Monday, 18 January 2010

Are We Going Down ?

Following comments made by some other boaters about their fears concerning unseen leaks on their boats, I decided to see if I can produce some electronics to provide a little peace of mind.

There was talk of sleepness nights, worrying about leaking stern gland seals or suddenly discovering wet carpets and flooring, as a result of a leaking fresh water pump.

Stern glands often drip when they need adjustment or re-packing, but when you are lying in bed onboard, in the dark, these fears can often assume unreasonable proportions.

Also, a fracture in a plastic pump housing can leak gallons of water into the bilge, undetected.

Sometimes, this doesn't get detected until the floor covering starts to show signs of the rising water.

It occurred to me that if I could detect a leak, then I could raise an alarm on the boat, to alert the occupants that the bilge was filling with water.

If the occupant was sleeping or on deck with the engine running, it would need to be loud.

If the boat was moored and unoccupied, the system needed to be versatile enough to be able to connect to an SMS alarm system, so that it would initiate an SMS text warning to the owners mobile phone.

So, I produced my "Bilge Monitor".

It comprises of a small waterproof box, which sits in the bottom of your engine bay, near your stern gland or by your fresh water pump (depending on what you want to monitor).

The box has rubber feet to stop it moving with the boats movement or vibration and its heavy enough to not float off in the event of water ingress.

There are two metal sensor pins coming out of the bottom of the unit. Their length is designed so that they will not touch the metal surface of the bilge.

If the water rises in the area where the box is located, as soon as the water level reaches the pins, the box will send a signal to an LED warning light and piercing buzzer, somewhere else inside the boat.

The system is supplied complete with a buzzer, Red Alarm LED and a Green On/Off and reset switch.

I have shown them on a cardboard background because they are designed to mount neatly in your console panel, electrical panel or just on the bulkhead somewhere.

All three items are designed for console mounting.

The system is supplied with a 5m cable which connects the indicators to the sensor box. It operates from a 12V supply and regulation circuitry is built into the box to allow operation from a voltage range of 11V to 15V, so your alternator output doesn't damage any of the components.

A 24VDC version can also be produced.

So, does it work ??

Here is a little movie that I made.

Excuse the quality, but hopefully it demonstrates the function.

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