Maretron or Not

For a little, non-electronic boat, I sure love my Maretron data. I have 9 modules:

  • two to communicate with everything else, (USB, IPG) and the N2K Viewer
  • two for the fresh water tanks, (TLM),
  • one solid state compass, (SSC),
  • one GPS, (GPS),
  • one depth sounder with paddle wheel and lastly, (DST),
  • the love of my life, my (WSO), the weather instrument.

The solid sate compass seems to work better with my ComNav autopilot. In addition, it gives me the roll and pitch data I often quote in my blog.

The weather instrument is also solid state with ultrasonic wind measurement.  Considering I installed the system myself over 4 years and 20,000 miles ago, I’ve had few problems.

A glorious day in Vallejo, under a roof, with the mast down, facing aft

Coming west across the Atlantic, the constant winds behind us and to the side, from 15 to 35 knots for 528 hours or 22 days (No, I didn’t stop to change the oil) took a toll on my connections on the mast. Everything still worked, but occasionally, if a line got caught it would put enough strain to disrupt the connection until I freed it.

So, one of my projects now is to redo all the connections in the system. I  also now slather everything in dielectric grease. So much so, that I almost put it on my pancakes the other morning.

One of the offending connectors

So, the day started out so very well. Sitting on deck, with the mast down, Dauntless under a roof, protecting us from the elements and sun, I thought about climbing up the mast in Cabo San Lucas, in hot, 95° sun, holding on the mast with one hand, while trying to tighten the 5 little wires inside the plug just under the WSO.

I was in hog heaven. I carefully tool the plug apart, unattached the 5 little wires, and recut them all and trimmed them. Now, I knew power was still on the system.  Before I started any of this, I wanted to make sure that it was only the WSO that was incommunicado.  So, just as I was thinking that I would have to be careful in cutting the positive power line, meaning not to cut it with the ground wire at the SAME time; I did exactly that. The little spark, showed me that I’d f..ed up.

Sure enough, when I go below to check, now the whole Maretron system has no data.

Had I shorted out something serious? Was there a fuse in the system? If so, where was it?? Who the hell installed this system?? Oh, it was me!

Let me check the computer cabinet. Open cabinet and what do I see, the fuse block that I put in 4 years ago and even nicely labeled at that.

It went downhill from there.

To check the fuses, I had to pull them, to do that I needed to power down the whole system. That done, I pulled each fuse and looked at it very carefully. Very carefully (for those of you who already know the answer, don’t spoil it for your dear ones who are also reading this).

They all looked good. I powered the system back up. That takes a few minutes because the modem and router have to be booted up before the computer otherwise everyone gets confused.

At this point, I noticed that the little light for the Maretron circuit was not lit on the router until I turned on the computer. I hadn’t noticed that before. (and in the future, I will explain that issue).

No change. I went back to the fly bridge. One of dozens of trips I would make over the next couple of hours. I figured I had screwed up the wiring of the plug. I took it all apart again. I convinced myself that possibly the ground shield covering was touching one of the data lines. I put it all back together again, rebooted the entire system and alas. No joy.

At this point, I’d spent an hour on this. I pulled the fuses again. They still looked good. I even held them up to the light. But finally, just to be sure, I changed the 5-amp fuse that powered the Maretron system. Surely now, it would work.

Still No Joy. Now, more than ever I was convinced it was the plug. The plug was the only thing I had worked on.

Back to the flybridge. Took plug apart again. Put it back together again. Rinse and repeat.

I got my electric meter out (finally you think), check the plug for the umpteenth time. No power.

I go online and check the Maretron site. It tells me I should see 60 and 120 ohms between certain lines. I see exactly that. But still no power. I must have shorted something else out. Where did I install the power tap?

Oh, I remembered where the power tap was because it’s in the port side pilot house wire race that is so full of wires I have trouble getting the teak panel back in place.

Other than no power, the continuity on the plug and lines tested correctly.

I’ve been working on this for three hours now. I return to the computer and fuse block.

I finally decide to test for power in the fuse block. Umm, the Maretron circuit has no power here.

I pull that fuse and check it. No circuit. I check the old fuse I had pulled out, no circuit.

I got fuse number three and checked it, a circuit.

I stick it in and low and behold, power.

Two hours earlier I had replaced a bad fuse with another bad fuse. Both fuses showed no sign that they were open. Both had very clear “Z” wire that wasn’t broken.

One of the offending fuses

 

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