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Old 26-10-2016, 19:13   #1
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Electric Circuit Diagram Software ?

In the process of delving into the electrical systems on our 1981 Bristol 41.1. Needless to say opening the panel behind which is a rats nest of wiring as it's apparent some new wiring / circuits have been added with many of the older wiring cut off but not removed.

Is anyone aware of an IPad / IPhone app (ok pc too) software that will help me to generate a new wiring diagram as I begin to run all the circuits to ground

I can use PowerPoint and generate my own, but I was hoping for something smarter that might generate readable wire runs as I continue to add new circuits.

Thanks in advance.
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Old 26-10-2016, 20:42   #2
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Re: Electric Circuit Diagram Software ?

I always use Smart Draw for things like that. Very useful and easy to learn.
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Old 26-10-2016, 21:37   #3
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Re: Electric Circuit Diagram Software ?

Start off simple.

I like Excel to document the wiring. Use separate sheets to document the main power buses and the main DC distribution panel. Also, use a separate sheet for smaller panels. Then I use something like 'Power Point' to block out the components of the system.

Don't try to draw out where every wire goes. That can get very complicated.

Keep the DC and AC system drawings separate from each other.

Label the wires, at each end, as you trace them out.

One of the nice things about Excel is the ease with which you can rearrange the list when you do your final tidying up.
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Old 26-10-2016, 22:10   #4
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Re: Electric Circuit Diagram Software ?

Personally? And with an extensive computer graphics background? I prefer a legal pad and a #2 pencil with an eraser. Or 11x17 copier paper if you've got it (that stuff's damned expensive these days!) and your choice of pencil and eraser. As you are tracing it out (and adding labels, one hopes, Brother P-Touch is marvelous) you will find that the old pencil and paper is WAY faster on the constant changes and revisions. Once you've got that down, you can clean it up, noodle around with it, and then use pretty much ANY graphics app to lay out nice clean lines and components. But the real hard part, going in and ID'ing the wiring? Still best done with pencil and paper. Just one man's opinion.
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Old 26-10-2016, 22:15   #5
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Re: Electric Circuit Diagram Software ?

+1^^
Yep, I like to write it down and then transcribe to Excel. My handwriting is so bad that unless I get it on the computer fairly quickly I will have to do it all over again.
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Old 26-10-2016, 22:27   #6
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Re: Electric Circuit Diagram Software ?

Hi There are many E CAD programs out there, some of which are smart, and will check your circuits, and even calculate amperages, dissipation etc.
These are fine if you are going to do this repeatedly and professionally.
The learning curve is quite steep, and as a by-project of the real thing which is rewiring your boat, you will soon get bored or upset with it.

I have been trained by AutoDesk , and also trained with Siemens in PLC programming in my years of designing industrial controls and turn-key factories etc. Even with this background, I find that there is nothing out there that beats a pencil and paper.

My advice is to learn a tiny bit of something called "Ladder Diagrams" but not delve into the symbols of sensors, comparators, PID controls etc.

Here is a 101.

Ladder is so called because it looks like a ladder. Imagine a blank page of block lined paper, draw a thick like down the left margin and label it at the top +12v, then, another thick line down the right edge and label it 0v.
Now at the top and going horizontally draw a line with 6 battery symbols in it, joining the + to the 0. You are already on your way, but wait, there is a large battery disconnect switch on the main positive, so rub out a break in that line and add a switch.

Lets draw a nav light circuit.
From the left thick line draw a line going right, with a switch, and then the line splits into 3 parallel lines, each with a bulb, and each bulb ending at the 0 side.

done.

Its really easy this way. Now I will do a quick sketch of what I have explained, on paper, take a photo and post it here. Its easy, I might even include an automatic bilge pump circuit on it for you.

Once you have your paper ones done, you can then draw them using any drawing program, I like Libre Office Draw.

Ok, took about 2 minutes to draw, and 3 to find my pencil.

The thing about ladder is it can grow exponentially and it is not a schematic, where all your wires go back next to each other and they will cross over. Ladder is pure, simple and you are able to update it. Incredibly complex things can be done with it.

That is what I would do.
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Old 26-10-2016, 22:33   #7
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Re: Electric Circuit Diagram Software ?

This is part of what I do for a living on boats and yachts. Pencil and paper for doing an initial drawing. Then I prefer Windows Visio for developing 2D electrical drawings/schematics, mechanical, structural and piping drawings. It comes with its own library of symbols for electrical, mechanical and many other disciplines (symbols are a bit cheesy and somewhat out-of-date, but work). It also has the capability for you to update or develop and save your own symbology in the library as well. Pics and photos can be imported as part of an electrical drawing/schematic for added clarification.

Another reason I like Visio is that I can save a file or drawing into CAD, Excel, Word, PDF, JPEG, etc., formats.

Bit of a learning curve to get comfortable with it, but once one is familiar with it, it's super easy. Much easier than CAD IMHO.

Best of luck!
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Old 26-10-2016, 22:35   #8
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Re: Electric Circuit Diagram Software ?

sy_gilana....Spot on!
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Old 27-10-2016, 09:53   #9
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Re: Electric Circuit Diagram Software ?

Quote:
Originally Posted by randygva View Post
In the process of delving into the electrical systems on our 1981 Bristol 41.1. Needless to say opening the panel behind which is a rats nest of wiring as it's apparent some new wiring / circuits have been added with many of the older wiring cut off but not removed.

Is anyone aware of an IPad / IPhone app (ok pc too) software that will help me to generate a new wiring diagram as I begin to run all the circuits to ground

I can use PowerPoint and generate my own, but I was hoping for something smarter that might generate readable wire runs as I continue to add new circuits.

Thanks in advance.
Try https://sourceforge.net/projects/tinycad/
It is free and works quite well for simple wiring diagrams.
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Old 27-10-2016, 09:55   #10
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Re: Electric Circuit Diagram Software ?

Perfect. Both you guys are spot on. I also use pencil, paper and mostly an eraser. When all is done Visio, it's fairly intuitive with a minimal learning curve.
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Old 27-10-2016, 09:56   #11
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Re: Electric Circuit Diagram Software ?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Teknishn View Post
...I prefer Windows Visio for developing 2D electrical drawings/schematics, mechanical, structural and piping drawings...
I agree that Visio is the best tool I've found for this. Less of a learning curve than even the low-end CADD programs, especially for something as simple as wiring diagrams. You'll probably want to do separate drawings for each system. Otherwise you end up with the same rats nest you're seeing now, but in electronic form.

It wouldn't be worth buying Visio just for this one project, but (free) LibreOffice has a module called "Draw" which is a pretty good alternative.

This assumes you're using a PC. I'd avoid trying to do this on a phone or tablet. And I agree that pencil and paper might be easier anyway. You can always scan those in.
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Old 27-10-2016, 10:08   #12
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Re: Electric Circuit Diagram Software ?

sy_gilana Thanks for posting something I could almost understand!!

I've copied it into a document for myself. For whatever reason, electrical stuff (AC or DC) isn't apparent to me so I need this kind of help.

Questions:
what do the 6 battery symbols and fuse on the top line tell me?
I think that the line on the left side (12V) represents the power supply, but what does the line on the right (0V) signify?
What is the bilge pump line telling me? Why not a straight line like the nav lights line?

My boat is very small and existing wiring is minimal but almost 50 years old so it's time. Oh yeah ... replacing diesel with electric motor also.
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Old 27-10-2016, 10:20   #13
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Re: Electric Circuit Diagram Software ?

All great advice with those current responses. Document first before working on cleaning it all up.
I too hand sketch initially and Autocad was my preference before, but then I moved to Visio. I have been using Excel when I help document friends boats because I can include numerous details and diagrams in one big organized workbook including numerous spreadsheets and diagrams about all systems.

NOTE: One other action I always do is pull out the smart phone or pad and take numerous snapshots of each area that I will document and/or work on. It is a simple task to take a bunch of pictures and well worth it for reference.
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Old 27-10-2016, 10:53   #14
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Re: Electric Circuit Diagram Software ?

Not an iOS app, but Iíve played with a Mac OS program called ElectricDesign. Itís simple to use, graphical and comes with loads of shape libraries.

I use pencil/paper for my initial circuit sketch, but I like to translate this to a proper electrical diagram.
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Old 27-10-2016, 11:19   #15
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Re: Electric Circuit Diagram Software ?

To build on what sy_gilana said about ladder diagrams (Use Them!). When developing a set of drawings I have three approaches to documenting a system or circuit.

First I develop a cabling drawing. This is so that myself or the next person looking at the system/circuit can see where all of the cables go to/from, power source(s), and connection box locations. (Cabling diagram)

Second is a ladder drawing of the circuit to provide basic understanding of system/circuit operation which is easily understood (hopefully) by someone with basic knowledge (electrical, mechanical, hydraulic, piping, etc.). (Isometric Diagram)

And third is/are drawing(s) that show the individual wiring connections and terminations which provides more in-depth information when, for example someone opens a terminal box and from the drawing will see that the red wire from the cable coming from "X" is connected to terminal #Y / or spliced to the green wire in the cable going to "Z". I will add photos for larger connection boxes. Additionally, anything that is connected directly to a circuit card I will also add a photo and then reference the technical manual for that piece of equipment. With connectorization I will always include a pin-out diagram for that plug or connection. (Schematic)

Although I don't use it, using Excel to departmentalize (Electrical, mechanical, plumbing) your drawings is a good idea as well. Myself, I build a website in basic HTML that is only used on my computer and contains links to drawings in PDF, electronic copies of tech manuals, copies of boat documentation, photos, maintenance records and some of the little quirks that I find on boats that I work on (i.e. fuses in hidden locations, special tool to reach this valve hidden way back in the middle of nowhere, etc.). Trying to make life easier for myself and the next person that comes behind me. I use HTML for this as I can pretty much access all of my information from a few webpages.

For small boats one doesn't need to go into all of that detail (However, I will when I finally get to my boat next year and the fun begins). Drawings and diagrams have three purposes IMO. They help you understand what you are dealing with, they help you to explain to people who you have hired to do some technical work what you are asking them to do (because you are intimately more familiar with the boat than they are), and they assist the next owner with understanding his/her new-to-him/her boat and saving him/her that learning curve that you had to go through. In a way, you'll be paying it forward so that the next owner can start enjoying the boat sooner and by being able to problem solve faster.
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