Thursday, August 30, 2012

Sail Fast

Yesterday I had a wonderful sail with friends aboard the Bounty.  Our first stop was at the Corinthian yacht club where we challenged Hydroptere to a race across the bay.  They accepted our challenge.

The photo above is of  Hydroptere in our rear view mirror as we blast through the slot at 60 knots. 8^)

Wednesday, August 29, 2012


The cars have been sold and Nancy is on two wheels now.



Tuesday, August 28, 2012

America's Cup World Series

Nancy and I got VIP passes at Club 45 compliments of Charles Schwab for the America's Cup World Series races.  It was awesome!  We bathed in Moet Chandon, ate like kings and got a photo with the old mug.  The fleet racing was our favorite part.  Seeing all the boats charge into the first mark was fantastic.   Once the boats were out of view we could duck into Club 45, replenish our glasses, and watch the live TV coverage.  When the boats returned to windward, we would head out to the deck for the next rounding.

They are going to have a similar format in October during fleet week.  I have an image in my head of the boats screaming across the bay with Blue Angels over head doing the same.   We will miss all the action in October because we'll be in route to San Diego for the start of the 2012 Baja Haha.

18 days and until departure......

Fleet race 5 - first mark rounding

Nancy and Rob with the America's Cup.  To left of the image you can see the arm of the big burly security guard.  He was all business.

Thursday, August 23, 2012


By Nancy

I’ve started passing out our boat cards to friends at the YMCA, knowing that next week is my last week here in Los Altos/Mountain View.  “Hi” to the newer readers of our blog.  This will start getting more interesting when we leave the Bay Area on September 15th.  And I hope you all post comments, too, so we know you are there. 
The moving POD #1 is almost full, and we are feeling optimistic that the rest of our house can fit in the remaining the second POD.  We sold both cars this week, and many thanks to our friend Mark, for letting us borrow one of his cars. 

Bryan heads back to college next Saturday – so starting to fill a room with his stuff and plans for the next semester at Northeastern at solidifying.  The piano move date is set, and the house is starting to empty out.  The "to the boat" pile is growing quickly as we plan our last loads of boat stuff.

As my friends in the Delta know, there are No more naps for Nancy!  At least until we leave.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Delta Shakedown

Nancy and I are enjoying a wonderful trip in the Delta with friends.  The sunrises are amazing.
Temps have been in the mid to high 90's and the water temp is a refreshing 75.

Sunrise at Three River Reach

This has been a great trip to shake out the boat systems while disconnected from shore power.  The new batteries and charger are doing great and the generator is hanging tough.

A few days ago we took a long ride north to my old stomping grounds around Walnut Grove.  We had lunch at Wimpy's.  Sad to say they don't serve the Wimpy Dimpy burger any more.

Three River Reach

Shindig from aloft

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Caffeine is my friend

From Nancy:
(If you're wondering about the caffeine reference, photo below shows "Mad Nancy", without it!)
Today I skipped cardio kickboxing class to get some early morning errands done.  Got a new set of tires on the Lexus, picked up wardrobe boxes and mattress covers at UHaul and was done with grocery shopping at Trader Joes, by 9am.  We’ve been in heavy social mode at home, with a large pool party for friends with kids on Saturday, my best friend’s birthday in Santa Cruz, and several neighbor get togethers over the past 2 days, as we share our plans and say first goodbyes.
We are close to having the home rented, with the property manager, finalizing the details, as well as lots of interest on two cars for sale.
Tomorrow night we start the journey into a real vacation – 9 days in the Delta with many of our boat friends.  We leave early Friday am, with a full cooler of drinks and food.  The social director has suggested a scaled back version of get togethers, focusing on three scheduled ones, which include a Mexican themed goodbye party for us! That means more time for relaxing (??), and hopefully some wakeboarding, dinghy racing and SUP practice.
Here are two photos , one from the pool party, and the other, more boxes, delivered last night from our neighbors Larry and Barb. They really know how to make me happy! Back to packing. 
the SOF Gang

24 boxes added to our collection

Bad Hair day, and no caffeine for me

Shindig Volt Meter

This blog post will attempt to describe an instrument that I designed to monitor batteries on board.  Beware.... there is a lot of geek speak below.

One of the big challenges on Shindig is managing and monitoring all 13 batteries on board.  My DC system consists of 4 battery banks:
  1. Domestic Bank - 8x 6 volt AGM
  2. Engine Start Bank - 2x 12 volt AGM
  3. Bow Thruster Bank - 2x 12 volt AGM
  4. Generator Start - 1x 12 volt AGM
There is one Xantrex Amp/hour meter(Link 2000) that indicates battery health for the domestic and engine start banks.  While this meter is great for monitoring the amps in and amps out it doesn't tell me anything about the health of the individual batteries that make up the 24 volt banks.   Shindig only has one big bank (domestic) for operating all the onboard electronics, refrigeration, etc.  It is important that I keep a close eye on the health of this bank.

The purpose of the Shindig Volt Meter is to monitor the individual batteries that make up the system so that I can get an early warning if one is failing.  This will give me a chance to address the problem before a bank gets out of balance and impacts otherwise healthy neighboring batteries in the bank.

The meter is now installed and has already helped me identify a few batteries that were not pulling their weight.

The "Shindig Volt Meter" is based around the Arduino micro controller platform.  The Arduino is a popular hobbyist package that I started playing around with a few years ago.  It uses an Atmel micro controller that has all the digital and Analog to Digital (A/D) IO pins needed to do the job.

The input circuit multiplexes battery voltages through a resister ladder to voltage levels that the micro controler is happy with.  The Arduino controls a multiplexor to select the specific battery voltage to be read and then converts the analog voltage input to a digital value.  Once all the voltages are sampled they are compared to warning and alarm presets and output to the LCD.  The LCD is updated every half second as are the status lights.

Bread boarding the components for proof of concept

Placement of Arduino, voltage regulator, chip sockets and edge connectors
Back side of main board with LCD mounted

Final version installed on the boat.  This is showing the summary info screen for all 4 battery banks.

The red button allows you to scroll through different screens of information.
The two toggle switches are for on/off and LCD back-lighting.
The Green light indicates and all is well.
The Yellow light indicates that 1 or more of the 13 batteries voltage is below normal.
The Red light indicates that 1 or more of the 13 batteries is critical.
The alarm buzzer will sound if any one battery is in the red for more than 120 seconds.  It is common for batteries to bounce into the red under high loads(bow thruster, big inverter load, etc).  This is why I wait for 2 minutes before alarming.

Summary screen

Domestic bank details.  Port and Starboard 6 volts X 8

Engine bank detail.  2 X 12 volt

Thruster bank detail.  2 X 12 volt

Generator start battery.  12 Volt

Firmware version, threshold settings and "on" timer

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Fuel System Upgrade

It is said that three most common issues with a diesel engine are:
  1. Fuel
  2. Fuel
  3. Fuel
Shindig's fuel filtering system was pretty simple before I redesigned it.  There was one Racor filter/water separator for the main engine and separate one for the generator.  These filters were located close to the fuel tank under the main salon floor.

In rethinking the fuel system design I wanted to accomplish the following:

For the main engine fuel:
  • allow for active and standby filter for the main engine so you can switch filters on the fly
  • be able to service the filters easily
  • read vacuum and pressure on the filters for diagnostics
  • provide electric fuel pump backup to the main engine lift pump
For the generator fuel system:
  • provide primary and secondary fuel filtration for the generator as the generator does not have a secondary filter.
  • be able to service the filters easily
  • provide electric fuel pump backup to the generator's fuel pump
  • fuel polishing capability

This is what I came up with.

Main engine primary/standby filter configuration
For the engine system I moved the single filter from under the salon floor and plumbed it a second filter on a bulkhead in the engine room.  I have great access to the system in the new spot.

The valve between the filters selects the primary or secondary filter and the valve on the top right allows you to select the fuel pump for bleeding the system, servicing filters or act as a backup to the Perkins fuel lift pump.

The compound gauge on top of the primary filter reads vacuum (indication of how dirty filter is) and pressure for when the fuel pump is pressurizing the system (max of about 8 psi)

Generator filters and fuel polishing configuration
The generator system occupies the space under the salon floor where both systems were before. 
I have retained the capability to shut off the feed to either system at the tank (red valves) and tried to leave enough space under the floor to service the two generator filters.

I tested the flow rate for fuel polishing with this circuit and it measures about 24 gallons/hour.  The fuel pump consumes about 3 amps. 

The most challenging part of this project was finding a good spot for each system and locating the oddball Racor and other brass fittings.  I ended up getting the special Racor fittings online here.   The other fittings I found at Grainger and local hardware stores.

Friday, August 3, 2012

Boat Barter

As we get closer to our departure date Nancy and I are downsizing as much as possible and storing as little as possible.

This downsizing includes our cars.   If we are very successful and sell them quickly we'll have to rent or borrow a ride to finish our move out of the house and onto the boat.  If we are unsuccessful we'll have to store them or sink them in the bay! 

We have advertised them on Craigslist and Auto Trader and I have been driving the Mini around with a "for sale" sign in the rear window.

This week I received this note under the windshield wiper.

This deal wouldn't help on the downsizing!

We have received lots of inquires on the cars.  Many are scams and some are qualified buyers.
I find the craigslist/autotrader route is kinda a pain in the ass.  (flaky people, low ballers, email and phone followups the go nowhere).  I'll be happy when the deals are done and sad to see my little Cooper go......

Good Bye "INBOX"

42 days and counting.