Alas, the milestone of moving under our own power has eluded us for another week but next week is looking very promising for Möbius’ first of many sea trials. We continue to experience a series of “installation issues” that have prevented our Kobelt hydraulic steering system and Kobelt Throttle/Pitch controls to work as they should and so without steering and propulsion we haven’t been going too far other than being towed. But the fuel economy has been fabulous!
As with last week, with less progress than usual and not much of it being very visual, I don’t have as much content as usual for this week’s Show & Tell Progress Update, but grab a comfy seat and something tasty to drink and let’s get started with what I can show you about the past week of March 22-28, 2021.
Nazar Boncuğu Keeps Us Safe!
Many of you may already be familiar with Nazar Boncuğu aka “Turkish Evil Eye” as they are the most popular tourist souvenir of all and these captivating cast glass blue eyes have found themselves being transported to homes and boats all over the world, including ours. As is the tradition, we have one right outside the front door of our apartment for the past 3+ years. When Christine and I first came to Turkey back in 2014 so Christine could do her meticulous research for her next book at the time which became Knight’s Cross, we saw these Turkish Eyes warding off evil spirts on the bows almost every fishing boat in the many harbours we visited so of course we had to have them on Möbius’ bow too!
While they can be found in shops almost everywhere, we wanted the Goldilocks Just Right version of Nazar Boncuğu and last week Christine spotted these two beauties in a specialty glass shop in Antalya and knew that these were it!
As you can see in this photo, right now our pair are basking in the sun atop one of our Ro$ewood Galley Garages where they do look resplendent with the light coming off the water, but they are destined to be securely adhered to the bow next week so do stay tuned for those shots.
Do I See Light at the End of this eXtremely Looooong and Winding Tunnel?
In many ways, this whole adventure began back in March 2015 when Christine and I were making the 3000nm passage from Majuro in the Marshall Islands, down to Suva in Fiji.
We had spent almost a year in Majuro which we are very much looking forward to returning to on our previous 52ft steel sailboat Learnativity and we had an awemazing 3 week passage down to …..
. ………. Suva with stops along the way at the island nations of Kiribati and Tuvalu along the way.
I had given Christine a copy of Robert Beebe’s “passagemaking bible” Voyaging Under Power and she was reading it on the passage down to Fiji and we would discuss it a lot as we sailed south. Over the course of that 2+ week passage, we both became more and more aware of just how different passagemaking under power would be compared to sailing which we both knew and loved so much.
By the time we got to Suva we had made the transition from thinking of switching from sail to power as a fun joke to being a real vision of our future. As do most adventures I think, certainly most of mine, they begin when you start following your curiosity and now, six years later, we can see that this was when the adventure of designing and building Project Goldilocks, as we called it at the time,
In those six years we have gone from a very big vision to an eXtremely big reality and the path along the way has been like most of our adventures, one that includes several storms and other challenges along the way but always worth it for the joys at the end as one adventure transitions into the next. We are not quite at the end of this latest adventure as the build continues, but we are now living more and more onboard and we grown increasingly eXcited about bringing this adventure to a close and beginning the next one back out on the ocean, eXperiencing the new storms and joys of what promises to be a very different type of voyaging under power for the first time.
Installation Issues Getting Resolved
The most recent set of “storms” for us has been a series of what I will simply refer to as “installation issues” which we have needed to resolve before we can begin to voyage under power for the first time on our first of what will be many, sea trials to shake as many gremlins out of the brand new Möbius and have as much of what is often referred to as “infant mortality” as possible before we finally leave Antalya in our wake. This less than appealing term “infant mortality” is actually quite accurate in the context of a newly built custom boat as it refers to the several cases we are sure to have where brand new equipment and a brand new boat, will have items that are DoA or have not been installed correctly and fail to work as they should. So far we have had very few new bits of kit that have been DoA on arrival but we have had a number of installation problems that have been keeping us from being able to go on our first voyage under power; our first sea trial!
This past week I have been working closely with our new electrician Ismail and along with some continuing eXemplary technical support from Lance, Keivan and Hicham at Kobelt Canada. I have been working with Lance to design our steering and control systems for about four years now all together, and I can’t say enough about all of them at Kobelt who have been up in the very early morning for them in Vancouver, late evening for me here in Antalya, in order that we can do some live video calls for a techie version of Show & Tell as we went through hydraulic setups, wiring and they could watch what the moving components were doing, hear the sounds when they mattered and really be as close to being here in person with me as is possible. As it turns out, all of the equipment from Kobelt arrived working as designed but the extensive list of items involved from hydraulic pumps, cylinders and valves to electronic controls and autopilot systems have been installed over the past 18 months and we are only now connecting all the parts together and there have been some issues along the way.
Three weeks ago the problem was that we weren’t getting pressure to the hydraulic steering cylinders, then two weeks ago we were having a long lag in time between when the Throttle or Pitch control levers were moved at one of the Helm Stations and when the lever on the Actuator box in the Engine Room moved and hence when the Throttle/Pitch cables and levers moved. This past week we have been having difficulty getting the CPP Pitch Angle Gauges at each helm to communicate the correct Pitch Angle as the Pitch Control Levers were moved Ahead/Astern. It goes as does most problem solving, you trace your way back to where you began, compare the schematics and guidelines from the manufacturers to the actual “as built” installation and you find the differences between those and fix them. Sounds simple, and it is, but it sure can take time and effort to follow these long and winding paths.
Perhaps it has been thanks to those two Turkish Evil Eyes being onboard that we have been on a solution per week schedule and the first two problems had been resolved in the previous two weeks, and I am delighted to report that as of last night (Saturday 27th March here) Ismail and I have the Pitch Angle gauges working and mounted back where they belong at each Helm Station! We have tested all this with here at the dock Mr. Gee thrumming away and our Nogva CPP churning the clear waters underneath making Möbius tug at her dock lines. Once all the other critical jobs have been finished such as finishing the deck hatches so they all close and seal properly, finishing and testing the fire hose and a still rather long punch list of other jobs, we will be *almost* good to go!
Almost, because there remains one last major and eXtremely critical system that needs to be finished before Möbius is seaworthy enough for her first sea trials; Navigation System. This involves getting the key elements of our whole Furuno Navigation system working and configured as this includes things like our Radar, AutoPilots, VHF radio, AIS (Automatic Information System) and all the related screens, computers and black boxes which controls all that navigation equipment. Good on that front is that Captain Christine has been leading her very own team of technicians which Naval has sub-contracted with to assist with getting the eXtremely multi-faceted navigation system of hardware and software all wired, inter-connected and configured.
For those interested in the details of our navigation system and to give the rest of you an idea of what all is involved, here is a quick overview of some of the individual bits of kit Christine and I have pulled together to build our Steering & Navigation system**
** FYI, on the Mobius.World blog site, there is a complete list of all the equipment in all the systems on Möbius available under the tab at the very top ribbon called “The Boat” which you can see by clicking HERE.
Here is the list of the components in our Steering, Navigation and Communications systems which are very intertwined:
Primary STEERING x2 Kobelt Designed dual fully redundant hydraulic systems
2x Kobelt Accu-Steer HPU400 pumps
2x Kobelt 7080-B12 Balanced cylinders
STEERING Controls x2 Kobelt NFU jog levers @ Main & Upper Helms
Kobelt 7176 wired “Walk About” handheld remote station @ both Helms
auto pilots x2 Furuno 711C Auto Pilots, 2 independent units for redundancy
Steering Backup………. Kobelt manual hydraulic pump @ Main Helm w/ steering wheel
Emergency Tiller stored in ER, attaches direct to Tiller Arm w/ block & tackle controllers
main helm monitors… 2x LiteMax NavPixel 19” touchscreen 1600 nits @ 1280 x 1024
1x 43” LiteMax Durapixel sunlight readable 1600 nits @ 3840×2160
1x Samsung 50” SmarTV
upper SkyBridge monitors x2 LiteMax NavPixel 24” touch, 1000 nits @ 1920 x 1080
Navigation software x2 Time Zero Professional w/ Sounder + Radar modules
x1 RosePoint Coastal Explorer
x3 Navionics on Tablets
charts:….. Full set of Navionics World Mega-Wide charts on Furuno/TimeZero
Full set of Navionics/C-Map charts on Coastal Explorer
Main helm PC………. Micro ATX tower
Intel I7-9700, 16GB Ram, 1TB SSD, GTX 1660 6G OC Graphics card
Skybridge PC Kingdell Fanless mini PC, Intel I7-1051 16GB Ram, 512GB SSD
gateways:… RosePoint Nemo, NEMA 0183/2000, TCP/UDP, RS-422, RS-232, RJ45 ethernet
Maretron USB100 USB Gateway
Maretron IPG100 IP ethernet Gateway
AIS x3…………….. Emtrak A-200 Class A
Standard Horizon AIS B Class in GX6000 VHF radio
Tender = Vesper XB-8000 smartAIS Transponder w/ WiFi + NMEA2000 gateway
Weather station ….. Airmar 220 WX
w/ ultrasonic wind, barometer, 3 axis accelerometer, gyro + compass
Infra-red night vision….. FLIR Gyro stabilized camera M332
radar… Furuno FAR 1523 Radar Black Box with 6’ open array
heading compass……… Furuno SC33 Satellite compass
GPS Furuno GP330 GPS head dedicated to Radar
Standard Horizon GPS Head into GX6000 VHF radio
Standard Horizon GPS Smart Antenna SCU-31
Vesper GPS Head into XB-8000 in Tender
remote controllers x2:…… Furuno MCU004 Monitor Controller on Helm Chairs
Kobelt 7018 “WalkAbout” handheld wired remote @ both Main and Upper Helms
depth sounders x2
@Bow = Furuno BBDS1 bottom discriminating Black Box w/ 5205PSD transducer
@Stern = Furuno Ultrasonic UDST800 depth, speed, temp traducer
- VHF RADIO.. Standard Horizon GX6000 w/ AIS + NMEA2000
- w/ AIS + SART target display & GPS Compass
- RAM 4 remote mic @ Main Helm
- Wireless mic w/access point
- loudhailer….. Standard Horizon Dual Zone 25W PA / Loud Hailer
- with preprogrammed fog signals + Listen Back
- Horn………. Kahlenburg S-330 air horn
- Satellite coms…………. Iridium GO!
- Data logger…. Yacht Devices Voyage Recorder YDVR-04
- Search light………. ACR Artex RCL-95 Pan/Tilt/Zoom 500W Searchlight w/ Remote
- Monitoring….. Maretron monitoring system
- Including All: bilges, tanks, batteries, engine, fuel flow, smoke & heat, etc..
- Viewed on any screen and remotely via Maretron N2K View
- on boat networking… NMEA 2000 N2K dual backbone 2000 network throughout
- Multiplexers for NMEA 0183 + RS432
- Gateways via USB & IPG
- Victron, and Maretron networks for monitoring
- IP Cameras. Forward facing IP camera mounted on Skybridge roof
- Aft Facing camera above swim step
- Reolink Bullet IP camera engine room
- Reolink Dome IP camera engine room
- Video encoder. Axis Camera Encoder
- WiFi Antenna. Microtik Groove 52 AC Wi-fi antenna
- WiFi booster … WeBoost Drive Reach
- Cellular antenna…….. Wilson Wide Band Omni-Directional Marine Antenna for cellular
- ROUTER……. PepWave Max Transit Duo router
- Network Access Storage. Synology NAS Disk Station w/ 2X 8 GB Seagate Barracuda drives
Well, you get the idea, there is a LOT of moving parts to this puzzle.
And as you can see here, some of those moving parts are often crowded around Captain Christine at the Main Helm in this case! Yunus on the far Right is the the manager of this connection and configuration team and Erdal with the toque in the middle is the lead technician and they have been a true treat to work with.
Some of the “moving parts” are blinking lights such as this set on the back of just three of our network switches in one of three “Internet Alcoves” as Christine calls them. Strange though, we have “cut the cord” more than most people ashore and Isn’t it great that we are living in a wireless world!
Zooming out a bit of that alcove to show you that it really is quite small but it does have even more hardware!
Another very “wireless” alcove, this one behind the 50” monitor and home of Boat Computer #1 and the Synology NAS on the Left side of the Main Helm.
Out on the Aft Deck looking up at the Main Arch and the Tender Davit on the Left, to show you yet another very “wireless” area along the Arch where all of our external navigation and communication equipment resides.
One eXciting milestone this week has been seeing that 6ft Open Array antenna spinning around for the first time on our Furuno FAR 1523 Radar!
My favorite Geekette, aka Capn’ Christine aka my Beautiful Bride, is a wee bit shy but I was able to at least get her hand in this shot as she tilts the two 19” LiteMax screens at the Main Helm to show how she now has TimeZero running charts on the Left and an awemazing amount of detail of the seabed below us thanks to our Furuno BBDS “Black Box Bottom Discriminating Sounder” where we can watch individual fish swimming below Möbius’ hull and details of the composition of the sea bead down to about 75 feet below the “top of the bottom”.
I will leave you with this shot of the view at your eye height when sitting in the Captain’s Chair here at the Main Helm. Now, if we can just get past that sea wall …………………..
Thanks for joining us again for another week in the adventure of Project Goldilocks. Please be sure to leave any and all comments and questions in the “Join the Discussion” box below and I hope you will join us again next week for what I hope will be the report of our first sea trials! Wish us luck! We will need it!
The first time I sailed across the Pacific was in 1975. This is a much younger me in Nuku Hiva in the Marquesas.
We navigated with a sextant and a chronometer that we kept in a velvet-lined box. Paper charts and pencil. The only pieces of electronics gear on that 44-foot sailboat were a Heathkit home-built digital depth sounder and a battery-operated multi-band short wave receiver. No radio, no refrigeration, and for entertainment, we usually read books by the light of a Coleman lantern.
My, how things have changed in 45 years.
While I’m really glad I got the opportunity to experience those early days of cruising, I have never longed to go back to the “good old days.” Rather, most of my life I have been an early adopter of technology, from Loran to Sat-Nav, to GPS, to computer navigation, to iPads and navigation apps. So it just seemed right when Wayne was finding himself a bit overwhelmed with the work of ordering equipment and overseeing the build, and not finding enough time to work on our beloved Mr. Gee, that the job I could most likely help out with was in the area of electronics and networking. So I dove in to the deep end of the research pool and quickly found myself over my head. But, hey, I find it really exciting to learn new stuff, and that’s a huge part of what this building Möbius is all about for us.
Over the next few weeks and months, I hope to write several blog posts covering my journey of learning and decisions we have made about our various networks, from NMEA 2000 to ethernet, to our Victron smart management system of our batteries, chargers and solar panels. Today, I’m going to start with our decision to go all-in on PCs.
Multifunction display chart plotters, or MFD’s have become the standard on most recreational boats. When I met Wayne, he had a single Raymarine E7 chart plotter on Learnativity, the boat we sold before starting this project. He had fitted that boat out 15 years before, upgrading the original electronics. Then he upgraded again many miles later when that plotter failed. Each time, it was rip out the old and stick in new hardware.
Today’s multifunction chart plotters show radar, AIS targets, depth, fish finder graphs, sonar, and night vision cameras. Some interact with the boat’s stereo system, can switch to internet browsing, and even take control of the boat’s drones! They are amazing, but essentially, they are closed black boxes that need to get sent back to the manufacturer for repairs.
As versatile as today’s MFD’s are, there is still much they cannot do. You cannot install any other software on them. At the very least, we knew that we wanted to have a pretty big and complex Maretron monitoring system on the boat, and we would need to run N2K View software. Plus, we wanted a permanent ship’s entertainment system with all our collection of photos, music and video on a Synology NAS hard drive system. We were going to need a ship’s computer anyway.
So then we started to look at the navigation equipment we wanted to use because that would, in part, drive our decision as to the navigation software we would use. Early on, we made the decision to go with Furuno for most of our electronics on the new boat. We started with what radar we wanted and Furuno won on that count, and their customer service is very good, their equipment extremely robust. So initially, we were looking at Furuno MFDs.
But one of the problems we faced was that we wanted lots of screens to see all those different systems all the time at two different helms. And given that we both wear glasses and are not getting any younger, we wanted decent-sized screens. Each MFD chart plotter has a powerful computer inside. These days most manufacturers also sell Black Box chart plotters allowing customers to connect them to their own monitors, but the Furuno TZT2BB while it has two Windows computers inside, only allows two monitors. And the 15” TZT2 MFDs we were looking at started at an MSRP of over $5000.00 each.
In the end the main reasons we decided to forego MFDs and go as a strictly PC boat were:
Another thing we liked about Furuno was the fact that their navigation software that runs on Furuno MFDs is also available from Maxsea Nobeltec for PCs. Today, the program is called TimeZero, and while Furuno licenses the software for their MFDs, we can also run it on a Windows 10 computer. We considered OpenCpn, a free, open-source navigation application, but we read too many posts about people having the application crash, and it only will work with some radars, not all. When we investigated the TimeZero software, we were sold. The interface is beautiful and it works with Furuno radars. TimeZero comes in two version, Navigator and Professional, and while it’s not cheap, we decided to go with the Pro for all the extras, and we bought two licenses for just over $2000.00. Yeah, ouch.
Our first plan was to have our two computers be a permanent ship’s computer and then Wayne’s laptop would stand in for the second. It would give us redundancy, and we could do planning on the laptop.
Then I went on the forums and started to research computers. There is the Trawler Forum, the Cruisers and Sailing Forum, the Facebook Group TimeZero Navigation Software User’s Group, and the Furuno Community Forum. There are also lots of blogs we have mentioned previously as our favorites. I searched and read as much as I could, and of course, there was lots of disagreement.
Some folks are adamant that the ship should have a navigation computer with no other software on it, while others use theirs to navigate AND watch movies and check email, and they’ve been doing it for years.
Some swore by powerful machines, while others were happy to run OpenCPN on Raspberry Pi computers. Some said they would never trust a home-built, hack-job, while others said that nearly everything on their boats was DIY so they could fix it when it died. Some said you could buy a computer, but you’d save lots of money if you built it yourself.
When I talked to a Furuno rep about what specs they would like to see in a computer to best run TZ, I was told, “Our standard currently is an I7 CPU, 8/16 GB ram, gtx1060/1070, and a 250gb solid state HDD.”
In the end, I decided to do a bit of all of it. We will have two ship’s computers – in addition to our laptops. For the skybridge, we will buy a fanless industrial computer that will be kept pure as a ship’s computer and will run only TimeZero and N2K View. On the more powerful one at the main helm, we will not worry about contamination, and we’ll run whatever software we want. It will be our entertainment center as well. And this Apple fangirl decided I would build this Windows 10 box myself. While you can run TZ on older i7 processors, I didn’t want our system to lag while outputting to multiple monitors and running the graphics intensive charting software. So, I decided to spend the money on the 9th generation Intel processor in part because it can support up to 4 monitors, and that is what we have planned for the lower main helm: two 15” monitors at the helm, one 43” monitor to port and a 49” TV to starboard. TimeZero Pro only supports three “workspaces,” but we will want a permanent display for Maretron N2K View.
I really enjoyed the learning for the build process. I made heavy use of the website PC Parts Picker, and I started reading the forums where the gaming guys talk shop. I built this back in December 2019, and I decided to pay for a newly released processor so we could get some years out of it. When I opted for the “small form factor,” I thought it would be smaller than it is, but it doesn’t really matter. We have room on the boat for a full-size tower.
Here’s the parts list for my final build:
Intel Core i7-9700 Coffee Lake 8-Core 3.0 GHz (4.7 GHz Turbo) processor $349.99
Noctua NH-U12S – Premium CPU Cooler with NF-F12 120mm Fan $59.95
Fractal Design Define Mini C MicroATX Mid Tower Case. $79.99
Corsair Vengeance LPX 16 GB (2x8GB) DDR4 DRAM 3200MHz Memory kit $74.99
MSI MPG Z390M Micro ATX Motherboard $155.00
MSI Gaming GEForce GTX 1660 Ventus XS 6G OC Graphics Card $227.99
Crucial P1 1TB M.2-2280 NVME Solid State Drive. $99.00
Fractal Design Dynamic X2 GP-12 120mm Computer Case Fan $15.99
CORSAIR TX-M Series TX550M CP-9020133-NA 550W ATX12V Semi-Modular Power Supply. $89.99
Windows 10 Pro $129.00
Total price: $1281.89
As you can see in the photo above, I’m not sure how they get away with calling this a MicroATX Mid Tower. For someone who is used to laptops, this thing looks huge. And when I compare this to what you can buy that is similar in power and design, I’m not convinced I saved much money. But the big advantage I feel is that I learned so much, and as time goes on, I can easily increase the RAM if necessary, add a more powerful graphics card, or switch the built-in power supply from 110 to 24 volts. In the photo, you can see it is running on an AC converter since we are in Turkey with 240V and the computer currently runs on 110V. The 24V power supply I looked at was $330, and since we don’t have the batteries hooked up yet, I went with AC for now so I could actually tell if my creation worked and start up the learning curve on Time Zero Pro. Perhaps I will pop for the other power supply in the future.
This Mid Tower computer will reside in the cabinet on the port side of the main helm behind the TV in the main salon. You can see that cavernous area on the far left of the photo above. The TV will be mounted on a swinging door that can be opened to access the air handler and the computer, as well as other networking bits and pieces.
Here’s the sort of computer we intend to buy for our second computer:
Fanless PC Industrial Mini PC Windows 10 Pro 16GB RAM / 512GB SSD Intel Whiskey Lake i7-8565u, TDP 15W8M Cache, up to 4.60 GHz, Quad Core 8 threads Desktop Computer with HDMI/TPC/EDP Ports, M.2 WiFi, BT 4.0, 4K HD, RS232 / 485 COM, SATA 3.0 for 2.5 Inch HDD/SSD
Total price on Amazon: $917.00
And the size is quite different! It has an 8th generation Intel Processor, so it will still support three monitors, but that does push the price up. At the moment, we only intend to have two monitors at the upper helm, but it is nice to know we will have room to grow.
Also, these are just basically Intel NUC computers, so I know they are expandable in terms of adding a larger SSD or more RAM.
This one will go into a cabinet that is just to port as you go down the steps into the main salon. Both computers will have dual LAN ports. Furuno is fussy about insisting that their hardware needs to be on its own isolated network. We will have a FAR 1523 radar, BBD-S1 bottom discriminating depth sounder, and the Axis camera encoder for our FLIR camera, as well as some exterior cameras on that network. All the wifi, additional cameras, Synology NAS, and other non-Furuno stuff will be on the other network.
For monitors, after a fair amount of research, we chose Litemax Navpixel marine displays. At first, I searched and searched for regular monitors, but since we only had room for two 19” displays at the lower helm, the choices were few. We didn’t really need the waterproof aspect, but I wanted them to be able to dim almost to black easily, preferably with a hard knob, and I wanted them sunlight readable, even for inside. We have so much glass in our salon, and our eyes aren’t getting any younger. By going direct to the supplier in Taiwan, we were able to get two 19” displays, two 24” displays, and one regular non-waterproof 43” monitor for about $8000.00 including shipping.
This is a photo of one of the 24” monitors from Litemax. This is a full multi-touch,1920×1080,1000 nits sunlight readable, IP65 sunlight readable Marine Display.
One 19” TZT3 ChartPlotter sells for $8,495.00. To be fair, that includes the sounder, and we will have to buy the sounder module ($500) for our TimeZero software.
In addition to the TimeZero software, we will also have Rose Point Coastal Explorer software. We will have CS on our laptops for planning purposes, and for back-up in case we lose both of the ship’s computers. In addition, we have tablets and phones. For redundancy and back-up, we feel we are covered.
In the end, we won’t know until we get out there, but we’re both pretty happy with our decision to make Möbius an all-PC boat.
We will carry very few paper charts, just a few large area ocean charts, but we will have paper pilot charts. And in the event we lose all electricity, we both have sextants, a copy of the tables, and a nautical almanac on Kindle (with a tiny portable solar panel).
If I have to break out the sextant, I think it will be just like riding a bike.
Stay safe and healthy everyone. We’re on a long passage with this Pandemic, but as Wayne and I always say to each other when things blow up on us — This too shall pass.