I mentioned that there was a somewhat confusing problem with the instrumentation in the Oct 17th post and I am reporting today on where that led.
As I have already mentioned, the problem seemed confusing from the beginning and that was sort of the theme throughout. There was no reason apparent to me at the time for the sudden failure in the first place and then there was voltage where there should not have been, no voltage where there should have, wires that seemed to be shorted across each other but then their behavior was not entirely consistent with a short, etc., etc.
And so it went. Me scratching my head and my Raymarine resource back in San Francisco scratching his as each diagnostic step we took only seemed to lead to more conflicting data and confusion.
I won’t drag this out with a blow by blow description of our process but we initially spent two days in active diagnosis before reaching a temporary solution that restored most of the systems functionality. That was followed by several days when we did other things and “noodled” on what we thought we knew, doing a little more research and plotting how to precede next. So you should have the idea that we spent quite a bit of time testing first this then that as we tried to figure out what had gone wrong.
It is even sort of funny as I think about it now but it all boiled down, as many problems do, to something quite basic and, in this case, self-induced.
In September I updated the chartplotter’s software. I thoroughly checked the operation of the entire system following that update and found everything working correctly. The various pieces were all “talking” to each other and I concluded that all was well. Next project please.
What was not well advertised and entirely missed by me at the time was a software update for the piece of hardware that translates the NMEA signals between 0183 and 2000 protocols. That’s right, I updated one of the components but not the other. In my defense, it is like updating the software on your little USB hub. Yeah, I know, some of you would say “well, duh!” but, at the time it never occurred to me that it even HAD software. I mean, there is no interface with it – you plug in wires and send power to it and it just works. That plus, I DID run the whole system through its paces and it all worked. Then, it continued working just fine for several weeks before choosing to suddenly stop working one dark and stormy night. So maybe you can see why my thought process did not include the software update as the culprit here. You do see that, right?
OK, once I found that there was a software update for the converter I had another problem. I could not get the update accomplished because the only interface with the converter is the chartplotter and the chartplotter could no longer “see” the converter. It steadfastly refused to update the converter, telling me repeatedly that the device did not exist. Only after more head scratching, research and phone calls was I able to learn the secret Vulcan mind meld combination of keys that I had to press to force the update. Mission finally accomplished.
Well, that’s better, I thought. And it was, almost everything was now working as it should (again). But we weren’t done yet. The AIS and the external GPS antenna still weren’t sitting at the head table. I could (and did) test the data streams from both and they were working correctly. In the case of the GPS, its data was being read by all of the NMEA 0183 instruments on the system but it still was not getting to the chartplotter. Sigh.
Time for the “hail Mary”. My resource in San Francisco is Brian Theobald who owns Vessel Electric. Brian helped with the system install and, by “help”, I mean he did all of the smart guy stuff while I drilled holes and pulled wires. Brian is a great guy and extremely knowledgeable with all things Raymarine. Anyway, Brian, after spending literally hours on the phone with me over the week or so that we worked through this, says to me at this point, “I don’t know of anything else we could do. Maybe we should just do a “factory reset” and see if that helps.” And that was the magic bullet or, at least, it was the last magic bullet we needed because the system came back up from that reset with all of the bits and pieces seeing each other and talking among themselves like old friends.
We were done – finally. I could remove the wire strung between the corepack in the main saloon and the cockpit pedestal and button everything back up. I imagine I’ll be kind of gun shy when it comes to Raymarine updates in the future but if I DO go down that path again I think I’ll go about it a little differently.