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Old 29-12-2009, 11:43   #1
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Wireless Inside and Out ?

I have a 34' Trimaran, And I am forming a plan to change some things, and I am always looking for ways to save weight. And simplify, make it unencumbered. Like Dick Newick says "Of all the modern inconveniences" I am trying to configure the boat to rely on the main batteries less.
I have a 9.9 H.P. Yamaha outboard for my aux. engine, so I need one 12v battery there for starting. If the battery ever runs low, I can always take off the cowling and pull start the Yamaha. It also has a small charger on it. I have done this for weeks in the middle of a trip and the starter died.
I am rich in solar panel. a 55 and two 80 units. With the Mexican sun it is plenty.

I run only a single GPS, and have the hummingbird sounder on very seldom. Any back up GPS will be a hand held, with the same rechargeable AA's. We use a Harbor Freight inverter to charge the laptops. They run charts downstairs on the chart table. I may get a 12v charger for them to do same if it is more efficient.

I have a tricolor/anchor/strobe switched to LED and love it...:-) Anchor light uses 1/10th of an amp.

That is all I can think of besides interior lights I use the battery for.

Now for my question: Could I eliminate all the 12v lighting and replace it with LED fixtures that use rechargeable AA or AAA batteries? Get rid of all the wires in the boat. Have all the fixtures on the same size battery's, and get a good 12v battery charger for the AA's or AAA's? Wire the charger into the system and have it full of small batteries ready to go?

By doing this I am going to eliminate one 12v Battery. The goal is not just weight, but simplicity. And rugged. If the main 12v dies I can hand start. Going with one main Battery probably sounds nutz to many of you. But I think I am over amped already with two.

So where are the holes in my idea? And where is that 12v charger for AA's?

Does anyone know where I can get a 12v charger for AA batteries?

Wireless, in more ways than one. It appeals to me. A multihull is safe the lighter you can keep it. Get it heavy, lose that reserve, and you are toast. It is the way I want to go. My whole rig is "wireless" now.....I know it is a different subject, click below to check it out.
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Old 29-12-2009, 12:17   #2
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check out: www.mahaenergy.com

I have the MH-C777PLUS but they may have another charger that better fits your needs
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Old 29-12-2009, 12:53   #3
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Perfect! That is what I could not find on my own out there. Looks like for using 12v as a source I would be well off with this. Thanks a bunch.

MAHA / POWEREX MH-C9000 WizardOne Charger-Analyzer for 4 AA / AAA

Have you seen the LED Flashlights out now? They use the same small AA's and are so much lighter....Better get switched over for them too....:-)
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Old 29-12-2009, 13:08   #4
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This is one of those times the technology is there and industry needs to catch up. You can find the chargers on Amazon if you want they traditional car adapter. (e.g. Amazon.com: Sony BCG-34HVE4 Quick Battery Charger with Car Kit and 4 AA Ni-MH Rechargeable Batteries: Electronics

A client is trying to do the same for his house. Where he is having issues is with ambient lighting. Finding LEDs configured to give you that glow in the room is difficult. In some areas it is similar to having 5 flashlights turned on. There is "light" but not the kind we are used to seeing in homes. He is toying with LED Grow lights added into the mix.

I believe boats are easier because the distance between the light and surfaces is less. I have LEDs in my boat and they seem to be as bright and useful as my non-LEDs. Now, it is more an expense issue to replace existing bulbs with LEDs. Perhaps my approach should be to modify the fixture to accept a true LED unit. I like where this is leading...
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Old 29-12-2009, 14:01   #5
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Oh baby, I think I may have found the mother of all LED web pages.:-) Looking for fixtures above the very cheap plastic Chinese junk and the gold plated marine eye candy.

Brock's LED Flashlight page

Oh no....they have a forum also! This could take a while.....but I have a plan. "Switch all lighting except for NAV lites, over to portable AA or AAA powered fixtures. Keep a good supply of well charged batteries onboard....charge the AA's & AAA's with the solar panels. Try to find even the big spotlights, and flashlights, all with the same size batteries.....dingy light, everything onboard using the same size batteries either AA or AAA's and ever and on and on

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Old 29-12-2009, 15:58   #6
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no charger needed

hey I've been reading the forums for a while and haven't had much to contribute until I saw this post.

If you really want to go wireless just charge your batteries directly off the 12V battery. Batteries wired in series add up the voltages. Put 8 1.5V AA batteries end to end and you have the rough equivalent of a 12 volt battery with a few mAh of juice. Just connect them end to end and attach the positive and negative ends respectively.

Be careful though... deep cycle 12V have a lot of amperage potential and you could blow something up! (probably want to put a current limiter inline with them to restrict the charging to a reasonable rate (a few hundred milliamps).

You could also create a set of 8 series and then run another 8 in parallel and achieve a more controlled mass charging as well.

Also, I wouldn't recommend getting rid of that extra 12V battery. It may seem trivial and unnecessary now... but is chucking that extra 50 lbs really worth the risk of:

1.) having no 12V starting source, suppose your backup engine goes out or is stolen and your battery is dead?
2.) on a cloudy day with no wind and a broken main battery having no power source at all?
3.) No extra battery to absorb excess solar power if you forget to disconnect the panels and the charge controller fails. A 12V battery can explode if charged too high.

There's too much risk associated with having only 1 battery in my opinion. Just hook them up in parallel and forget it exists.
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Old 29-12-2009, 22:42   #7
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Given that some NiMh batteries lose 1/3 of their power after as little as one month sitting on the shelf while others may be fine for six months...I think you may wind up wasting more time and effort running around to change batteries and swap them and charge them on a regular basis (i.e. weekly? twice monthly?) and then finding out that a lot of the cheap battery-powered fixtures aren't "marine grade" and you'll have more problems with contact corrosion, battery doors snapping....

LEDs don't take a lot of power, if you are looking to cut out the last ounce I'd run lighter guage wires--but run the wires, don't bother to mess around with all those fixtures, and the charger and all.

Or, rip it all out and just carry an LED headlamp and "table" wide area light, move just the one or two around with you. And stick to AA, the AAA size are going to make you dance around changing them three times more often.
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Old 30-12-2009, 10:43   #8
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hellosailor is right about the rechargeables - their charge doesn't last nearly as long as non-rechargeables.

Also, using the rechargeables certainly will not be as efficient as using the house batteries directly.
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Old 30-12-2009, 12:21   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by gosstyla View Post
hellosailor is right about the rechargeables - their charge doesn't last nearly as long as non-rechargeables
Hellosailor will be right in a specific case. But try to beat our 2800 NiMH (Energizer) in a Garmin 72 !!! : good alkalis (Energizer) 16hrs, NiMHs 20 hrs.

We went thru 4 packs of NiMHs in 5 years. The first pack was 1800 mAh and back then I believe it was par with alkalis (when new). But it was back in 2003!

Over time, the NiMHs will lose muscle and old ones will not last beyond 1/5 of their brand new potential, and then they die.

The specific brand we use (Energizer) last 400+ cycles. Surprisingly, the older/smaller ones seemed to last more cycles.

b.
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Old 30-12-2009, 13:51   #10
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I am afraid I spoke too soon yesterday. Not sure what was in the air. I agree now after doing more research.

The only fixtures I can find a cheap plastic made in China crap that will never hold up. I found parts to make my own, but I do not want to go there, I want to go sailing

I will get a couple good AGM batteries, mount them down low and next to the centerboard in the middle of the boat.

Have a great charging system already, good controller and plenty of deck space to mount the Solar panels.

Will shop for rugged LED fixtures for over the bunks, the galley table, and galley etc. Got any favorite fixtures or suppliers?

Will still make it a point to get all Flashlights, Handheld VHF, Portable GPS etc. on the same size battery's, and have a bank of freshly batteries charged ready to go.

Should cover it.........Oh and I would never replace the wiring to lighten up the boat a few ounces...hahahah...I know it is possible for an engineering point, but that amount of work would border on NUTZ. Like the guys who drill holes in their toothbrushes.
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Old 30-12-2009, 13:59   #11
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"Like the guys who drill holes in their toothbrushes."
Nah, the serious ones just cut off the handle to REALLY lighten it up.

But if you're in the crowd that uses titanium blocks aloft, and sands the bulkheads to get that last two ounces off for boatspeed...What, you're not? (VBG)

Barnakiel-
Before you get real happy about any NiMh cell...even Energizer has had problems losing their charge on the shelf. The product physically changes from time to time, but even some brand names lose enough power about 2-3 weeks so that your "spare" set has to be recharged every week or two if you really want to see the power in it.
OTOH alkalines will sit around for six months without any noticeable loss, and after a year on the shelf they're going to WORK while the NiMh cells are just paperweights.
I've been burned (figuratively) by a number of "name brand" NiMh cells, as well as the no-name junk from China. I wind up rotating two sets of "really good" Panasonics in my GPS, they'll hold a charge even over the winter, while few others can make three months. Similar set are soldered into my handheld, they also can go six months and retain almost a full shelf life.
Apparently in the race for raw power (high aH numbers) all the battery makers--even the good brand names--have to trade off other features.
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Old 30-12-2009, 17:33   #12
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Alkalines vs. NiMHs vs. the future, revisited:

My NiMHs never lose charge on the shelf - (hahaha) - because when one set sits in the handheld the other sits in the charger, being charged and ready for use. If you ask me 'what if' - off course, there is a blister of alkalis sitting in the locker for emergencies. In fact, the alkalis sit and wait and when close to exp date we have to use them up or throw them out, so we use them and buy a new blister.

ENELOOP (Sanyo) (rechargables)

Try them. They are said to lose hardly any charge over time. They come charged.

BTW

I would not be very surprised to see LiPolymer AA one day soon. The 9V thing has been around for a moment.

BTW 2

I bet we will see the LiPolymers in action soon as the new stuff from Toshiba charges to 90% in 5 minutes .... I believe this is what is used in some electric bikes.

Finally, being burnt by a NiMH. I believe you. No such experiences here but my first mate still has a scar from a leaking alkali. Beware.

Great reading here,
barnie
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Old 30-12-2009, 17:51   #13
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I have found the source for some very trick, very lightweight batteries. Check this out.

Lightweight Lithium Iron Phosphate (LiFePO4 - LFP) Battery Systems

http://www.bruceschwab.com/pdf/GenasunLFPb.pdf

I think I will have to pass because of cost. But if I was designing a super boat from the ground up........

I am now in the process of designing my system. I under stand you need enough reserve power, without having too much. You need to excessive the batteries without wearing them out. If you have too much power, you never dip down into the battery reserve.

Do you have any good links for running the numbers on a boats system? I need to size my batteries to the proper size.
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Old 05-04-2010, 20:43   #14
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First, I would start with taking a class in basic electronics... not electricity or electrical engineering... but electronics. It has become a sort of sub-field for electricians and technicians. You sound like you have a good working knowledge of electrical stuff.

What a lot of people don't realize, is their boats are over wired... for what they need. But to fully explain this would take a lot of explaining.

If you go to a 'wired' LED system, you can do this with one telephone wire... like the wires you use from your phone to a wall jack... except just use one. Then you have to understand some 'in series' vs 'parallel'. And you will need to understand LED's (Light Emitting Diode - need to understand what a Diode is... not all are light emitting). Fry's electronics is a great place to browse. The best part is, you could hook up a bank of rechargeable Energizers, ... of the cuff... maybe 8 AA that would do say 50 LED's for 12 hours? Customizable of course. You could yank all your heavy copper runs to Incandecent and Flourecent bulbs. And replacing with an LED system can be easily maintenanced as a christmas tree light. And your storage capacity for lights would be near infinity based on size. A single plastic cigar holder could hold a life time supply.

Now for the electronic gear - read the max amps drawn and add them all up. This is what your goal is for your gear. Auto Pilot is huge of course. Hot water heater.. another biggie... switch water heater to a heat on demand unit. And the Autopilot on to a AquaGen... you don't use your Auto Pilot in the Harbor do you? That could reduce wire tremedously and draw on battery pack. But... the price for an Aquagen is still up there... decisions, decisions... A good idea is to draw a map from the source to your gear... this might be considered a schematic. If you have any electronics buddies, let them look at your map and give suggestions.

Your LED idea is a great one, but do your homework.... take a class or read a good book: Here is one I would recommend: "Basic Electronics" by Grob [This is a cover to cover read text book for electronics students... and a well respected 'old guy' teacher told me: "This is the only book you will ever need." He was right.]

Take a little time, draw things out, and seek guidance.

Hope this helps.
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Old 05-04-2010, 20:58   #15
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"If you go to a 'wired' LED system, you can do this with one telephone wire"
OUCH. You could, but you wouldn't if you wanted the job to last. Telephone premises wire is 4x24AWG solid copper wire. You don't want solid, you want stranded, and you don't want copper, you want tinned copper. If you simply nick premises wiring while stripping the insulation, it breaks awful easily a short time later. Same thing applies to ethernet wiring, but at 8 wires in the sheath it is an even bigger waste.

"The best part is, you could hook up a bank of rechargeable Energizers, ... of the cuff... maybe 8 AA that would do say 50 LED's for 12 hours?" Nah. If you're using 8xAA to get twelve volts, LEDs just don't need more than 4.5 volts. White LEDs are typically 4.5V but you'll need at least six and a regulator chip, because NiMh or NiCd batteries start out at around 1.25V and plummet rapidly under 1V. You'd use 4-6 of them, and that would still only give you about 2000-2500mAh capacity. A typical LED draws 40ma, 50 of them would draw the batteries flat in just one hour at best. Less once the waste of the regulator was figured in, but without it and some other bits to regulate current, there will be more problems. The high brightness white LEDs run 1-3-5 watts each and consume hundreds of milliamps instead of 20-40 each, but they're also more suitable to many lighting tasks. And, require a better supply regulation to get the best brightness and life out of them.

" easily maintenanced" would really be to buy a dozen LED "stick on" lights that use a couple of disposable AA batteries to power a couple of white LEDs. Push on, push off, no wiring needed. Toss 'em when the salt air rots them out.

"a class or read a good book: " We can agree on that. But for LEDs the best "book" is usually the manufacturer's data sheet. The good ones (for the expensive LEDs) go into may of the issues in detail, because when a part costs ten bucks instead of two cents, customers tend to get pissed off if it burns out in six months. As many of the poorly made, poorly spec'd, poorly engineered cheap LED systems do.

LED "tail" light at a truckstop: ten bucks. LED tail light on a Mercedes or Cadillac? $700. Guess which one is expected to go ten years without any LED in it burning out.

:-)
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