Between the flakey gauges, the intermittent switches and the non-existent alarm buzzer I have decided scrap the Total Command System in my 1972 '41.

First I will preface that this is not a project for the faint of heart.  However, I am lucky enough to have the original schematics for the boat, along with the TCS service manual.  It really comes down to a matter of confirming what is there from the factory, what has been removed and what has been dealer/aftermarket added.  Luckily, Viaggio is pretty original minus an updated fume detector, and a (dealer installed?) Benmar Course Keeper.

As an electrical engineer, for once with my boat, I am right in my wheelhouse (no pun intended).  With schematics in hand, I have been working on the new helm design in CAD.  My plan involves removing the TCS circuit breaker/junction box unit.  Yep, the one that's door cannot be opened with the helm installed....not one of Chris' finest engineering accomplishments.  Everything runs to and from this box.  Each switch receives power from this box, and the load is switched back through this box on out to the consumer.  The result is a hundred extra connections to corrode and seemingly miles of wires to trace.

The good thing is that all of the ships' systems are terminated to terminal boards at the helm before connection to the box.  This makes for a tidy break point between old and new.  The engine harnesses home-run from the box to terminal boards in the engine room, so I will be cutting off the TCS connectors at the helm and installing new terminal boards there.  The result will be the ship side totally terminated to terminal boards at the helm. 

The circuit breakers on the new design will be integrated into the gauge panel (where they should be in my opinion).  For now, I have marked what couldn't be found on the schematics and pulled the dash today:

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The purge begins...

Started with my home grown chart plotter. 10” industrial touch screen running Windows 10 IoT, possibly Linux after evaluating performance. Using OpenCPN which is open source. More progress pics to come!

Here's my new helm modeled in CAD.  The empty shapes on the right are my helm power key switch, engine on/start and battery parallel rocker switches.  The empty shapes on the left are my fume detector and two alarm light/buzzer combos for port and starboard alarms.

Screens - two large center will be chartplotter w/radar overlay on left, and engine data on the right.  Two smaller screens will be trim control and soft keys for systems such as wipers, lights, etc.

Cool project John. Looking forward to your updates.

I am in awe

Very impressive.

My Total Command System in my 1973 '41 also features a fuse panel door inside that won't open, which always worries me. The alarm buzzers work fine, but once (and fortunately only once) a starter relay or solenoid down in there someplace was stubborn when firing one of the engines.  It eventually kicked in and has been fine ever since, but one has to wonder what 47 years in a marine environment can do to old components. Yikes.

Best wishes for your success. Looking forward to pics and videos of the final product.

Bill - I had both power relays replaced as a contingency of the purchase and the mechanic cursed throughout the entire job.  It’s a bear with that darn door in the way...

Here’s an updated photo of my four touch screens up and running in my home lab. Screen on the left with the CC logo will be trim control once I get on with the development.  All software is written in Microsoft.Net.

Added trim control module and changed up the button graphics as the resolution on the touch screens made it so it was not as crisp and I would like it.

So I opted to replace the TCS circuit breaker box with two Eaton power distribution centers designed for use under the hood of big rigs. They are mil-spec for vibration and IP68 for water ingress protection. These communicate on CAN BUS which allows both control and monitoring of relays and fuses.  

Sketch complete.  The helm is being constructed out of Corian at a great local mom and pop shop.

Very Cool John.  Very cool indeed!

I love it when a plan comes together...

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