question

henri-bergius avatar image
henri-bergius asked

Orion XS safe VHF antenna distance?

We recently replaced our older Orion-Tr Smart 12/30 with the new Orion XS. This was done in order to:

  1. Get more output, as the older Orion-Tr seemed to thermal-throttle (we only got a typical 10A instead of 30A out of our 80A alternator
  2. To get alternator charging coordinate better with solar via DVCC

I placed the Orion XS into our boat's "technical compartment" In the same place where the Orion-Tr has been for the past years. Then we started our summer cruise.

So far the experience with the Orion XS has been a disaster. Instead of increased output, we actually see a decreased one: typically only around 7A!

That we could probably live with, but the really dangerous issue is that it seems to interfere with our VHF. When we're motoring, the VHf unit receives strong static that can't be reduced with the squelch.

AIS receiver that's on the same antenna (with a splitter) seems to work ok.

What's interesting was that our handheld VHF was receiving the same static even when kept a few meters away from the Orion XS.

The static goes away when turning off the engine.

Any ideas what could be done to fix this? I could try moving the Orion XS further away from the antenna cable, though this requires some re-tetrising our collection of blue boxes on that bulkhead.

One option of course is that we may have received a faulty unit. Would love to hear from other Orion XS users if they see either of these symptoms (radio interference, low output) from their units.

orion xs
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3 Answers
JohnC avatar image
JohnC answered ·

@Henri Bergius

You could take a look at Ferrite beads. Even type "ferrite" into the Search box here, you might find something pertinent, not necessarily the Orion specifically. Not really familiar with them myself, but maybe someone else can contribute re their usefulness.

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henri-bergius avatar image henri-bergius commented ·
That's something we could try. Somewhat trickier to acquire now that we're under way.


Where would you place the beads? There are five wires going to the Orion XS:

  1. Positive wire from starter battery
  2. Positive wire from Lynx distribution to house bank
  3. Negative wire from shared negative bus
  4. Positive wire from the engine ignition key circuit (to remote on/off)
  5. VE.Direct USB cable connected to Cerbo GX

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Guy Stewart (Victron Community Manager) avatar image Guy Stewart (Victron Community Manager) ♦♦ henri-bergius commented ·

On all of them. They absorb some of the EMF so put them on both ends of all your wires.


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henri-bergius avatar image henri-bergius Guy Stewart (Victron Community Manager) ♦♦ commented ·
We were able to source some ferrite blocks, and installed them to the three main wires (input, output, negative). This, plus rerouting the input positive wire seemed to help quite a bit. Now we only get occasional interference on the fixed VHF. Handheld gets a lot if you move it close to the Orion (or the engine compartment).


Interestingly, the interference seems strongest on channel 16. Other VHF channels are less or not at all affected.

Now the system is semi-usable. We'll probably add some more ferrite blocks when available.


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Guy Stewart (Victron Community Manager) avatar image Guy Stewart (Victron Community Manager) ♦♦ henri-bergius commented ·
I’d be very interested to hear if adding more ferrite continues to reduce the interference or if there is diminishing returns.
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Alex Pescaru avatar image
Alex Pescaru answered ·

Hi @Henri Bergius

Low frequency static which varies with the engine RPM, or high frequency static which is pretty constant?

It could be from the engine/alternator, but the XS wiring, somehow, amplifies these and leaks / floods the radio spectrum...

Alex


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henri-bergius avatar image henri-bergius commented ·
​The interference feels pretty constant. As mentioned, the Orion-Tr installed in same place with same wiring didn't have this issue.
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henri-bergius avatar image henri-bergius henri-bergius commented ·
As

As shown in the video above, it is really sensitive to positioning.

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niels-mobers avatar image
niels-mobers answered ·

@Henri Bergius I assume the Orion XS "throttles down" due to reduced alternator (=input) voltage under load. The same mechanism is used by the Orion-Tr and the result between both products almost the same.

When the input voltage drops to "Vshutdown", the engine off detection mechanism reduces power to prevent the input voltage to drop even further. Typically Vshutdown is set to 13.1V, you can check if your input voltage is indeed limited to Vshutdown in VictronConnect.

See manual: 4.2. Engine shutdown detection sequence

https://www.victronenergy.com/media/pg/Orion_XS_12-12-50A_DC-DC_battery_charger/en/operation,-configuration-and-monitoring.html#UUID-7cb1b674-5e2b-c9d8-2c36-5af41989f186

You can check if the current rises when you throttle up, when in idle or cruise speed the alternator cannot output 80A but only a fraction of that. You can reduce Vshutdown, but be aware that a reduced alternator voltage usually means your alternator is not capable of supplying the desired current. Also be aware of other loads connected to the alternator, the Orion can only take what's left, shutting down other loads can also result in a higher current taken by the Orion.

For you EMC issue, do you have (long) cables connected to VE.Direct and/or remote on/off? This can sometimes also amplify noise picked-up from secondary sources. This noise can (as proposed by others) be damped by applying ferrite cores. You can (if connected) remove the VE.Direct and/or replace the remote with the short loop that comes with the product to see if the performance improves.


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henri-bergius avatar image henri-bergius commented ·
The remote on/off wire is pretty long, as it is from the engine "ignition key". Will try ferriting that
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