Water vehicles are catching the electronic wave.
When Premier Marine wanted to set its pontoon boats apart from the competition, they modernized the dash panel with digital switching technology.
This small, family-owned business had one goal: Create the most reliable, well-engineered, and finely crafted pontoon boats in their class. To achieve this, Premier President Bob Menne is always on the lookout for new technology. He found what he was looking for in Carling Technologies (Plainville, CT) ECS III multiplex system, to be released in the company's 2003 boats.
This configurable control system means less wiring, reduced manufacturing costs, and a "dashing" streamlined control panel. "A majority of boats have six to 20 independent switches on the console that rely on electro-mechanical technology," says Rick Sorenson, Jr., director, Advanced Systems Group for Carling Technologies.
Multiplexed electronic control allows
users of Premier Marine's 2003 boats not to have to monitor electrical
power consumption to ensure a return to shore.
Each ECS III module accommodates 16 circuits with one communication wire. "You have one primary system that handles all switching needs with one cable," says Sorenson. This means the manufacturer isn't spending money on the cost and labor of wiring individual controls.
But the user isn't concerned with what's behind the dash. So Carling engineers integrated timing with the various electronic features. They programmed the software to constantly monitor the battery voltage and electrical components that are being operated. If the voltage drops down below a specified level, the electronic control panel will automatically turn off prioritized components.
Engineers also included a countdown feature similar to the sleep button on a radio. "An operator can leave the docking lights on while he parks because the lights will automatically shut themselves off," says Brett MacDonald, mechanical engineer and supervisor of Advanced Systems for Carling.
At the heart of the ECS is multiplexing technology. The circuits are controlled through traditional relays, says Sorenson, but the intelligence of the system lies on a programmable microchip. This Electronic Control Processor, which receives switching commands from the operator control modules, translates these commands, and activates or deactivates the appropriate circuits in the boat's electrical system.
For more information about electronic control from Carling Technologies, enter 537 at www.designnews.com/info.