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Old 13-12-2017, 18:23   #16
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Re: electronics school?

Frequently equipment failures are due to failures of the unitís power supply. This part of the circuit board is usually not complex to diagnose, and typically uses standard and larger, easier to work with components. So it isnít out of the realm of possibility that your backstreet technician can often salvage a dead piece of modern boat gear. Every generation, repair becomes more improbable.
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Old 13-12-2017, 18:29   #17
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Re: electronics school?

With radios, failure is often in the final output transistors. These are usually relatively easy to diagnose and replace - if you can source them.
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Old 13-12-2017, 19:19   #18
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Re: electronics school?

A completely different level of knowledge from fixing a broken electronic device, is determining what device is malfunctioning, or if it is a connection etc. between devices. This is very useful, and assuming you are still going to send the thing in for repair, still necessary to learn.

Most of the skills would come from the IT field, but not covered in a single class or IT certification. Cisco certifications would likely cover it, but that is a lot of learning that you don't need. Learning communications protocols, RS-232, RS-422, and TCP/IP. How to set up a laptop and build a cable to monitor or test a serial connection. How to connect a laptop to a device to configure or control it. Different network topologies, and how to terminate them.

Once you know all that, it isn't far to realize that marine equipement is the same stuff, just with different names. For example, NMEA 0183 is really RS-422.

Of all of it, I think the most important would be to know how to build a cable and connect your laptop into an NMEA device and use PuTTY to test it. As an example, I just installed a new VHF with AIS built in. Before connecting it to anything else, I used a laptop to read the NMEA data coming out of it to confirm bitrate, that the correct AIS data was present, and what GPS data was available. There were a number of settings in the radio I had to change. If I didn't use the laptop, it would not have worked, and I would be blind to know why. The skills I used to do that could be used to troubleshoot nearly any issue with any electronics I have on board. At least to the level that I knew what was broken and needed to be sent to the factory.
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