Saturday, July 11, 2009

Instrument's meltdown?

“Hey Matt. The instruments aren’t working.  Can you reset the system?” was the call I heard from on deck


“Strange. I have data coming into my computer.  Must be an ondeck display problem”, I thought to myself. Let’s try turning the instruments off and on again.


A flip-flop of a switch later …..

And, still, nothing. 


It was blowing 22 knots, it was cloudy, the sun had just set and the moon had not risen yet. It was pitch black on deck and the guys were, literally, sailing blind.


“This is not good” I thought.


I went for the low hanging fruit again;

Flip -flop…



“Crap. This is not good”

 “It must be some sort of connection problem.”


I traced out the cable that connects the on-deck instrument displays to the system down below and set out, in a form of triage, to remove all possible ‘points of failure’. Clip- clip -clip went the wire cutters and I spliced a bundle of cables together. I then hit them with some solder to hold the wrangled mess of wires together.


“That might do it. Lets check”


“Crap.  I have NOTHING now?!’,  Not even my computer was getting data anymore.

“This is REALLY not good”


“Hey Matt.  We can’t see where we are going.  Hurry up!”  the cries echoed, repeatedly, from on deck.


“Oh boy, where to start?  This could be ‘a major’.  We might have a full on instrument melt down here. “


My buddy, Sammy, was now by my side helping me figure out the problem.  He handed me a cordless drill and we dismantled the panel that contains the electrical, instrumentation and computer systems, revealing a mess of wires of different colors going into and out of a menagerie of boxes.”


“Let’s start with the basics.  I wonder if the instruments are getting power.  They aren’t responding to anything and we aren’t getting any sort of output…. How is this thing fused?’


‘ … ah.  I see one of e2’s power/ network junction boxes back in there. Got a philips head screwdriver Sammy?   Let’s look in there.”


Sure enough; A blown 5A fuse. With luck on my side, I found  a spare fuse taped to the inside cover of the box.  The question was, however, what caused this fuse to trip?  This might be the only fuse that we have, who knows, and I don’t want to turn on the power and have it kick again.”


I kept probing. 


“Ah ha!  Found it. We are out of the woods. It’s a loose network wire.”  This would explain the initial network problems and then the eventual blown fuse.  I reconnected the wire into its rightful home and flipped on the instrument power.


Full systems go….whew…that was a close one.


Now let’s see if we find just as much luck with a couple wind shifts to claw our way past a couple boats. 

Humm…. that could be a bit more complicated…


-Matt out

24 18 N

145 03 W

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