Lighting Digital Control System


I have a question about a Digital Lighting Control System on my boat that is no longer working. I know this is not exactly a home automation issue, but @Superhouse seems to deal with similar issues in an understandable way.

my boat was built in 2002 with a digital switching system for lights and heater fan. It consists of five push-button switch pods with a total of 16 switches. Each pod is constructed on a PCB. The switch pods are daisy chained to each other and to the control unit with 4 wire cable and with DT Duetsch Connectors at each switch pod and at the control unit. When a switch is activated, a back-lit light illuminates at the switch. The control unit has 16 relays connected to the loads via fuses (7 at 5A, 7 at 10A, 1 at 15A and 1 spare). The system was built by Carling Technologies for Tomco Marine and installed in about 50 American Tugs (the boat I have). The control unit on my boat has now failed, and Carling no longer supports the product. The control unit is potted, so I assume it can not be repaired. I would like to find a way to continue using the wiring harness and, hopefully, the switch pads, since they are installed throughout the boat and buried in the finishes. I need to find a replacement for the control unit. I am hoping an Arduino based system would work, but my understanding is pure beginner.

The 4 wire harness has red, black, green and white wires. The red and black test as 5V supply and ground from the control unit. I haven’t been able to find out how the switches/pods communicate with the control over the shared harness.

Any explanation of how the control side works would be appreciated, as would an approach to solving my problem.

Regards, franksilkwood


Might simply be CAN bus…


I think it probably is CAN bus. The nodes consist of six switch-pods (with a total of sixteen switches) and a control unit. Is there a way to replace the control unit while retaining the switches/pods and wiring harness? Would an Arduino micro controller work?


It’ll take some research into the CAN messages being sent by the switches, but should be doable.
I haven’t done anything with it yet to learn how it works, but I picked up a CAN receiver module that supposedly works with Arduino.