Saturday, September 11, 2010

Busy, busy, busy!

I finally made electricity with the new alternator today. It took a while. First I had to choose an alternator! After days of searching the Internet I found a Leece Nevile 165 amp model in California for only $1905! Turns out it is mostly made in China then finished with American diodes and regulator. Hoping for the best. It came with an internal regulator, but boats need an external fancier one, so I needed an adapter and a new pulley for it. Shipping and all $309, not too bad.

Next, while charging the batteries with the main engine I noticed the old system was not working right. The battery voltage was 15.3 and the old regulator was still in bulk mode, just cooking the batteries. NOT good! So I shut nit off and have been monitoring the charging very closely by hand.

My existing system was a Link 2000R and Ideal Regulator Output module. Obsolete for 7 years with no possibility of replace and very high repair. More searching the internet. I didn't like any of the ones I found. Most of the companies are merged or out of business. I finally chose a Balmar ARS-5 standalone 3 stage regulator and a Xantrax LinkLite (single bank) battery monitor. I have the regulator installed and controlling both the main engine and the aux (watermaker) engine with a DPDT manual switch.

I also have the wind generator working. It is temporarily mounted on a 6 foot pole tied to the bow pulpit. It would get more wind if it were on top of the mizzen mast, but that would mean climbing up there several times to install it. 38 feet and no power assist up the mizzen!

The regulator/controller for the solar panels died at the same time as the alternator. I didn't notice for a while, since they put out so little.

I was so disgusted by the offerings of battery monitors and regulator controllers that I almost decided to build my own regulator. A the last minute I was saved and bought the Balmar ($270). Same with the battery monitor, a fancy volt/amp meter with a memory for amphours, and only for one set of batteries at that, Xantrax $230. I found a company that sells micro computer kits for a volt/amp meter for $15 so I ordered 3 and the various programmers etc. for only $... better not add that one up while Trinda is watching. I'm hoping the mail will deliver them within the week.

The micro computers are ATmega8 family and can be programmed easily from Linux and a USB port. If I can build and program what I think I can, I can make a amphour meter that will tell me how the wind generator is doing and how the solar panels are doing and even watch the alternator output current (which the old one did, but the new one can't) all in one little board 2"x3". It should be fun playing with it anyway.

Mean while, Trinda has me stripping an varnishing so we can take another out island trip. We plan to leave in about a week. Lots of stuff to do to get ready!

I made pizza last night and "sticky buns" this afternoon.

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