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Old 05-06-2014, 17:54   #1
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Mast head lights

Mast head light-lights
On my breaker panel I have separate switches for Anchor Light, nav lights and strobe light.
The Masthead strobe, nav lights aren't working and the anchor light was very dim.
I went up the mast to check the bulbs and later to replace with LED. All three bulbs looked OK but will still replace.
The previous owner replaced the mast about four years ago but the fixture looked original. '79'
It's a Combination Marine Strobe Anchor and Running Light made by ASIMOW Engineering Co. model mars 1.

This mast head fixture only has One brown and One yellow wire coming out of it.

Q. Is this fixture smart enough to work three different lights on three different switches with only two wires connected? Sounds Fishy!

I know I'll get responses about being a cheap ass and to replace the 35 yr old fixture but thank you in advance for your knowledge about the two wires and this system.

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Old 05-06-2014, 22:30   #2
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Re: Mast head lights

The masthead light will be just above your spreaders. It really is not at the top of the mast. It is a 225 degree white light pointing forward. It is used when you are power driven vessel, i.e., when the engine on and the transmission is engaged,

You should not be using a strobe light.

COLREGS Rule 36

"Signals to Attract Attention

If necessary to attract the attention of another vessel, any vessel may make light or sound signals that cannot be mistaken for any signal authorized elsewhere in these Rules, or may direct the beam of her searchlight in the direction of the danger, in such a way as not to embarrass any vessel Any light to attract the attention of another vessel shall be such that it cannot be mistaken for any aid to navigation. For the purpose of this Rule the use of high intensity intermittent or revolving lights, such as strobe lights, shall be avoided. "
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Old 09-06-2014, 03:00   #3
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Re: Mast head lights

Well, you have answered your own question by saying two are not working...
You will probably find four terminals in that light fitting.

Throw away that strobe. Other vessels want to see which way you are going rather than mistaking you for some kind of low-flying aircraft at a distance impossible to guess.
I personally get very irritated when people who know better come up with their very own signalling schemes. It is confusing and confusion is dangerous.

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Old 13-06-2014, 03:03   #4
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Re: Mast head lights

Quote:
Originally Posted by jackdale View Post
The masthead light will be just above your spreaders. It really is not at the top of the mast. It is a 225 degree white light pointing forward. It is used when you are power driven vessel, i.e., when the engine on and the transmission is engaged,

You should not be using a strobe light.
Am I screwed up? (probably)

Agree on the strobe light - dump it.

The light on the forward side of the mast is a "steaming light" isn't it? Used when under power.

The all around white light up top (masthead) is an anchoring light, isn't it?

I'd have to get the book out on masthead position combo lights. I haven't got that one memorized but isn't it just position (side) and stern combined?

My steaming light was wired to my position lights originally. This made me a perpetual power boat at night regardless if I was under sail or not.

I hope I am not screwed up but I fly stern and position lights when sailing at night. Add the steaming light under power, shut it all down and go to masthead in an anchorage.
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Old 13-06-2014, 03:11   #5
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Re: Mast head lights

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Originally Posted by Brown Sugar View Post
Mast head light-lights
On my breaker panel I have separate switches for Anchor Light, nav lights and strobe light.
The Masthead strobe, nav lights aren't working and the anchor light was very dim.

<snip>

This mast head fixture only has One brown and One yellow wire coming out of it.

<snip>
Oops sorry to hijack your thread up above there.

2 wires X 3 switches X 3 bulbs. Two bulbs don't light up. Yup it all computes. You need at least two more wires up there, assuming a common ground.

You may get a clue by examining the color of the wires on the masthead switch - if the wire is continuous to the mast and hasn't been spliced somewhere.

Unless I am missing something you'll need to pull at least one wire up for the nav lights. Don't wire the strobe.

But seriously if you are going to climb up and down the mast a couple more times won'tya feel better with a nice modern low consumption LED rig?
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Old 13-06-2014, 05:48   #6
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Re: Mast head lights

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ex-Calif View Post
Am I screwed up? (probably)

Agree on the strobe light - dump it.

The light on the forward side of the mast is a "steaming light" isn't it? Used when under power.

The all around white light up top (masthead) is an anchoring light, isn't it?

I'd have to get the book out on masthead position combo lights. I haven't got that one memorized but isn't it just position (side) and stern combined?

My steaming light was wired to my position lights originally. This made me a perpetual power boat at night regardless if I was under sail or not.

I hope I am not screwed up but I fly stern and position lights when sailing at night. Add the steaming light under power, shut it all down and go to masthead in an anchorage.
The steaming light is legally called the masthead light - even though it is not at the top of the mast.

The 360 white at the top of the mast is the anchor light. You may also have a tricolor at the top of your mast.
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Old 06-07-2014, 18:47   #7
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Re: Mast head lights

I had one of these lights many years ago. There were some smarts in the light. I think there was a dedicated switch/control panel that came with it. I think two wires is correct.

The switch/control panel did some things like grounding one wire and applying 12 volts to the other. The ground might have been through the mast but I can't remember. Think in 2 bit binary math.

00 = all lights off
01 = light "A" on (anchor light)
10 = light "B" on (tri-color)
11 = light "BC" on (tri-color and strobe)

So you could easily control three light with 2 wires and a mast ground if there are smarts in the light.


You could also play with the polarity of the wires

To turn on a different light the polarity was reversed on the wires.


Basically time for a new light though.
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Old 06-07-2014, 19:18   #8
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Running Lights Confusion

All right now I am confused about running lights.

Let me see if I have this right.

I am a 38 foot sail boat.

Under sail:
I only need to show a 360 degree tri-color at the top of the mast.

Under power is confusing:

I need to show a red and green side light above the first contiguous deck. Simple enough, no red & green lights built into the hull.

Most examples I see for a sail boat under power show a red and green side light

And a stern 135 degree stern white light along with a 225 degree steaming or masthead facing forward. (In actuality most of these lights are mounted about 3/4 of the way up the mast.)

The rules also say if the engine is on and the transmission is engaged I am a power boat.

The rules also say that a powerboat under 40 feet can show a red and green side light with an all around 360 degree white light.

So under the power boat rule I could show my all around 360 degree "anchor" light and my red and green side lights.

You may wonder why I am trying not to use my traditional stern light. Basically it is blocked by my dingy hanging in the davits. There really isn't a good place to relocate the stern light to.
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Old 06-07-2014, 19:20   #9
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Re: Mast head lights

Well, I don't agree with those saying dump the strobe. But first the wiring.

Yes, it's possible to have 3 functions with 2 wires, if the negative is through the body of the light.

Power to one wire, one function. Power to the other, 2nd function, power to both, 3rd function.

The Optolamp tricolor/Nav/Strobes that I sell and use are similar. But they use three wires - two primary - + and - one way = first function, reverse polarity 2nd function, power on 3rd wire 3rd function.

It is worthy of note that all the vendee globe boats use strobes, or at least have them fitted. Mostly it is for search and rescue - they can be seen further away. The Optolamp ones also go UP for about 4 miles, to assist in this for searching aircraft. They are not normally used for navigation.

I have used my strobe when buddy boating and the other skipper tells me via VHF he can no longer see me (he was about 4-5 miles away). Turned on the strobe, and immediately he says " ok, got you now" so he found the anchorage I was in. He could not see the anchor light. So, although not a NAV light, a strobe can be useful!!
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Old 06-07-2014, 20:55   #10
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Re: Running Lights Confusion

Quote:
Originally Posted by Richfind View Post
All right now I am confused about running lights.

Let me see if I have this right.

I am a 38 foot sail boat.

Under sail:
I only need to show a 360 degree tri-color at the top of the mast.
Go to Rules 20-31 of the ColRegs

http://www.navcen.uscg.gov/?pageName...Content#rule20

Look for this symbol for an iamge of the appropriate lights
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Old 07-07-2014, 06:42   #11
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Re: Running Lights Confusion

Quote:
Originally Posted by jackdale View Post
Go to Rules 20-31 of the ColRegs

http://www.navcen.uscg.gov/?pageName...Content#rule20

Look for this symbol for an iamge of the appropriate lights
I hadn't seen this site with the updated graphics for each type of light. Thanks for the link!
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Old 07-07-2014, 07:21   #12
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Re: Mast head lights

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Originally Posted by Neptune's Gear View Post
Well, I don't agree with those saying dump the strobe. But first the wiring.

I have used my strobe when buddy boating and the other skipper tells me via VHF he can no longer see me (he was about 4-5 miles away). Turned on the strobe, and immediately he says " ok, got you now" so he found the anchorage I was in. He could not see the anchor light. So, although not a NAV light, a strobe can be useful!!
I also agree that you don't need to dump the strobe, but for a different reason. OP indicates he's in the US - in the Inland rules a white strobe flashing at 50-70 fpm is an approved distress signal. Put a safety switch on it, and please don't use it unless in distress.
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Old 07-07-2014, 14:19   #13
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Re: Mast head lights

Quote:
Originally Posted by Richfind View Post
I had one of these lights many years ago. There were some smarts in the light. I think there was a dedicated switch/control panel that came with it. I think two wires is correct.

The switch/control panel did some things like grounding one wire and applying 12 volts to the other. The ground might have been through the mast but I can't remember. Think in 2 bit binary math.

00 = all lights off
01 = light "A" on (anchor light)
10 = light "B" on (tri-color)
11 = light "BC" on (tri-color and strobe)

So you could easily control three light with 2 wires and a mast ground if there are smarts in the light.


You could also play with the polarity of the wires

To turn on a different light the polarity was reversed on the wires.


Basically time for a new light though.

Richfind,
Thank you, finally, a correct response. I apologize to all for not getting back earlier and do appreciate your help.

After I removed the fixture and told my problem to a good friend Flibbertiggit, he told me the same thing as you. I checked it out with my volt meter after cleaning it thoroughly and viola! all works. I have new LED and a gas for the strobe bulbs ordered and will install shortly.
And, I agree about being time for a new fixture, but, being one of us economical sailors, I might try to get another twenty five years out of it first.

I haven't looked at post for awhile because the early responses where, well, missing the point. First agreeing with Lodesman, then Neptunes gear and your response was exact.

The solution why three lights in one fixture works off of two wires and three switches. the wiring works on a +-,-+,++, current. Ta Da. who'd of thunk it.
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Old 07-07-2014, 14:34   #14
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Re: Mast head lights

I find the least confusing terms to be : Nav lights, steaming light, and anchor light. Avoid the term "masthead light" for the steaming light, as it is rather confusing. It's never at the masthead. The anchor light is, but also shouldn't be called the masthead light, as that will cause even more confusion.
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Old 07-07-2014, 14:39   #15
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Re: Mast head lights

"On my breaker panel I have separate switches for Anchor Light, nav lights and strobe light"

Which is very odd, because with that combination you can never legally motor at night. The minimum number of switches is 4 : Anchor light, nav / running lights, steaming (aka 'masthead'), and strobe. Unless you have a steaming light wired into the nav light switch, in which case you can never legally sail at night.
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