Showing posts with label wire installation. Show all posts
Showing posts with label wire installation. Show all posts

Saturday, March 30, 2013


With the battery voltage meter part of the instrumentation project finished. It was time to move on to the important current meter part of the project. BIANKA already had a Xantrex XBM battery monitor but, to see it required that I move away from the helm and lift a cockpit hatch and bend down to see it. It was awkward and inconvenient to look at while underway.

I went looking for another meter that could measure the current being drawn from or charging the battery bank. But, the catch was I did not want to have to put in another shunt for measuring  current in the battery circuit like the XBM battery monitor already used. I wanted to keep any extra connections to a minimum. To do that I needed to use a hall effect type of current meter.  It determines a current value by measuring the magnetic flux around a piece of wire with current flowing through it. I found exactly what I needed with a company called Devicecraft. They had a hall effect current meter with a transducer that would fit the 2 AWG wires that connect to  BIANKA's 48 volt electric propulsion battery bank.

The hook up is farely simple.

The display required a supply voltage and three wires that go to the hall effect transducer.  I needed to run the transducer wires about eight feet and used some   Twisted Servo Hookup Wire,   normally used in things like model cars and planes:

Like I did for some of the wires for the battery voltage meters part of this project I enclosed the transducer wires in a  Techflex General Purpose 1/4-inch Braided Cable Sleeve.  This was to keep the wires together and also protect them from chafing.

The 100 amp Hall effect sensor will fit over the 2 AWG cable that is used in the my electric propulsion system but, would not fit over the existing lug. So I needed cut the existing battery cable. I used a ratcheting wire cutter like a Klein ratcheting cable cutter which cuts heavy duty battery cable easily:

and makes a nice flush cut:

I took the opportunity to trim some other 2 AWG  battery interconnections that were a little too long from my initial electric propulsion installation five years ago too.  The Hall Effect transducer has a polarity in terms of it's display. That is if you a drawing current from the battery the display should show a negative sign in the display. Likewise when charging the battery it is useful to see the current flow as positive (no minus sign) on the digital display.  In order to make sure I got the polarity right I used some of the trimmed battery cables and a jumper to check the polarity of the meter.

Once I had established the proper orientation for the sensor I put it on the battery cable and crimped a new lug on the end and reconnected it to the battery. I then ran the sensor wires up through the cockpit wire conduit I made and into the helm area using one of the  Fiberglass Wire Pull Rods    I carry on board:

It was then just a matter of hooking up the sensor and power wires to the current display and the instrumentation project was finished:

I mounted it the box temporarily at the helm and used it on my fall cruise up the Hudson River and back. I still need to make a permanent platform for the box at the helm location but, that is a project for another day.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

ON BIANKA'S BOOKSHELF: Books of an electric sailor

I've seen a number of posts recently  on various sailing sites of people wanting to find books on gaining knowledge about all things electrical on board their boats. I have two books on board BIANKA that I consider worth having on board. One is Boatowner's Mechanical and Electrical Manual: How to Maintain, Repair, and Improve Your Boat's Essential Systems by Nigel Calder.
My dog eared and oil stained copy has been on board since I first purchased BIANKA back in 1995. Since I converted to electric propulsion there are now whole chapters concerning diesel engines and alternators I can now ignore. But, others especially those concerning electrical wiring and extensive coverage of batteries have come in very handy. For example I purchased a heavy duty crimper to make the crimps on the 2 AWG wire interconnects for the electric propulsion battery bank. Unfortunately, my crimper had markings only for metric sized wires. I opened Calders book and found a conversion chart that allowed me to set the crimper to the proper setting. It's information like that which can save the day when you are in some far away anchorage trying to make repairs.The Boatowner's Mechanical and Electrical Manual : How to Maintain, Repair, and Improve Your Boat's Essential Systems is also available for the Kindle.

The other book which I find useful is  Boatowner's Illustrated Electrical Handbook by Charlie Wing. It contains a lot of information about the various electrical systems one would find on board and the theory of how they work. There's DC and AC theory covered as well as things like bonding and corrosion issues. Wiring color codes and a number of charts and formulas as well. The Boatowner's Illustrated Electrical Handbook is also available as a Kindle e-book download. 

Both books are worthy of the space they take up on board. Both are very useful if you just want to understand about electrical systems and devices on board your boat, need to do some repairs or even rewire your boat. After converting to electric propulsion I find them even more valuable to have on board.

Thursday, March 31, 2011


Since I was kind of in a rush to finish the conversion to electric propulsion back in 2008 some things did not get installed as well as they should have at first. One of the things that was done in a temporary install was the electric propulsion speed control. Which at first was just secured with Ty Wraps as you can see here:

  Also the wires for the control ran across the cockpit deck into a hole on the side. Not the best way to operate for long. It worked  fine but, a more permanent solution had to be done. But, how should I run the wiring to the pedestal location where the electric motor control would be? The controls for the diesel engine were run through the pedestal and were wire linkages to the engine. I did not really like the idea of running the wires through this same route. It was tight and there were things like chains moving as one turned the helm to steer. If it chafed through the propulsion control cables who knows what could happen. It also would be very inaccessible. So I borrowed and idea from a fellow Nonsuch owner who ran a separate piece of conduit next to the helm for his pedestal mounted Loran unit.  I modified my design a little where as his was aft of the wheel I choose to install mine just forward of the wheel. Here is what I did. First I marked the location where I would be drilling the access hole in the deck next to the Edson pedestal making sure I would not be cutting into any stringers or supports below deck:

Next I drilled the hole and routered out and sealed the deck core with thickened West System Epoxy so no damage or delamintion would occur  if there should be any water leakage:

The fitting I used I was used a standard deck water fill fitting:

I removed the chain and fitted and secured it into the deck.
The photo above shows the fitting before the securing and chalking but, you get the idea. Then went to the local Ace hardware store and found a PVC fitting that would screw into the deck fitting: 

I then glued this fitting onto a piece of PVC pipe of the length I wanted using PVC cement:

I then screwed the pipe into the deck fitting using some Teflon tape on the threads before I did to help seal the threads. From then on it was simply running the wires down the  pipe from the helm. I used the wire pull rods I carry on board to help make this a little easier:

Hard to see in the photo below but, I cut a small slot down the side of the top of PVC pipe to allow for the wires (NOTE: I also created a drip loop so water would not run down the wires into the boat) and fitted the top with a removable PVC cap that allows for the easy installation of more wires or removal of existing ones as needed:

The nice feature of using this conduit is you can add and modify wiring to the helm as needed. Since I did the original install for the electric propulsion throttle control I added wires for a helm mounted GPS and 12 volt power outlet:
There are still a few more projects to follow.

Saturday, January 23, 2010


>BIANKA having an electric motor for auxiliary propulsion uses various forms of wiring run to various locations on board. In fact there are a few wires left over from the old diesel days that still need to be removed or reassigned to other duties. Then there are other projects requiring new wires. Like installing a new 12 volt receptacle in the galley area. Which I need to do so I can use the Braun mixer/chopper in the galley location instead of moving it and the 200 watt inverter that powers it to some other location on the boat to use it.

Running new wires behind walls or bulkheads is called fishing. Which is not the same as dropping a line over the side in the hopes of catching dinner. But, it can use a similar type of a fiberglass pole. It has been a learning experience for me as I used the technique on various projects. Here's what I found. At first I used a rod that was made from a wire coat hanger.
It was cheap but, also had some disadvantages. You could bend it easily but, it would also stay bent and that was a problem when trying to "fish" it around sharp bends. It would sometimes get hung up. Another disadvantage was it was conductive. You run the risk of having it contact some terminal or breakthrough a wires insulating jacket causing a short circuit, fire or shock hazard. Not an ideal situation or the ideal tool to use.
I then went looking for a better solution and found it at my local Home Depot store. This was a Greenlee 540-12 Fish Stix kit.

Which consists of several 1/4" fiberglass poles that interlock and allow one to run or pull wires in tight spaces up to 12 feet. They cost about $35 bucks. It was better than poking behind bulkheads with a conductive piece of metal coat hanger wire but, still not perfect. They bent a little but, did not stay bent like the a coat hanger wire method. But, they were a little too stiff for some of bends I had to run wires through. I started thinking that I might be able to also use them for an idea I had for another project so they still might still be useful on board.
One day while looking through an online catalog. I came across the Cen-Tech wire running kit. Since they cost less then the Greenlee 540-12 Fish Stix. I bought two sets for this other project. When I got them I realized that they were the perfect tool for fishing wires on board my boat much better than using the Greenlee sticks. For one thing they were thinner than the Greenlee poles and much more flexible. As you can see in the photo below:

Another advantage of the Cen-Tech poles is they come with a flexible screw on tip.

This makes it even easier to snake the pole into tight bends and spaces. You can also get a flexible tip for the much stiffer Greenlee Fish Stix but, at extra cost. Below shows a photo of Cen-Tech pole making a tight bend behind a bulkhead before pulling a wire through.

If you've got some wires to run I recommend using something like the Cen-Tech product. They also have other uses on board. I've used them to knock out Barnacles that found their way into some of the through hulls. So if you need to do some "fishing" inside the boat this is the tool to use.