Reach out and touch

For internet acces there is a 4G modem with a sim card. From there the internet goed to the Venus and to the POE webcams. Now on occasion the connection seems to want to take a few days off. I can fully understand that with all the noise and pretend ‘news’ being broadcasted over the internet, but it means there is also no data coming from the Venus and the Webcams.
Resetting is easy, just ‘press the button’. Unfortunately unless there is a human onboard that can’t happen.

Now the Venus, having had a lot of critique, because connected using the internet wifi receiver is not 100% reliable. (The internet wifi was designed to give a local pad or phone access to the control pad). So they came up with a band-aide feature….If there is no connection for a period of time, the Venus will reboot.

The Venus has 2 internal relays…later we will hear of the new version of O/S which can connect to Signal K and Node red, thus allowing many more relais. Both are used, one for the shore power on/off , the other for the remote control of the heat. Now since the last is not that important we can use that relay to use on the hotspot. Use it to connect the power. if the hotspot decides to take a break, the Venus will reboot, turning off the relay when powering down, then turning it back on when booting up, thus effectively rebooting the hotspot.

Canal Watch

Yes in Amsterdam there is a unit called “Canal Watch”, just like in CA you have Bay Watch. Canal watch is a group of dedicated men and women patrolling the canals, on the outlook for tourists who are not used to canals.
These tourist do things like….
park their car and when they step out, forget there is a canal, and they go down into it
get too high, or too drunk and just stumble into the canal
forget there is no barrier and while enjoying great French Fries, just walk into the canal

Enjoy here “Canal Watch“.

This short video was produced by Boom Chicago in Amsterdam as part of one of their shows. I do love the “Dutch” of the English / American Comedians. We bumped into Boom Chicago a while back when we enjoyed the video of Greg ShapiroAmerica First, The Netherlands Second” . On our next trip to Jan-Kees we went to the show “Trump up the Volume”, and later “The madness of King Donald“. Covid hit and Boom Chicago did a few virtual shows. I was able to buy a ‘be in the show ” ticket for Deb with Matt and Stacey‘s show “Going Steady” Deb did very much enjoyed it, so after we did “Groundhog Day” I was able to have her join an Intro course in Improv, at Boom Chicago. Walking back to the tram afterwards, Deb was like a 5 year old hop skipping with joy. Thus her Birthday present was ….an 8 week course on Improv with Stacey. That REALLY made Debs summer from an “ok because of better controlled Covid, we are in a better place than back in the USA” to a “YES a great summer, I am doing this fun stuff” 🙂

Payback feels so good !!

No I did not beat up another, no I did not got “even” with another. Even though the old motto during the Military Service was “Hij die de ouwes paalt, paalt zichzelf twee keer”. He who screws around with the ‘older one’ wil get screwed back twice. No the solar panels have paid back their investment.

The 2nd year of Jan-Kees we installed 4 260 Watt solar panels @ €130/piece. The marina charging the outrageous price of €0.40/kwh, most hoover around that price. In the beginning we stayed on shore power when in the marina. Last year I started to unplug us even when in the marina and only leave the barge plugged in while being away from the barge for a longer period. I had not asked Daniel to program the Victron Multiplus with assistants yet. Which resulted in about €20/mo.

As of today the four 260 Watt panels generated 1541 KWH and at the ‘Marina rate’ that would be €616.40. thus more than the €520 we paid for the 4 panels. O.k I do have add on the MPPT and the cables, which would run around $240. So as of 2021 Free energy from these 4. Now let’s see when the back panels (€220) have ‘earned’ their keep.

Can it be warm when we arrive?

So when you leave a boat for a long period you winterize all, and turn the heat off. But you can also make a black box (it is a grey one actually) to control the heating, and the 3 way valve. And allow the heat to turn on when you are on your way to the boat.

We have a great Kabola Combi heating unit, using the radiators and heat exchanger to keep us warm and cozy and to also allow us to take long hot showers. We ‘inherited’ an electric hot water boiler which is also generating hot water when the engine is running. Great more cooling capacity!!

So we need to combine all in one unit, and I came up with the following solution/logic. Use the 2nd relay in the Venus to turn the heating on just before we arrive, and a 24V solid state relay to control the 220V to the Kabola.

Select if you want to use the Kabola or Engine heat?
If on engine heat, do we want to use electric to provide hot water ( for emergency use)?
If the remote on is not active, over ride it.

So you can see to top switch up is Kabola and the green light labelled Kabola brightens the day 3 way valve on Kabola and down is engine, and it lits the yellow light and turns the 3 way hot water valve to the Vetus boiler


So you can see to top switch up is Kabola and the green light labelled Kabola brightens the day and the 3 way valve is on Kabola.
Top switch down is engine heat/ cooling, and it lits the yellow light and turns the 3 way hot water valve to the Vetus boiler

Under the green safety is the switch to override the remote. The remote is a function of using the VRM app of Victron, allowing to turn a relay On/Off remotely.

I could ultimately also include a switch to turn the electric on for the Vetus IF the switch is on engine

Here we see the box again with a 3rd bottom light showing that the remote is on

The 3 way valve is 220 V. Blue -> neutral, Green ( pos1 ) to mains, Brown ( pos2 ) to mains

This valve is controlled by the double pole 2 way switch, selecting Kabola or Engine.

Automation/ No we have a pretend “generator”

When we bought Jan-Kees there was a generator, but with the addition of first 4 and then later 2 more solar panels totaling 1736 Watt (4 * 265 and 2 * 340W), it would be only noisy and take up space where a second water tank could go. Besides Daniel also installed a 90 amp, 2.1 KV alternator, which woudl also charge the bank.

But if we plug into shore power, when moored, it would always draw power, and emptying our bank account. So stay we connected to shore power, let the solar panels do the real work, and only allow shore power in when the SOC gets below a set %. A Victron Multi plus has no generator input, thus we have to grab some ‘assistants‘. Connect the relay 1 of the Venus to the Aux of the Multi and we can set up the parameters so that it will see shore power as a Generator.

Then we just go into the venus setup and go through the steps.

Can we have a more normal toilet?

Ok so each time we get guests over we have to explain how the head works. That the hose through which “All” flushes is quite small, so don’t use a lot of paper each time, or flush a few times. But we also have to explain, fill and flush by pushing buttons. So I set out to make a one button action.

We have a fill pump and an evacuate pump. so the easiest is to program an Arduino driving 2 relais, turning the pumps on and off.

First off the Arduino runs on 5V, so we need a stepdown DC-DC converter, 24-12 -> 5V. Luckily I had one laying around, otherwise I would have used a USB converter, like we have everywhere in the barge.

Then we needed a 2 relais board.

Each will control one Pump. You have the connections Gnd, Vcc ( 5V) and digital 1 and digital 2

And here we have the arduino.

The wiring was quite simple, we made digital 3 and 5 the control wires for the relais, we connected the 5V and the Ground on the Arduino to the Vcc and the Ground on the relais board, then we used digital 7 with a Ground for the button.

So when the button is momentary pressed, the Arduino opens Relais 1 ( flush pump) and let it run for a bit.
Then the Arduino opens Relais 2 ( fill pump) and let both pumps run for a bit.
Then the Arduino closes Relais 1 ( flush pump) while keeping Realis 2 open ( fill pump).
Then the Arduino closes Relais 2 ( fill pump).

I assembled all in a little sealed plastic bock and hooked it up, played with the times for each pump and got it working. A note to the ‘purist’ under the Arduino coders, YES pressing a momentary switch can cause several pulses, but the code only needs one and it runs for a few seconds until it looks to the button again, so why bother.

The button Deb selected to control the head 🙂

Here is the code which I uploaded to the Arduino.

const int BUTTON_PIN = 7; // Arduino pin connected to button’s pin
const int RELAY_PIN = 3; // Arduino pin connected to relay’s pin
const int RELAY_PIN2 = 5; // Arduino pin connected to relay’s pin

void setup() {
Serial.begin(9600); // initialize serial
pinMode(BUTTON_PIN, INPUT_PULLUP); // set arduino pin to input pull-up mode
pinMode(RELAY_PIN, OUTPUT); // set arduino pin to output mode
pinMode(RELAY_PIN2, OUTPUT); // set arduino pin to output mode

void loop() {
int buttonState = digitalRead(BUTTON_PIN); // read new state

if (buttonState == LOW) {
//Serial.println(“The button is being pressed”);
digitalWrite(RELAY_PIN, HIGH); // turn on flush
digitalWrite(RELAY_PIN2, HIGH); // turn on fill Both are on for 3 seconds
digitalWrite(RELAY_PIN, LOW); // turn off flush
digitalWrite(RELAY_PIN2, LOW); // turn off fill
if (buttonState == HIGH) {
// Serial.println(“The button is unpressed”);
digitalWrite(RELAY_PIN, LOW); // turn off
digitalWrite(RELAY_PIN2, LOW); // turn off

Now for the ones who do not want to play with an Arduino, or feel it is to complicated, the same can also be achieved ( for about the same price) with 2 time relais ( din mount)
One turns on the flush pump for an interval, the other relais waits a bit and then turns on, here is one who is 220V

Red Alert Shields UP

Yes so this is a startrek soundbite. The issue is getting alerts, and knowing if they have been. One way to get notification of ‘triggers’ is with the use of the Venus, who has 5 digital inputs. But that only notifies me via email, thus for urgent situations it is not a perfect solution.

Using the digital I/O of the Venus for bilges etc is great, so I can tell from far away if the bilge pump went on, and then when it is done it shows ‘situation normal’.

But I also wanted some other way of knowing and also hear/see it immediately when we are on the boat. So looking to all kind of relais systems I was baffled by the high prices. A chat with Daniel Boekel landed me on a relais with 2 contacts ( din-rail ofcourse) Wago 788-312. Here is a picture of a 220V one

And here is the schema.

So you use the input to switch both switches on, while you use one of them to keep the relais on, until you press a reset button. The second switch connection is then used for a light, or buzzer, like here.

Now if you have these automatic whale bilge pumps ( 3 wires) you face the dilemma that the switch closed by the relais, will feed 24V to the bilge pump again, even though it might be done working, so in order to prevent current to go to the test wire of the pump, we drop a diode there. ( like on the side of the schema)

Just a recap of wires

24V -> float. -> A1
Ground -> A2
24V -> ON/(OFF) switch -> 11 . when triggered > 14 -> A1
24V -> 21, when triggered > 24 -> buzzer -> ground

These are dangerous fish

So there I went on the little foldable bike to Hornbach to buy some hardware and stop at a bike crossing for the light to turn green, when I hear in Dutch “These are dangerous fish”. OK I think…what the frell? “They can do some serious damage!” I turn around and expect a homeless human with a beard and uncombed hair mumbling this. But I see a male in his 40’s on a bike talking to me. “I caught one while in Ibiza”, THEN it dawned on me……this guy looked at my T-shirt, and saw the Marlin!

Picture of shirt on bike

Water….More Water…plus a way to keep busy

When we purchased Jan-kees, there was one water tank, 500 Liter. So last year I installed a 2nd water tank. Part of the sage is here and here.
Because I do not want to go into the bow compartiment each time to connect, one of the two tanks to the pump, or turn a valve, I bought 3 electric 3/4″ 24V valves, with a manual over ride. One for the inlet, and then one for each tank. So either both tanks can be filled, or tapped, or just one. And yes with float switches I can grab an Arduino or a Raspberry Pi and let it control the valve functions, fill both and when one is full, and the other is not, close the valve on the full one. Or use it to use the water level to level the barge. Another winter project.

So diving into the hold I mounted the 3 valves and turned on the pump…..but no luck…it kept sucking air. I suspected the 4 way connector. Removed all, cleaned all, reassembled and tried again….Again. just cold air, not even hot air !.
I just connected both tanks with a manual valve to the pump and it worked. Must have been the connectors? So I ordered new ones and just waited til then. Of course hot weather came, windy weather came, rain weather came, and then some time with some sun, so I dove in again. The trick was to push the Tyleen in deep enough so the rubber ring seals it. Duhhhhhh…..
So the system worked, now I have to just connect the valves to the control box and we can manipulate them from inside.

The box has 3 push buttons, and it should be obvious which one controls which one. The inlet valve is extra ‘protected’ with a little cover guards, so it can not accidentally opened. When it is open, the pump will not prime. Each tank has 2 float switches, currently I am only going to use one, but with 2 I can have a nearly full and a really full alert.

The push buttons when pressed in lights up the led and the white wire goes positive, when not pressed in, the blue wire goes positive.

The valves use connection 1-3 for open. and 2-3 for closed. (3 being negative)

When I connected the port float wire to the flashing/buzzer light, it started to buzz. OH dear, I missed checking the correct orientation of the ‘floatie’ on the float switch. Crawled back into the bow compartment, and by using my past training by Houdini and an Olympic gold medal winner turner I was able to reach deep enough in the water tank and just on feeling flip the ‘floatie’

port fill valve starboard

Now just for record keeping

Port FloatRed/Blue
Port ValveRed = open (1)
Green = close (2)
Starboard FloatGreen/Black
Starboard ValveRed = open (1)
Green = close (2)
Inlet Valvexxx = open (1)
yyy = close (2)
Closed valve red LED
Open Valve green LED


One of this years bigger project is….was. putting in double glas with sun reflective coating. So after spending many hours online we found one of the cheaper ones One advantage was, they had an ‘inmeet service’, where they had somebody come and take the measurements, the advantage……anything wrong….their problem. Yes customer service in Holland/Europe is not exactly the same as in the USA. Try calling with a complaint and to the typical American way “I need to speak to a supervisor”. Many times that is done by hearing a click and you are disconnected. Or when you have an answer and call back later you might hear “Ah no that was a wrong answer, sorry”

The previous owner had installed single glass, and left a width of 22 mm.

Because of “Ground hog day” I had to reschedule it a few times, but the first week Thursday the measuring guy came. His result was …

Window 3 and 10 were my big worries, he also added the correct profile to mount them. I was first worried I had to rent or buy a table saw to get the correct profile. The profiles on itself were close to. €190. Unfortunately these ONLY came in white, so I need to get some other color to paint them.

With 22 mm available the profile added another 5 mm, so the total width became 27mm.
3mm foam, 4-13-6 and another 3 mm making is 29 mm fitting in the 27 mm, because of the foam

The next day I had the quote, paid and 2 weeks later the windows were delivered, but……yes you guessed it #3 and #10 were wrong, they were rectangular, even though they were measured correctly and even though on the quote they were described correctly and when I called them before I paid they confirmed these windows were not rectangular. A call back to them and the factory would remake them quickly.

I was able to install both front windows that day. On the bottom and sides space holders were placed to make sure expansion because of heat was possible and between the wood and glass there was 3 mm thick foam tape. Max was coming to help me the next day with the others, since there is not much room to stand on the sides of the pilot house
When Max came to help me I had bought one of these vacuum grabbers to help with holding the glas in place. Max also corrected me when I said “the sticker goes on the outside” , just as I keep hearing on the youtube video’s.

but LOOK the sticker CLEARLY says …..INSIDE….so I had to redo the front windows.

With max’s aide the other 6 windos went in smoothly.

Because the profile to hold the glass sticks out, the solution to keep the top part of the door open with a clamp is not working anymore, so I installed a hook and eye, also much safer.