I got an email this week from the Port of Seattle Shilshole Bay Marina that concluded with an image that is reversed. At first glance it looks like it was taken from the south looking north with Puget Sound to the left. Then I realized nothing was in the right place. This image is looking south with Puget Sound (west) on the left.
In photography with slides this could be a simple mistake but in modern digital photography this requires effort to flip the image. I wonder if this was intentional to see who would comment about it, or a sign of much worse things.
When I bought my sailboat Sola a year and a half ago the hour meter for the diesel engine was nonfunctional. It is an LCD readout on the lower part of the tachometer. In the totality of the boat purchase this was not a major issue for me, but something that I’d like to get fixed to better keep track of engine maintenance.
Recently I had a major problem with my transmission, and the lack of knowledge about the condition of my engine became something I was very aware of while talking with mechanics. I spent a week sitting around in Port Townsend waiting on parts to get my boat fixed and had plenty of time to watch YouTube videos about fixing things on boats. I came across this one related to possibly fixing my hour meter with a $30 part. It explains what appears to be a common problem with Yanmar control panels, the LCD display of the hour meter fails while everything else continues working, including the counter chip in the background. Replacing the LCD panel gets a working counter without losing the underlying data. $30 is inexpensive compared to everything else I was spending to get the boat fully functional again, so I ordered the part. I paid via PayPal and was able to have PayPal specify my delivery address directly which made the purchase process very easy.
Instead of taking the entire panel out of my cockpit, I crawled into the lazarette, unplugged the cable, and removed the four screws holding the tachometer in place. Mine used Torx T10 screws.
Once the tachometer was sitting at my table, it’s held together by three torx T10 screws. After losening the screws, I was able to push on the screws, popping the lens and gasket out of the front of the housing. The lens itself is only held in place by friction.
Here you can see the internals. The upper plate holds the LCD connected by the ribbon cable, and has curved light guides coming towards incandescent lamps on the lower plate, but is primarily clear plastic with an opaque sticker gauge display on the top. The pin from the needle stepper motor protrudes through. I had to pry the needle off the pin with more force than I hoped, but it went back in place afterwards.
Replacement part in antistatic package, existing condition of the tachometer, and me slowly prying the display sticker from the front of the clear plastic.
I wish I’d ordered a replacement for the tachometer lens. It’s been scratched for the entire time I’ve owned it. Not a significant issue, but it would have improved the appearance.
I waited till I had put everything back in place before I started the engine and was quite pleased to see a display. 12,984 is more hours than I expected, but at least now I have a reference going forward.
The original LCD has the numbers LPH3930-2 05215235 printed on the edge, which is useful to recognize for future web searches. Simply based on that I was able to come across references to fixes for tachometers used on other brand engines. I also came across mention of a calibration menu, which might be useful. I noticed that there is a momentary switch button on the back of the unit. I only noticed it when I pressed it by mistake. Searching for “Siemens VDO Tachometer Installation and Operation Instructions for Programmable Tachometer with Hourmeter N 02 012 195” helped me find details on the calibration button itself.
When I purchased my sailboat I knew that I was going to want to make changes to the instruments. It had a Garmin Chartplotter and a Garmin AIS receiver. The chartplotter was several years old and all of my recent experience has been with B&G chartplotters designed explicitly for sailing.
Before dealing with the chartplotter I spent a lot of time understanding the existing platform. What I found was that the chartplotter and ais reciever were connected via a NMEA 2000 backbone, but not connected to anything else.
The boat was configured with raymarine wind and speed instruments, as well as a raymarine autopilot but they were not connected together.
There were two switches on my breaker panel, one for instruments in general, and a separate one for the autopilot.
Reading the manuals for the smartpilot controller I learned that if it was connected to the wind instruments I could sail to a wind angle as an alternative to sailing to a magnetic compass heading. Because I planned to do a lot of single handed sailing, this was definitely something I wanted to implement, and was the first change I made to the boat wiring.
The only drawback of this connection system is that when the autopilot is turned off and the instruments are left on, the smartpilot controller alarms and reports loss of communication with the controller. This mainly happens in the evening when I want to turn off the autopilot to save power but leave the instruments on to monitor depth and wind speeds.
The next change I made was to add a Raymarine Seatalk-Seatalkng Converter A06064 to connect the legacy Seatalk network to the NMEA2k network. The Seatalk-Seatalkng converter allows the old seatalk instruments to communicate with seatalkng instruments. Seatalkng is essentially the same as NMEA 2000 (NMEA2K).
I replaced the Garmin GPSMAP 740 with a B&G Zeus3S
I replaced the Garmin AIS 300 Receiver with an em-trak B954 AIS Transceiver
I replaced a Sony Stereo and CD Changer with a Fusion Apollo MS-RA670 Stereo
My current set of interconnected instruments are as follows.
I’ve been thinking about changing my speed and depth instruments to newer models, with the possibility of using newer depth transducers that work with the B&G and look forward to provide a 3d view of the ground surface forward of the boat. The big question that I’ve not been able to come across an answer yet is if the Seatalk-Seatalkng converter communicates both directions, and if the apparent wind and water speed data were to be moved to the Seatalkng side of the converter, would the autopilot still be able to steer to the wind angle.
Since this was my first year of boat ownership, I wanted to put lights up for the holiday season. I put them up in mid November and took them down in early January. I used three strings of lights, one at the forestay, and one on each of the backstays.
I have a full canvas cockpit cover, which meant that one of the light string connections could be out of the weather inside the cockpit, but the other connections would be outside.
I ran a single string up the forestay with the plug at the base, dropped into the anchor locker so it wasn’t sitting on the deck. I ran an extension cable from the cockpit over the deck to the anchor locker.
I joined two light strings together and used the main halyard to pull them up the backstays.
I had this tube of silicone sitting around so put a small bit on the flat part of each outside plug before connecting them. It seems to have worked well because it was still intact when I took the lights down, and the lights were still working properly.
After separating the cables, peeling the used silicone away was easy.
I’d done this treatment for the end plug on the forestay that was raised to the top of the mast, the join with the extension cable at the bottom of the forestay, and the joint of the two strings at the top of the backstays.
When I purchased my sailboat one of the items that came up on the survey was that the windlass control was missing it’s button covers. Recently when I was preparing to drop my anchor, the controller would allow the anchor to be lowered, but not to raise it. The buttons had finally failed.
I was pleased to find that the three conductor plug on the new model mates directly with the old socket. That meant that I simply had to plug the new remote into the existing socket on my boat, and store the socket that came with the new remote with the rest of my spare parts.
The new remote is definitely an improvement, being smaller and properly water resistant.
Details from Lewmar:
The 2 button wired windlass remote is the latest design of IP rated hand-held remote from Lewmar. The new unit is designed for remote operation of all Lewmar windlasses. The wired remote is constructed with high-strength, glass-reinforced PP combined with a high-density rubber gasket to ensure robust durability and a secure grip whatever the conditions. These units are supplied complete with a connecting cable extendable up to 3 meters, a watertight deck fitting and socket, and a support bracket for stowing.
I’ve been wanting to do some GPS data programming with the Raspberry Pi that’s on my boat. The Pi is connected to the NMEA 2000 network, and so should be able to retrieve GPS coordinates from either my chartplotter or my AIS unit when they are powered on, but it should also be able to get the GPS data from my Max Transit cellular gateway device.
It turns out that configuring gpsd to retrieve the data from the max transit was fairly easy. I edited the file /etc/default/gpsd to include the internal address and port of my router and restarted gpsd and now the Pi has the correct location.
The devices section was initially empty. I added tcp://192.168.50.1:60660 between the pair of double quotes. After that, I was able to run gpsmon with no parameters and it connects to the local machine and reports the gps statistics.
I’d verified that I can read the device directly over the network with the command gpsmon 192.168.50.1:60660 but I wanted to be able to write my programs without needing to know where the gps was located.
I purchased a Garmin Vivoactive watch to be able to run the raceQs sailing tactics racing watch app. I’ve actually purchased two of these watches. I purchased the first in early 2020 when I saw it on sale for around $120 on a discount site. I used a little bit with the RaceQs app https://raceqs.com/smart-watch/ before the COVID-19 Pandemic shut down all sailboat racing, and then used the watch more for its built in GPS bike tracking and walk tracking features during the summer. Towards the end of the summer when I was getting back into sailboat racing, I was wearing the watch on my right hand and managed to knock the strap loose while tying fenders to the lifeline. The watch bounced once on the deck before going overboard. It took me a few months before I saw another deal online that convinced me to buy a second watch.
I have a long data history with Fitbit, and currently wear a Charge 3. It’s similar to the newer Charge 4, but without the GPS tracking features. I like the smaller profile on my wrist of the fitbit, and have been wearing it or something similar 24 hours a day for the last five years. The larger size of the Garmin makes it harder to convince myself to switch to away from the Fitbit for my general data tracking, when though I’ve learned that when I don’t use the GPS features of the Garmin it has similar battery life to the Fitbit. I like the always on watch face of the Garmin, especially after I picked an analog style watch face.
I like using the RaceQs app on the watch while sailing, especially with the more recent editions features of automatically uploading race data to the website. I have some issues, that I mainly believe are because of the touchscreen abilities with the garmin watch. I believe that the app would be much better served on a watch with an array of buttons surrounding the watch face. The pictures of the app on its website appear to show a button centric watch.
The way I use the watch for sailing is that I wait till I’m on the boat, preparing for a start. Then I start the raceQ app on the watch, wait for it to get a GPS fix and go to the timer setting. Then I configure the timer for the appropriate countdown to my start and start the countdown. Then I explicitly press and hold the crown button until I can press the lock icon, locking the touchscreen. I’ve found that if I don’t lock the touchscreen, inadvertent touches will change what’s displayed on the screen, and cause the app to change modes. I do my best not to touch the app until after my race has completed.
Sometimes I notice the app is on a page that asks if I want to exit, with a check (✔) or cross (❌) option. I’ve found that the best option is to not enter anything until after the race has completed.
I wish that the raceq screen displayed GPS time on all screens, including the screen asking if I wanted to exit the app. There are plenty of times that I’ve been hiking on the rail and the skipper wants the exact time recorded for when we’ve crossed the finish line. with the watch locked, there’s no way to get the time on the watch quickly.
The app automatically calculates tacking angles to the mark after one set of windward/leeward marks have been rounded, which seems nice, but in my position on the boat, isn’t as important to me as the start timer, or the real time of finish.
I don’t know if there’s a way of creating screen shots of the watch display similar to what’s on a phone. It would be nice for describing after the fact what was going on, but with the limited storage and buttons on the phone, don’t expect there’s a way of doing so.
This is a feature that I’m still trying to understand. I believe it is an AIS message, and possibly a distress message, but have not been able to figure out what it means. I get the same result whether I push Show or Close, in that the alarm dialog closes and no cursor is selected.
I have a GARMIN AIS™ 300 Blackbox Receiver connected to my NMEA 2k network, and assume that it generated the message on the local network and the B&G is just displaying it. Because I don’t have an AIS transmitter, I don’t believe it’s a directed message to me. I’m not broadcasting any ID, and my radio isn’t hooked to the GPS, so isn’t configured to be able to broadcast distress signals. (One more item in my to-do-list)
The only annoyance I have with this type of message has been when I left the instruments running while i was away from the boat and returned to find the alarm beeping and a similar message displayed. I don’t like that the beeping may have been annoying my neighbors for days.
I’ve been extremely happy with my new chartplotter when I’m actively using it. I’ve been frustrated by some of the features.
I wish it would automatically start recording a new track every time it was turned on. It seems that this should be an option in the settings, but I’ve not been able to find such an option.
The bigger issue is that it seems to reduce the size of stored tracks. This may be related to whatever it’s doing to synchronize with the online map, but the behavior is extremely annoying as it means I don’t have the true logged data of where I visited on my two week trip to the San Juan Islands over July 4th.
The image above shows the track that had been running from my leaving of Odlin County Park on Lopez Island on July 5th, going north to Orcas Island, then sailing south to Mackaye Bay on Lopez Island on July 6th, and finally motoring south to Shilshole on July 7th, arriving a little past 3pm.
The second image was taken on July 22nd. You can see that the number of points for the Leave ODLIN track has reduced from 16063 to 178. Even stranger is that the Spencer Spit log has increased from 124 points to 134, and Deer Harbor has increased from 56 to 61.
I had the plotter set to automatically synchronize settings with the mobile app and the web site, but have disabled it as of today to see if future logs will not be truncated. The auto synchronization was a very nice thing initially because I was able to create a series of places at my desktop using the full keyboard and mouse, and then the next time I turned on my chart plotter they appeared on the plotter with my intervention.
I realized that the waypoints I’d created all had the default icon. I went in and changed the icon on the chart plotter for each if the locations and something also truncated the names. I don’t know if it was the synchronization with the online service, or the chartplotter itself, but losing data is never a good thing.
Another feature that would be extremely nice would be if the time at the top of the screen included the date and UTC offset or timezone.