Wednesday 21 November 2012

The Nice Thing About Having A Boat Is:-

There is always something to do.  Always a problem to be solved, or a combining of my interests.

I arrived at the boat yesterday afternoon armed with necessary tools to sort out the grotty and dismal array of plants and mostly weeds on our mooring.  This is supposed to be done by the Environment agency who we rent from but there doesn't seem to be a schedule of maintenance but strangely there is a schedule of Direct Debits.  Anyway before I got on with the stuff I like I decided it was best to get this done and out of the way as the weather was reasonable and the forecast was poor.

About 2 hours saw the job done and all the dead nettles, thistles and sapling Elderberry trees were dispatched.  Hopefully this will allow some grass to grow.

I have been playing with  streaming CCTV for a while now and having bought a new Webcam decided I needed to run some new consealed wires to get the signal back to the laptop in the lounge and then out though the router to the interweb.  Knowing the limt for USB is 5m I saw an adaptor that extends USB over cat5e.  On my last visit to the boat I duly installed a length of cat5e cable in the bedroom ceiling down behind the wardrobes, under the bathroom cabinets and into the lounge drilling necessary holes as I went along all of which are out of general sight. All of this took several hours.

Once this was done I powered up the Webcam only to find for whatever reason that it would only send a 174 x 122 image not the 1280 x 1024 it was bought for.  A bit of digging on the canal forum as there are lots of very cleaver people there with a combined mass of knowledge on all subjects lead me to order a 15m powered USB cable.  Prior to installing the cable I tested it and all was good. 

How pleased was I that when I put the cat5e in the ceiling void I decided to put in an additional trace wire. The result was the new UBB cable was fitted in about 20 minutes.

The intention is to stream live video from the boat as we cruise along, or sometimes if we are just sat mooring.  This can be seen at the Vaughn site.  If you go over there you can become a follower and you will get an email when the camera goes live.  All of this is free and there's currently no adverts on the video feed.

Next up was to run some more cat5e (2 lots) so I can run the bedroom TV on an HDMI extender as this too has a 5m limit and get HD TV in the bedroom rather than just what comes down the coax feed.  While I had the carpet up to hide the cables I sorted out the creaky floor that has been anoying me on my seemingly evermore frequent visits to the loo at night.

This morning it was time to service the generator.  It has reached 2400 hours and the oil was looking decidedly black.  With the oil and filter changed and the diesel filter checked for water (none) and changed it was the turn of the impeller.  This as you can see was definitely in need of changing.

The fan belt was checked for wear and adjustment and both were found to be fine.

A while back I moved the Inverter to under the stairs See Here.  And having sorted out the charging so the charger works much harder it then got really hot which caused it to reduce its output so it remaind happy. Result back to square one after a while of running. See you solve one problem and another problem arises!  The only thing to do is to put some extraction fans in to dump the heat.  The easiest way to power these is from the inverters own fan power supply, that way they would only be on as required.  So this meant taking the inverter out again to gain access to the fan wiring.  I took no chances this time.  I photographed the wiring just to remind me not to wire it up wrong.

The fan on the Victron is 24v so I got 2 x 12v 5" fans and wired them in series, drilled 2 x 5" holes in the stair sides just next the the inverter, put in some wiring with an in line connector and hey presto it all worked.

I just need to get some nice covers for the outside of the stairs.


It's not too much of a problem as its very difficult to see them.  They are not in general sight.

The inverter now runs cold to the touch and is once again outputting maximum charge.

Saturday 17 November 2012

A Little Update

So what have I been up to in the last month?

Well during the half term holidays we took our selves off to Cambridge and stayed a few days on Midsummer Common.  While there we met up with fellow bloggers Brian & Diana of Harnser.  Not being backward in coming forward and know their plans to visit "The Backs" I blagged a ride for me and Deb.  This is a very rare treat as the lock Jesus Lock is closed to access for much of the year, and our boat is too big to get through.

I did a little time lapse of the trip.

Again this is a first cut of the video and when I learn how to drive the video software I will enhance it a bit more.  This is Harnser's blog of the trip.

On the boat I have been fiddling with stuff.  I had been suffering with charging problems when using the generator.  The problem was that I was only able to get 70 of 120 amps of charging because I had to have the Weak AC tab set which seems to limit the maximum charge to about 2/3rds of maximum.

A bit of trawling on the forums came up with the suggestion that the voltage was the problem causing the Weak AC and if you look you can see the voltage is down to 216v on charge load.  A bit more reading and I discovered I could alter the voltage output of the generator using a tiny trimmer on the AVR.  So armed with jewellers screwdriver and the Victron software on the PC I turned the trimmer a fraction I do mean a tiny little amount and whoosh it went up to 270v.  Eventually I managed to tame it to 235v which was not easy on a running vibrating generator.

The result of the over voltage was:-
1 fried Sky satellite box
1 fried DAB radio
2 fried switch mode power supplies for phone charging

Note to self.  Unplug everything not needed when messing with voltage regulation!

Ho Hum!  The good news is the charger can now be run with the Weak AC de-selected and I now get a full 120amps of charge reducing of course as the battery voltage comes up.  When I have paid for the damaged items to be replaced I will be saving money on diesel and wear and tear on the generator as it now does in 4 hours what it previously took 12+.

I'm now in the process of installing some Cat5e cabling for some future CCTV ideas.  As regular readers might realise I have a habit for gadgets and CCTV and video streaming and time lapse, in fact anything.  The Cat5e will assist in developing this interest / project.

In the meantime I'm messing with live video streaming on this server.   Vaughn is a live streaming video community but the plan is to stream direct from the boat without using a 3rd party server.

Other things I meant to blog about but didn't.

A bug zapper.  I have to admit I bought it not expecting much.  IT'S BRILLIANT! this zaps flying and landed bugs, of which we get a lot of on the river in the summer.  Not only is it entertaining, it saves having the pollute the boat with nasty smelling bug spray.  On that, there is no way the moderen stuff  as good as it used to be.  Whatever did the job in the can before has been removed from the formula.  I suppose some more bloody EEC directives are to blame.

To save arguments as to who will get to play Zap The Bug I will buy another one next year so we have one each.

The other one is this.

In the shot you can see the light emitted which is pretty impressive and in the lens reflection you can see the LED's that make up the light. (Talented photography?)

It's a solar charged and only switches on when its dark and detects motion. Linky  I'm very pleased with it.

Sometimes you buy these things on a whim and they really exceed expectations.