Thursday, 30 December 2010

Mark Has Done a Fantastic Job

Some time ago wrote a few posts about the canbus DC electrical distribution system to be installed on Waiouru.  We had decided on the Empirbus System and the UK distributor is Atlantis Marine.  My initial email to Atlantis Marine was sent in the first half of 2010 and I received a prompt reply from Mark Zimmerman.  My initial impression was of great customer service and I’ve not waivered in that opinion.  Mark has done more to assist us with our canbus system than I could have ever expected!  If you’re thinking of a canbus system then I recommend you contact him.

Mark suggested in order to maximise the power and functionality of the Empirbus system I should consider fitting momentary light switches.  These have the same action as a press button door bell switch.  Unfortunately all my online research indicated purchasing this type of switch in Europe was going to be expensive.  Then I realised my local Australian electrical component manufacture had a very nice range of momentary switches with backlit LED illumination.  The only problem was the switches were 240v AC and Waiouru would be 12v DC.  Undaunted, I purchased one switch and dismantled it to see if it was possible to convert it to 12v.  My ‘rough and ready’ modification worked, however I was mindful that there would be a large number of switches to be modified.

Then Mark offered to complete the modifications during his Christmas holiday break.  How could I refuse such a generous offer :-)

I decided to send the switches to the UK using DHL.  Whilst the delivery was quick and nothing was broken, on reflection it probably was an expensive option.  We have yet to send the faceplates for the switches and in an effort to reduce the cost I’ll probably use conventional airmail.

Mark has now completed the modifications and the following photo’s he emailed me tells the story of how it was achieved.

Here you can see all the switch mechanisms in their wrapping on his work desk (black arrow).


The first task was to carefully pry off the clear plastic front cap to get at the printed circuit board.  This was a much better approach than the one I used.  I disassembled the entire switch mechanism which increased the complexity of re-assembling the modified switch.


The printed circuit board was exposed on the right side of the switch.  This was then carefully extracted with a pair of snip nose pliers.


Once all the circuit boards were removed they could be modified


All the surplus electronic components rectifying the 240v AC to 2.7v DC were then removed leaving just the LED.  The LED (Light Emitting Diode) actually works on low voltage DC.


After removing all the original components (except for the LED) Mark soldered a small resistor to the LED connection to reduce the 12v DC down to 2.7v.  He then replaced the original black wiring tails with a red and black to assist in the wiring of the switches into the circuits.


Finally all the switches were reassembled, labelled and tested.


I estimate the all inclusive cost of the modified switches is about half the price of purchasing similar mechanisms in Europe.  Of course I haven’t included Mark’s labour in this calculation!.  Jan and I will have to think of a way to recognise all his valued assistance.

Needless to say we are very happy with Atlantis Marine and looking forward to the day when we can use the Empirbus system on Waiouru.


NB Willawaw said...

What do you see the benefit of Canbus as being on a narrowboat ?
Do you have a background in electronics ?

Tom and Jan Jones said...

Well I shall endeavour to answer your questions in reverse order.
No! I don't have a background in electronics. I just "dabble" in everything. I've found Google to be of great assistance with the electronics.

The reasons for selecting the canbus technology were.
1. Greater control over power management.
2. Simplify the wiring system.
3. Be just behind the 'leading edge' with technology.
4. Add to the resale value of the boat(hopefully!)
5. Because big boys should have big toys to play with in their retirement :-)

NB Willawaw said...

Ha-ha. Fair enough. I use canbus in my day job and have so far struggled to justify using it on a narrowboat. I've designed lots of other technology on NB's like electric drive, wireless remote controls and other gizmo's (covered by my blog at different times).
Good luck.

Tom and Jan Jones said...

Yes, I've been reading your blog and found it most informative. Some of your components might be very useful in Waiouru and I even think the canbus system could be the remote communication system between the device and my mobile phone.
I wish I had your ability to be inventive!