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Old 16-03-2013, 10:21   #1
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Tri-Color/Anchor Wiring Issue...Help!

I am currently in the process of installing a new AC/DC distribution panel. The old panel did not have indicator lights that showed when a circuit was on or off. So far everything has been pretty straightforward and works perfectly until I rewired the tri-color/anchor light circuit. The light fixture I have is an Aqua Signal Tri-Color/Anchor combination. There are 3 wires coming out of the base of the mast for this fixture and according to the Aqua Signal web site there are 2 positive wires (one for each light) and a common ground used for both lights. The problem I'm having is where it connects to the new panel. When I switch on the tri-color, both lights on the panel for the tri-color and anchor, light up glowing normally. When I turn on just the anchor light (tri-color off), the panel light for the anchor switch glows normally but the light for the tri-color also glows but it's dim. So my question is why is this happening. I checked the voltage at the junction at the base of the mast and it indicates voltage (equal to the panel) when the tri-color is on for both wires, but when I turn on the anchor light (tri-color off) 3.5 volts (approximate) is on the tri-color side and normal for the anchor side. It also appears that when I activate just the tri-color light the anchor light is not lit. However when I activate the anchor light it looks like the tri-color may be lit but very dim. It's hard to tell since my mast is 52 ft tall. I also don't know if light may be flooding up into the tri-color because the anchor light sits under it. I am yielding to the collective wisdom out there and hoping someone else has had a similar problem and found a clever but simple resolution to this issue. Thanks
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Old 16-03-2013, 10:34   #2
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Re: Tri-Color/Anchor Wiring Issue...Help!

With all power disconnected, measure the resistance from each positive to the ground. It sounds like there may be a high resistance in the ground side of the anchor light at the fixture (since they share a ground wire from there down).

If you have spare bulbs you can measure the bulb resistance, or if you know the bulb wattage you can calculate the bulb resistance to give you an idea what you should be measuring through the bulbs up at the top of the mast. If you have LED bulbs you may be SOL with resistance testing.

If the resistance is high on one, and not the other pair it indicates a bad/dirty connection, probably up in the light fixture
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Old 16-03-2013, 10:47   #3
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Re: Tri-Color/Anchor Wiring Issue...Help!

Thanks I'll try that. We've owned the boat since 2007 so I think a trip up the mast is in the future just on general grounds (maintenance). :}
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Old 16-03-2013, 11:06   #4
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lets re check the id of the wires
measure in ohms
Postri to Gnd =R1
PosAKR to Gnd=R2
postri to postAKR =R1+R2

if the above is true then you have the correct ground wire, if not i think you are using one of the pos wires as the ground wire
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Old 16-03-2013, 12:18   #5
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Re: Tri-Color/Anchor Wiring Issue...Help!

Sometimes, you need to draw the simple circuit needed to make it work. Assuming one breaker runs it all, the positive feeds the + side of all of the individual switches. Individual wires from each switch to the mast head fixture base. Common side of all lights can be combined. Its posible that you have used the common as a feed or otherwise crossed the lines. Figure out with the AquaSignal in hand, which circuts operate which bulbs and therefore, which terminal must be ground. Good hunting.

Mine is a bit more complex. I have the tricolor and deck mount nav lights. The switches prevent both on at once. Additionally, there is a third stern light on the mizzen mast top. Switches let me alternate between the high or low stern lights.

While you are at it, maybe LED's? Marinebeam Replacement LED bulbs for your existing boat fixtures replacement bulbs with PWM current regulaton. Note the dividers added to keep the angularly sharp divide. I added polished sticky tape to increase reflectivity.
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Old 16-03-2013, 15:11   #6
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Re: Tri-Color/Anchor Wiring Issue...Help!

Been getting some great advice thanks to everyone. I'll try the resistance test and get back to you. Thanks
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Old 17-03-2013, 17:20   #7
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Re: Tri-Color/Anchor Wiring Issue...Help!

Try a simple continuity test between the two "hot" wires. You should read open circuit. If you get anything less the power is going up thru the switch and commining back to the panel and that will explain the slight glow on the indicator light thats not powered. Check to make sure that the contacts in the light are seperate as even a small drop of solder can cause a problem.
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Old 17-03-2013, 17:52   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by marine1 View Post
Try a simple continuity test between the two "hot" wires. You should read open circuit. If you get anything less the power is going up thru the switch and commining back to the panel and that will explain the slight glow on the indicator light thats not powered. Check to make sure that the contacts in the light are seperate as even a small drop of solder can cause a problem.
not sure about this one- the bulbs have some ability to carry current. so measuring pos wire to pos wire would measure the sum of the resistance of both bulbs. Unless of course the you remove the bulbs first.

I still have a hunch that the common wire (that should be on ground) is on one of the two switches. Simple mistake and it could explain a lot....
Time will tell
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Old 17-03-2013, 18:46   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by marine1 View Post
Try a simple continuity test between the two "hot" wires. You should read open circuit. If you get anything less the power is going up thru the switch and commining back to the panel and that will explain the slight glow on the indicator light thats not powered. Check to make sure that the contacts in the light are seperate as even a small drop of solder can cause a problem.
No , me sailor has it right I beleive. With a common ground, you basically get 2x bulb cold resistance when so tested.

Dave
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Old 17-03-2013, 19:08   #10
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Re: Tri-Color/Anchor Wiring Issue...Help!

Don't forget that the Aqua Signal 40 combination Tri-Color and Anchor light uses a 10 watt bulb for the anchor light and a 25 watt bulb for the tri-color.
It just makes the ohm's law calculations a little more complicated.
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Old 17-03-2013, 19:28   #11
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here is what i think it looks like


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