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 ūüôā

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

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, 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–

Just a reminder…software is more powerful than a real switch or‚Ķ..why not get frustrated with replacement Victron multi’s

So I started getting alerts from my Victron Multiplus….AC overloads. Well wat the Frell!
So you go to the boat. open the hatch and you see flashing light,¬† turn off the multi , wait a bit and turn it back on and all seems to be working fine and you go home. Later you get again a overload warning, so you use the VRM website to get into the Venus control unit remotely, and set the inverter to charge only. Drive back to the boat and recheck it‚Ķand the same problem ‚Ķit ain’t working‚Ķ.so you call your dealer where you bought it, and hear……¬† “Most likely the AC board I have seen this before ” and he provides and RMA and yes he sends at the same time a replacement unit, since it is still under the 5 year warranty !!
The new unit arrives. Plop it in its place and reconnect all wires, turn it on ‚Ķand magically‚Ķthe light work ‚Ķ..So you plug the table into the Venus and poof all goes dark. Ok ‚Ķmust have put it in the wrong input., ve.can‚Ķ..but NO it happens a few second after you plop the network cable in. This happened a year ago also , and then it was a software update on the Venus which did this. A call to Daniel‚Ķand I was gently reminded that the moment the Venus detects the multi it will set it in the function set in the Venus, which was not the same as the switch on the machine‚Ķ‚Ķso I get into the Venus control , set the Multi to normal and voila….as the professor in the movie¬† the 5th element shouts…”Aziz .¬† LIGHTS”.

So before thinking it was Victrons error…we just have to check the Venus settings.

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 .


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





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

Screen Shot 2018-06-07 at 2.48.37 PM.png


Screen Shot 2018-06-07 at 5.54.23 PM.png

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.

Screen Shot 2018-06-08 at 7.43.29 AM.png

now more drizzle @lunch time


But charging a little

Friday 8th, an overcast morning




The Sun is peeking around the corner