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I'm a writer with some EPROM and ECU questions
saturnstation
Posted: Friday, October 23, 2009 8:50 PM
Joined: 21/10/2009
Posts: 11




I'm writing a fiction book wherein disabling my boat is a key facet of the story.  It's a mega yacht of about 160 feet.  I understand that removing the EPROM from the Engine Control Unit will handily disable power to the engines but is it as simple as that?  Are there not multiple ECUs for various engine systems? 

Once disabled in such as fashion (provided my approach is correct) would it be possible to bypass the ECU and regain engine power without the EPROM?

Basically, under no circumstances do I want the EPROM to be put back in the ECU.  By the same token, I really can't have my boat and all those poor passengers stranded off the shore of that horrible island.  At least, not ALL of them.  Some of course, have to get eaten by the terrible creatures on the horrible island or I wouldn't have a book.  But I'd like to give a couple of them a slim chance of survival, if possible.


English Andy
Posted: Saturday, October 24, 2009 5:25 AM
Joined: 17/09/2008
Posts: 93


Chips are a necessity on modern motoryacht engines, there is no way you can by-pass them on an engine ECU -   No chips = no go ...... it's as simple as that! 

However, there are two options available: firstly a loss of 24v DC to an engine - which is provided by batteries - will disable an engine instantly as the governors need 24v DC, which control the engines through monitoring mechanical and electrical outputs rely on this . The 24v DC system is one of a small number of systems that are available in emergency - for example, some lighting is also fed of 24 v DC.  It would be quiet simple to connect leads from another battery to restart the engines - even a couple of car batteries connected in series would produce 24v DC, but the starting current might be a little low ....... truck batteries should do the trick though!! 

Secondly, chips can be removed from the remote engine control boxes to disable the bridge or other remote station controls.  This can be easily by-passed, as there will be a "remote/stop/local" switch near to the engines.  Remote is selected if the bridge control is to be used, stop is obvious, whilst local (once selected) means the engine can be run in the engine room.  However, if the bridge has remote control and some one in the engine room selects local (so bridge loses control) it will alarm - audible and lights!

Hope this is enough..............


Oceana Logistics
Posted: Saturday, October 24, 2009 3:29 PM
Joined: 28/07/2009
Posts: 3


Generally the Eprom from the ECU is not easily accessible on most of the modern CATS or MTU' engines.
BUT, the ECU is very accessible, usually mounted inside the main engine control box or bolted onto the top or side of the engine. Easily recognized by the amount of computer connection looking plugs on the side.
As Andy said " no ECU no Go" simple that's it, main engines will be dead !! The vessel will still have power & all facilities available just no way to move.
Hope this helps

Tedd Greenwald
Posted: Sunday, October 25, 2009 10:11 PM
Joined: 26/09/2009
Posts: 8


A good fictional plot would be to stick 240 volt to the 24 volt system and send a good spike down the line. Realistically a fuse would protect the equipment but even a small blown fuse on a board would disable a vessel. I recall the early days of DDEC where a boat rammed a dock in St. Thomsa. Ouch. Lucky I have a pair of ancient Detroit 2 cycles with zero electronics, but gobs of pollution.
saturnstation
Posted: Monday, October 26, 2009 4:01 AM
Joined: 21/10/2009
Posts: 11


Thanks, guys!  So basically the bottom line is, I've outsmarted myself.  Terrific.  Well, if I need a different fix for my problem, that's what I'll do.  I was just thinking there had to be SOME way to get around this.  What keeps people from taking these chips?  Like, some guest on a charter gets wasted and dooms the ship by taking a chip?  It's insane there's no bypass for that scenario.  I'm a Plan B kinda guy so I just figured...

In my head, my villain (the captain) is a hard ass veteran and knows how to take a ship down quick.  I fear that another fix, like what you guys suggested, spiking the voltage, taking out another chipset, what have you, will make him look flawed where he's not supposed to be.  He's truly evil and brilliant as hell. 

At any rate - much help and I appreciate it very, very much!!!!!!!!!!!


Chief
Posted: Tuesday, October 27, 2009 1:28 PM
Joined: 02/06/2008
Posts: 341


Why not just take the low tech approach and close the fuel shutoff valves?

 

The engines will run for a few moments then quit, no damage, easily restored by someone who knows what is going on but it will baffle the good/bad guys who, we assume have no knowledge of how these things work.

 


saturnstation
Posted: Tuesday, October 27, 2009 5:06 PM
Joined: 21/10/2009
Posts: 11


Ah, but our bad guy is the captain.  He's the only one and once he disables the ship, off he goes to parts unknown, leaving our heroes stranded.  It's now up to them to get the ship moving again before horrible things happen.  Being the captain, I have to assume he's a guy who knows the most efficient, vicious way to disable the ship.  He would not want to leave ANY room for someone to be able to thwart his evil scheme.  EPROMs seem to be the best way to ensure that; it just sucks we have no options with respect to a bypass.  Even a low tech bypass would work but that doesn't seem to be an option, either. 
English Andy
Posted: Tuesday, October 27, 2009 7:15 PM
Joined: 17/09/2008
Posts: 93


If I wanted to disable a ship (efficiently!) a few pounds of sugar in a diesel fuel day tank is a quick and permanent way to bring things to a halt!  If the villian did this, most yachts circa 160ft have helicopter landing facilities onboard ...... hence you route of escape!!  Honestly, I have been around the world and haven't been far from an American Task Group as you can hear them chattering away on VHF.  Thoughts?
Chief
Posted: Wednesday, October 28, 2009 1:01 AM
Joined: 02/06/2008
Posts: 341


"Being the captain, I have to assume he's a guy who knows the most efficient, vicious way to disable the ship. He would not want to leave ANY room for someone to be able to thwart his evil scheme." I guess I am confused. If he wants to permanently disable the boat it is a piece of cake, he can smash controls or governors, he can cut a thousand wires, there is no end of things easily done that will leave thhe boat literally dead in the water. If you want to make it possible for the average guy to repair the damage and get underway again then there are a thousand other ways to do that. What do you want? There is no need to prance about and delicately remove a chip when a large hammer or a fire axe will do the job faster and better. Do you want the boat to be fixable by amateurs or do you want the captain to permanently disable it? The two are mutually exclusive ...
14Freedom
Posted: Wednesday, October 28, 2009 1:48 AM
Joined: 16/04/2009
Posts: 155


Where is the Engineer in the scheme of things...
Disable the Mains, gen-sets on line, launch the tenders! Leave a few on board who are too scared to leave, put a crew on a tender to tow the 160' and with the "crew" tender run for help...with a ditch bag and EPIRB.
Oh, I forgot about a 160' without an EPIRB.
Contact Barry Longyear. He can tell you about writing a novel.
Just 2 cents
ATB-
Dan

saturnstation
Posted: Wednesday, November 4, 2009 4:49 AM
Joined: 21/10/2009
Posts: 11


Andy, Chief and Freedom, thanks for the replies.  To answer: There is no helicopter on board, the tender has been cut loose, the engineer is insane and presumed dead on the island.  The strange nature of island itself precludes the possibility of sending a distress or radio signal of any kind and the life rafts are destroyed.

Fun, huh?

To fix it, I have a first mate, two stewards, a chef, and two deckhands.  The rest of the crew is dead or missing.  I have 12 guests, about half good, half evil and half stupid.  I do have a second engineer who, I guess is in the engine room trying to bypass the EPROM problem but he has little to offer because I have no words to put in his mouth.

Which, to answer your question Chief, is what I suppose, at this stage, I want.  A reasonable few solutions to the problem that he can bandy about.  What if you all were trapped in this situation?  Would you wring your hands and cry shenanigans, or at least TRY something?  It doesn't have to work, it just has to please my frightened guests with the illusion of progress. 

The only solution is recovering the chip, which is why we have all the prancing.  You gotta give 'em hope, even if they're screwed. Why else would our intrepid crew challenge this island of horrors?


saturnstation
Posted: Wednesday, November 4, 2009 4:57 AM
Joined: 21/10/2009
Posts: 11


Oh, and I'm familiar with Longyear.  Enemy Mine was pretty good.  The movie's a fond memory of my childhood in rural Wisconsin, renting VHS tapes for 2 bucks from the gas station down the street on Friday nights.  Enemy Mine, Timerider: The Adventure of Lyle Swann and Buckaroo Banzai Across the Eighth Dimension were all in constant rotation.

Not to veer wildly off subject but you ever read Zelazny, Freedom?  You like Longyear's style, you'll like him.  Or Alfred Bester.  Another great. 

 


 
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