Technical & Equipment from Ocean Sailor Magazine

Modern Yacht Electrical Systems

Modern Yacht Electrical Systems

The Kraken view of a complex subject By Tom Cooper, CEO of Kraken Yachts

Our objective was to design a system based on a sensible balance of the technologies available today to deliver reliable, robust electrical and electronic systems that have all the modern features but doesn’t need a Nasa Scientist to operate them.

For Blue Water Cruising vessels there are several prerequisites:

  • Reliability 
  • Ease of Use
  • Robustness
  • Service support globally
  • Backup – manual switching of all core functions

Increasingly, tech-savvy owners require function and products for the “smart home afloat options” traditionally known in the marine sectors as: Alarm Monitoring and Control (AMC).

There are significant advantages and conveniences giving more information, monitoring and control at your fingertips, especially the obvious benefits at the helm, in your cabin, or remotely.

Importantly, how does this translate to blue water cruising vessels and more importantly, how does discerning builder or owner select the correct path and equipment to maintain reliability while providing these advantages?

Many AMC efforts are focused on lowering the cost of production and are targeting the vessels of our fellow weekend sailor who can scurry back to port for IT repairs. 

It’s easy to envisage the nightmare scenario for a blue water cruiser in a remote location with limited resources. So our Kraken solution needs are significantly more robust and provide the right combination of technology and reliability.


The latest Kraken 50, is an innovative but quintessential blue water cruiser and this is how we decided the choice of AMC, using these basic foundations:

AC Power

Enhanced monitoring – but not controlling AC. Keep it simple, fixable at any port.

DC Heavy Loads

Traditional mechanical switching of winches, windlass.

AMC & DC House

Fingertip control and integration of information, data, alarms and control.

For example:

  • Navigation
  • Bilge level monitoring and control
  • Tank levels
  • Lighting – AMC can set modes, safety or “all off” lighting at flick of a single switch
  • Fire & smoke sensors
  • DC information – loads, batteries
  • AC information – loads, shore-power, generator etc.
  • Refrigeration temperatures
  • Engine data
  • Genset data
  • Exhaust temp
  • A-Cond temperature per cabin On/Off
  • Music distribution
  • Alarms for all

Expansion

Our standard AMC system is fully advanced, but the basic framework is easily expandable for additional functions and products to suit the owners’ personal preferences with options such as:

  • Enhanced lighting – endless configuration of modes & moods
  • Security – hatch alarms, motion sensors
  • Comms – with Wi-Fi or Sat Comm added – set-up for remote monitoring and technical support – “tech service at sea”!!
  • Winch control at the helm Alarms sent to devices via GSM or web server
  • Enhanced audio-visual integration
  • CCTV – masthead, ahead Forward sonar
  • Underwater lighting Alarms for all

It’s not rocket science – many vessels from commercial vessels to superyachts have been installing this technology for many years, so it’s well-proven – but selecting the right balance for the remote locations that blue water yachts frequent is critical for reliability.

For the Kraken 50, we selected the proven Empirbus NXT® product from Sweden, now a Garmin-owned company.

We see multiple benefits for both Kraken and our future owners in specifying Empirbus. Long experience from demanding installations in marine environment proves the durability and robustness.

Empirbus is a generically designed system, suitable for different application areas – with almost endless integration and configuration possibilities.

The Empirbus system overview:

Hardware: DCM’s in various zones, Master Control unit, wiring installed on-board.

Configuration: The logic and function applied in programming.

Graphics: User control and monitoring interface – at chart-plotters or on devices.

The Data Control Modules (DCM) units have both signal Input (I) and power output (O) allowing the distribution of power and data within local zones. 


Hardware & Wiring

Containing I/O channels in the same DCM unit significantly reducing the need for additional and complex modules found in other brands – simplifying the system and user familiarity. Water-resistant Molex MX150L connectors allow for secure I/O connections but easy removal of DCM units.

DCM Units and I/O channel Molex connectors

Traditional long, boat-length DC wiring is reduced as power and data signal loops daisy chain to DCM’s in sequence. The cable resources saved results from shorter, smaller cable sizes run from local DCM’s to nearby devices within that zone – such as sensors, lights, switches, pumps, motors.


Power and Signal loops to K50-003 zones

Backup switching is conveniently located at each local DCM. In the unlikely event, the signal loop is down, the power remains hard-wired to a DCM, each channel device can be simply and manually switched at the DCM. For this reason, Kraken will install each DCM at eye height, visible in cupboard space with a channel list nearby. Spare channels will be left on each DCM to give owners capacity for adding equipment at a later stage.


Configuration

Configuration possibilities are interesting and key – this is where convenience comes from! A switch in Zone B can be configured to control any number of devices in other zones, for example:

A single switch can turn off everything you normally forget – except the bilge of fire alarms of course. Another may be safety courtesy lighting – but illuminate at half-light power if pressed twice. Dimmers, timers, delays, fuses, soft starts, switch locations can all be electronically configured – and changed later in config software…if you wish, without having to rewire your yacht. Navigation data, Security and CCTV recording can be integrated with the GSM alarm and remote monitoring.

Logical, useful and innovative configuration is what delivers AMC function.

Copies of the Config file will be kept on board, or stored with electronics suppliers for easy modification and upload – best by a Garmin Empirbus technician initially, but can be learnt.

This brings out an important blue water requirement; global service. One key reason Kraken selected Empirbus as standard is our K50-will have Garmin Navigation electronics – smooth integration and a one-stop shop for worldwide support. 

However, for all those Raymarine or Simrad fans, then EmpirbusNXT is fully compatible. 

DCM manual channel switching & displays

Power Feed: The power is supplied on the two M6 bolts with positive on the left (marked with +) and negative on the right (marked with -). The total max output is 50A.


Graphics

Graphic screens/ user interface is created by Empirbus Software and principally display and control the logic on the MFD Chart-plotter and network – so if you have multiple MFD’s it shows on all.

This is a great use of existing navigation screens, no separate clutter and cost of dedicated AMC screens. Empirbus themselves have standalone control panels and integration with Garmin’s new One Helm.

Kraken’s K50 propriety graphics displays will be available to each buyer. They are very visual, logical, ergonomic, based on our pure blue water experience…

AMC system, control and graphics can be accessed on your multiple devices via Empirbus web server.

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