Tuesday, October 23, 2012


New Bern, North Carolina

By training and by experience I'm an electrical engineer.  Not only that, but my engineering was more on the theoretical side of things as opposed to the hands-on stuff.  I sat for decades in my ivory tower with my computers and did my thing.   But on the boat there is little need for an electrical engineer.  I'm forced to demote myself to electrician.

Whew, I had no idea that an electrician's work could be so hard.  I worked all day yesterday installing new speakers, and I'll need all day today to finish.  I'll explain.

First some background.  We have an AM/FM/MP3 radio on board for entertainment and local radio.  We bought it from West Marine.  I wanted a marine model made with metal and materials that would not rot in the salt environment.  We got that, but this sucker also came with a remote control that we don't want.  Worse, to allow the remote control to turn the radio on remotely, this thing draws 1.2 amps of power 24x7 while it is turned off.  That would increase our total energy budget for the boat by 40%.   To avoid that, I have to turn off the circuit breaker cutting power to the radio.  But doing that makes it lose memory of all the preset channels.  Sigh -- bad design.

Anyhow, I set out yesterday to do two things.  First, to rewire the DC power to the radio.  It had been piggybacking on the power leads for the VHF radio and GPS.  That's a bad practice, and I shouldn't have done it.  Worse, with that 1.2 amp standby power draw, it doubled the hourly power consumption of VHF/GPS while at sea.  My first job was to run a new wire from the radio back to the power distribution panel, and to put it on it's own circuit breaker.  

The second job was to install some new speakers.  I'm ashamed to say that I bought speakers two or three years ago and they have been sitting in the V-berth ever since waiting for me to install them.  Tsk.  Tsk.

Now for the rub.  Pulling wires though walls and other invisible places is a dirty difficult job which electricians have to do.  Engineers never even think of such things.  On a boat, it is 1000% more difficult.  On a live-aboard boat with every cubby filled with stuff it is 10000% more difficult.  Pulling wires is what turned this two hour job into a two day job.  I'm only 60% done.  However I've seen places on Tarwathie that I've never seen before.

Boy that ivory tower looks good in retrospect. :-)

1 comment:

  1. As a retired Aircraft Electrician, I feel your pain. As one who dealt daily with EE's, I'm secretly amused ;^)


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