Monday Minute - Using Technology to Watchdog Systems

Blue Angel's helm is compact but I added some great utility with the NEMA 2000 network. If your engines can be connected to a network, you can monitor so much more than having a few analog helm gauges.

Blue Angel's helm is compact but I added some great utility with the NEMA 2000 network. If your engines can be connected to a network, you can monitor so much more than having a few analog helm gauges.

On my last two boats, I created an onboard NEMA 2000 network, as the engines were contemporary enough (aka electronic) to allow me to connect their electronic control modules (ECM) into a network through one of Maretron's excellent gateway interface and bridge modules. While I have not yet fully expanded on the potential possibilities of this network beyond engine information on a small Maretron display, I have the basic essentials to create some pretty neat control and alarm functionality.

Whether you have a sailboat or cruising powerboat, if your engine is electronic, you have the opportunity to create a vastly useful network over which all sorts of useful information can be tracked and monitored. Even some older engines can be successfully connected. Check out Maretron's website to learn all about information networks. https://www.maretron.com/ 

Steve Dashew showed me an example of what is possible on his FPB 78, Cochise, which also has a NEMA 2000 network. He was especially happy to explain how great a particular Maretron product is and how he takes advantage of its ability to keep an eye on his engine room.

He installed Maretron TMP100 black box modules (https://maretron.com/products/tmp100.php) into his boat's network, and each TMP100 can monitor temperatures using up to six accessory temperature sensors. 

TMP100_web.jpg

He put these sensors on his shaft logs, so he can monitor if the temperature increases if the packing gland nut is too tight. He has temperature probes on the engines' raw water pumps, Aqualift mufflers, and exhaust injection elbows. By having these sensors physically in contact with critical components, he knows real time when something is amiss, as any significant increase in temperature means something has happened, such a sudden loss of raw water flowing through the cooling circuit.

Temperature probes in the exhaust system of one of the FPB's John Deere diesel engines.

Temperature probes in the exhaust system of one of the FPB's John Deere diesel engines.

He also has temperature sensors on the engines' alternators, so he will know right away if one of the alternators is failing, as an alarm will sound through the ship's network.

I could have used this temperature monitor last summer, after I ran Blue Angel WOT for a brief time to check that it still hit the top speed of 42 knots. It did, but the high rpm caused a hose to came off the outlet of the heat exchanger. Raw water continued to pump through the heat exchanger, but instead of moving into the exhaust manifold to cool down the engine exhaust gases, it discharged into the bilge. Engine temperature remained normal, as it was being cooled just fine, but without raw water in the wet exhaust system, temperatures soared quickly. Before I realized there was an issue, a ECM alarm sounded as the exhaust gases were too high, and the rubber hose connecting the manifolds were already melting. The bilge pump ran all the while but there was nothing to alert me that it was on, keeping the boat afloat. The water stopped as soon as I shut down the engine, but not before I ruined three hoses on the Volvo Penta 8.1 liter gas engine.

Smoke and the smell of melting rubber is not what I planned for this day. Note the blown crossover hose. Very sad.

Smoke and the smell of melting rubber is not what I planned for this day. Note the blown crossover hose. Very sad.

So an upcoming project will be to install a Maretron TMP100 temperature module, with probes located to notify me if something like this happens again, before I cause any damage. I believe I can set up alarms in my Garmin multifunction display so that any increases in temperature in an exhaust elbow or raw water pump are quickly detected and set off a specific alarm.

I already have a Maretron DMS150 multifunction display at the helm to provide engine information coming from the ECM, so perhaps I can duplicate this temperature information on this display as well.

I've been reading a lot recently about digital electricity and it seems we will soon be able to monitor most every system on a boat, including a ship's electrical system. Using new algorithms that sample and measure the flow of electricity, it will be possible to identify a piece of electrical equipment, even a lightbulb, before it fails because we will be able to detect a change in its digital footprint. Yup, pretty cool stuff on the horizon.

Have a great week.

Great morning run.JPG

Have a great week.

Adventure Series Conclusion

Adventure Series Conclusion

The Beast at Our Dock - The Ultimate FPB

The Beast at Our Dock - The Ultimate FPB