Marine Electronics. Basic Troubleshooting for When Your System Goes Down

Marine electronics are known to be reliable but they’re not immune to occasional bugs that occur out of the blue. Thankfully, fixing these glitches can be done in no time, if you know where to look.

A lot of minor faults can be traced to easy, solvable problems that can be identified and fixed. In certain situations, a simple user error could be the problem or technical glitches that could be remedied on the spot before the need for professional marine services becomes an option.

This guide provides ways you can identify and solve minor issues that may come up with your electronics systems.

Start with the basics

Check the fuses and/or power connections when the system does not come up. Sometimes, the obvious things are where the solutions are. Make sure all your wires are plugged in and there are no damages such as cuts. Broken or old fuses are also possible culprits.

Loose connectors and frayed wires are easy to repair. Also, remember to check the battery connections to ensure they’re firmly placed and also note whether the cables connected to the engine are not damaged.

If an instrument, like a sounder, powers up but has an unclear display, check the contrast and/or brightness settings, which can be accidentally altered. If you have dual-frequency sounders, ensure your frequency is set right.

Make sure the latest updates for your system are installed

A lot of onboard electronics operate with computer systems. Like a home or office laptop, onboard electronic systems need to undergo regular updates to be free from unnecessary glitches.

It’s easy to forget that your electronic systems function as computers that capture and analyse data from, side-scan, sonar, radar, and temperature gauges to audio equipment, propulsion systems, and more. And, just like other devices with the software-hardware interface, firmware improvements and glitches are present almost daily.

Staying ahead of the game with the latest firmware versions will help you eliminate the glitches that result from obsolete operating systems and also give you the advantage of adding new, special features. Firmware updates can be easily downloaded but recent systems that come with Wi-Fi polling for upgrades will make life easier.

Regardless of the brand, there are rules that should be followed when carrying out a firmware upgrade. Your entire waypoints data should be backed up. Ensure you have a reliable power source that can last the duration of the upgrade. Don’t touch any equipment until the upgrade completely installs and the display goes back to the default interface.

Shut down the system

The standard tech procedure of a hard reboot has proven to be often effective. When you find glitches present and have eliminated the possible causes of updates and basic connections, the next step is to restart the system.

Force a shutdown by unplugging the unit from the mains. Unlike a factory reset, your data won’t be wiped out when you carry out a hard reboot which means you won’t need to back up your system. It’s, however, recommended that you carry out regular backups, just in case.

Use a Multi-metre

If static electricity, a loose connection, or an obsolete firmware has been eliminated as the possible reasons for the glitches you’re experiencing and you find that your displays are still dim and the systems won’t come on or go off, then it’s time to work with the multi-metre. It’s advised that you skip the test light as it won’t tell you how much voltage is present even though it shows when there’s no voltage.

There are different electrical problems such as voltage-drop, continuity of electrical flow, and open circuit voltage that can be tested using the multi-metre to know whether your wirings are faulty or if your system is not getting enough voltage to power up.

Resetting the system

Resetting your system back to factory settings should be your last resort when all the above fail to rectify the issues you’re facing. This option will wipe out your data and erase additional features you may have installed. This means you have to carry out a backup before the reset. It’s recommended that you have a professional perform this task or better still, ask for technical advice before you embark on it.

Technical Service

While there are simple, minor glitches that can be tackled on water, there are complicated problems that require technical assistance. If you’ve reached an impasse where every troubleshooting option has been carried out, you need to call for professional help. You can reach out to the manufacturer of your system or you can get in touch with an expert marine service.

Stay safe

Your safety should be a top priority and when you’re carrying out troubleshooting and repair work on marine electronics, it should be taken seriously. Ensure you follow instructions on how to use items like the multi-metre and always insulate yourself properly from electrical currents.

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