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Marine/RV Digital Power Controller

Digital Power System Node Controller


Digital Power & Motion designed and manufactured a prototype distributed power control system for load switching in marine applications.  The distributed power switching system was designed to have virtually any number of nodes located throughout the boat/RV.  Each node communicates with every other node over a CAN network.  Each node is supplied power from the battery and has up to eight switch inputs and eight switched power outputs.  Using special configuration software on a laptop, any switch input at any node can control any output at any node.  Power at each output is measured and can be interrupted at programmable trip points, implementing an electronic circuit breaker function.  This PCB shows one of the prototype nodes.



5 Node Demonstration of the Digital Power System


This picture shows a demonstration of the system using five nodes.  In this demonstration, a switch at the helm module sends a signal to the transom module telling the electric hatch lift motor to open the engine hatch.  Also at the helm, a switch remotely commands the docking lights connected to the bow module.  A short circuit at the bow lights is simulated with the dramatic sparking of a knife switch.  The bow module detects the over current condition, disables the output, and broadcasts this condition on the network.  An LED in the docking-light switch at the helm begins flashing to indicate the error condition.  If desired, the operator can turn the switch off and back on to remotely reset the solid state circuit breaker that interrupted power to the docking lights.  Located at the transom module, as well as both the helm and bow modules, are switches to power the courtesy lights.  To properly illuminate the cockpit sole, multiple courtesy lights are distributed throughout and conveniently wired to the closest node.  When any of the courtesy light switches are toggled, the courtesy lights turn on.  Another toggle at any courtesy light switch turns the lights off.  This is similar to the three-way light switches in your house at either end of the hallway.  Lights can be turned on and off instantly, or their brightness can be increased/decreased gradually like the dome light in your car.