solar freezer lighting dinghy

Power power everywhere

This weekend’s focus was on the remaining alternator work, cabling, and lighting. The finished list includes:

Cockpit Cabling

Ran RJ45 cables from the cockpit to the solar controller and another to the shunt. Now I can read the current voltages and current right from my cell phone!

The second cable runs from the solar controller to the solar display. This shows me how much solar I’m generating.

Solar Cabling

This is finally done! I have all six panels and you can’t see any wires, except on top of the bimini. I think I can hide these some too, but there is some additional work to do there. I momentarily saw about 18A coming in under the full Delta sun with the panels fully exposed. It’s possible the controller was limiting power since the batteries were pretty full. I should have turned more stuff on.

It’s unfortunate I have to do some mental math to figure out what my consumption is. Solar input minus battery charge rate (which could be negative) is my consumption, unless the batteries are fully charged…

There is a SOC digital relay on the Victron. I might just say if the state of charge is 100% and the cabin is over 80, run a DC fan.

At some point, an arduino to collect all the data at once would be really great. I will want this anyway as I need seatalk to change course (from my phone! woo!). There are some interesting projects for this here but they are not doing it wirelessly over bluetooth.

The freezer

This is really a pain. I think it may have been overcharged. I’m going to have to drain the R134a, and then add two full cans, and cross my fingers that this solves it. Rich from Cruise RO Water has been super helpful so far. If he can help me get it working, I’ll be buying his watermaker next.

I ordered a charge cable from China, and it finally arrived today. It will end out being a spare part that sits on the boat, along with some R134a, in case it needs a boost.


Lots of improvements here. Replaced the intermittent deck light (see pic). Replaced the port ceiling light. All the main cabin lights got pulled down, cleaned, sprayed with anti-corrosion goop. They still need to be reattached, and I need some better bulbs in some of them. Not sure why there’s a really dim red bulb in the one near the nav desk. There’s that old debate about what color to use to preserve night vision, perhaps that’s what’s going on here. In which case, a dim green bulb is better (read the article) but it would need a way to avoid looking directly at it, which you must do to turn it on where it is now, and perhaps a dimmer control.

Digital Diode

I replaced the old school diode with a digital one.

Unfortunately, after powering everything up, there was a horrible smell in the engine room. I think I fried the alternator diodes. I ordered a spare, but I am not 100% sure of the root cause. Before I proceed with replacing the alternator, I will:

  • replace the current regulator with the open source one
  • verify that if I put 5A of 16V into the input of the digital diode it sinks the current using my regulated power supply
  • add a sacrificial “zap stop” equivalent diode, which removes any surges above 18V. Mouser sells them for 61 cents, versus Balmar’s $30 solution. Of course, Balmar includes ring terminals and heatshrink…


Old speakers are gone and holes filled. New speakers are now mounted much better, including a bit of rubber in case they do slam around a bit.

Diesel generator

It’s going away. I have it mostly disconnected, just figuring out how to lift it out of the boat is the hard part.

Water works

Investigated the low pressure issue. Found that the filter I threw in already had lots of goop in it. Cleaned that out, and have it on bypass for now. Obviously, I need to be more aggressive with regard to clean water. Looks like it’s time for a second water flush, maybe even need to clean the tanks manually.

I also started to look at the watermaker. Yuck. Everything has green slime everywhere. Removed all the filters, took some of them home to clean them. Not going to get some clean water from these.


The dinghy is done! New nav light, fresh rubrail, and now covered.


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