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iliketoski

Marine Radion Kills Dash & PP

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iliketoski

I've got a strange one that I thought I'd share, right before pulling the boat out for the season (fortunately), (actually while dropping me off to get the trailer). Something started killing the display on the PP, trigger the depth finder alarm, and then killed all dash gauges.

Thinking I had a loose ground, I started at the battery and checked the ground through the grounding block, and plugs in the dash. Trying to figure out what was causing it, I recalling that I had the marine radio on. I found that every time I keyed the mic to speak, everything died. I also found that sometimes, just having the marine radio on, caused the dash to quit. It seems the PP display was more sensitive and was always the first to go.

I temporarily wired the marine radio directly to the battery and tried things again, sure enough it crashed the display on the PP, then after a little while the gauges went as well, but only after keying the mic though). IT seemed the distance of the battery source to the dash, slightly lessened the impact, although it still triggered the problem.

The radio actually has a 3yr warranty, so looks like I'm in luck there. I was just very surprised, the radio still works, but must be triggering some sort of short in the system.

Does this sound possible?

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formulaben

My guess is the marine radio is pulling a few amps and the draw from the radio probably puts them just below the operating voltage threshold. ...I had the same problem with my old Perfect Pass, which many here have said is very sensitive to voltage drops. I re-secured the ground wires and it seemed to help but I eventually upgraded to the Stargazer. I would suggest you put a volt meter on the dash instruments to see what kind of voltage they are receiving.

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iliketoski

Funny, it must have changed (started drawing more amps?) because it worked fine for more than a year.

Early sign of alternator or battery going?

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formulaben

Or a ground going bad...before you throw money or parts at it, grab a volt meter and check your power going to the dash.

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iliketoski

What would be the best location to check + and - at the dash?

I verified good ground continuity to the grounding block from the battery. However I was surprised that with the neg battery wire disconnected from the grounding block, I got continuity to the negative cable at the battery, must be going through the engine grounding wire and other wiring somehow back to the grounding block. In other words, the grounding block is also grounded through the engine, versus just from the battery.

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formulaben

I wish I had pictures to post but I traced backwards from the PP and found power to be 1-2 volts below what my dash was indicating, and my dash was indicating 1-2 below my battery voltage. Pulling the ground connections and cleaning & re-tightening brought the voltage up to within 1 volt of battery voltage.

On a side note, I installed a dual battery voltmeter after this exercise. I highly recommend it. I wired directly to each battery so I can see the difference in system vs battery voltage for each battery. Sorry, no idea why the pics are sideways...

2vhvjes.jpg

2ibex7a.jpg

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formulaben

Very simple, go underneath the helm and see where your module is mounted. Unplug here in the red and put the voltmeter to it and see what the power is going to it.

2r299pt.jpg

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iliketoski

I'll test my voltage as suggested....however, it got me thinking, how could a simple marine radio be pulling many amps to drop the voltage? Last night I turned the key on, put the blower on and cranked the stereo, (with amp). That load should WAY exceed the marine radio pull. Perfect Pass display and dash did not fluctuate one bit. While it could be that the PP and dash are responding to a voltage drop, the marine radio should not be pulling that many amps to cause it, if my stereo, amp and blower are not.

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515

How close is your marine radio antenna mounted to your gauges?

I think the RF energy from the antenna is getting into the gauge electronics and causing problems. This can happen with two way radio installations on cars, too.

Your marine radio should have a low power setting. You might try it and see if you still have the problem when you transmit.

Installing some ferrite beads on some of the wiring under the dash might help, but this is often more trouble than it's worth.

Are there any other antenna mounting locations, farther away from the gauges and wiring that you could use?

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iliketoski

The antenna is in within 5 ft of the gauges, (which is where it has been for 15 years), 1st radio went bad after 14, this radio worked for fine for last 1.5 years, now this.

Also I removed the radio from the dash and wired directly to the battery under the rear seat, without the antenna even plugged in. Still killed the dash and PP display.

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iliketoski

I HATE ELECTRONICS!

The plot thickens:

Since the radio was under warranty I sent it to be checked out. Came back no problems, suggested RF energy getting into the wiring.

This got me thinking about the 15 year old antenna. I unmounted it and moved further from the dash. Waaalaaa, no issue. Moved closer to the dash, still crashed the PP LCD display. So it must be the antenna, maybe a wire issue inside, (wire is hardwired into rod).

New antenna, new cable. Same problem Urgggggggg

I tried something new, when I switch the radio to low power transmit, no issue, hi power..... crash.

I notice something else, in high power mode, a little battery indicator comes on in the lower corner of the marine radio display. Ok, maybe low battery. I charge battery, same issue. I'm going to pull battery and have load tested. I have tried running my headunit, amp, lights and blower all with engine not started, this does not cause the crash. That stuff has to pull more amps than the damn marine radio, (don't have an amp meter)

Any suggestions (also how do you edit the thread subject....no radion here :-)

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Woodski

Not much assistance but PP is very sensitive to RF and voltage. When I upgraded from a functioning Accuski to PP, I had to replace my performance plug wires with resistor wires which solved the gauge issue for me (blanking out and numbers flipping backwards).

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515

I'm pretty sure it's the RF energy from the antenna getting into your gauge electronics and wiring. The easiest way to fix that is to look into alternative antenna mounting locations, farther away from the dash. If your boat has a tower, could you mount the antenna on the top, opposite the driver? Some vertical separation between the antenna and dash/gauges and other wiring would be best.

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iliketoski

I'm pretty sure it's the RF energy from the antenna getting into your gauge electronics and wiring. The easiest way to fix that is to look into alternative antenna mounting locations, farther away from the dash. If your boat has a tower, could you mount the antenna on the top, opposite the driver? Some vertical separation between the antenna and dash/gauges and other wiring would be best.

OK.....My big question....why now, 13 years with one radio, then 1.5 years with new radio. Same antenna and location. Now new antenna same location.

Did I say

I HATE ELECTRONICS!

Edited by iliketoski

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Woodski

@iliketoski: For me, when things suddenly happen, most of the time I trace the root cause back to something I did or something that changed. Prior to the electronic event, did you do anything to the boat and don't limit yourself in thinking about it. Perhaps a simple bump to the dash or a kick to a speaker or something as innocuous as that may have dislodged a wire that now creates the issue. Did you do any service work to the boat or do anything to the boat between the last two times you used the marine radio? Good luck

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iliketoski

I did a bunch of work over last winter, but everything worked until the end of the season. I wish I could claim work during the summer, but we just used the boat all summer, just wiping down after, no additions/work.

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justgary

I don't see where you performed formulaben's suggestion and cleaned all the connections under the dash. You have a power/ground issue that is bad enough that it is allowing too much RF energy into the wires. Clean and check every connection. If it worked before, you can probably make it work again. Getting lazy with connection cleaning is not going to fix it.

And by the way, the radio test without the antenna was probably the worst case you could give. Without an antenna, the RF energy had nowhere to go except the case of the radio and into the power lines. If you want to do that test again, use a dummy load antenna.

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iliketoski

I did go through the whole grounding block, I didn't remove and clean every connection, (they look clean and shiny), but i did make sure they were all tightened.

Understand on no antenna, since the antenna is now unmounted, can easily test different scenarios.

I have a good handful of ideas to now test. Keep you posted.

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justgary

Did you clean and check the power side also? Power and ground are equally important. Be sure to check fuse holders as well.

What antenna do you have?

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iliketoski

I have a new Shakespere 8' whip antenna.

Next step is having the battery load tested. After seeing the battery icon in the radio display, the manual indicates that this comes on if voltage drops below 10.5 v. So a couple thoughts, either the wiring has a problem or the battery does. I put a volt meter on the battery, when keying the mic. The voltage dropped into the 10 range, Not on every occurrence, but much of the time. So I followed that with turning on a bunch of accessories and cranked my stereo. Interesting, the battery voltage did not hardly budge from the 12+ it started at.

After checking the battery, (and if good), I'm going to direct connect the radio to the battery. If that kills the battery voltage, I'll be back to suspecting the radio.

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iliketoski

Did I say I hate electronics!!!!!

Latest update:

Took battery out and had it checked (at 2 shops). Battery checks fine and strong!

I reinstalled the battery, but did not turn on my battery switch, so whole boat has no power. I direct wired the marine radio to the battery and checked the voltage on the battery, All was good voltage only changed -.2 volts when the mic was keyed to transmit.

Then, all I did was turn on the battery switch. Ignition switch was left in the off position, no accessories turned on.

When the mic was keyed on the radio (it is still direct wired to the battery), the voltage across the battery dropped significantly, varying anywhere from 8-11 volts.

I'm really at a loss as to what to try next. The radio is not using any of the boat wiring to be powered. And, when it is just wired to the battery with nothing else connected, it works just fine and does not drop the battery voltage. So I can rule out the radio.

I have determined as Woodski shared, the original symptom with the PP display blanking (and the occasional dash crashing ) has to be due to the low voltage that happens from the battery, But what is causing it is the issue.

I'm leaning toward RF energy impacting it somewhere/somehow.

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Woodski

Could the radio possibly be using the boat wiring as the antenna? A band aid solution, get a small gel cell battery for the marine radio only (not ideal, but might end or delay endless troubleshooting).

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iliketoski

Well that is certainly a backup plan, but I'm not willing to give up yet.

I think before I do that I will just keep a handheld radio on board :), Cell coverage is much better now, than it was when I originally installed the 1st radio 15 years ago.

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minnmarker

Is there any way the radio could be wired into your audio amplifier(s) "remote on" wire? Or maybe some other relay where the load (high amperage) side is supplying a power hungry accessory or shorting?

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iliketoski

Is there any way the radio could be wired into your audio amplifier(s) "remote on" wire? Or maybe some other relay where the load (high amperage) side is supplying a power hungry accessory or shorting?

Nope. The antenna is brand new and actually the wire from the radio to the mast is on the floor and outside the boat. The power and ground are run directly to the battery in the back of the boat.....also on the floor of the boat. There are no other connections.

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