Do You Want to Know or Not?

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BOAT
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Re: Do You Want to Know or Not?

Post by BOAT » Mon Sep 14, 2020 4:07 pm

i have no issue with buying better transistors oe LEDs so if you have suggestions I am all open ears.

Part of the problem is that i do not know much about electronics so i do not select the right stuff.

do you think an IC chip would be more robust?

i can rebuild the whole thing back on the breadboard first to test it with long wires before i solder all the stuff back onto a pc board.

p.s. i might attempt to post on the site here from 'boat' on the water next week as we will be offshore. I am going to attempt a tether to my iphone to see how well it works, if it does not work i guess is will post when i gt back.

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Re: Do You Want to Know or Not?

Post by Tomfoolery » Mon Sep 14, 2020 4:43 pm

BOAT wrote:
Mon Sep 14, 2020 4:07 pm
p.s. i might attempt to post on the site here from 'boat' on the water next week as we will be offshore. I am going to attempt a tether to my iphone to see how well it works, if it does not work i guess is will post when i gt back.
I do that all the time. In the RV. On the water. Even up in a tower crane when I’ve had to download control software, which can take a long while over a phone hotspot. But I’ve done it. :wink:
Tom
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Re: Do You Want to Know or Not?

Post by BOAT » Mon Sep 14, 2020 4:54 pm

in the past i always had a laptop with a phone card in it but i do not ave that anymore and i ended my att phone subscription for the ipad mounted in the overhead in 'boat' years ago so this will be a first for me

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Re: Do You Want to Know or Not?

Post by Russ » Tue Sep 15, 2020 6:38 am

With Jimmy and Tom, we have the best engineers on this forum.
--Russ

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Re: Do You Want to Know or Not?

Post by Jimmyt » Tue Sep 15, 2020 7:28 am

Russ wrote:
Tue Sep 15, 2020 6:38 am
With Jimmy and Tom, we have the best engineers on this forum.
Well, Tom actually. :wink: I could carry his briefcase, maybe. :)
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Re: Do You Want to Know or Not?

Post by Jimmyt » Tue Sep 15, 2020 8:16 am

BOAT wrote:
Mon Sep 14, 2020 11:01 am

This is all great advice but there are other issues I am running into - the transistors are really delicate. They seem to be sensitive to static and stuff and they are just not robust - and prone to failure.

Also the LED lights - they are stupid - why is it that the green one requires less power than the yellow one?? That's stupid! So when the resistance goes up with more cable the greens work but the yellow don't!!! Is this normal that you electronics guys have to deal with different power requirements for lamps that are the same ??? This is just not how it is in the 12 volt world - I don't get it. :|
If you could give me some more information on exactly what you mean by "sensitive to static and prone to failure", it might be helpful. Have you burned another one up or is this related to the erratic behavior you describe? It is not unusual for different color diodes to have different characteristics in my limited experience.

What you may have been seeing was the gate in the transistor getting into a spot below saturation; where the gate starts to vary the source/drain current as a function of gate input. Your design depends on the transistor acting like a relay rather than a dimmer. But, in the right conditions, a transistor acts like a dimmer with the gate input acting as the knob.

Also, the characteristics of those transistors may not be perfectly consistent either. You may have just happened into a bad spot with your configuration.

I think you should simply try the device, as-is, with short sensor wiring located at the vent; mainly to verify you haven't had component failure. Then you could run one or two LED leads to the back to verify that the new configuration works ok. Or, you could bread board one or two channels and run the LED leads back with a new setup - just to test the theory. Empty and Full? Anyway, you get the idea. Once we get it dialed in, it will either work or not. It shouldn't be flaky. If it's flaky, the design needs modification.

Switching to the IC isn't really an advantage (as I see it), other than packaging. Basically, it's just a bunch of transistors made in a single package. I really feel like you are very close to getting this done.

DISCLAIMER: I'm a mechanical engineer that took my electives in the electrical engineering curriculum. I am not an electronics expert. Fortunately, what you are trying to do is on the simpler end of the electronics scale.

Most of what you describe could be due to the long sensor wiring and the nature of your circuit. Remember that you are using water between two wires to turn on a LED. It's actually a pretty neat thing. If you don't agree, take your 12v light bulb and a 12 volt battery; connect the battery negative to the light, and then drop a wire from the battery positive in a bucket of water, and a wire from the light + into that same bucket. My guess is, unless the wires actually touch under water (10 yard penalty) it's going to be a very dull experiment. :wink:
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Re: Do You Want to Know or Not?

Post by BOAT » Tue Sep 15, 2020 11:57 am

using the water to complete an electrical circuit just seems like bad voodoo to me right from the start when using such low voltages. it all just seems to sensitive and unstable.

yet, at the same time i would not want to pump a full 12 volts dc through my ballast tank just to make things more stable with bigger electrical devices like full voltage 12 volt lights either. From the start I have been concerned about the sensor wires soaking in salt water for days on end and still have not tested the wires so see if they are going to wick water. from the beginning that has been a concern - but the small scale test worked so well i assumes it would be an easy deal to test but it's becoming really hard to QC this thing.

i seem to be in the grey area.

this whole thing is making me reconsider another way - i do have a plan B that is much more in line with my usual Rube Goldberg type of designs. Crazy as those inventions are they seem to be the ones that always work.

I think I might take a stab at the Rube Goldberg gadget that is more like my other working inventions before i take another stab into the world of electronics (which I know so little about).

I am reminded of the efforts of Captain Vic and his autopilot and fly or sail and his rotating mast wind vane - I am not going to let the electronic demons torment me - I know when to quit.

We need a professional electronics exorcist like mastreb to make this one work - and he is not around anymore.

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Re: Do You Want to Know or Not?

Post by Jimmyt » Tue Sep 15, 2020 12:40 pm

BOAT wrote:
Tue Sep 15, 2020 11:57 am
using the water to complete an electrical circuit just seems like bad voodoo to me right from the start when using such low voltages. it all just seems to sensitive and unstable.

yet, at the same time i would not want to pump a full 12 volts dc through my ballast tank just to make things more stable....


Got news for you, dude. You already have 12volts in your ballast tank. Black sensor wire is on the 12v bar unless I'm too blind to see it...:wink:

Which brings up a whole 'nuther bucket 'o worms...
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Re: Do You Want to Know or Not?

Post by Jimmyt » Tue Sep 15, 2020 5:48 pm

I believe you're closer than you think. But, if you want to change strategies and go another direction, I respect that; and look forward to seeing what you and Rube come up with. :D
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Re: Do You Want to Know or Not?

Post by Tomfoolery » Wed Sep 16, 2020 4:29 am

Jimmyt wrote:
Tue Sep 15, 2020 8:16 am
DISCLAIMER: I'm a mechanical engineer that took my electives in the electrical engineering curriculum. I am not an electronics expert. Fortunately, what you are trying to do is on the simpler end of the electronics scale.
So am I, but I did my electives, and got a second degree, in Materials Science and Metallurgy. Not that I use it. But EE is not my forte´. I do design large machinery and their control systems, primarily for hydraulic systems on heavy lifting machinery, but I wheel in specialists and programmers for the details. So it sounds like I should be carrying your briefcase. :D

As to BOAT's project, if wire length and it's resistance is so critical, why not use the local sensor arrangement to trigger tiny solid-state relays, so the remote LEDs become truly binary. Or common electro-mechanical relays (more my speed), where the A1 load is a fixed parameter.

Or is that unnecessarily complicated?

And FWIW, the water tanks in my camper van use something similar to what BOAT is doing - discreet sensors at three depths in each tank (I can see them from the outside), with discreet wiring, which runs to a Firefly control with nifty bar graphs. But not so nifty in that they only have 4 positions (empty, 1/3, 2/3, full). It's just a fancy way of displaying exactly what BOAT is doing. The LP tank, on the far right, actually is analog, and can be anywhere from empty to full. Different technology, obviously, as you can't stick probes into a pressure tank. Not easily, at least, and nobody messes with those ASME LP tanks like that since you can buy them with a float gauge output anyway.

Picture is from a Thor product, but it looks the same. Bar graphs at top-right are what I'm talking about.

Image
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Re: Do You Want to Know or Not?

Post by Russ » Wed Sep 16, 2020 6:58 am

You could run a CAT5 cable up there to bring 8 wires to play with. Use one pair to bring power to the board and the rest to power the remote LEDs in the cockpit. Of course use a stranded cable.
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Re: Do You Want to Know or Not?

Post by Jimmyt » Wed Sep 16, 2020 7:20 am

Tomfoolery wrote:
Wed Sep 16, 2020 4:29 am

As to BOAT's project, if wire length and it's resistance is so critical, why not use the local sensor arrangement to trigger tiny solid-state relays, so the remote LEDs become truly binary. Or common electro-mechanical relays (more my speed), where the A1 load is a fixed parameter.

Or is that unnecessarily complicated?
That would be the next step if he needed to power a bigger load. He could use the transistors to switch relays. However, since he's only running LEDs it should work fine as-is. After all, we've seen his prototype work. Whatever went south is a result of how the prototype changed. Since it appears that the long sensor wires were the significant change, I'd fix that. The power side, driving the LEDs, should be much less sensitive to wire length.

I'm impressed that he put it together with virtually no knowledge of how the components actually work. Of course, I never know when he's pulling my leg... :wink:

Glad he wasn't building a fuel gauge. :D

Incidentally, if anyone ever says, "it won't be too bad, it's only a Category 1", tell them to remember Sally... Geez. And we were on the easy side. Long night.
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Re: Do You Want to Know or Not?

Post by Tomfoolery » Wed Sep 16, 2020 7:47 am

Jimmyt wrote:
Wed Sep 16, 2020 7:20 am
Incidentally, if anyone ever says, "it won't be too bad, it's only a Category 1", tell them to remember Sally... Geez. And we were on the easy side. Long night.
I hope everything is alright, or not too terrible, in your neck of the woods. Some sources are saying it hit Gulf Shores as a Cat 2 hurricane, and though Mobile Bay is on the left side, it's still awfully close to the center.

Stay safe down there.
Tom
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Re: Do You Want to Know or Not?

Post by Jimmyt » Wed Sep 16, 2020 8:32 am

Tomfoolery wrote:
Wed Sep 16, 2020 7:47 am
Jimmyt wrote:
Wed Sep 16, 2020 7:20 am
Incidentally, if anyone ever says, "it won't be too bad, it's only a Category 1", tell them to remember Sally... Geez. And we were on the easy side. Long night.
I hope everything is alright, or not too terrible, in your neck of the woods. Some sources are saying it hit Gulf Shores as a Cat 2 hurricane, and though Mobile Bay is on the left side, it's still awfully close to the center.

Stay safe down there.
Thanks. Pretty good here. Weather is finally calming down. Winds down around 40-50. Lots of cleanup, but thankful that's all. It paused as a Cat1 and looked like it might weaken, but then went up to a 2, with gusts in Cat 3 range right before going ashore. West side was much better than Pensacola and Gulf Shores. My buddy on wolf bay got a beating. New house performed well, but got a few feet of water in his garage. Since they had just moved in, they still had a lot of boxes down there. Guess which floor the elevator was on when the power went out? :|
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