XPM Möbius Tech Talks:  What, Why and How of all the systems aboard XPM78-01 mv Möbius

XPM Möbius Tech Talks: What, Why and How of all the systems aboard XPM78-01 mv Möbius

mobius word newThis is an advanced notice that I a going to start posting some new type of articles here on our Möbius.World blog which will be different from and in addition to the typical Weekly Update posts I do to cover the incredible work that Team Möbius does each week. I have previously posted some more technical articles like this about things like the overview of the the design and use case for our new boat and the one on Mr. Gee our Gardner 6LXB main engine and a few other such topics since we started this blog almost two years ago and with growing requests for these detailed technical explanatory type articles I will be doing my best to increase the frequency of these kinds of posts now..

These new articles will be different in that they will be “Tech Talks” where I can go into more detail on all the various systems on the XPM boats and explain my logic such as it is for the design of these systems, reasons for choosing the equipment we have and how these systems will be installed and maintained.  I will do my best to make these “as Show & Tell” as possible with illustrations and diagrams, and possibly some video versions, but by their nature these will be more text based explanations compared to the more visual orientation of the Weekly Progress Updates. Hopefully it will be a good contrast and combination for you and if not I’m counting on you to let me know!

It is also my hope that by separating these more explanatory and detailed technical discussions from the more visual Show & Tell type of Weekly Progress Updates, you will be able to more easily chose what suites you best. And I hope those of you who are interested in these deep dives into the technical aspects of the XPM boats will chime in with your comments and questions to help me cover the topics you are most interested in and provide the Goldilocks not too much, not too little type of content that you would value and which will provoke more discussion for all of us.

Before I go any further and as I will likely repeat several times in the articles to follow, let me be very clear about the context and conditions of these articles:

  • These are NOT recommendations on what YOU or any other boat owners should do or equipment you should buy.
  • I am NOT suggesting that our choices are “the best” I merely hope to explain OUR (Christine and my) logic and why we believe that these are the Goldilocks “just right, just for us” choices in the design, installation and equipment aboard XPM78-01 Möbius.
  • These articles are intended to generate lots of questions, suggestions, and ideas. Indeed this is the primary purpose and value of these articles, so don’t be shy! I only ask that you keep the above two notes in mind and of course keep the discussion respectful, polite and on topic.
  • Please keep in mind that the overriding context for ALL these articles, choices and equipment selection is for an XPM style of boat and use case which is an eXtreme eXploration Passage Maker for a crew of two, typically a couple who want to be able to go to remote locations on all latitudes from polar to equatorial with equally eXtreme degrees of Safety, Comfort, Efficiency and low maintenance and where the boat will be their full time or primary home.
  • I hope to learn as much as you do by writing these Tech Talks and more so by responding to your comments and provoking more good discussions. In doing so we can all contribute to the wealth of information and knowledge already out there for all of us to access and learn from.
  • Unlike the Weekly Progress Update articles I will edit these Tech Talk posts over time as decisions or equipment changes and as I get more information along the way. For these posts there will be two dates for each one, the date it was first published and the date it was last updated/edited.

I will create some new tags for these different type of postings to make your future searches more productive and right now my intent is to write articles on most of the following primary systems and topics:

  • ELECTRICAL

    • AC SYSTEM
    • DC SYSTEM
    • Batteries
    • Charging
    • Solar
    • NMEA
    • Lighting
    • Screens, Monitors, Displays
  • NAVIGATION

    • Charting
    • RADAR
    • AIS
    • Compass
    • DEPTH & SONAR
    • Onboard Computers
    • Portable Helm Station
  • BOAT MONITORING

    • Maretron System
    • Tank Levels
    • Temperatures
    • Electrical status
    • Alarms
    • Boat Data Logging
  • COMMUNICATIONS

    • VHF
    • SATELLITE
    • WiFi & CELLULAR
    • Networks
  • PROPULSION

    • Gardner main engine
    • Nogva CPP servo gearbox
    • Nogva CPP propeller
    • Propulsion Controls
    • Cooling
    • Wet Exhaust
  • STEERING

    • Steering controls
    • Hydraulic steering components
    • Auto Pilot
    • Jog Levers
    • Steering Back ups
    • Bow Thruster
  • STABILISATION

    • Paravanes
    • Flopper Stoppers
    • Rigging
  • HVAC

    • Heating
    • Ventilation
    • Air Conditioning
    • Engine Room venting
  • WATER

    • Fresh/Potable
    • Watermaker
    • Salt
    • Black
    • Gray
  • FUEL

    • Tanks, Filling & Venting
    • Filtering
    • Centrifuge Polishing (Alfa Laval)
    • Transferring
    • Hoses & Fittings
  • BILGES

    • Low volume
    • High volume
    • Emergency
  • FIRE & SAFETY

    • Fire extinguishing systems
    • Underwater maintenance
    • Drone
    • Exterior Lighting
    • Cameras
  • GALLEY

    • All electric cooking
    • Sinks
    • Refrigeration
    • Storage drawers & Garages
    • Outside Galley & BBQ
  • ANCHORING & GROUND TACKLE

    • Main anchor & Windlass
    • Stern & Kedging anchor
    • Ground Tackle
  • WORKSHOP

    • Tools
    • Equipment
  • BOAT DESIGN & PERFORMANCE

    • Hull Design
    • Stability
    • Handling Characteristics
    • Performance Expectations

Whew! Already a long list but if there are other large topics or systems you would like to have covered, please send me what you think I’ve missed in the “Join the Discussion” box below and I’ll do my best to add these to the list and cover as time permits.

And please note that this is NOT a promise that I will be able to write about all of the above or at least to do so fully but it is my intent to cover as many of these topics as fully as I can in all my “spare time” during the building of mv Möbius.

And NO I am NOT interested in or trying to write a book! We already have an author onboard who writes best selling books, also known by her nom de plume Christine Kling and aka Captain Christine and my Beautiful Bride so we’ve got the book writing aspect covered eXtremely well already thanks.

Looking forward to writing these Tech Talk articles and getting  your suggestions and ideas as these new discussions begin.

– Wayne

Passage Making the Sea of Standards to Common Connectivity

Passage Making the Sea of Standards to Common Connectivity

I’ve been a big fan of Victron electrical components and the company for a long time since discovering them when I first bought our previous boat sv Learnativity in Sidney British Columbia back in 2005.  She was and still is a 1994 all steel 52’ Bruce Roberts designed cutter with a raised pilot house and was wonderfully overbuilt by a local builder in Sidney.  After searching the world for my Goldilocks sailboat at that time, and my first boat ever, it made me smile to eventually find her a few miles the closest thing I ever had to a “home base” when I was growing up which was Victoria BC on Vancouver Island.  I am an “Army brat” having been born into a military family in the sense that my Dad was a chef in the Canadian Army Service Corps and so we moved about every 2 years to a new base somewhere in Canada or Europe and I never grew up with an understanding of home being a building.  Instead, home for me was wherever my family was and that’s remains my model to this day.  A big reason why living full time aboard a boat has worked out so surprisingly well for me I guess.

LearnativityProfileI spent the next two years doing a major refit to make her fully outfitted and up to the task of being sailed single handed around the world as that’s where I was headed.  Part of this refit was a major upgrade to all the 1994 based electrical and electronic systems and that’s how I got to know Victron equipment.  Learnativity was a word I had invented many years earlier and seemed like the just right name for this crazy adventure I was bound and determined to pursue.  Amongst the endless list of things I learned over these past 13 years is how much of your safety and comfort at sea, and at anchor, depends upon electricity and so I gained a whole new appreciation for the value and significance of having a rock solid electrical system on any boat I was going to captain  Möbius offers me an amazing new and rare opportunity to design and build the best possible electrical system based in large part on my past experience as well as what I am able to learn from others.  There is a plethora of choices of manufacturers and we have the wonderful problem of too many good choices, but going with what I know to work well, and seeing them do things such as this support and adoption of Signal K, is why I’ve decided to go with Victron equipment on Möbius for things such as chargers, inverters, isolation and DC to DC transformers, solar MPPT controllers and battery monitoring systems. 


**  Just to be clear, and as with all decisions we make for designing, building and outfitting Möbius, what is “just right” is also “just for us” and not meant to imply that our choices should be what you or others do.  I have no affiliation with Victron or any other manufacturers so my interest here with these postings and this blog is simply to share our experiences and thinking as so many others have done on their blogs and books and sites which have played a huge part in our learning and decision making.

logo kleurOK, dismounting from this horse named Tangent, let me get back to the point of this article and my reference to Victron.  Because I had such great experience with the Victron chargers, inverters, isolation transformer and battery monitors on Learnativity Christine and I have specified all Victron equipment for our new boat Möbius.  I will write much more in future posts about our thinking and planning for the overall electrical system on Möbius in future posts, but I wanted to put this short one up after just reading this new posting on the Victron blog about Victron’s recent decision to join and support an open source initiative I’ve also been following for the past few years called “Signal K”


imageI will let the article’s author John Rushworth tell you all about Victron’s decision in his article I linked to above but to put this in context for myself and other boat builders, owners and enthusiasts out on the water in any form of boat, as John writes, Signal K is about the development of a free, modern, Open Source, universal marine data exchange format.  A more comprehensive description is the one on the Signal K website:

“Signal K is the next generation solution for marine data exchange. It not only allows for communication between instruments and sensors on board a single vessel, but also allows sharing of data between multiple boats, aids to navigation, bridges, marinas and other land-based resources. It is designed to be easily used by Web and Mobile applications and to connect modern boats to the Internet of Things”.

Whether you are a boater or not I think we have all known the frustration of not being able to share data of many forms with others because the data is saved or transmitted in a format that is not compatible with the ones we are using.  If we use the analogy of electricity this would be the ongoing frustrations and limitations any traveller knows when your physical plugs don’t match up be they AC plugs in the wall and at the ends of the cords on our electrical devices, or data connections such as USB, DVI, HDMI, serial, RJ45 and the list goes on almost to infinity it seems.  And the data itself can be incompatible with other data as well which might be analogous to 120 vs 240 AC voltages, or 50 vs 60 Hz power.  Standards are the answer to most of these issues but having worked within the international standards worlds of IEEE and ISO for almost 20 years in a previous life, we used to have the not so amusingly say that “The great thing about standards is that we have so many of them!”.  Still an all too real problem today and one which I’m personally dealing with on my personal devices such as my Nexus phone and Lenovo laptop which both use the newest iteration of USB C for all their data and some power connections.  USB-C is great, small, reversible, fast, covers data, sound, video and power.  BUT of course it doesn’t help when my other devices and cords use previous versions of USB A, B, mini, etc.  As I said, we ALL know this all too well.

In the marine world these challenges have been and continue to be with both the physical connections and the data formats and transmission standards.  The advent of NMEA 0183 was a huge leap forward from a mostly all proprietary past and this was then updated to NMEA 2000 or N2K as it is often abbreviated.  I went through this transition on Learnativity and learned a great deal not the least of which was a great desire for the next leap forward to whatever the next standard would be.  As you may know and will read in John’s article, while NMEA 2000 has been and remains a huge help with interconnectivity of the many devices on our boats, it has some significant limitations not only technically but with the standard itself being quite closed and limited to development and improvements mostly by the manufacturing community.  Kudos to this community for the truly immense and difficult work they have done and their solutions have really revolutionised setting up and maintaining and using electrical devices and signals on our boats.  However if there were to be a truly “open standard” which anyone could support then as history has clearly demonstrated I think, such a standard would progress much faster and benefit far more people, companies and organisations.  And THAT is what Signal K, amongst several others, is all about. 

The biggest challenge I would opine, lies within the “amongst several others” part of that last sentence.  For standards themselves are NOT the true solution, the ADOPTION of standards is when things really improve.  Going back to the electrical standards while it is very helpful that within one country or region there is usually a common standard for the AC plugs and receptacles, but as soon as you travel outside these areas you quickly experience the “many standards to chose from” problem and you end up carrying a whole bag full of just power adaptors to go along with your bag full of USB adaptors and converters.  What would be REALLY revolutionary and powerful is to have ONE standard become the defacto standard for all these and that is what Signal K and more so this Victron support outlined in this article above is all about.

You don’t need to know the intricacies of the Signal K standard itself, I certainly don’t, to appreciate the potential of having this, or any other standard for that matter, become a defacto standard.  A standard that would be adopted by all manufacturers and available to all of us to use and benefit from.  Hence my excitement and support for Victron in joining forces with Signal K by choosing to adopt it and support it within their product development going forward.

I certainly have no idea if Signal K is up to this daunting challenge, nor that it will be widely let alone universally adopted by manufacturers.  As you’ll read in the article it is very much undecided if the manufacturing community will adopt Signal K and the Signal K standard itself is still very much in the early stages of development but all great journeys are born out of such small steps.  I can however appreciate the promise and do my best to promote and encourage things like Victron’s adoption and support for Signal K and hence this posting so you too can be aware and consider ways you might assist with realising this form of electrical and data nirvana.