Wednesday, November 30, 2005

LED Cabin Lights

The LEDs arrived from and I rushed out the boat to install them. I just had to hang around until after dark to test them out.

The fixture at the far right has the original "xenon" bulb (.75 amp) and the fixture at the far left has the new 12-LED bulb (.002 amp) intstalled. The xenon bulb is certainly warmer and brighter but I test-read a bit under the LED and it works very well. I'll probably try the 24-LED bulbs in these lights since they are not very expensive.

The "festoon" bulbs in the red lights above the chart table and galley are a bit dimmer but are also perfectly adequate. The "coolness" is not as apparent behind the red lens.

I'm very pleased with the results. I can run these lights all night with almost no noticeable drain. It's like adding another battery. Once I'm able to upgrade to LED navigation lights the only significant draw will be the autopilot and heater (Espar) fan. The 40 watt solar panel will have no problem keeping up with the power budget.

Tuesday, November 29, 2005


Over the last several months I've been adding "locker vents" to various dead-air spaces. I also discovered that I could push air into the v-berth step and get circulation throughout the entire space between the hull and liner, including lockers and the above mentioned dead-air spaces.

This was worth making permanent so I installed a small computer fan behind a louver under the v-berth step.

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Nav Station

Low end Raymarine VHF, Weems & Plath recording barometer (works very well), and my $100 eBay electronic chart laptop (Win95 "Pen" computer).

This is a dehumidifier from West Marine with the cover removed. I mounted it to Scamper's companionway ladder in such a way that it moves warmed air from the cabin into the engine compartment. From there it goes out the bilge blower vent.

Some previous owner put a 6 inch access plate under the lowest companionway step but I never found the cover plate. Thought I'd take advantage of the hole.

Electronic Charts

As everyone probably knows by now Maptech is offering free chart downloads.

The ENTIRE west coast, border to border, including all of Puget Sound, 279 NOAA charts, all scales, zoomable, fits in 550 megabytes. (Call me a glutton.) You *could* download a lot of charts and leave them compressed to save space until you need them.

My electronic chart setup at the nav station consists of:

- Mitsubishi Amity VP Color Tablet: $50 from eBay. This is an old Win95 "pen" computer. Stills runs SeaClear fine and I was also able to hook it up to 12 volts with no problem. No keyboard; everything is done with a mouse and could be done with the pen but I figure I'll loose that.

- Holux PCMCIA GPS card: $55 from eBay.

- SeaClear: free.

- Charts: free.

- WXTide: free. Perpetual tide/current table generator.

I also bought a PCMCIA 5gig hard drive (for $150 from eBay) to transfer charts and programs from my "good" laptop at home to the Amity on the boat. I also use it to backup the Amity.

SeaClear and WXTide are in the startup folder so when I turn on the computer everything eventually gets ready like a "real" stand-alone GPS unit.

Of course I have other navigation tools - two handheld, mapping GPS units, and real charts. (SeaClear can also print the electronic charts.) For under $200 though, the SeaClear setup is pretty hard to argue with. It's not resistant to dampness in any stretch of the imagination but I've been using the setup with older charts for over two years with no problem. Win95 is stable if you don't fool with it. Eventually the HD will crash or something will fail but when that happens I'll just use the other GPS units until I find another cheap laptop.

LED Replacement Bulbs

Scamper still has several "stock" light fixtures.  Some of them are getting a bit long in the tooth and will probably need replacement.  I've already replaced two of the overhead reading lights with a more modern brass halogen type.  I used the parts left over to rejuvenate the remaining three original

These folks have a pretty good selection of LED replacement bulbs.  They have some that will work in the original red lights above the galley and nav station and some that will work in the old overhead fixtures.  Prices are pretty good.  I'm ordering a bunch of them (but have no affiliation).

Once upon a time fluorescent lights were considered really efficient but now it looks like those are going to be the most power-hungry fixtures on the boat.