Friday, August 31, 2012

Ventilation

Paul (nb Waterways Routes) left a comment on yesterday’s post in which he mentioned the amount of heat that can be generated by the Victron inverter/charger which; if excessive; can cause it to shut down.

I’ve already considered disposal of the generated heat and how to utilise it rather than simply disposing of it!  The first practical step in my plan occurred two days ago when these two fans purchased on Ebay arrived.

The fan has three wires so the “yellow” wire was ignored and the read & black were connected to a 12v supply to check the fan would operate.  This was successful so I then made a fan box on which one of the fans was mounted.  The fan box is required because the fan will be blowing air from the inverter compartment through the rear steps and the area under the steps contains the extensions for the bed.  Therefore, in order to get maximum coverage for the fan it has to be offset from the stair wall.  If this sounds complicated the following photo may assist.

The fan box (bottom arrow) is only 20mm thick but covers the bulk of the side of the step compartment.  The extraction fan (top arrow) is mounted on the fan box.  The step wall will have numerous holes drilled through it to allow the fan to push air from the inverter compartment through the void under the step.

The air passes through a similar set of holes on the opposite side of the step and into the wet locker.  It rises up through the wet locker and exists via a grill in the top of the locker.

The warm air entering the wet locker will be joined by the warm air from the freezer compartment via a vent in the shared partition.  All this warm air is supposed to dry wet clothing and footwear. (well that’s the plan)

The second fan will be fitted into the wall of the inverter compartment immediately above the first step (right arrow).  It will suck cool air into the compartment. 

Richard has been very busy making and fitting the oak trim.  The following are a few photos of his work.

Yet more holes for me to plug! Crying face

Andy, Nick and I had a discussion today regarding the location of the various Hurricane heater components.  It was decided the remote ON/OFF switch and display would go on the instrument panel and the timer/thermostat will go in the saloon.  This is a change and required me to pull out the wiring I had so carefully installed.  It was actually damned difficult running the original cables because we are running out of space under the gunwales.  Moreover, there are now cabinets that can obstruct the cable’s path.  Well the two original cables have now been removed and replaced with a single 5 core cable.  Nick has also realised far more wiring is required for the Hurricane when compared with a Webasto or Eberspacher.  I hadn’t foreseen there would be remotes for the Hurricane and Victron.  As a consequence it meant redesigning the layout of the gauge and instrument panel.  It’s going to be a squeeze!

Top – Hurricane remote, Empirbus 8 way switch, Dometic toilet gauge, three small digital gauges mounted vertically (2x diesel & 1x water)

Bottom – Inverter remote, Smartgauge, Solar Controller remote

In order to get them all to fit onto the panel the 12v socket has been relocated to the opposite side of the boat. 

Darren is on holiday and Nick isn’t working tomorrow, so it might be an opportune time to catch up on some domestic chores, or even go for a walk!

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Error Message

We woke this morning to find the Smartgauge displaying an error message.  The error code was E11 which had me confused until I reached the page in the manual where one line stated error messages starting with  zero relate to the Smartgauge and those starting with a ‘1’ relate to the SmartBank.  So it was an error being reported by the SmartBank.  As the SmartBank has yet to be configured and fully wired into the system I decided to ignore the error message.  The Smartgauge was showing the battery bank as 90% charged and the temporary charger was illuminating the float LED.

Nick decided to fit the Victron 3000 combi/inverter.  It has a more sophisticated battery charger which he felt would be better for Waiouru’s domestic bank.  He couldn’t connect up the 240v side of the inverter as the wall sockets in Waiouru haven’t yet been fitted.  We had quite a discussion about the layout of the units in the electrical cabinet under the spare bed.  My original intention was the solar controller, Hurricane heater controller, consumer unit (AC distribution board) and Victron would all go in the compartment.  However it became obvious if we squeezed everything into the compartment it might overheat.  So the Solar controller has been relocated up into the gauge and instrument cabinet and in the afternoon I connected all the wiring to it. Of course there are no solar panels on the roof, so there is no fuse in the cable to the battery bank.

The instrument and gauge cabinet in the back cabin is now starting to get quite full with more wires and the remote for the Victron combi.  We still have the diesel gauges and water tank gauge to install!

In an effort to create some space I started to tape some of the gauges to the top edge of the open cabinet.  At the far left end in the photo above is the Victron remote.  The orange LED shows the inverter is on ‘Float’.  Because we are plugged into the shore power Nick has limited the charge to 6 amps.  You might just be able to see the edge of the solar controller peeping around the right side of the photo.

I also made a shelf to go on the swim in the lower electrical cabinet.  Nick has fitted the consumer unit and will eventually fit the Hurricane controller in the adjacent space (red arrow).  The Victron combi inverter/charger is the large blue box in the base of the compartment.

Darren has masked up the side panels and stern of Waiouru for the coach lines.

He had just enough time to apply a coat of gloss paint to all the “fiddly bits” on the roof before heading off on holiday.

Richard has been continuing with the ceiling trim.  All but one of the crossover pieces have now been made and installed and he’s also making the trim which goes around the cabinets at ceiling level.  I stupidly volunteered to start plugging the screw holes with the oak plugs.  Richard is very particular and actually checked to ensure I was aligning the grain in the plug with the grain in the timber trim.  Only 150 plugs done today <phew>.  No doubt there will be more to be done tomorrow.

Look at all those little oak plugs in the ceiling trim! Smile with tongue out

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

I’m Alive…. I’M ALIVE!!!!

But the battery charger died!  However my pension fund has resurrected me and reinstated payments!  We can stop eating feathers and go back to chicken!  Of course Jan still doesn’t exist! 

The shower pump was making funny noises last night and first thing this morning I noticed the lights in the saloon seemed dimmer.  After opening the rear cabin doors it was possible to see the neon light on the temporary charger was illuminated so it had a 240v supply.  However when I placed my multi-meter across the domestic battery bank the reading was 9.6v.  NOT GOOD NEWS!  I then disconnected the charger from the battery bank and measured the charger DC output on the cables…. Zero!  The charger was dead and our battery bank wasn’t in good shape either.  We had been draining power out of it for at least two days.  The Smartgauge hadn’t arrived at the boatyard and I’d also failed to test the battery voltage with the multi-meter.

The first task was to fit another temporary battery charger.  The replacement has a rating of 45A compared with the original which had a maximum rating of 15A.  The Smartgauge also arrived today so Nick wired the engine bay end whilst I wired in the actual gauge.

It’s only a temporary setup whilst we wait for the remaining gauges to be installed.  I hate wiring ‘birds nests’ and at some future date will have to sort out the mess in the electrical cabinet.

The Smartgauge showed the new charger was doing it’s job with the voltage risking from 9.6v to 11v and then 12.6v before reading 13.5v when the photo was taken.

The other major task completed today the final fit for most of the ceiling trim.  Yesterday the starboard and port trim was fitted and then the port trim was taken down.  Today Richard measured the crossover trim that covers the joins between the laminated ceiling panels. Each piece was roughly cut to length and then taken to Waiouru where it was positioned with timber props.  The precise length of each piece of trim was then measured against the pencil line drawn against the port side trim (earlier removed).  The crossover trim was then taken back to the workshop where it was cut to length, drilled and routered.  We then refitted the trim using the same props.

Notice the port trim is missing in the above photo.

Once all the crossover length of trim had been fitted the port trim was reinstalled.

Someone (I think I know who!) has to now go around and glue small oak plugs into all these rebated screw holes.  Richard informed me he will be continuing with the remaining ceiling trim tomorrow.  This trim is only 40mm wide and will be fitted around all the joins where the tops of the cabinets and partitions meet the ceiling.  Darren returns tomorrow and will continue with the painting.

Sand in the paint

Waiouru’s roof is now 90% painted.  Darren started the day by carefully masking up two long rectangular panels down either side of roof.

The panels were then sanded with a very fine paper.  He then went on to sand the side panels

Whilst Darren mixed paint we swept down the roof and sides before assisting Darren to remove the last of the dust by wiping down the entire cabin with tac cloths.

Darren had mixed a very fine sand into the paint which he then applied to the masked panel areas on the roof.  After painting the roof he went on to apply a second (and final) topcoat of gloss paint to the coachlines on the side panels.  Towards the end of the day he returned and applied a second coat of the sand and paint solution to the non slip panels.  Apparently this is best done whist the first coat is “green” (ie, not hardened).  Darren then removed the masking tape from around the panels.

We now have two long non slip panels on the roof.

It was a long day for Darren and he is shortly taking a well earned week off work!

Meanwhile Richard and James have been working away on the ceiling trim.  All the starboard side is complete and they are over half way through the port side.

The next step will be to make and fit the ceiling crossover trim.

We had visitors in the afternoon.  David and Lynne Edwards from Sydney.  David is a former colleague and very well known internationally for his expertise in rail safety and risk management.

Lynne & David Edwards beside Waiouru

They are keen cruise ship travellers and have toured extensively.  This year they are cruising through the Channel Islands and the Mediterranean.  It was very nice of them to take the time out of their holiday schedule to visit us at Aldermaston Wharf.  Happy cruising Lynne & David!

Monday, August 27, 2012

Starting the Trim

Richard isn’t going to hang the internal doors at this stage in the build.  Instead we made a start on cutting and fitting the trim.  The sequence is to first fit the ceiling trim on the starboard side.  Then the port side trim is fitted and the trim line on the ceiling is marked with a pencil line.  The port trim is then removed and the crossover trim is fitted.  Each piece can be exactly cut to length by butting the end of the timber against the starboard trim and then marking it to length using the pencil mark on the ceiling which was earlier drawn against the port side trim.  Once all the crossover trim has been fitted the port side trim is screwed back in place for the last time.

However the first task was to cut the bevelled edge on the length of oak trim.  The bevel matches the angle of the tumblehome.  The technique used by Richard and James is to fit a jig to the large saw in the workshop.  The jig has three clamps which are used to secure the timber whilst it is run through the blade.

Clamping the timber to the saw table and then running the table past the blade gives a much more accurate edge to the timber.

We took the first piece of trim to Waiouru and confirmed it was the correct length.  Richard then marked on the trim the location of the various lengths of crossover trim which will butt to it at a right angle.  The trim was then taken back to the workshop where the screw holes were drilled and a brass “cup” fitted into each hole.  He then routered the opposite edge of the trim except for the parts where the crossover trim butt against it.  The back and concealed edge of the timber was treated with wood ‘impreg’ to waterproof it against any potential condensation.  Finally, we took the trim back to Waiouru and installed it.  His method is to use timber prop’s to hold the trim in place whilst he firmly taps it into place.  It’s them fixed to the ceiling using temporary screws.  Once all the trim has been installed these will eventually be replace with slot head brass screws .  Whilst he was routering and sanding the trim I stripped the protective plastic film off the laminated ceiling panels.

The trim is a very snug fit against both the ceiling and the wall.  Both Jan and I commented how the saloon actually appears to look bigger now all the wiring is concealed behind the trim.  The bedroom trim (starboard side) has already been made and will be fitted tomorrow morning.

Meanwhile Darren has been busy painting.  The majority of the roof has been finished with just the houdini hatch surrounds left to be painted.

The ripple effect is actually the reflection of the air shelter tubes above

Waiouru has started to join the “shiny boat brigade”!  He then applied the first coat of gloss for the coachlines.

And then painted the first undercoat on the gunwales.

Tomorrows painting plan is for Darren, Jan and me to sand down Waiouru (except the roof).  Jan and I will then sweep and tac clean the sanded surfaces whilst Darren masks the areas on the roof that will have the the ‘grit’ (non-slip) panels.  He will then apply the final coat of gloss to the coachlines and the second undercoat to the gunwale before applying the first undercoat (red) onto the recessed panels at the stern.

After cleaning down the exterior of Waiouru I will hinder help Richard with the trim, whilst Jan is going to do some knitting whilst heads roll.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

The Better Option

I’ve been following the efforts of David and Karen as they rebuild their Ben Harp built narrow dutch barge Trudy Anne (blog link here).  For me, the most striking thing is the similarity of our experience, but totally opposite outcomes.

David kindly gave me a copy of his independent marine surveyors report on Trudy-Anne as built by Ben Harp.  It’s a shocker!  I suspect we would have likely ended with a similar quality boat if he had completed Waiouru.  Selecting ABC Leisure as our new builder may prove to be the better option.  We’re certainly pleased with the quality of the work here at Aldermaston Wharf!

Unfortunately Darren wasn’t able to get much painting completed today.  First thing this morning Jan and I cleaned down Waiouru’s roof and sides with tac cloths in anticipation and Darren started applying the final coat of gloss to the roof.  Then the office phone started to ring.  He received five calls from separate hirers, all with problems on their boat’s.  Whilst he was able to rectify three of the issues over the phone (and simultaneously paint) the last two required his on-site attendance.  Reluctantly he stopped painting the roof when he reached the Boatman’s Beam.  As a consequence he was only able to paint ¾ of the roof and nothing else.

The two hire boats were at opposite ends of the canal and he wasn’t able to return until just before 5.00pm.  We had a brief discussion about the plan for tomorrow’s painting before Darren left.  I’ll also have to talk to Andy tomorrow about a strategy to get the painting back on schedule.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Four Sockets

A reasonably relaxing day.  The morning commenced with the installation of the four 12v sockets collected from the chandlery late yesterday.  They’re not a deluxe model but then they are out of sight so that isn’t an issue.

The first was installed in the bow wardrobe on the starboard side and supplies the power to the TV aerial amplifier.

The wiring will be tidied up prior to the fitting of the oak trim on the ceiling.  The socket is a very simple affair consisting of a cheap plastic moulding with a hole in the end that takes a cheap cigarette type socket with two male ‘spade’ connectors.  I walked to Maplin two weeks ago and purchased the plugs to make up the connecting lead between the socket and the consumers (in this case the TV aerial amplifier).

A second socket was fitted in the back of freezer compartment at the other end of the boat.

You might notice the ventilation holes in the base of the freezer compartment.  We’re pleased the freezer is now running on 12v via the Empirbus system instead of the 240v as it gives us more control.

The last two sockets went into the small compartment in the top of the narrow display cabinet which is in the saloon.

It wasn’t until late in the boat planning process that I realised the Network Media Tank NMT (black box on the shelf below) actually operated on 12vDC via a 240vAC transformer.  So the second 12v socket was included to power the NMT.  The other 12v socket is “future proofing” Waiouru in case we fit a satellite dome.

After fitting all the sockets I started thinking about improving the control of the media systems and had a play did some serious reconfiguring of the Empirbus system.  There is a single wall plate consisting of six individual switches beside the bed and some of the switches are spare (more future-proofing).  The TV aerial, NMT bedroom TV and saloon TV are all interconnected.  It should therefore be possible to control the ON/OFF functions for all of them from more than one location using the power of the Empirbus system.

The saloon switch for the NMT is located on the side of the display cabinet.

right arrow

The same switch turns on/off the TV aerial amplifier in the front wardrobe.

There is a second switch in the bedroom that also turns on/off the aerial amplifier and a third switch turns the bedroom TV on or off.

Today I configured one of the spare switches beside the bed to turn off all three devices.

Yes….. very lazy I know!  But now there is no requirement to get out of bed to turn off any of the media equipment before counting the sheep. 

There is yet another spare switch beside the bed and I’m contemplating configuring it to turn everything off, apart from the essentials (water pump, fridge, freezer, toilet, bilge pumps).  That way we could head off to the land of nod knowing nothing had been accidentally left running and consuming battery power.  Of course I don’t have to change the wiring….. just tap away at the keyboard!

Friday, August 24, 2012

Can cold water be used for washing

The washing machine on Waiouru has a cold wash cycle which Jan intends to use.  She always did the washing with cold water back in Australia and New Zealand and modern laundry powder can be used for cold washing.  Actually, germs breed better in hot water (unless it’s boiling)! 
The following is another example of cold water washing sent to me by my FMiL.
Can Cold Water Clean  Dishes?
This is for all the  germ conscious folks that worry about using cold water to clean.
John went to visit his 90 year old grandfather in a very secluded, rural area of Saskatchewan  .
After spending a  great evening chatting the night away, the next morning John's grandfather prepared breakfast of bacon, eggs and toast.
However, John noticed a film like substance on his plate, and questioned his grandfather asking,
'Are these plates clean?'
His grandfather replied,
'They're as clean as cold water can get em.
Just you go ahead and finish your meal, Sonny!'
For lunch the old man made hamburgers.
Again, John was concerned about the plates,
as his appeared to have tiny specks around
the edge that looked like dried egg and asked,
'Are you sure these plates are clean?'
Without looking up the old man said,
'I told you before, Sonny, those dishes are as clean as cold  water can get them. Now don't you fret, I don't want to hear another word about it!'
Later that afternoon, John was on his way to a nearby town and as he was leaving, his grandfather's dog started to growl, and wouldn't let him pass.
John yelled and said, 'Grandfather, your dog won't let me get to my car'.
Without diverting his attention from the football game he was watching on TV, the old man shouted!
'Coldwater, go lay down now, yah hear me!'

On a more serious note.  More sanding and cleaning down the paintwork today.  Jan and I now have a routine so it’s getting quicker….. But not any easier! (no photos as not much has changed).  Darren is not working tomorrow but will be back on Sunday.  The plan is for him to give the roof a second coat of gloss and a first coat of gloss onto the coachlines.  The 12v sockets for the concealed wiring (freezer, satdome, and NMT) arrived today.  The Engel freezer is now connected to the Empirbus 12v system which has removed another temporary 240v cable from within Waiouru. The remaining sockets will be fitted tomorrow.  Richard and now made all the internal doors and fitted the hardware (hinges, handles, etc).  I assume he will hang them on Monday.
During our weekly Friday meeting Andy informed me he plans to crane Waiouru into the water on 11 September.  The fit-out will not be completed until later in the month but this now gives us a timeframe in which to arrange for the surveyor to complete the necessary work to obtain the RCD and get Waiouru licensed.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Another Arrival

A courier called in this morning with another part for Waiouru
Axiom propeller
Andy mentioned (more than once) today about the delivery of our £800 propeller!!!  However he obviously likes them as he recently fitted one to his father’s dutch barge.  We specified the Axiom whilst back in Australia and did it purely because it was a “new” design and was receiving some good reviews.  I guess time will tell whether it was the right choice!
Nick has been busy in the cockpit.  The Beta Marine deluxe engine panel has been fitted into exterior of the rear bulkhead.
My original choice for the location for the panel was inside the boat on the instrument cabinet.  However there isn’t sufficient room for it there and Andy suggested having it on the exterior of the bulkhead would enable the steerer to monitor the gauges and lights.  Nick also fitted the LED cockpit light.  This was specified by us so the semi-trad area can be illuminated when returning to the boat at night.  The only remaining holes to be cut in the cockpit area are the four switches (horn, headlamp, navigation lights & cockpit light) and the socket for the camera monitor cabling.
Whilst he was doing this Darren applied the first gloss topcoat to the roof.
The entire roof will be in one colour (grey) apart from the boatman’s beam and handrails which will be in red.  After he had done the roof Darren applied a second off-white undercoat to the side panel coachline area.  Just before the end of the day he managed to paint the recessed panels with a coat of primer.  The latter was needed because I’d been very “vigorous” in my sanding attempting to remove all the blemishes in the steel!
Jan and I spent the early morning sweeping down Waiouru before tacking off (cleaning the dust with a sticky cloth) the areas to be painted during the day.  In the afternoon I helped Richard make the bathroom doors.  They are made from 1” plywood and are heavier than a normal house ‘hollow-core’ internal door.  Note to myself…. Don’t allow fingers to be trapped in the door as it will HURT!  Jan spent the afternoon making delicious plum jam from our hedgerow foraging expedition two days ago.
Tomorrow will see us sanding the roof so the final topcoat can be applied.  The sides also need sanding for the coachlines first topcoat.  We may even get all the internal doors hung!

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

More sanding…. And it won’t be the last time!

The first task for the day was to lightly sand (key) the undercoat Darren applied yesterday.  It’s the first time we have “keyed” paint and are not all that sure how much we should sand off.  So it was a very light sanding and we didn’t bother to brush and wipe down the surfaces.  We’ll ask Darren tomorrow if he is satisfied with the sanding before cleaning the surfaces.

Darren had also suggested the gunwales be prepared for undercoating so I got stuck into the bow area.  It was nearly all hand sanded and I have the blisters to prove it! Crying face

Meanwhile Jan caught the community bus to the Sainsbury’s supermarket at Calcot to restock some essential supplies.  She returned at noon looking rather “chuffed”!  Apparently she placed her senior’s concession card on the reader and it was successfully scanned.  As she went to walk off with the card the driver asked to see it.  Jan has concluded he wanted to check the photograph as he suspected she wasn’t old enough to be eligible! Winking smile

Nick has been working in the cockpit for much of the day.  The hole for the Morse Controller (the boat gear lever and accelerator for non boatie readers) has been expanded and he also managed to cut the hole for the 240v shore-power socket.  His last task was to fit the bow thruster controller into the hole I’d previously cut.  I still need to cut a small hole for the camera monitor socket.  It will probably go to the right of the bow thruster controller.

Richard has fitted door hooks to the removable top step in the back cabin.  The intention was the hooks will retain the step.  However he discovered it still rocked slightly so he fitted a horizontal oak batten immediately above the step on the bulkhead wall which now holds it firmly in place.

Whilst he was making up the batten I asked if he could make a further two battens for the other two steps.  I also asked him if he would router a groove in the batten.  You will probably see why I requested this in the next photo.

I found four 40cm lengths of LED strip lighting on EBay going cheap.  The seller advertised them as the LED’s found in the headlight of an Audi car.  However they make excellent step lighting.  Three have been used on the rear steps and the 4th will be used for the sole front step into the cratch.  They are controlled by the Empirbus system and the intention is the lights can be activated by the remote control.  So when we return to Waiouru in the dark the steps will already be illuminated.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Hedgerow Food

Jan has been scrounging foraging for towpath food and found three different types of plum tree in close proximity to the yard.  She did a preliminary reconnaissance before taken me back in the early evening with a boathook.  Flexible devices these boat hooks!

Some of these plums are sweet whilst others are tart.  We think it will be an interesting jam!

It was somewhat of a relief when we woke to find the toilet tank gauge registering ¼ full.  We were starting to worry that it wasn’t working.  The toilet was installed on the 7th, and it’s taken 14 days to reach quarter full.  This tends to confirm my own theoretical capacity calculation of 54 days which was done back in 2010.  Having such a large volume of effluent “fermenting” probably means it’s time to do some in-depth thinking about what ‘additive’ needs to go into the tank.  We’re not all that keen on using ‘blue’ and will probably opt for brewers yeast for our first trial.  It’s likely to be the cheapest option and easily sourced.  If that doesn’t work we’ll gradually trial the increasingly more expensive options.

The early part of the day was spent doing more filling and sanding.  By mid morning Jan and I were sweeping down Waiouru before cleaning off the remaining dust with tack cloths.  Darren checked the quality of our work and was sufficiently satisfied to start applying undercoat.

First he did the entire roof with a grey undercoat.

He then applied a white undercoat for the coach lines on either side and the rear.

I hadn’t realised the undercoat would be the same colour as the topcoat. You learn something new every day!  Waiouru’s roof will be light grey; hence the grey undercoat and Jan has opted to have off-white coach lines.  It’s Darren’s day off tomorrow so Jan and I will lightly sand back the undercoat using 240 grit paper, sweep the area and then clean the last of the dust off with tack cloths.  This should enable Darren to apply the second layer of undercoat on Thursday.  He has also suggested he can apply the first undercoat of black to the gunwales on Thursday if we sand and clean them tomorrow.

The joiners are waiting on a delivery of oak so they can make a start on the trim in Waiouru.  Perhaps tomorrow?

Monday, August 20, 2012

Rub rub… RUB!

Andy wasn’t joking when he said most of the two thick coats of primer that Jan and I applied 8 months ago would be rubbed off as part of the preparation for painting.

Waiouru had a second detailed sanding today with particular emphasis on the “fiddly bits”.  Some areas can only be reached by hand and I now have blisters!  She was also swept down twice.  The damned boat seems to be getting longer each time she is shown the broom! 

The roof from the stern

Port side

Starboard

The mastic around the glued in steel plate on each side has been removed and the filler has been sanded back.

This next photo gives some idea of the ‘blemishes’ in the plate.  The surface has now been sanded back and is smooth as an new born baby’s bum!  The flecks of primer have filled in the pits in the steel plate.

This is actually a smooth surface!

The side hatches had numerous ‘nooks and crannies’ which took a considerable amount of time to sand back.

Mid afternoon ‘Postman Pat’ delivered a parcel to the boatyard which was addressed to us.  It was the solar controller from Hong Kong which had been ordered on EBay.  A considerable amount of research was conducted before deciding on this particular controller.  It’s a Tracer and we ordered the 20A model with the optional remote LCD panel.

The coke can is there to give some idea of size.  The 20A controller can cope with a maximum of 260 watts and we intend to have two 100w panels.  Because roof space is limited we want maximum effective electricity from the panels which is why we decided on a MPPT controller.  There are numerous advertised controllers which claim to have the MPPT functionality.  However the MPPT function in many of the cheaper controllers will probably fail or not work correctly due to poor design.  The Tracer wasn’t the cheapest MPPT controller, but is the most cost effective one we could find.

The back of the Tracer (see next photo) has a rather substantial heat sink.  The whole back of the case is metal, along with the fins on the heat sink.

As you can see in the photo, we also purchased the remote control.  It connects to the solar controller using a two metre data cable.  The solar controller will go under the spare bed in the same ventilated compartment as the Victron combi inverter/charger and the remote will go on the instrument and gauge panel above.

For two reasons, the two 100w solar panels haven’t yet been purchased.  First, we have no roof space on Waiouru whilst she is being painted (we’re also in a tent); and second; the price of solar panels is steadily dropping!  The longer we delay….. the cheaper the price… we hope!