Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Boat Electronics

The electrical apparatus on ‘Ladybird’ is not at all sophisticated. When I became her owner I tried her lights, none of which worked. The VHF was a load of coroded rubbish and her depth sounder did not work; in fact, the only bit of the electrical equipment that was any good was the battery. The combined fuse box and switch panel was sound, but the wiring linking it to the lights etc was useless. At least I knew I would have to set up my own system of internal wiring, which I did, but not to a professional standard, because I am no electrician. However, everything works, including the wiring for the newly installed solar panel, depth sounder and the Autohelm. It’s nice to know that if I have to do night sailing, the navigation lights are OK.

By comparison with my early boats back in the sixties, ‘Ladybird’ has lots of wires for various pieces of equipment including two GPS units, one laptop computer, two mobile phones, a battery charger for AA and AAA batteries, an inverter for changing 12 volts into 220 volts, a charger for a my Sony digital camera and earphones for my Sony Walkman. I also have an extension cable for a 12 volt cigar lighter fitting, an electric cable for plugging into the mains at marinas and a cable for the mains charger for the ship’s battery. I feel sure I haven’t mentioned them all. Oh, yes, the charger for the VHF radio.

The photo shows just some of the wires through which current will flow during my voyaging aboard ‘Ladybird’. It’s just as well that the ship’s battery is good and that I have deionised water for topping it up when the acid gets low. The Spectra Solar-Panel has been able supply all the current needed to date, but cruising will be different because of the constant need for electricity to power the GPS units and the Autohelm. In between, I shall require electricity to power my EEE PC laptop for blogging and emailing. If there’s enough juice to spare, I may even run my Sony Walkman, which will only need a little input from the laptop, because it is charged via a USB cable.

How did I manage in the early days without all of these electrical gadgets? My first cruiser had an oil lamp to illuminate her cabin and the ship’s battery was only used for the navigation lights. The auxiliary engine was cranked by hand, and the alternator generated electricity. Life was simple, because there was little to go wrong and little to maintain.


TCS Chandlery – Spectra Solar-Panel

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