So So Solar

I am about 1 week into using the new solar panels and charge controller and while they are working, I am not getting the amount of power I had hoped to get. Here is the production over the last 10 days. Now I have to admit that it has been overcast and cloudy to downright stormy on some of these days but I figure that is real world  and I was hoping the real world would be a bit better. I am going to need to produce more than double this consistently every single day to keep up with my projected power usage. If i have a couple stormy days I will be in trouble. With the rest of the solar installed I should be doing ok but I can now see that I need a wind generator also. The max battery voltage is off on a couple days as I turned the shore power on to top the battery bank off. The days where I only produced 220, 160 and 530 watt hours. Right now all that is running off of 12 volt is the propane solinoid, 6 12 volt fans, 12 led lights, and the fridge. I still have to add all the 120 loads through the inverter and the 12v freezer that is running on 110 right now. The freezer will add another 24 to 50 amp/hrs a day and the rest of the stuff an easy 200 a day. If we don’t cut down our usage drastically.

Solar Panels Part One of Many

So I reached a mile marker in the solar panel installation saga. The solar panels have been glued down to the dodger and all the wiring under the dodger completed.


Super Power Efficient Boat Computer

I was needing an upgrade for my office computer for work and needed a replacement computer that was super power efficient due to the nature of limited electric power on a boat when using an inverter to power stuff.

Here are the components I used to build a system that using 15 to 17 watts of power sitting at the desktop browsing the internet. The 24 inch monitor uses another 21 watts of power.

Nothing special about the case other than the USB3 ports on the front and the space size constraints of where I planned on mounting it in the boat.. Any Matx compatible case would work.

This memory is listed by model number by the manufacture of the motherboard as compatable. I spent a few extra dollars over the cheap memory but it is worth it to know it works.

I had a hard time picking a motherboard. There were several good choices but this one had more sata 3 and usb 3 connectors and was a bit cheaper than other comparable motherboards. So far I am pleased with it.

Here is where we get pricey. This power supply is one of the best of the best. It is rated platinum level which means it is 94 or 95 % efficient. It is fanless and even so after running for a month or two solid you can touch the power supply and it feels cool to the touch.

I already had a pcie ssd card in my old computer with ubuntu linux installed on it and I just moved it over to this computer. The same with 2 3tb data drives. I purchased this to hold a database that needed the fast access and larger size.

I went to order the i7-3770T processor but found the Xeon version of the same processor for 50 dollars cheaper. On checking the motherboard CPU compatability chart it said that it was compatible with the Xeon so that is what I got. This is teh 45watt 2.5 ghz version of the i7-3770. The normal one is 75watts at 3.5 ghz. However in benchmarks this one is only 10% slower.

This is the monitor I am running and it is a very power efficient model. I purchased it a year or two ago and have been really happy with it. The manufacture states 35 watts but mine and others measurements in use seem to consistently run around 21 watts.

Composting Head Two Year or There About Thoughts

Guests on board

Something else I thought about as a downside to these. When we have guests it is still as hard or harder to explain how to use these as it was a standard marine head. At least we don’t worry about people putting toilet paper into this one but having to explain that poo and pee go in separate holes and that you have to rinse or clean up after yourself every single time you use it seems to generate a lot of resistance. We now have people we would prefer not to visit us on our boat because of the mess they left behind on the composting head. At its messiest (oh shit I missed the hole) it is still a simple matter of a minute or so to wipe the mess down the open  hole to the composting bin and spray with water and wipe down again and then maybe spray a disinfectant if needed. In regular use you just about never need to do this but guests that have different attitudes or lack of ability to use it as described can be a trial.

Companionway Table/Seat for Valkyr

I first saw this table/seat in a newsletter I get from Steve Roberts of the Nomadnes report (his ) I modified it slightly to fit how we wanted to use it,by doing a cutout on the right side as you face it in the companionway. This allows for someone to climb up or down the companionway with the table installed. Our companionway is fairly wide so it still left plenty of space for a usable table surface. In mounting it we drilled holes at every step from bottom to top so that the table could be used for multiple tasks at different levels.

Composting head ramblings

somebody on a forum was commenting about how they didn’t feel comfortable with a composting head due to if the boat every turned upside down that stuff could come out of it and make a mess.. I’m dubious as to the logic of this argument against a composting head but here is my answer to that as well as addressing someones concerns about the cost of the commercial units.

On mine it is bolted to the floor and the top part latches to the bottom that is bolted to the floor. There is a flap that secures the solid waste tank at the top. It is spring loaded and holds itself shut when your not using it. I don’t see the unit letting the compost fall out. Upside down there would be the possibility of the urine leaking back out. However if it was totally full that would be just at or over 2 gallons of urine no more. If it was that huge of a deal I could see how to modify our system to use a small tank for urine with a line running to it with a valve on it. However it would also call for all the plumbing of a normal holding tank to either pump the urine off the boat or discharge it overboard. Though more complex it would also allow with say a 10 gallon tank a pump out schedule or overboard outside the 3 mile limit of of say 20 to 25 day intervals for two people.

Nature’s Head install on Valkyr

We installed the “Natures Head” composting toilet this past weekend. It fits perfectly side to side (read “it is a tight fit”) to get it in the head compartment you take the top section off the bottom section. This is just a matter of unclipping two clips, one on either side of the unit and then sliding the top section left 3 inches or so as you lift it up to disengage the rear hinge. At that point both pieces will easily fit through either of the head doors.

Here is a few picture of the two stainless angle pieces that hold the unit to the floor. The first shows how we marked where to set the mounts. We put the head in place and them made sure that we had room on either side for the crank to turn on the right without hitting the wall and the latch on the left side of the unit to open as well as being able to slide the top to the left when pulling it off the hinge when removing it. Once it was spaced right we took a pencil and just drew a line around the backside of the angle pieces to mark where they went.

Painting the laminate countertops in Valkyr

We are heading to Valkyr this evening to spend the night.. We are going to try some special laminate paint on one of the laminated counter tops to see what we think of a color change from the original brown laminate to an ivory color. We were looking at replacing the laminate with a lighter laminate but this paint looks pretty good on the demo we saw at home depot and only cost $20 for enough that we should be able to do all the laminate surfaces in the boat with it. We figure that since we planned on replacing the laminate anyway that there is no downside to spending $20 dollars to test out just painting it with this new product. We will let everyone know how it turns out. Scott Ok we got the salon table painted the other day when we stayed on the boat. I’m not sure I would want to do this again while staying on the boat. This is some nasty stuff and you should probably/definitely use a respirator when painting it. However it looks really good. I haven’t been back to the boat yet to see it after it is fully dry but Zsanic says it is doing awesome. She spent the night on the boat last night and got to use it. Sailor the cat ignoring us :) Standard wood pattern factory laminate.. ho hum…

Stories of s/v Valkier, DE38: All the shit that accumulates #2 by Scott Carle

Last week we got a lot done on the boat but also ran into some issues with the plumbing which led to engine issues that led to anchoring issues.  See <a for all the details.

Today I worked up my courage and headed back to the boat to deal once and for all with the malodorous mess that Valkyr’s head system had become. The first thing on was the respirator (this respirator worked great. No odor got through it and when I got to the clorox phase it totally filtered the chlorine out also). After the respirator came the industrial rubber chemical gloves and a dozen 3 mil contractor garbage bags. The next three tools that  I used removing everything were one largish flat bladed screwdriver, one set of vise grips and a pair of straight edged shears. The screw driver for hose clamps and prying, the vise grips for holding the nuts on the screws that the pump was mounted with while I unscrewed them, and the shears for cutting through hoses if needed.

s/v Valkyr: Bilge pump

This is a blurb I wrote a few months ago and had saved as a draft. I forgot that I hadn’t published it. So a bit late but here it is.

The reason we went up to the boat for the last few days was to clean her up a bit and get the bilge pump working again. A few months ago the bilge pump had come on continuously and for some reason couldn’t be turned off. I’m not sure that Angela even knew it was the bilge pump as it is a really nice diaphragm unit that sits up in the back of the engine compartment and doesn’t really look like a what you would think a standard bilge pump would. It ran for a day or two before she found out where the noise was coming from. It’s pretty quiet when running dry. Finally she just cut the power line to it to get it to turn off. I think what happened is that the automatic switch went bad or the control panel for it went bad and left it running.

s/v Valkyr: Dorade Vents

This was another project from a few months ago.. actually last October.. since then both cowls have been replaced with Nicro Solar vents.

The plastic cowls on Valkyr’s dorade vents had become very discolored and brittle with large chunks broken out.

dorade vents on deck

Stories of s/v Valkier, DE38: All the shit that accumulates by Scott Carle

You know all the shit that accumulates in the corners of a boat? This story isn’t about that kind of shit. This story is about the kind that leaks through the ruptured diaphragm in a pump on a hose that terminates in a holding tank.

If that opening doesn’t grab attention, I’m not sure what will. Let me backtrack just a bit.

We actually spent three days working on the boat this week. The teak on deck is now at about 90% and in some area’s even has three coats of Tequa. We are really liking the Tequa, it goes on thin and penetrates on try teak for the first couple of coats and on the third coat gives the teak a soft luster that is just beautiful. So far we have used about one and a quarter quarts and it has covered 90% of the boat in two coats and some parts of the boat in three coats. I think we will stop at three coats and then see what durability is over time. Pictures of all this will be forthcoming in the next week or so.