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Old 15-12-2006, 04:23   #31
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Planes, Trains and Automobiles

The work environments are really not comparable. The marine application environment really is more hostile.

To give a very graphic comparison, consider the paint you see on the cars and planes, and then walk your docks and look at the surface finishes. And remember that the speed of the cars, trains, and planes travel dramatically increases the forces they must withstand, as well as rather a lot more rubbish/grit. Even the paint finishes on houses have a greater life expectancy than on boats; the cheap paints sold at diy home centers offer warranties in decades.

Electrics/electronics are primarily engineered with land-based specifications. That's because the vast majority of engineering background is in exactly those environments. And adapting a land-based product for the marine environment is far easier than designing every part from scratch. But "ruggedized" products for land applications are not even entry-level quality for long-term product for marine use. I can't imagine what a hard beat is doing in g-forces, but I'm sure it voids the warranty on my iPod.
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Old 15-12-2006, 04:56   #32
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According to Western Branch Diesel (a distributor for Detroit Diesel Products):
Since its introduction in 1985 many improvements have been made to the Detroit Diesel Electronic Controls (DDEC). DDEC II, DDEC III and the DDEC IV all have improved sensors, monitoring and reliability, which now control over 600,000 Detroit Diesel engines.
With the 600,000 Detroit Diesel units in operation today all around the world, there has never been a failure of the backup microprocessor in the ECM (Electronic Control Module).
Goto:
Detroit Diesel Engines

While not an ECM failure, I have seen a total DDEC failure (108 Ft Motoryacht) resulting from an under-voltage DC power supply. The failure occurred during an acceptance sea-trial (my Captainís owner was selling), requiring the yacht to be towed to port (the potential sale fell through, & my Captain lost a significant agentís commission).
The factory technicians spent 10 hours, failing to locate the fault; and abandoned the Captain indicating, correctly as it turned out, that there was nothing wrong with the controls - must be a boat-side problem.
I located and corrected the low-voltage supply problem in 2 hours.
Understandably, the Captain was disappointed (to say the least) with the unimpressive Detroit Diesel Techís performance, but became a loyal repeat customer of mine.
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Old 15-12-2006, 05:49   #33
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I suppose considering I started this thread I should put in my two cent's worth again .

As it was originaly started around an exposed flybridge, I could just take us back to the beggining and ask what happens when I throw a bucket of water into the works.

I'd agree, an internal would work fine, and I don't really have a problem with that appart from the $$$, but exposed..........Maybe not yet.

Don't answer on my behalf. I reckon I've made me choice.

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Old 15-12-2006, 17:49   #34
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" As for installing it yerself, they were equally as quick to point out that doing so would void all warranties "
If you can't install it, you can't maintain it and you can't repair it, what the h*ll good is it?
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Old 15-12-2006, 20:20   #35
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"Plus, the real big craft today, the big commercial shipping vessels all use electronics to controll every aspect of movement these days."
GREAT POINT! I seem to remember this past June(?) that a big cruise ship from...Maybe it was Carnival? Or Princess Lines? Hung a hard left turn that almost capsized the ship. And apparently this was not a single incident, there was a similar one off Alaska last year and a half dozen others that managed not to make the Nooze in the last 4-5 years.
With all those great electronic rudder control systems...apparently they are built in such a way that they can allow accidental capsizing from improper steering.
Thank you for making my point, even the megabuck commercial systems are not yet--not at this date--ready for public consumption. Whether it is the design, engineering, programming, or implementation, something is not yet being done in the way that it needs to be done.

The latest incident was blamed on an improperly training junior officer at the helm. But ask any airline pilot about the controls in his aircraft. The systems won't LET you raise the wheels until you are flying. They learned how to program that after an unfortunate incident, years ago. "Only push the shiny buttons" works best when the buttons are smart enough to help.<G>
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Old 25-02-2011, 05:12   #36
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Re: electronic controls

I'm bumping an old thread since it's been 5 years and many, many boats later.

Electronic controls have jumped leaps and bounds in the last few years. Starting with basic shift / throttle applications. To now full drive system integration. Volvo primarily has written the book on this with the IPS system.

There have been reported lightning strikes to these boats. Most do shut down the system and require repairs. But IMHO, the benefit from the system in normal use FAR outweigh the potential of a lightning strike.
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Old 25-02-2011, 09:35   #37
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Re: electronic controls

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Originally Posted by never monday View Post
I'm bumping an old thread since it's been 5 years and many, many boats later.

Electronic controls have jumped leaps and bounds in the last few years. Starting with basic shift / throttle applications. To now full drive system integration. Volvo primarily has written the book on this with the IPS system.

  • Are the systems owner-installable, owner-maintainable?
  • Is there a manual back-up?
  • What can possibly go wrong?
  • What is the TCO (total cost of ownership)?
This is the cruiser's forum: we're not interested in knowing if the system works within an hour of a diesel specialist's shop. We want to know what to do in a breakdown hove-to in a force-8 white storm off of Baja. And we're cheap-ass, too, and can barely afford to keep the boat's bottom paint fresh, so we need something that will cost less and at the same time be more reliable. If it isn't both cheaper and more reliable, why would we switch? (on the other hand, if it *is*, and you can prove it, you'll need a stick to beat back the crowds.)
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Old 25-02-2011, 09:44   #38
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Re: electronic controls

A few years ago when I had my boat re-engined, I had the Morse cable controls removed and electroninc controls installed. My first thought was what if the 12VDC system fails? The way the new computer controlled diesels are now, if you lose your 12VDC, you are dead in the water anyway. (It's a power boat.) Before computer modules were put on diesels, it used to be that a diesel could run without 12VDC.

So far, after getting used to their slightly different feel, I really like them. It's definitely easier to run wire than cable. They also have an automated crash stop feature where you can slam the throttles back and go from full ahead to full astern without damaging anything. There is nothing to wear out either except for perhaps the actuators at the injector pump throttle and the transmission.

ALL the newer commercial vessels have them. If there was any sort of reliability problem I am certain they would still be using cables. Electronic throttles and shifters are pretty refined, they are not a new technology. They will never stretch, the jackets will never chafe, become hard to shift or need lubrication.


As far as worrying about lightning, most aircraft are fly by wire now and they get lightning strikes quite often and we don't hear about aircrafts flight control surfaces failing from a lightning strike causing them to fall out of the sky.
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Old 25-02-2011, 11:33   #39
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Re: Electronic Controls

For those who absolutely must have a system that will work if the entire electrical system dies, you are stuck with the dwindling number of purely mechanical diesels with alternate (non-electric) starting methods and cable or push rod controls. I can't think of more than a handful of currently available marine engines that offer a hand crank and compression releases.

If you rely on electricity to start the engine (as most do), and you rely on electricity to keep the engine running (which is the case for anything with an engine computer, ie. the vast majority of modern engines), there really isn't any increased risk from having well-designed electronic controls. Cables seize, break and stretch at least as often as electronic controls die, if not more so. I don't think it's worth retrofitting an old engine with electronic controls, but on a new boat or a repower I wouldn't rule them out.

The key point is "well-designed". Skip the salesman and ask the manufacturer, directly, what redundancies and fail-safes are built into the control system. Stick to systems that have been used in the real world on a good variety of working vessels, and avoid shiny stuff that's only been installed on a handful of expensive pleasure craft. And as much as I like interoperability, it's good to get controls from the same OEM that built your engine- you know they're compatible, and you have a single point of contact/blame if there's a problem.
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Old 25-02-2011, 12:22   #40
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Re: electronic controls

Quote:
Originally Posted by Amgine View Post

  • Are the systems owner-installable, owner-maintainable?
  • Is there a manual back-up?
  • What can possibly go wrong?
  • What is the TCO (total cost of ownership)?
This is the cruiser's forum: we're not interested in knowing if the system works within an hour of a diesel specialist's shop. We want to know what to do in a breakdown hove-to in a force-8 white storm off of Baja. And we're cheap-ass, too, and can barely afford to keep the boat's bottom paint fresh, so we need something that will cost less and at the same time be more reliable. If it isn't both cheaper and more reliable, why would we switch? (on the other hand, if it *is*, and you can prove it, you'll need a stick to beat back the crowds.)
you are aware this is the powerd boat section, correct?
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Old 25-02-2011, 12:55   #41
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Re: electronic controls

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Originally Posted by never monday View Post
you are aware this is the powerd boat section, correct?
<laughs> No, I wasn't, but the questions are still relevant. Or are you saying powerboaters don't cruise?

I live near the BC Ferries repair docks, and just outside a fisherman's terminal. The ferries are regularly in for electronic engine controls issues. The fishermen don't have 'em, but have other issues with their older no-electricity-required-once-started engines. They're moving to electrical as soon as they can afford to replace their boat. The bigger corporate-owned boats all have electrical.

As others have said, a modern power boat requires all the electrical systems anyway; this is just one more. But if the system costs more, or is less reliable, I would do the research for a system which is either cheaper or more reliable. That's just good sense.
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