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.

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
delay(1500);
digitalWrite(RELAY_PIN2, HIGH); // turn on fill Both are on for 3 seconds
delay(3000);
digitalWrite(RELAY_PIN, LOW); // turn off flush
delay(5000);
digitalWrite(RELAY_PIN2, LOW); // turn off fill
}
else
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

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.

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 vale, 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 floats switched 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 just on feeling reach deep enough in the water tank and 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)

The sun is peeking and the Senseo is hissing and “fugget about it”

Yes it was 06:00 in the morning, the sun is peeking just over the horizon, there is barely any wind, and the Senseo is hissing. The handy invention of Philips, which after making an entry in the US market got dis[laced by Kurig and Nespresso. Beging Rave …..Philips has made some remarkable inventions, like theCD/ DVD, Betamax etc but they really really lack in consumer marketing….end rave….
The Senseo1 is a great machine to pop in a single serve coffee pod, and get not boiling hot coffee.

The Senseo running on the batteries, using 1500 watts when the sun is barely energizing us.
Enjoing a wake up drink in the shade

The Victron Venus, showing us the state of our energy. Since last night we used 5% of our energy, and the sun just started to recharge us. we have 1040 Watt of solar panels, which during the day gives us up to 870 watt of solar to recharge the batteries. NO we do NOT use shore power. Daniel has programmed our new inverters to only grab shore power if we go below 80% of charge. We are usually back to 100% charge around noon, we also run the washer dryer, vacuum cleaner and power tools on it. During our 2 week quarantine, we have had the SOC ( State of Charge) go down to 89% once, but we did had a lot of overcast and rain.

Because of the nice weather we needed to get our feet wet, so the beach was the decision. Had to first fill the car. Kinda funny, in the USA you pre-pay for your gas or you have to insert a credit card, before you can start filling up your car. You usually also see some signs that if you dare to drive away w/o paying they will take your license etc. This at a price of about $2/ Gallon ( or about 0.45 Euro/ liter).
Now in The Netherlands you drive up, fill up, then go inside to pay, this at a price of around 1.50 Euro/liter. A tad over 3 times the price in the US. Wonder now why there are no gas guzzling ‘yank tanks’ driving around in Europe ?

So after filling up, on our way to Wijk bij Zee, a leisurely drive along the Noordzee kanaal. But then….lots of cars slowly moving. We see the large grass field being used as an overflow parking lot, but by some miracle we could get to the real parking lot, to see it is packed, full, and a few cars slowly driving around like sharks in the water looking for prey. After driving around we give up and decide to go north to Egmond aan Zee, driving through the villages, we see a few back roads leading to the beach, but are being met each time with a traffic jam. Finally in Egmond aan Zee we end up….behind another traffic jam. Trying a back road we end up on the square there seeing an even bigger jam with delivery trucks for the local restaurants. In the mean time the temperature was steadily rising, forcing us to turn on the A/C and giving up on the beach. Later that day the did closed the roads to the beach off, to keep congestion and crowding at bay.

While driving to find a lunch place, Deb realized I had taken her to Uitgeest. After some driving around we found a parking place and stopped at Bistro Het Stokpaardje . The place we have been many times with Daniel, when he had Oving 1 parked there under the bridge. Deb remarked that they do great fun stuff with Tuna Sandwiches, I had a broodje Kroket.

Just around the corner…..culture…

When going out for groceries, or a drink or to the Railway station, we walk over a pedestrian bridge and are always greeted by Monet’s Blue House. Monet must have liked Zaandam as much as we do since he did 25 paintings and 9 drawings.
The one we see pretty much every time we walk is the blue house.

The side was painted over, and in 2014 the blue side was restored to the original color.

Here is the current view…

Monet in Zaandam. Zaans Museum.

Today was also working on finishing the water tank system. Last year I installed the 2nd water tank together with Remy, and discovering 2 days later I also created a Hernia.
So this year it is finishing the system. Both tanks have the water withdraw from the top, so there is no possibility of valves leaking on the tank. (They can leak further in the piping system)
I bought on Ebay a set of 24VDC electric valves 3/4″, which are going to control each tank and the inlet valve. This way I can use the tanks also to level the barge, and when a full float signal happens, I can automate the fill valve to close.

Had to buy a water level sensor, boy are they expensive. 125E for a 65 cm one. The port tank was empty …yeahhh… so it was quite easy to get the sensor and the outflow valve installed. Remember, last year Lars made a bigger hatch in the front so I could easily drop these tanks. Well last year Remy and I also found out that the ‘rough’ size of the hatch was perfect. BUT in order to divert rain water a U profile was welded on the inside, making the opening smaller!!
Meaning we had to disassemble the wall cabinets and get the tanks in via the big hatch. No wonder I developed a hernia! Thanks Lars!

Valve setup

When I was under in the front locker, I did saw 2 thin electrical lines and hoped they ended in the engine room, so I could use them for sensor level readings. Unfortunately, these line played a vanishing act. Thus I needed to pul another set, or a pair of 4 lines newly. Luckily the previous owner had made a few extra conduit runs for electrical lines in the wall, so I started feeding the ‘fishing line’ into an empty conduit, and after a bunch of meters it stopped. Crawled in the front locker and did not see the fishing line, so it must be behing the water tank ( which is full). So first I had to again disassemble part of the wal storage closet, and was able to remove the hatch dividing the living area with the front hatch. But there was this big blue heavy water tank, which silently was not budging. Looking with a mirror to the conduit I saw it made a few corners, so the fishing line must got stuck there. Following the conduit from inside the front locker, I found it empty terminated. Thus I started pulling parts of that conduit out, fighting the dutch tape which was mounted on each junction. Finally all came loose and the fishing tape revealed itself. So we now have a clear sensor line in a conduit.

For the Intercom/PA system I need to run loudspeaker wire to the front. On the port side there is a conduit with loudspeaker wire, but helas it was cut somewhere half way, so I ordered me 1.5 mm loudspeaker wire ( the PA system is 40 Watt) and once that is here I will pull the sensor line and the loudspeaker wire.

“It Ain’t Half Hot Mum” or better said “baby it’s cold outside”

One thing we always need to watch is the temperature inside the engine room. Now we can be easy and just turn on a fan, and turn it of once we are done cruising. But why not make it automatic. We have arduino’s we have temperature probes….so lets do it, lets make it.
The other advantage of this method is, if the temperature rises even more we can automatically turn on a 2nd fan, to blow even more ‘colder’ air into the engine room.
This cruising year I’ll just watch how much the temperature handles and will decide then if I want the extra power blower option. But with the horrid warm temperatures like in the high high 30’s (C) we might need it.

Real simple to use are the DS18B20 waterproof temperature probes. They cost about $3-$5/ piece, are waterproof and are 3 wire. +5V GND and signal. The big advantage of these are that you can hook up a number of them on the same Arduino port ( -55C to +125C, with a 0.5C accuracy) . You can even get them with a BSP 1/2 Thread, like for your engine cooling circuit.

So I got a few of these on Ebay, connected them to the Arduino, used a 5K pull up resistor connected to the signal wire and +5V and first ran a program to get the Hex addresses, so I knew exactly which one was which one. (YES I copied and pasted it from the web !)
Voila the code…

Now that I knew the addresses, I could slap a program together which has an outside temp probe (AOT, actual outside temperature) and a engine room probe (AIT actual inside temperature).
All the speeches and articles I have soaked in about engine room cooling they keep talking about a DELTA of 25 F ( 13.8 C so 14C).
So the fan should come on if the AIT > AOT+14 . We do not want the fan to turn off at the same temperature point so, we turn the fan off if AIT < AOT+5, the last one is just a personal choice. To control the fan I added a relay board on it , connected the control wire to digital 7 and the relay works like a charm.

The relay is a 10 amp 250V relay. 1 channel relay board for Arduino, around $5- $6 on Ebay.

So the code is working, I will get a 4 line LCD screen so I can view the temperatures from the wheel and get a breadboard to solder the components on. More to come.

For those grumpy old man who remember the TV show “It Ain’t Half Hot Mum” it was a fun one!

Turn the Heat on ….

Well it really means, we just landed in Schiphol ( Amsterdam Airport), get your smartphone out, log into vrm.victronenergy.com, go to jan-kees, go to the console, and press the start button , so it wil be warm when we arrive at the barge.

What really happened is with the help of the VRM website I was able to log into the Victron Venus, and turn on the relais ( which could also be used to start a generator automatically). The Venus has 2 programmable relais. 6A 250V/30V DC.
But just for safety we will use the Venus relais to use another 24 VDC relais to turn the Kabola on.
Just in the event there is no connection I also installed an over ride switch, and put it in a separate fuse box.

In the fuse box we will have the main heating fuse, the relais, over ride switch and selector switch selecting the Kabola or the Vetus ( see electric schema below)

—electric schema —

–picture box–