Noting, of course, what has become apparent aboard the F48, that being the excellent headroom, there is a dinette to starboard, available as either an office space or, as would be my particular preference by placing the dinette topsides, pick up a third stateroom. The fully equipped galley, with a full size refrigerator freezer unit, lies over to port and forward is the forepeak VIP quarters with an en suite head. And the amidships, full beam master offers a sumptuous, natural well-lit stateroom, en suite head, seating area, and room for a washer/dryer.

The master stateroom takes full advantage of the boat's 14'8" beam to provide not only comfortable accommodations but ample storage as well.

The master stateroom takes full advantage of the boat’s 14’8″ beam to provide not only comfortable accommodations but ample storage as well.

Again, and as before, as I examined all the fit and finish throughout, I found painstaking attention to detail and more than ample space for ships stores and clothing and equipment for that extended time away. Sealine uses fine quality hardware and hinges, and there is a sturdy and robust feel when opening and closing stateroom and cabinetry doors, and storage drawers.

cumminsqsb59_480_a

The highly efficient Cummins 480-hp diesel.

With the twin Cummins 480-hp QSB diesels, tied to a pair of Zeus pod drives, now purring along in the dock, my attention turned towards getting this F48 where she belonged: out on the water.

Zeus_Pod

Effortless maneuvering around the dock and in close quarters situations is courtesy of Zeus drives.

After negotiating a rather extra slow bell from our dock—the joystick-operated Zeus drives turning a close-quarters situation due to a sailboat sticking out a bit too far into the channel into quite the manageable one—we picked up the markers and headed for open water. “The joystick control is so sensitive and responsive, most new boaters, with the proper instruction and practice time, are able to get a comfort level with the vessel’s operation quite quickly,” said Corbett.

The expansive flybridge area, accessed via a molded-in stairway instead of the usual ladder, is also available in two layouts; a large sunpad aft or, in its place, couch seating. Either way, there is plenty of room for entertaining and for you and your family and guests to enjoy, as I did, the time underway.

I found the F48 to be a sensible performer, clocking in almost 20kn at 2800rpm with a total fuel burn of 34.3 gph. And for those of you who find themselves in no hurry, knock her down to 1500rpm and settle into a 9kn turn of speed while sipping on a 7.2gph total fuel burn.

The medium to deep-V hull, with 18.5 degrees deadrise at the transom, transitioning to 21 degrees at the amidships sections, was designed for the pod drives right from the F48’s initial drawings and therefore, avoided any compromise associated with a conversion from a shaft drive. To maximize the experience at high-speed, she has four spray strakes per side with the pods in an aft tunnel. Her steering is quick and responsive, she tracked straight and true, and I got the sense I was driving a big sports car instead of a 48-foot boat across the waters of Long Island Sound.

On several full throttle runs, she achieved her top end in just about 30 seconds, indicating a well-designed running bottom that does not sit in the hole wasting time and energy. In addition, she barely lost her rpm rate when I put her into several hard-over and 360 degree turns.

Sealine engineers and designers made sure the F48 had the kind of galley capable of providing everything from an intimate, sit-down dinner to casual dining while underway or at a favorite anchorage.

Sealine engineers and designers made sure the F48 had the kind of galley capable of providing everything from an intimate, sit-down dinner to casual dining while underway or at a favorite anchorage.

So, whether you are a European-based cruiser or a Stateside traveler who journeys from Traverse City to Gore Bay, has the time for some extended time along the Great Loop, or, would like to find yourself in warmer climes during the winter season by choosing to visit the Florida Keys or get across the Stream to the Bahamas, having a boat like the Sealine F48 to take you there and back will not only make a world of difference to your boating experience but will set you apart from the rest as well. http://www.sealine.com

Performance: Based on the average of two reciprocal runs. Speeds measured on GPS. Fuel consumption taken from the electronic engine monitoring system. Sound levels gauged at the upper helm. 65 dB(A) is the level of normal conversation. Conditions: calm seas, winds less than 10 kn, ½ fuel, full water, 20’ of water on Long Island Sound. Results are for this particular day under these conditions. Similar results are not warranted and can differ due to load, weather, and other situations that can alter performance.

RPM      Kn    GPH    dB(A)
600       4.5    1.6g        58
800       5.6    2.2g        62
1000     6.8    3.3g        64
1500     9.0    7.2g        74
2000    10.5    16.7g     76
2500    14.7    28.0g     78
2800    19.9    34.3g     79
3000    22.8    39.6g     81
3230    27.4    50.4g     83

Fuel consumption is based on (2) engines at any given RPM. Speed and ranges, if any, are estimates based on engineering calculations. Range is based on 90% fuel capacity. Actual performance will vary and be affected by water and weather conditions, load and conditions of boat, engines, and propellers. Speed will increase as fuel is consumed. All data is illustrative and not warranted.

Specifications
LWL: 41’0”
Length overall: 49’6”
Length overall w/Hi-Lo swim platform: 50’8”
Beam: 14’8”
Draft: 4’1”
Height above the waterline: 20’6”
Headroom: 6’5”
Fuel: 396 gal.
Water: 133 gal.
Displacement: 34,763 lbs.

1-The-heel-into-the-turn-is-engagingly-committed

For more information, visit the company Website at http://www.beneteau.com

 
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Posted by on January 23, 2014 in Sea Trials

 

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Photo Op

Photo Op

Many thanks to all those who have sent in photos from their travels here and there and near and far. Greatly appreciated! My files are filling up so keep them coming. And don’t limit yourselves to just a short caption. Please feel free to write a longer narrative as well.

-Capt. Ken

DSC_0799While on a fishing trip to Isla Mujeres, Mexico, I left my buddies at the Ballyhoo Bar and took a stroll along the docks. I saw this local fishing boat up on the sand and thought it was an interesting subject; the shape and attitude of the bow, the knot in the line securing it, the colors and their condition, and yes, the name of the boat as well. I like what you are putting up here on this site and will tell my friends about it. Keep up the good work.

Peter D., Kemah, Texas

 
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Posted by on January 22, 2014 in Photo Op

 

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Green Dock

Green Dock

TORQEEDO POWERS FIRST ZERO-EMISSION ELECTRIC SPORT BOAT

For those of you who have been following our blog site here, we are constantly on the look out for innovative technologies that are sensitive to the environment. To that end, in the past we have reported on the efforts of Torqeedo Motors as they continue to move forward in the area of electric-powered outboard engines. This latest innovation, partnering up with competitive powerboat Team Scarab, once again shows how this particular company is continually moving forward in its efforts to provide boaters with an alternative to fueled engines. -Capt. Ken

Team Scarab, in conjunction with Torqeedo Motors and Ruckmarine, is pleased to announce the launch of the KONA 17′ SportRIB, the first zero-emission, all-electric sport boat. The Kona debuted at the Progressive Insurance San Francisco Boat Show, this past January. The sport boat, powered by Torqeedo’s multi-award winning Deep Blue electric outboard 40 hp system, has been integrated with the Kona 17, a modern throwback to the fun, simple family sports boat of the ’60s and ’70s.

tqo21638h

“There is a great resurgence of the classic sport boat within the marketplace. Powering this with Torqeedo’s propulsion system is a great alignment in both form and function for the modern boater’s needs,” said Larry Smith, designer, president of Team Scarab, and a name synonymous with performance boating in the US over the last 40 years.

The Deep Blue electric outboard system delivers 40 hp with one of Torqeedo’s 13 kW high-powered lithium-ion batteries, (also available in twin battery configuration for longer ranges). The result is a sporty feel and performance that has never been experienced with electric boats.

“Electric’s instant torque means instant power, which provides the feel of sports car-type acceleration on the water,” said Chris Carroll, VP of sales for Torqeedo.

The 40-hp Deep Blue Torqeedo electric outboard engine.

The 40-hp Deep Blue Torqeedo electric outboard engine.

The KONA 17 achieves a top speed of up to 27 mph, and cruises on-plane at 15 mph. For typical recreational usage, the KONA 17 can deliver 1-2 hours of active runtime. At no-wake speeds, the runtime is in excess of 3.5 hours. Its lithium-ion battery pack can be topped off over lunch with the on-board charger and standard 110-220 volt AC, 30 amp shore power, for extended time on the water or a quick run home. The battery can be fully recharged in just over 4 hours from 0% either at the dock or at home. Additionally, Torqeedo provides a 9-year, 80% capacity battery guarantee, providing years of carefree, economical boating.

The KONA 17 is available in 2-seat and 4-seat models. The sport boat is a high-performance runabout with two bucket seats, ideal as a couple’s cruiser. The SportRIB is a 2+2 configuration with a rear bench seat, and incorporates the patent-pending SCARIB Stability System (S3), inflatable collars that increase buoyancy to allow seating for four, providing a great platform for family watersport activities. The SCARIB Stability System also provides convenient built-in fendering.

Ruckmarine will market the system to green boaters and technology enthusiasts on the West Coast starting with the launch of the product at the inaugural San Francisco Boat Show. “We have a full schedule planned for the new year, spring and into the summer. We will be displaying the boat at various shows on the West Coast and we are actively working on demo days into the spring,” said Scott Ruck, owner of Ruckmarine.

For more information on this product, contact Ruckmarine Electric Sportboats, 2415-B Clement Avenue, Alameda, CA 94501. Tel: 510-816-0101; Fax: 510-864-9347. Email: info@ruckmarine.com; Website: www.ElectricSportboats.com. Team Scarab contact: www.teamscarab.com

Contact Torqeedo Inc., 171 Erick Street Unit A-1, Crystal Lake, IL 60014. 815-444-8806; Fax: 815-444-8807. Chris.carroll@torqeedo.comwww.torqeedo.com

 

GREEN DOCK is dedicated to supplying a forum to discuss important issues, products, and trends that can better help all of us protect the environment. Your thoughts, ideas, opinions, and desire to make a change is most welcome.

 
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Posted by on January 22, 2014 in Green Dock

 

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Photo Op

Photo Op

Well now, my fellow observers of all things nautical, shortly after I posted our first submission on Photo Op, my inbox started to light up with inquiries from readers and followers of this site around the world concerning their travels, interests, and enthusiasm for Sami K on her bike at the bottom of the ocean waters off Grand Cayman Island in the British West Indies.

I have already started a file of pictures which I will post on a regular basis. With all the comments so far, we should be able to have a constant and entertaining slide show to share. Thanks! -Capt. Ken

DSC_1390

“While traversing the remarkable rock formations at The Baths on Virgin Gorda during a recent family trip in the British Virgin Islands, I looked up and saw this ‘breaching humpback whale’, lifting itself out of the ‘water’. I was impressed with the photo of the diver on the bike you recently posted and remembered this particular one I snapped off. Thank you for this opportunity to share.” –Roberto B., Ancona, Italy.

 
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Posted by on January 20, 2014 in Photo Op

 

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Technology

The Mystique of Automatic Generator Start!

Tech Doctor Don Wilson solves the puzzle surrounding the use and effectiveness of Automatic Generator Start (AGS), as an integral part of sophisticated electrical systems onboard boats.

Our friends over at Xantrex Technolgy are world leaders in the development, manufacturing and marketing of advanced power electronic products and systems for the mobile power markets. The company’s products convert and control raw electrical power from any central, distributed, renewable, or backup power source into high-quality power required by electronic equipment and the electricity grid.

Whenever they feel some useful information could be of interest to my readers, they send it on over for publication. Penned by Don Wilson, aka The Tech Doctor and a true wizard in this sector of the industry, this recent conversation concerns the use of AGS, Automatic Generator Start and why it could pop up on your radar screen. -Capt. Ken

So, what is an “AGS” and why do I want one?

Tech Doctor Don WIlson.

Tech Doctor Don WIlson.

Imagine a world where you program your electrical system to automatically use the sources necessary to maintain it, while staying as energy-efficient as possible. Sound like something out of science fiction? GREAT NEWS: The future is NOW! With the right components — including an AGS — this automated world and all of its exciting benefits – is here and available now!

If you’re a power junkie or a generator enthusiast, you may be familiar with AGS. If not, there’s no time like the present to learn and put this highly efficient technology to work, to your full advantage.

AGS is the acronym for Automatic Generator Start. It is one of the least understood, but one of the most versatile and powerful, accessories available on the market today! At its basic function, AGS automatically starts and stops the generator using pre-defined parameters, thus relieving the user from having to actively manage his electrical system.

Marine gensets, such as this one by Kohler, can be safely controlled by an AGS system.

Marine gensets, such as this one by Kohler, can be safely controlled by an AGS system.

Most AGS modules start the generator when the batteries are low, and automatically shut it off when the batteries are recharged. Some models can even start and stop the generator based on the climate control system, or even the inverter load.

In the beginning, AGS was primarily developed for usage in the RV and marine markets, allowing enthusiasts to leave their cabin or boat for a day on the town, without having to burn excessive fuel via their generators to keep things comfortable.

As the concept developed, early adopters responded favorably. One of the first consumer demands was for air conditioner triggers so beloved pets could be kept safe and cool while their owners were out and about. Inverter load triggering was an obvious addition when networked power systems were developed, thus allowing the AGS to launch the generator when a long-term heavy load was in place, thereby preventing an overload.
xantrexsw300system001

While the concept itself sounds simple enough, is AGS difficult to program and use?

The only challenge with AGS may be experienced at the very outset. Some select models may have more sophisticated parameters to initiate, but with some help from a knowledgeable sales person or installer, that is easily overcome. Other models are more simple and easy to activate. The good news: once AGS  is set up and operational, it’s an easy “set it and forget it” device. Truly, once the parameters are set, the only choice left is whether you want to engage the AUTO mode, or OFF mode (some AGSs have a Manual ON mode as well, replacing the stand-alone generator control panel).

Here’s a simple explanation of the typical modes:

-‘Off’ simply means that the AGS module is not active in monitoring triggers and the generator may still be started manually. However, if the generator is running when Off is set, the AGS will shut the generator down if it was set for

-Manual On or Auto. ‘Auto’ means that the AGS will begin monitoring the triggers that would cause an automatic start of the generator. It will start or stop the generator, based on those triggers. ‘Manual On’ will cause the AGS to start the generator without a required “trigger” and wait for the user to set the AGS to “Off” before shutting the generator down.

Wiring is fairly simple as the connections are usually:

• DC voltage (some systems get power and DC voltage measurements from the inverter)
• Air Conditioner (these are 12-volt or ground sense wires to determine the thermostat state)
• Manual inputs (to add your own buttons somewhere to manually start the generator)
• Generator interface (2-6 wires for preheating, starting, and stopping the generator)

Once these connections are made and the parameters are set, the AGS simply works to

A Xantrex Freedom HF inverter/charger is a combination of an inverter, battery charger and transfer switch into one complete system.

A Xantrex Freedom HF inverter/charger is a combination of an inverter, battery charger and transfer switch into one complete system.

simulate the regular manual switches by closing/opening relays in the proper timing, based on the generator model. In other words, when the system receives a trigger (low DC voltage, thermostat input, or inverter load), the AGS simply closes a relay, or series of relays, thus simulating the user pushing the start button. If preheat is required, it will push the proper sequence to preheat, then start the generator. When the trigger is no longer active, or has been satisfied, the AGS closes another relay that simulates the user pushing the stop button. Some AGSs have a minimum runtime to prevent premature wear on the generator’s engine.

That, friends, is AGS in a nutshell. If you might benefit from AGS in your personal application, make sure that the model of choice offers only those features you really want and need; take care not to get overwhelmed by a model with more features than are necessary for your usage. There are models that have over 20 wire connections, but for a minimal installation, you may only need three! The rest of the wires are for different generator models, or optional features that you may not want to incorporate right away.

Also consider the difference between stand-alone AGS systems, which simply work with the hard-wired inputs they have, vs. networked AGS systems, which can take data and generator start triggers from other devices like Inverters and Energy Management Systems. Some of the networked systems can also help the other devices make decisions like shedding loads, or supporting heavy generator loads, based on data shared between all devices.

When you’re ready to move up to today’s latest technology and enjoy the benefits of an easier and more efficient system, AGS delivers!

To view the Xantrex TECH DOCTOR LIVE, visit www.youtube.com/xantrextechnology
To request print or video editions of Tech Doctor, please email Marketing Manager Mitul Chandrani – Mitul.Chandrani@schneider-electric.com
And please mention that you read this edition on The Boat & Yacht Report.

About Xantrex Technology Inc.
Xantrex Technology Inc., a subsidiary of Schneider Electric, is a world leader in the development, manufacturing and marketing of advanced power electronic products and systems for the mobile power markets. The company’s products convert and control raw electrical power from any central, distributed, renewable, or backup power source into high-quality power required by electronic equipment. Xantrex is headquartered in Vancouver, Canada, with facilities in  the United States. www.xantrex.com

About Schneider Electric
As a global specialist in energy management with operations in more than 100 countries, Schneider Electric offers integrated solutions across multiple market segments, including leadership positions in energy and infrastructure, industrial processes, building automation, and data centres/networks, as well as a broad presence in residential applications. Focused on making energy safe, reliable, and efficient, the company’s 110,000 plus employees achieved sales of 19.6 billion euros in 2010, through an active commitment to help individuals and organizations “Make the most of their energy.” www.schneider-electric.com

About Don WIlson
TECH DOCTOR DON WILSON has worked in technical capacities in the automotive, RV and marine fields and for the military since 1989 and has extensive experience in designing and troubleshooting onboard electrical systems. A former customer service manager dealing with electronic issues, Wilson currently serves as a technical instructor for the RV industry’s RVIA Trouble Shooter Clinics and is a full-time sales application specialist for Xantrex Technology.

 
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Posted by on January 20, 2014 in Technology

 

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Photo Op

Photo Op

Ahoy all shipmates, travelers, those who fish, dine, party, are concerned about the ocean and watery environments, and all who suffer from that most wonderful of maladies, terminal wanderlust.

As we often receive many comments including some very compelling, interesting, entertaining, and stimulating photographs, we at The Boat & Yacht Report have decided to start posting as many as we can. So, if you have something you would like to share with all our readers from around the world, feel free to send it on over with a short description, story, poem, or whatever message you deem proper.

We’ll start off with this one from Sami K, a marine biology major at the University of Miami, who, while on a diving trip to Grand Cayman Island, had her dive buddy snap this fun shot.

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“I’m very passionate about my studies and will be concentrating on sustainability issues, the health of coral reef systems, and the importance of mangrove habitats.”

 
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Posted by on January 19, 2014 in Photo Op

 

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Maintenance

Maintenance

Exhaustive Knowledge

An awareness of what is going on with your exhaust system can keep your engine running at peak performance and avoid costly repairs.

By Capt. Ken Kreisler

Years back, a friend of mine, short a mate for a late afternoon, early evening six-pack charter, asked me to work the deck for him. Fishing was good and on the way back to the barn, with just a few minutes to his dock, I noticed we were riding a bit low in the water and that the bilge pumps were now discharging fairly regularly. I told him about it and decided we would check things out as soon as we shut down and our fishermen were on their way.

Make your exhaust system part of your regular preventive maintenance regimen.

Make your exhaust system part of your regular preventive maintenance regimen. Photo Credit: DeAngelo Exhaust

We discovered there was quite a bit of water below as well as having collected forward. I asked him to hit the starter button and as the engine turned over, I was shocked to see raw water pouring out from underneath the hose connecting to the riser. Instead of being discharged out the exhaust pipe, it was bucketing into the boat. When we took things apart, we discovered the riser itself was totally corroded from the inside with very little material left being held by the hose clamps. We had dodged a very big bullet and one that neither of us would ever forget.

This kind of extreme corrosion in an exhaust manifold can mean big problems. Photo Credit:  BoatUS.

This kind of extreme corrosion in an exhaust riser can mean big problems. Photo Credit: BoatUS.

Just like any other critical part of your boat’s engine, the exhaust system needs proper attention to ensure safe and smooth operation. Besides the chance of being exposed to noxious fumes, not doing so can lead to severe engine problems and yes, even sinking.

We usually take the exhaust system for granted and expect there is little if anything that can go wrong. First mistake. This is a very important maintenance component and while you should call in the experts if you suspect there is a problem brewing, there are some things you can look for to help you head off the sticker shock of a major engine overhaul.

Water comes in; water goes out. A simple operation that carries a lot of importance in the safe and proper operation of your boat.

Water comes in; water goes out. A simple operation that carries a lot of importance in the safe and proper operation of your boat.

By now, we all know that when an up stroking cylinder compresses atomized diesel fuel—or when a spark goes off in a gasoline engine—there is detonation. Once that occurs, the resultant gases given off need somewhere to go. And it is during the exhaust phase of your engine’s operation that this is accomplished. Not being able to efficiently do so will result in back pressure problems, the first of many that can occur.

“Most people don’t worry about it until something goes wrong; and when it does, it can be pretty bad,” says Jorge Lang, Operations Manager at Ft. Lauderdale’s DeAngelo Exhaust Systems. “Think of it as a human being; it has to inhale, through the air intakes, and exhale through the exhaust.”

Basically, back pressure is the inability for your engine to breathe properly and as easily as it should and results in poor performance, a cut in fuel economy, and decreased speed. In addition, there can be consequential damage to internal engine parts such as valves, stems, injectors, and critical gaskets. “If the exhaust is running straight out, you have no back pressure. But if it has to go through a ninety degree turn or through a muffler, or you’re going to throw water into that gas flow, you’re adding resistance.”

No matter how big your boat is, always know the proper water flow of  your exhaust system and if any restriction is suspected, shut down and have it checked out immediately.

No matter how big your boat is, always know the proper water flow of your exhaust system. If any restriction is suspected, shut down and have it checked out immediately.

Given the fact that diesel engine manufactures do not supply exhaust risers with their engines, this critical piece of equipment is therefore, an after market component where improper system design and sizing, that being the diameter of the exhaust pipe, can worsen the problem. “If the material used is also not of the proper grade, what you wind up with is a lethal combination of metal, exhaust fumes, and salt water that does not get along very well,” said Lang. “We’ve seen it all; some even thinking a Home Depot pipe job will suffice.”

A failed gasket can cause a leak.

A failed gasket can cause a leak in the system.

Poorly designed exhausts can also allow water to flow back into the exhaust manifold, especially during large following sea conditions, and make its way into the engine. “There are a number of factors that determine how long a riser will last. Some of these include the quality of the welds, materials used, if the riser holds water when the engine is shut down, and how well it is supported.” Lang also suggests a regular inspection underneath your engine bed and stringers to look for rust spots, indicating a possible leak coming from somewhere.

Just as with your other important engine parameters, it’s best to have a base line for your exhaust system including correct operating temps for both cooling and exhaust systems, the right amount of visible exhaust flow should you not have an under water system, and of course, taking regular back pressure readings from your engine monitoring data. OEM’s have different predetermined back pressure limits based on critical internal features, so it’s best to check your engine manual or have the discussion with your engine manufacturer. Remember, the higher the back pressure, the more restricted the exhaust system will be. “Exceeding those limits will lead to problems,” said Lang.

But what if your running bottom and props are not fouled and your back pressure is within

Impellers should be changed at regular intervals to prevent any overheating problems with proper engine operations.

Impellers should be changed at regular intervals to prevent any overheating problems with proper engine operations.

acceptable limits? “This happens a lot, especially with boats up north that are stored for the winter,” says Mechanical Engineer and Manager of Centek Industries’ Product Design & Engineering Bert Browning. “Something may have made its winter home in the exhaust pipe and either died or made a nest or some other kind of living space.” A careful check for obstructions before getting your boat back in the water should be part of your regular preventive maintenance regimen.

“While back pressure issues can result in higher exhaust temps you don’t necessarily need to have back pressure problems for this to result,” offered Browning. You can have some cooling water issues as a result of a faulty water raw pump or failed impellers. These should also be checked regularly. If that impeller is degraded or damaged, not only will the proper amount of cooling water be diminished but, should any of the vanes break loose, the rubber material can be pushed all the way through the cooling system and severely clog the water flow. Or, you may have picked up a plastic bag or some other debris through the intake hose. In this case, make sure you shut off—and open once done—the seacock before attempting to have a look. And always make sure, just as you check your oil and fluid levels before starting up, to have a look at your raw water strainer and clean the basket if any debris or fouling is present.

Always make sure to check your exhaust hoses and the clamps for any sign of wear.

Always make sure to check your exhaust hoses and the clamps (right) for any sign of wear.

Another area to check is the condition of the blue and 443606black hoses and the clamps, especially those connected to the riser and the mixing elbow. With high temperature ratings, blue hose, rated at 350F if preferable. Any telltale problems will show up as a discoloration on some portion of the hose, usually at the clamp site. And it’s a given that hoses should be double clamped. Other revealing signs, such as those with fiberglass, gelcoated, or even Awlgripped systems, will be a yellowish-brown discoloration and ‘flaky’ deterioration. “With fiberglass, over time, the resin will ‘cook out’ and start weeping resulting in salt deposits forming on the exterior surface of the exhaust pipe,” said Browning. “Losing the resin will cause the pipe to eventually soften and compress under the clamp force.”

Keeping tabs on your exhaust system is as important as any other aboard your boat. Check with your yard manager during yearly haul out time and have the risers inspected as part of your maintenance regimen. Besides the fact that exhaust fumes are noxious and can cause health problems, your engine will not be running as efficiently as it was designed to do and, allowed to continue operating under diminished conditions, will lead to costly repairs.

For more information on exhaust systems and proper operation, contact http://www.deangelomarine.com; http://www.centekindustries.com

If you would like us to cover a maintenance issue that is of particular interest to you, please feel free to drop us a line by tabbing the LEAVE A COMMENT key located at the bottom, right hand side of this page.

 
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Posted by on January 17, 2014 in Maintenance

 

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BoatUS Report

BoatuslogoTop 10 Pieces Of Gear For Runabouts

As a follow up to my timely posting of information on making a case for the versatile deckboat, my friend Scott Croft at BoatUS sent me this handy list of important items one may want to consider having aboard before going out for the day or some extended time away from the dock.

You never know when having two anchors aboard is just what you will need should more options for anchoring be necessary.

You never know when having two anchors aboard is just what you will need should more options for anchoring be necessary.

As there’s a lot to be said for owning small runabouts, center consoles or bow riders, and while they are affordable, easy to store, and can keep everyone in the family happy, they have their limits, especially if you want to venture into coastal waters and big lakes. But these journeys can still be done, with the right ten pieces of equipment. Here’s what Boat Owners Association of The United States (BoatUS) recommends should be aboard every boat 20 feet or smaller:

paddle-quant-aluminum-kayaking-inflatablePaddles: If your engine quits, paddles are your propulsion. Keep the outboard or sterndrive down for a rudder, and if you’ve got a buddy or a spouse aboard, you can make decent headway. A T-handle paddle, the kind used for whitewater canoeing, gives you a great grip. The aluminum shaft is light and strong, as is the high-impact plastic blade. Those materials don’t mind sitting out in the weather, either. Make sure they’re at least five feet long.

Dry box: Small boats typically lack dry storage. Large, plastic marine dry images-1boxes with lids with O-rings seal out moisture and an extra-deep model can hold the radio, smartphone, flashlight, GPS and more, leaving them dry when you need them.

Anchors and line: Some small-boat manufacturers barely leave space for a lunch hook. But what happens if your engine quits, or you want to anchor overnight in a quiet cove? Stowing two anchors with different line lengths gives you options. Chain between line and anchor also helps. And don’t forget a few docklines. (See image above.)

images-2Wearable life jacket: Luckily, life jacket design has evolved and you can find Type III vest-style models that are comfortable to wear all day. Plenty of small-boat owners wear inflatable jackets. They’re more buoyant, but more costly and require some care. Your best choice is any life jacket you’ll always wear.

Compatible power source for electronics: When your cell phone runsimages-3 out of juice during a nautical emergency, that’s a crisis. Same goes for your flashlight, handheld GPS unit and VHF radio. Get devices that run on the same power source such as AA batteries and stow and extra sealed pack of batteries in the dry box.

images-4Manual bailer: Small, closed-deck boats rely on a single, submersible pump to keep the bilge dry. But if that pump fails, or seawater comes over the gunwales or stern, or there’s heavy rain, you’ve got a problem. Keeping a hand-operated bilge pump aboard is cheap insurance.

Air Horn: The US Coast Guard says small boats must images-5have a “sound-producing device” for distress signaling, capable of a four-second blast that’s audible one quarter-mile away. While a plastic whistle or an installed electric horn may meet the letter of the law, a better choice is a handheld, gas-powered air horn, which can be heard at greater distances.

images-6Spare prop and fix-It tools: A submerged ledge images-7or log can ding your prop and cripple your boat. Having a spare prop and the right wrench is common advice, but changing a mangled wheel while afloat is easier said than done. Dents in aluminum props can be put back into serviceable shape, at least enough to get home. Beefy, vice-grip-style locking pliers and slip-joint pliers are essential for this repair.

images-8Have a charging source: Cell phones don’t run on AA batteries. That’s why you need a marine rated 12-volt receptacle with a weatherproof cap. Mount it away from spray and rain, and don’t forget the charging cords for other electronics.

Paper chart in plastic cover: Even a waterproof 3606chart is hard to manage underway in an open boat. But by putting it in a clear, plastic holder, wind and water won’t matter it will always be ready when you need it. You can buy one or make one with clear plastic from the hardware store and duct tape.

Safe travels shipmates.- Capt. Ken

                                          ________________________

About BoatUS: Boat Owners Association of The United States (BoatUS) is the nation’s leading advocate for recreational boaters providing its over half-million members with government representation, services such as 24-hour on water boat towing as well as roadside assistance for boat trailers and tow vehicles, feature-packed boat insurance programs, money-saving benefits that include marina and West Marine shopping discounts, and vital information that improves recreational boating. Its member-funded BoatUS Foundation is a national leader promoting safe, clean and responsible boating.

 
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Posted by on January 16, 2014 in BoatUS Report

 

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