Sunday, July 18, 2010

What a dumb idea, stupid, why I oughta.....

This should have been a simple job. A Raymarine E-120 wasn't getting a fix, and the investigation begins. Let's check the power, and antenna wiring. The wiring is by the book, and we have good power. The Seatalk cable is plugged in, so let's make sure that it is the master, and it is. I do a software upgrade, and follow it with two factory resets, and still, the GPS page is blank. So where is the GPS? This is the question of the hour.

It's not on the top of the T-top, and it's not in the electronics box. I looked under the combings, nope, I chase the antenna cable, and find the antenna must be mounted on top of the electronics box. You can see the wire passing through the hole. I had to clear the wiring away just to see this much.

So I reach my hand up to feel where it was, and I couldn't feel it or see it, because someone at the factory had covered the entire area with two part foam, I guess to seal the two small holes passing though the electronics box. The actual GPS was fully encapsulated in several inches of foam. This is one of the areas in a boat, where you can look, or you can get one hand in, but you can't do both at the same time.

It took about an hour to excavate around the GPS enough to free it from the box. Two part foam is very tenacious and the GPS was well adhered to the electronics box, but with the judicious application of numerous explicatives, and some hard digging with my fingers, the GPS finally was removed. The point of the exercise was to see what the little LED on the Raystar 125 was telling me. It couldn't tell me anything, because the chemicals in the two part foam, had obscured the clear port you look through to see the LED status.

I happened to have a new GPS in the truck, and when I plugged it in, the unit immediately started to blink happy green, and within a minute, we had a position fix. So what was wrong with the original unit, we will never know, maybe the foam out-gassed fumes that got into the unit, or maybe stuff just happens.

Recapping the moral of the story, there had to be many other ways to seal the two small penetrations through this box, and I think the worst possible way to do it was to use two part foam. It made pulling new wires through the existing holes almost impossible, it was ugly, unprofessional, crudely done, and I'm going to revoke the boat rigging licence of who ever did this, if I ever catch him. I do have my sealing suggestion below, and don't confuse this with 3M 5200, or I will revoke your licence also. 

Golight Go

Late one afternoon, I was working on my blog, and abstractly listening to the whining and grinding of a wood chipper, and the constant revving of chain saws. A crew was clearing trees away from the power lines next door, and all of a sudden, my computer shuts down, the ceiling fan winds down, chain saws, and chipper noises cease, and a lot of exciting yelling occurred. It seems something went awry with a limb, and it caused an outage. About twenty minutes later, a large truck from the local power company showed up. Since big time electricity always has the potential of offering an eclectic experience, I grab my camera and head outside to check out the excitement. 

Alas, in this case it was a mundane outage, no flaying wires were starting fires everywhere they touched, and no frightened residents were fleeing the scene. It was only a short caused by a branch, that just required the mother of all fuses to be replaced by the power company. I started back into my house, and I looked up at the power truck, and mounted on top were two Golight spotlights. I love seeing marine hardware, being used in a location where salt water is not involved.

I asked the crew chief what he thought of the Golight spots, and he said he liked them. They were sturdy, very bright, and very reliable, but....  

With a smile he climbed into the truck, and got out the remote control. He pushed the "On" button, and both spotlights lit up on the truck. He used the remote to turn the spotlight toward me, and both spotlights moved. The Golight remote only has one frequency he explained to me, that's why they both move. On a dark night there could be four or five trucks with the spotlights mounted on them. Someone gets out a remote, and hits the "On" button, and all of the spotlights, on all of the trucks turn on. When you drive a spot light to follow a power line, it looks like your'e at a shopping center opening, with eight or ten of the lights all moving around at once.

Despite some issues I have always had with Golight's remote controls, it is a great product, at a price that is substantially lower than its stainless steel competitors, and in my less than humble opinion, is better than most of them. Put several of these on your hardtop or arch, grab your remote, and you will be a hit in the boat Christmas parade.