Projects

I love working on projects - I usually have 10 or so in process at any given time both on the boat, and at home. Many of these projects turn into reviews of various products or technology, which I also enjoy. Almost all of the projects are driven to make our lives on the boat and elsewhere more comfortable or safe, and are cataloged here.

Grace's electronics as of June 2017

Grace’s updated network for 2017

By Steve Mitchell | Jun 13, 2017

I originally posted a fairly lengthy article outlining Grace’s integrated network about a year ago, but it is a work in progress and constantly changing. There have been some updates that I wanted to cover which will help the network continue to grow and expand, as well as fixes for problems I found.

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Proper VHF ends are easier than you think

By Steve Mitchell | May 25, 2017

My soldering skills are marginal at best, and as a result I have used crimp-on VHF ends for the last 10+ years. While not wanting to admit this, I finally was chatting with some radio-savvy friends of mine, and they were aghast that I had even considered using one of these abominations. So I set out to learn a better alternative without having to be a world-class solderer, or have someone do it for me.

I’ve learned from years of using VHF radios that the whole system has to be in good condition for the thing to work well. You can have a really fancy radio, but a crap antenna, and be frustrated that performance or quality suffers. Same goes for the cabling from the radio to the antenna itself.

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USB power solutions are simple to add to your boat

By Steve Mitchell | May 10, 2017

USB devices are as prevalent on the boat as at home – guests bring devices that require it, I have a ton that need it, and not just your cell phone or tablet. There’s an Amazon Echo which handles all of our music, a Garmin inReach to keep us safe, and a Raspberry Pi that does a ton of random computer things just to name a few. Finding power for all of these devices is easy if you’re plugged in at the dock, if not a bit inefficient with wall warts and adapters. I decided to make this more elegant, and it was a simple project to do with three different and inexpensive products.

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Weather on the boat via weeWX and Ambient

By Steve Mitchell | Apr 15, 2017

I have been an avid weather geek since 1996 when I got my first crappy weather station with a mediocre outdoor sensor which ate batteries constantly, had a lame indoor LCD panel that showed a few metrics, but no long term history. Over the years, I’ve tried a bunch of different hardware and software combos. The most reliable have been Linux-based software packages with the Davis Vantage Pro series of stations. Recently, I had the chance to visit Steve @ Datawake and he had an Ambient Weather station he was setting up – I found some interesting new information about what used to be a $500+ hobby, and ways to leverage it on the boat.

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3D printing for the boat

By Steve Mitchell | Jan 31, 2017

A while back I bought a Lulzbot Taz 6 3D printer with the goal of creating and selling a boat-specific product online. I’m still working on that design, but in the meantime, I’ve been able to print a number of useful items for the boat, and some random trinkets just for fun. I see a lot of other uses for the printer in both home and sailboat, and can’t wait to see what other people produce with their design brains as well.

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Grace’s redundant Internet setup

By Steve Mitchell | Jan 29, 2017

I have spent most of my professional life working on and fixing ethernet and other types of networks, and always want my personal network to be as reliable, speedy, and full of features as possible. My boats are no exception, and while I’ve written about Grace’s network before, I’ve never focused on the Internet/WiFi portion of it in detail. It’s obvious that boaters are interested in varying approaches to this, given the popularity of my recent article on Marina WiFi being hard to implement. So, without further ado, here is a deep dive on my network, and the things I like / dislike about it.

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Top projects from 2016

By Steve Mitchell | Jan 19, 2017

2016 was a year of major projects on Grace, one which will not likely be repeated in terms of the depth and complexity. That is mainly because she was brand new to us in 2015-2016, and had some gaps in major systems we needed while out on the water. I wanted to recap three of those projects that made the biggest difference through the year, and provide an update on each.

Those projects were Replacing cockpit hatch boards with Zarcor doors, Installing a Wallas heater, and the Power System Upgrade. There were plenty of other projects that I completed last year, but these had the biggest impact.

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Marina WiFi is hard

By Steve Mitchell | Jan 4, 2017

Recently I had the chance to spend a few weeks working on a local marina WiFi system. With my background in networking, and having deployed several large scale systems professionally, I knew that I was in for a difficult time to get things working as well as expected. But the configuration of their network was not the only problem.

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SmartThings keeps the boat warm during winter

By Steve Mitchell | Dec 19, 2016

I have an extensive automation system in place at home and the family cabin, and recently started realizing I had done next to nothing on Grace. I use SmartThings for most of the automation, and thought “why haven’t I done anything with this technology on the boat?” So I did.

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