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May 172011

Everybody knows that marine hardware suppliers tend to charge a lot of money for their products, right? Like just putting the word “Marine” on something instantly doubles the cost… I just had a rather funny example of this:

As part of the climate monitoring sensors we are putting on the Journeyman we are also mounting a weather sensor, in this case an Airmar PB200, which is actually quite a smart little unit. But it comes without any cables, so I ordered a cable and a NMEA0183 and NMEA2000 interface box. The cable and box cost about $200, and when the stuff arrived I open the interface box and find that it contains…. nothing. Well OK, there was a small bag of plastic connectors for manually splicing the cable conductors.

So the plastic box was like 3 times the price for a standard junction box (But then it wouldn’t have the fancy sticker, of course…) and I still have to do all the work of interfacing the cables myself. Nice move!

(Oh, and the best part: It has a sticker on the side with a serial number and the ominous threat: “Warranty void if this label removed”).

Veggie Store

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May 092011

All long distance cruisers know that you need to store vegetables high and dry with lots of air circulation. Everyone I know uses a piece of netting that forms a hammock in the salon ceiling for this. Now being the stubborn designer I am I naturally had to try to improve a little bit on this too. There are two issues: The commonly available netting has way too large holes, letting a lot of smaller pieces fall through. And having only one net forces all the different types of vegetables to share the same bed, which is not always a good idea. Try storing apples next to bananas and see how long the bananas last, for example…

So I decided to use the empty shelf on top of the ballast tanks for this. This space is not very useful for anything else anyway. After a lot of stubborn searching I finally found a nice net with 4mm holes, which is a lot better than 30mm… From this net I sewed 6 separate boxes, 3 for each side. I also needed to make sure the nets staid in the air even when loaded with vegetables, so I sewed some small battens into the bottom of the boxes to make sure they didn’t collapse. So now I have lots of space, no garbage falling out, and 6 divided compartments. Good.

Gearing up for climate monitoring

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May 062011

And it’s a lot of gear… We just finished this piece of equipment which will be responsible for the water analysis part of the Ocean Search climate monitoring project. The unit will be mounted in the bilge of the Journeyman, and run water analyses every hour. There will also be corresponding unit mounted for air variables.

Real sailors don’t do knots.

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Apr 202011

Real sailors splice. Even if it is a little complicated with modern dyneema core / double covered ropes. But when the sun is shining its spring rays into the cockpit it is a rather nice way of spending a couple of hours.

Intermediate stage:

Final result:

Apr 132011

I looked at a lot of commercially available electric power monitors, and none of them really suited me. Either they didn’t support dual voltages, or they had too small measurement shunts that couldn’t handle the 200A loads I have as worst case.

Or they were of the “over computerized” type who insists on providing some kind of useless (as in “never accurate”) tank meter for the battery.

So I put together my own monitor that gives me enough info to roughly know the system state, given that I also know the parameters a “tank meter” doesn’t. Like the weather, for example. So in the image below, given that it is a cloudy morning at about 9h00, the charge rate of 6.7A is quite nice…