WiFi Extender

2019-07-28 at 09-35-35

Another bit of dodgy tech!

The satcom system worked fine for phones and emails at sea. Expensive airtime, mind you! And a pain to get a reasonable package. My Iridium Pilot came with an Optimizer which works to compress and reduce unnecessary files for email and web browsing at sea.

2019-07-28 at 09-35-42

The marina wifi is pretty crap and Frank’s berth is quite a ways from the wifi hotspot. So I ordered a refurbished  RedPort Wifi extender from GMN on rush delivery back last year. Of course, it did not work – it had not been checked or tested. So it went back on RMA and eventually came back, whereupon it went to the back of the line.

Finally, last weekend, it floated to the top of the “to-do” list.

The lights lit up, but the discovery bit, where the Extender appears on the Optimizer menu, did not work.

optimizer_-_tasks_-_luci_pdf

You can’t see it because it ain’t there.

Cue email..

Ticket Number: 2019073110000983

Hello Colin, 

I think that Optimizer is an older version that has been end of lifed. Do you know what hardware model the Extender is? It will say on the back of the Extender. Either wXa-EXT or wXa-EXT V2

Bethany Headrick

GMN Customer Care

Global Marine Networks, LLC

3224 Wrights Ferry Road

Louisville, TN 37777

Web: http://www.globalmarinenet.com

Tel: +1.865.379.8723

Email: info@globalmarinenet.com

07/31/2019 14:15 – Colin Bastable wrote:

Hi.

I bought a Halo extender. It was defective and RMAd.

I have connected it to the Optimizer.

Plugged into LAN port. WLAN, LAN and Power blue lights on at Optimizer.

Two blue lights on, and flashing red, orange and two green lights on Extender.

No Extender option appeared in the menu.

 

I then updated the firmware from 1.3xxx to wXa-102 v1.63b8

 

Still no Extender option.

 

See attached screengrab.

 

Please can you advise me how to get the Extender option to display?

 

Thanks

 

Colin

 —

At this stage, I am beginning to suspect that what we’ve got here is a failure to communicate between the Optimizer and the Extender. We shall see.

Wind vane and Sailtimer finally up mast

When Frank was having her keel dropped, at Hooking Bull in Rockport back in 2016, because this necessitated having the mast down, I planned to install a SailTimer Wireless Wind Instrument which arrived long after the mast was back up and Frank was in her new berth in Corpus Christi Marina

This week, Matt Sebring of Coastal Bend Yacht Services has mounted it, along with a Windex (the one mounted when at Hooking Bull lasted a week, when a pterodactyl (I am no ornithologist, but they are big-assed ugly monsters that share the marina with the boats) decided that the Windex did not belong on the top of the mast.

2019-07-26 at 10-50-51

It took so long for me to get around to installing the Sailtimer that they have redesigned it – I should have waited until now to buy it. But next time I am at the Marine I can see if it actually works, and also see if the Windex has survived..

Ice-Box Conversion to Fridge

Last year, I posted a blog about my plans to install an Isotherm Self Pumping refrigerator conversion – and this year I have finally completed the job. It works!

The ice-box, now refrigerated, is to the left of the cooker, and the compressor gubbins is to the right, in what was the trash container (that I used as a dry food store). I fitted the compressor to the bottom half of the compartment, and put a clear Lexan cover over it, to protect the unit from spilled water from the taps. I will fit a drain, to take spilled water down under the sink.

The evaporator is fitter to the ice box, which had no insulation on the engine-side, where the fridge used to be. So I fitted some closed-cell insulating foam board – the purple stuff, an offcut of which I have used to act as extra insulation for the lid. I will seal this piece to make it more durable.

Now, I need to seal the windows, to stop rain and seawater from leaking in and draining into the icebox. The great news is that a couple of cooler blocks and some bags of ice in the bottom of the icebox stay frozen, and there is no compressor noise, nor is there any pump to consume battery power whilst under sail.

Aerial Pics

I finally plucked up the courage to fly my Solo Drone to take some pics of Frank.

The goal was to take a look at the top of the mast, so I could decide where to put the Bluetooth wind instrument from SailTimer. And to get some external pics of Frank. 


Here is the video On YouTube, and here on Dropbox:Birdseye View of Frank. It works best if you download rather than stream from the link – the file is about 70mb.

Top of mast showing light, antenna and missing wind vane


​​

Christmas Lights

Today, Corpus Christi Marina had its Boat Parade, in which Frank took part by not participating, thus keeping the average quality high. Boats motor past the assembled throng beautifully illuminated with Christmas lights aloft.

I did not watch because I have been fixing Frank’s mandatory and domestic lighting.

When the mast was stepped for the keel refit, the rigger cut the wires for lights, wind instrument and the vhf co-ax. I ran a new (thicker, better) co-ax down the mast, topped with a better antenna from Vesper Marine, a Kiwi company. The antenna is attuned to the Vosper Watchmate AIS transponder as well as supporting the VHF and AM/FM/SWB radio.

To get from the boatyard to Corpus Christi marine I rigged up a temporary connection for the VHF and navigation lights. So finally, I have fixed things properly.

The mast light that was fitted when I bought Frank was an LCD tri-light, and it soon failed. So I replaced it with a combo tri nav light and anchor light. The light is changed between modes (navigation and anchor) by reversing the polarity. Not having the right switches at the lighting panel, I jury rigged a toggle switch where the cable from the mast joined the cables to the power. In the heads. Not very elegant but it worked.

I have moved the toggle switch to the control panel, making things much tidier and easier. 

The running light and spreader light are rather odd, in that the yellow/green wire is live, as is the brown one. One for each light. I am not sure why the spreader light is so named, as it illuminated the foredeck from below the spreaders. Anyway, after some trial and error, which seemed to indicate a short somewhere either in the mast or between power switch and junction box, I wired them too. No short.

Next was the interior. One twist light (rotate the cover to turn off and on) has disintegrated inside – I might scavenge from an unused light in the locker. Another turned itself on and off at random, and I have fixed that. Both port and starboardlight circuits are now working, but I need to replace a couple of bulbs (lcd).

The Bow navigation light was another jerry rigged patch. The original had given up the ghost, and the wiring in the chain locker was rotten. So, back in Gosport in 2014 I installed a new light. The original wire is hard mounted into the fiberglass and is routed between the inner and outer hulls, so totally inaccessible, as well as rotten. So I ran a new wire to a switch that I installed in the front V berth. Not very practical but it did the job. 

Happily, I found some good, unused wires that run from the control panel to the heads – live, negative and earth. I used the earth for the mast light and the +ve and -ve ones to run power from the nav light switch at the control panel to the bow light.

I have lost power to the light of one compass, but that can be remedied later.

So I no longer need to head to the heads to set the navigation lights!

As a special treat, I polished the kettle “as new”, so it is a joy to use on the newly polished stove.

Next I have to decide what to do with the log, which is rigged above the chart desk, because I did not want to cut the co-ax cable in order to thread it through the boat up to the binacle.

Then I will tidy up the electrics at the chart desk. Lost more to do, but making progress…

Webasto Diesel Heater 

Frank has a Webasto Air Top 2000 diesel heater – it takes a minescule feed of diesel from the engine’s fuel tank and burns it, generating warm air which is ducted into the boat. 

The unit was cleaned and serviced before I left the UK, but it had a problem which caused the heater to shut down after 10 minutes, which was actually enough to warm up the boat during the winter. However, I was a tad concerned about using it, and eventually ignored it. Further south and west, I had no need of it.

This Thanksgiving weekend I fixed the wiring (corroded connections) and also fixed a small leak in the fuel supply feeder pipe.

Here is the new pipe, plus a couple of shots of the fuel tank which is in the port lazarette:


The heater seems to work, but I will need colder weather to give it an extended test.

Heads-up! Holding Tank false cupboard

To be USCG (US Coast Guard) compliant, I had to either fit a holding tank or sling the heads before entering US waters. Some Sadler 34 owners have fitted custom holding tanks behind the toilet, in the heads compartment. To get the job done simply, and more economically, I opted for this unattractive approach:

40 liter holding tank from http://www.tek-tanks.com

The holding tank is from Tek Tanks of Alton, Hants in England. They have a database of custom tanks for a load of boats, based on previous projects, but I will stick with the current setup for a year or so.

The plan is to hide it behind a wooden shell, made to look like a cabinet. This bulkhead is the driest part of the boat, so I will add a storage space to the right of the tank, (looking at it), for charts, manuals, documents etc. The loss of space would be a pain if there were four or five crew, but it is fine for one or two.

As an aside, my log was completely ruined after crossing Biscay in November 2014. It was “safely” stored in the desk, and water poured in through the leaky port above the desk, as well (I think) as through the open hatchway when a few massive waves snuck up behind me and took out the sprayhood. I then discovered plastic paper log books, which work great with pencil, and are resilient against sea, rain and flood.

I have ordered a Non-contact tank level sensor, from New Providence Marine. It means that I don’t have to fit a mechanical device inside the tank. It comes with a gauge which I will install in the heads compartment, warning people not to flush the loo if the tank is full.

The sensor has two foil strips running vertically, 3″ or 4″ apart, down the outside of the tank. I think it will have to be fitted to the rear of the tank, against the bulkhead.

[When I first bought her, I could not find the holding tank (it was a crappy hand-over). I called or texted from the Irish Sea and learned that there was none. This explained why it was backed up.]

The tank takes up valuable foot space when sleeping in that bunk, unfortunately, but it will be fine for someone 5’8″ or less. And, of course, a place at the dining table is sacrificed, but for the next year or so, it will do. Especially if it is disguised as a cabinet or cupboard!

Finding Those Hidden Rigging Problems

Standing rigging is slowly decaying. Like dental decay. Regular checkups and frequent inspection will save you from DIY root canal surgery mid Atlantic!

When Frank was out of the water at St Croix Marine in St Croix, USVI, I noticed a potential problem with one of the shrouds. A strand appeared to be kinked where the cable went into the turnbuckle.

strand to left is kinked – broken inside the swage


 Jerry The Rigger was my “local” rigger in Gosport, England, as well as for the ARC, which I had intended to join, so I knew where to check. I sent this pic to him, and he advised me to get a knife or screwdriver in between that kink and check the strand. It was broken.

I shimmied up the mast using my Aloft Alone kit to check the upper rigging. All looked fine, but I had a nagging doubt and went back up to take a second look.

Sure enough, on closer inspection, the head or baby stay had a broken strand at the swage up top. 


Problem: Selden do not have an agent in St Croix, and the swages are unique to Selden.

The marina rigger did not have the right size wire, as Frank has both 7mm and 8mm shrouds. Bear in mind that the US does not do mm, and I had to translate this into Imperial. The nearest source was in St Barts (I think – will check). So I ordered swages and wire, which was flown in via Antigua after a lot of delay.

Unfortunately, the rigger had a mishap and mangled a swage at the turnbuckle. This meant that the “T-Hook” swage for the mast end of the stay, which he had already attached, was wasted. I only had one 8mm T Hook, so had to order more. 

The old T Hook Swages

The mangled new Swage


These ended up spending two weeks going from St Barts to Antigua to St Kitts to Antigua to, eventually and many calls later, to St Croix. I ordered extra!
Finally, the turnbuckle at the forestay did not fit the deck mounting. So I had to buy a new turnbuckle from the store, which they had. 

Always do a close, visual and physical check of your standing rigging, especially at the swage – the damage will be worse just inside the swage, where you can’t see it. And carry spares!

Jerry Henwood aka the aforementioned Jerry The Rigger sold me a A great emergency repair kit from Sta-Lok for use when a shroud breaks at sea, which I did not have to use, but always carry. One set for each size.

For emergencies, by the way, rather than bolt cutters to remove shrouds in case of a dismasting or other problem, I recommend an angle grinder. It can be used one-handed, so you can cling to the boat or the shroud with one hand: you might be in heavy weather. Besides, bolt cutters are very hard to use in the best of conditions – don’t believe what you see in the movies. Bouncing around in a F10 on deck with both hands gripping a bolt cutter is not going to cut it.

Onboard tools should be rechargeable, with spare cutting wheels and spare, interchangeable batteries. I have standardised on DeWalt, so that I know I will have power for cutting sawing and drilling at sea.

For more info on ARC and crossing the Atlantic : Practical Boat Owner ran this article in March 2016.

Radio GaGa updated Sept 10 2016

(Added the name plate with callsign etc to the vhf panel – pic below)

I had to replace the old VHF, as the mic lead had disintegrated in the heat of the Caribbean. Or… Mice?

The new one was a different size profile, and I only had a Dremel, so I made a bad job of fitting it into the “cubby”, as I was just trying to get everything ready to escape before Christmas.

I have made a new frame to fit the vhf, and bought a couple of adapters, so that it is attached to the fascia, rather than to a stand. The pics will explain. 

Note that slot cut into the inner hull side – you can see light through the hull. I am guessing that the original vhf was bigger and the installer cut into the inner hull and 2″ of foam, to give space to the radio’s heat sink.

A bit of varnish makes all the difference…shame I could not match the wood. I have ordered an engraved plate with Vessel Name, call sign (Mike Echo Charlie Whisky Eight), O/N 701429 and MMSI (too long).

A bit messy – someone else before my time added the white gunge, by the way. 

All set, and it works better too!

SailTimer Wireless Wind Instrument

My new SailTimer wind instrument finally arrived today.

It is a Bluetooth wireless device, to replace the NASA Marine Clipper unit, which has a cable from masthead to cockpit, where the display unit site. The Clipper stopped working months ago, with the masthead unit having given up the ghost and, I suspect, the wire having some breaks in it.

This Sailtimer unit should transmit to my iPhone(s), iPad, etc as well as give me access to Crowdsourced wind wherever there are users – both historical and in realtime.

The Unit:


How it is supposed to look, once installed:


I will use my Aloft Alone kit to shimmy up the mast and install it – perhaps next weekend.