It’s alive…or….. is 7 am and where is your elektrikitie?

well it really means..the boat is self sufficient with no shore power.   This morning I disconnected shore power, so we are solely running on solar now. And ate 6 am the sun peeked around and started providing free energy.   Now does this make the sun a socialist, or just a nice entity?   I wil post usage screen shots on this page over the coming weeks.    Jan-Kees was on shore power, just as extra precaution, since there was a period last year where there was not enough energy to keep up with standby demand.   the inverter uses 25 watts for standby, plus the batteries always consume some trickle charge.  The batteries always discharge a bit, and need to be charged to full at least once a month.

Since we arrived we have been floating all by ourselves. Not connected to the atom eating nuclear energy creators, or the coal from Limburg eating fossil fuel plants.  Mr or is it Mrs Sun ( because she is so fierce?) has been filling the batteries of Jan-kees with her cheerful bright energy.  At 7 am the batteries were ‘down’ to 97%.  We consumed 2.2 Kwh yesterday and the sun refilled it .

7_20_am

Wen I looked at the Venus this morning at 7:20 the sun peeking from just above the horizon and was providing more than we are using.  showing a small charge current of 3.7 A.   This reminds me that I need more coffee and I need to clean the panels today.  Btw today will be a ‘scorcher’ 28C . (which is 83F for the non-metic people) . After this 2 days 25 and then back to the 21 -19C . (71-68F)
For energy use we use about 5 hours/day for generation from about 10:00 – 15:00

 

8_30_am.png

11_30_am.png

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And they keep ticking and running, ran the wetvac a few times,  did some power sanding.

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Nearly 18:00 and the solar still keeps the batteries up and fills al our other energy needs, like Coffee, vacuuming the top deck after part of it was sanded

So today it started with an overcast sky.   We are still on mainly battery at 07:45.  As you see the sun is providing some free energy, but the darn clouds act as a border wall patrol.  Yesterday, about the same time we had about 150 Watts of solar already.  BUT it is still early.

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now more drizzle @lunch time

drizzle.png

But charging a little

Friday 8th, an overcast morning

grey_sky.png

 

stil_overcast_2.png

The Sun is peeking around the corner

sun_waking_up.png

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Can I see your Visa please….

So Deb and I prepared to go to Jan-Kees again.  This time for a longer period.  Luckily we were allowed each two suitcases.  So we packed our usual carry case and each of us packed also the new blue Jan-Kees duffelbag.  Mine was filled with spare parts, a nail gun, the usual dark chocolate M&M’s, pumps, electric and electronic parts.  And so we arrived at CVG as two pack mules loaded up in the high sierra’s.  A short wait and the passports and green card and boarding passed were handed to the Delta agent.  Some typing, some looking to the passports, and then ” May I see your Visa” .   A though like “is she NEW ? crossed my mind” , but I replied nicely…BUT I have handed you my green card!  Sir it is not for you it is Miss Richardson.  You are going to Europe for longer than 90 days so you need a long stay visa.  I nearly bursted out with laughing.  The reason the airline has to ask this, is because if entry would be denied to Deb, Delta would have to provide her a free return trip.  Now the Dutch immigration ( Koninklijke Marechaussee…Royal Military Police) do not use the same interrogation techniques as the INS uses when you return to the US.   They smile, they wish you a happy stay, make jokes.  Luckily I had enough papers with me to show the agent a dutch official letter and explained that Deb’s Visa was waiting for her in Amsterdam.  That was enough for the agent and all 4 suitcases vanished on the belt into the belly of the beast on tis way to the Planes.  The trip was uneventful, except when we arrived in Detroit and got calmed by the underground music and visuals we did felt it needed to grab a cocktail next to the departure gate.

So make sure you have your long term visa 🙂

Oh and just to share this …it is 10 pm and it is still light outside 🙂 . Love this long evenings.

Daemons…..

No not DEMONS..daemons………are small processes running in the background of a computer, doing all kind of tasks, like the teenager mowing the grass, the mailman delivering your mail.  Well there are some of these running around in the Venus.  They keep an eye out many things, especially the digital inputs.  One of the nice items built into the Venus.  The Venus has 5 of these inputs, which can be used for a bunch of tasks.  The first ones which come to mind are bilge alarm (Ok/Alarm),  smoke alarm (Ok/Alarm),  fire alarm(Ok/Alarm), door alarm (Open/Closed), Pulse Meter (water volume pumped), generator (Running/Stopped), etc.   And these ‘states’ are all visible on the screen.

The good thing about the Venus, just these 5 digital input alerts wil pay for the unit by itself, if you compare them to other boat monitoring systems, who have the ‘get rich scheme’ of charging monthly fees.

Now how do we get these to work?
We need to get the different signals to the Venus input, which is a RJ12 input, which is also used in multi line phone system, and had 6 wires.  OHH you said 5 inputs, why 6 wires.  Well wire #5 is Ground.   (we will come to the why later)

The first thing we need to do is get access to these wires.  Now the McGiver way is to get a RJ12 .phone cord, grab a big hunting knife and strip all the wires.  A more ‘civilized’ way is to order a RJ12 Breakout board .  ($5.99 to $12 on Amazon and Ebay)

RJ12
RJ12 Breakout

.

rj12-connection
RJ12 connected to Venus

 

 

 

 

 

 

With this setup we can already trigger alerts.

The pin out is

Pin 1-4 and 6 Inputs
Pin 5 Ground.

 

So lets configure Pin 6 as High water alert and connect a float switch.  The float switch just makes a contact, thus to simulate that we just use a wire and connect pin 5 and 6 on and off and see the results.

 

Simple is it not?  Let’s walk through the set up steps.  Connect to the console, via smart phone, tables, or web browser when you are local through the Venus wifi.  Later you can always connect to the console via VRM.

Digital inputs > set up > show name change, show difference  inverted . on / off

These alerts can be triggered by just connecting the input to the ground.  BUT not all alerts can be done that way !!  Now Venus is kind of sensitive about the voltage it wil take. Yes I know the power input can be 8-70VDC, but that regulates it down to 5V and 3V3, the two voltages used with sensors and digital inputs.  So we need to protect the Venus.  We can do this 2 ways.  A relay, where the input is 12DC or 24DC or 110Ac or 220AC and then close a contact, which connects the Venus signal port to ground.  Most of these solid state relays are used to get a 110 or 220V connection triggered by a 5 – 12 or 24VDC input, so I have not tried these.
Otherwise an Optocoupler, one like this 4 channel one from Ebay for  $12.  This is a 24V DC Optocoupler, because Jan-kees runs on 24V DC.

optocoupler.png

 

RJ12-Opto-Gnd
Now one thing which worried me, was the voltage on the output side.  I know the Venus is built on a heavily modified Beagelbone, which is a version or a Raspberry Pi.  These units just like 3V3 DC as signals.  Putting a 5VDC signal on there, even though it says so in the manual of the Venus, it had me worried.  You are talking to person who in 1980 by sheer “mmmm I’ll show you how this works” blew up one of the first optical disk readers costing close to $10,000 by using the wrong input voltage.  The good old laserprinter research at OCE ( Now Canon).  But, since we are switching to GND only the input voltage matters.   As you see the Opticoupler has on the output side GND and VCC, which is 5VDC here.  BUT we ONLY connect the GND.  so when the input gets “high”  the Venus tells me there is an alert.    This optocoupler has a 5VDC output, but the Venus wil also work with the 3V3DC output optocoupler, because we are ONLY using GND.  NO I wil not make the Victron Engineers a compliment, they already know they are brilliant, selecting a very safe way.  (Now you know why line 5 of the RJ12 is GND)

 

The settings for this input are…so check it a bilge alarm

bilge1.png

Then via the main screen go to the bilge alarm and go to the setup screen and click invert ( when there is a voltage on the input of the optocoupler, the alert will go on.   Because the normal ‘on’ state for the Venus is connect the signal to ground)

bilge2.pngbilge 3.png

 

Now when I put 24VDC on my optocoupler input, the Bilge alerts jumps immediately to ALERT and the next screen is the ALERT screen and the buzzer goes off.

Here the bilge alarm is OK Bilge OK  at 7.25.06 PM.png

The bilge pump goes on and 24VDC comes on the opticoupler input

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And before I can blink twice the alert screen shows

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More to come with the pulse counter

 

Do these alerts show in VRM…not yet, but they will, by Christmas…:)

Follow the electrons

Remember we had the big storms in January ( see Yes dear we do have storms in Holland) .  Right around that time the Venus warned me that the shore power was AWOL.  Well no Biggy was my reaction, the batteries are full , 800 AH 24V batteries ( yes Mastervolt, because I could get them really really cheap.) . so that is 25.44 * 800 = 20.35 KWH.  That would keep the bilge pump and Venus going long enough.

So mid March a friend goes to Jan-Kees,  they had a terrible flight, well they did book United!  Had no luggage and then NO 220V.   So some frantic texting ,  I suggested to look to the shore power , shore breaker, shore cable, breakers.   Well after a lot of work , they found out it was only the 220V primary outlet breaker who kept tripping.  Unfortunately, the shore breaker flips just before the panel breaker, so the harbor master was called a few times.   All what had to be done, was, uncouple shore power and test it while on inverting.  they exchanged breakers on the panel, but the problem persisted.   Perhaps some condensation water.  They gave up, did not wanted to listen to advise, because they knew how it all worked, and stayed on Jan-Kees without 220V for a month.

Then 3 weeks a Dutch friend goes to Jan-Kees, to do some cycling in the area.  Marius was in the same research department as me in the 1980’s so I knew he would find the problem.  We discussed it could be the Fridge or the outside light or outside motion light.   When I got a notification of the Victron Venus that there was no shore power, I knew Marius was testing.  the first thing he did was turn the outside motion light off, and VOILA…..Electrons were coming out of outlets. the Fridge got a shiver, and got cold.   Marius went outside and inspected the light and yes during the storm it must have shorted.  That is what you get with a cheap Chinese Led Motion sensor light in the mast.

lamp

A better Bilge Pump System

So to get rid of the water we put in a bilge pump.  There are two kinds, the centrifugal one and the diaphragm pump.  And for detection a float switch.  the centrifugal pump can only keep moving liquid until the liquid reaches the ‘height’ of half the wheel, which is spinning to evacuate the water.   So water always remains in the bilge from 1/2″ to 1″
A diaphragm pump is self priming and can get all the water out, and if you let it run after the float switch switches of, you could reach total dryness……. for a period….until the water comes sneaking in again slowly and slowly, until it reaches the level where the float switch turns the pump on again.  Which could be days, weeks.  All this time the water sites there, making it dirty and humid.  So we need to find a better way to deal with this.

I wil post about float switch ideas later, but the end idea comes down to this.

Use a diaphragm pump, turn it on for 60 seconds, have a flowmeter in the line which pumps up the water.  If there were counts, turn the pump on again for 60 seconds, until the pump was on for 60 seconds with no counts.    Let the pump wait for 60 minutes and repeat.  IF there was water again, you let the pump repeat it after another period of 60 minutes.  IF there was again water that time,  reduce the wait time by 2, making it 30 minutes.  now if the first time there was NO water, you repeat it like above, but after 2  wait period with no water, no count, you double the wait period and continue until you get to 64 hours…if anytime during this, there is water, the system hold the wait period and then starts increasing or decreasing it .

 

 

so

wait_time = 1800 ( seconds)
Increase_time = 0
pump_on = 60 ( seconds)
Pulse_count =0
Incremental_count =0
Continue_pumping = 0

Start

Pump
Pump on 60 second .     is there a pulse_count?
Incremental_count = Incremental_count + pulse_count . ( keep track of how much)
NO                   (means no water this cycle)  .
is continue_pumping 0?
YES.      continue_pump = 0 .      ( reset we found water)
increase time = increase_time +1,   ( increase the double/half counter
if increase_time = 2 ?
then wait_time = wait_time X 2
display the wait_time and the Incremental_count
wait the wait_time, and go to PUMP
else wait the wait_time, and go to PUMP
NO          increase_time = increase_time =-1
if increase_time = -2 ?
then wait_time = wait_time / 2;
wait the wait_time, and go to PUMP
else    wait the wait_time, and go to PUMP

YES (means water) .   Continue_pumping =1
go to PUMP

 

Yes dear we do have storms in Holland

This was one of the wettest and coldest New years periods we have had in Holland for many years.  2 or 3 years ago, the Daffodils were blooming on Jan 3rd.

The boat weathered the first storm very well.  The second one, which became a code Orange it survived also very well.  Only ‘damage’ were the bike were moved by the wind, luckily they were securely attached to the railing, so they did not went into the water.  (Unlike the lock keys with Lew dropped when he visited.  Instead of using the designated keys with the floater, he used the emergency keys, and yes they went into the water, for a more peaceful and quiet life)

bike1 .

 

 

Before

 

fiets .

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

After

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The second storm was quite violent, trucks blown of the road, roofs separating from buildings.

 

 

 

Don’t you love banks ?????

Ok so….and this is Christmas, the sound of cheerful Christmas music and lights is showing all over the boulevard here in Altea, close to Benidorm Spain.  But off course your bank has to spoil the festive mood, “for your security”.  So my Itunes account is linked to my American Bank Account  (Huntington bank), because Itunes prefers American debit cards.   Being in Spain and buying an episode on Itunes, ticked of some kind of alert and they block the card!   Even though the days before I have bought a few episodes without problems.   But on Christmas eve you get ‘card declined, …so a minor inconvenience.   I can wait a month or so till I visit the US again, but this  also means any updates from Apple are blocked, because the card is ‘not valid’, which is a real pain.  You can not update apps, security updates etc.

I had to accept making a phone call to the US.  Fine you call, get all the info they need ready, tax ID,  phone number, last deposits etc etc.  I wonder why they don’t ask for color of my underwear?

You call the 24-7 # and the voice prompt first directs you that you NEED to set up a secret pin for “YOUR’ protection, (a.k.a. reducing their liability) . spending a few minutes dealing with that leads you to ……for other questions please call back during business hours.

You call the non 800 # ( which is published for people OUTSIDE the USA, so they realize the world is bigger than the US) and after the series of verifications……”Oh it is a business account..let me connect you ”  and when that answers ” for questions please call back during business hours.”

OK lets try it a second time, and when they started to ask all the security questions I blurt out.  STOP..I am overseas and you blocked my card, I need you to correct this and NOT put me through to a number that says call back during business hours”.  Now I get the security barrage.  BUT I need to say the exact days I am abroad, which is silly.  so after going back and forth I just say DEC 30 2018.   And the final surprise is ….”Sir it wil take 30 – 45 minutes before this is active” .   WOW they use post pigeons?
Gosh how much easier are ABN AMRO and RABO bank, they let you set your limits for your card ( the US bank says for your safety we limit it to $300, in case you loose the card, or you get robbed).   With the Dutch banks, I can set a limit as high as I have . balance,  I can set limits for Europe, or other continents.  Why is the US banking industry behind ?

Have a great Christmas !!!

Instrument panel

So besides a breaker panel, we also need some switches to turn things on and off.  We are using Carling Series IV switches

We need the following ones….

Cruising

  • Engine Fans
  • Nav Lights ( Running/Anchor)
  • Wipers
  • Horn
  • Search Light
  • USB port

Every day use

  • Battery Switch
  • Bilge (test)
  • Bilge (test)
  • Fresh Water
  • LED lights cabin
  • Rear deck lights
  • Apero Bell
  • USB port

The head  pump, pump out pump and the shower pump switches will be in the head itself, just as the switch for the motion light on the mast is next to the front steps.

Instead of routing out each switch opening it is easier to just buy a semi pre-made panel and mount it on the the wheel house console (newwiremarine.com)

I decided on 2 sets one for ‘every day use’, like pumps and lights , and the other for ‘cruising’, navigation lights, instruments, vhf , engine fans etc.  So I found these panels with newwiremarine.

 

 

 

Now because we all like clean surfaces, Roy came up with the idea to make them ‘hidden’ so he drew a nice recessed way to mount them, and on top are two little lids with hinges, so only when you need to use the switches wil they be open/visible. I really liked his idea, but I also wanted these panels to be ‘laid in’ so they looked as if they were really part of the set up.  Roy worried about not having the correct router, so I educated him him in how to handle a client in such a case…..subcontract that action, or charge enough to rent or buy the equipment. Which advise Roy followed and……

Roy made following

paneel1paneel2paneel3

 

So all that was left is to mount it in the steering wheel panel and put a little hingeon it..   BUT WAIT…just like in the commercial………there is more.  Roy came up with the idea that if the hinge opens, he might as well use the triangular space under the hinged panel to make a resting spot for an Ipad or Iphone, to be used with the Victron Venus, or Navigation

maten1maten2

Here are the measurements.  No the ‘stand’ is not done yet.  Roy needs to take care of his study first!!  But we have a few weeks to do this

Beach . Cleanup

August 16

Stared the morning with the second coat of yellow on the back part of the deck, it looks smashing now.  Yes I know I still have to do the edges, but we can not remove rust in the marina with a perago disk

fresh_top_deck

After this we stared the clean-up….closing the propane tans vent, putting the bikes on the top deck, putting some hose over the railing so the paint would not get scratched by the bikes, and finally walking up the bikes and locking them

We put the piece of wood over the skylight and secured the tan canvas over it, making sure the glass can not be broken and it is water protected.

In the afternoon we went to the beach, again Wijk aan Zee ( suburb at see)

We stopped at the beach place on the right this time, and had bitterballen and a nice sandwich

 

After our latish ‘lunch’ we went for a stroll along and in the water, nice feeling your toes sink into the wet sand and the waves rhythmically crash on your ankles.  The walk took us until  the little beach cottage.  We have to look to see to rent one next time.

And on the way back to the barge we see a familiar name    Dennis a waiter at the Pacific Kitchen, looks likes he has a sandwich shop in Amsterdam now

dennis

Air heating is working

Tuesday August 15

The day started by sanding down the rust sport, created by the little ‘kernel’ or rust removed by the perago disk who flew around and landed on the deck.  They left a little rust spots sanded pilot house front deck.  I should have wiped/ hosed the deck after I remove the rust …………After the sanding I applied a coat of primer which had Owatrol added to it.  Owatrol converts rust and is a rust inhibitor.   The primer was dry in 20 odd minutes.

2 Kabola technicians came to assist Ron with the hot air unit.  The Temperature indicator showed an ambient temperature of 1C.    These technicians, did discover that one thermocouple should have been mounted factory wise was not.  So they needed a 7 mm drill and a pair of pliers, to make sure the drill would not go too far and puncture the heat exchanger.  The next problem …the 1C measurement was caused because the plug was not in deep enough.  And yes the heating worked smoothly and quietly.  We discussed how to optimally control it, and it was decided that the wall controller would control the furnace on and off, and the blower would be set on automatic and the temperature.  This way the fan will adjust its speed to the temperature of the outside thermocouple, and be very quiet.

Lindy and Roy coming, but are having delays with trains

Once Roy got into designing the frame for the switches, Lindy and I applied a coat of yellow on the top deck which I had just sanded and primed

While we Lindy and I were painting, Deb decided Lindy needs to make some art on the main hatch, which would be fun to look at, and on the hatch it can be ‘framed, and people will not really walk much over it.

deck_hatch

Here you can see how Deb was trained by the swans.  They would gently float up, see that the window was open and make noise, Deb then dutifully would grab the lets over bread, feed them, at first by just throwing small pieces out the window, and later by holding it in her hand and the swans just picking it out.  Just like she did when were in France on Waterman

Roy and Lindy had to leave around 18:30, because of train troubles it would be a longer.  Because it was still light we drove to Wijk aan Zee for a walk on the beach and some food.  In this place you went in, ordered paid and they would bring it out.  So I quickly ordered 2 fun beers, a portion Sateh and a portion bitterballen.  I got my 2 beers and our number to be displayed on the table.   The Sateh came out….and no sign of the bitterballen, the chef apologized and said they would come out very quickly now.  We nibbled on the Sateh…and . 20 minutes later our beers were finished and still no bitterballen.    I went inside and smilingly explained and after excuses of the manager I exchanged the number for the price of the bitterballen.

While walking to the car, we saw this Abri ( Shelter in French) which was a sea shell on its side made in 1993.  Deb sat on the little bench and the sound was amazing, it really amplified the sea sounds