Thank you Plug n Play!

Our NavNet 3D black box failed as we neared Reunion. After some debugging, we determined we needed a replacement Elsa Gladiac 776 GS graphics card, last produced in 2006. We’d first gone to Le Port computer store Plug n Play in an attempt to buy a low-voltage relay for another project. It turns out Plug n Play is a boutique computer builder focused on exotic, liquid-cooled gaming systems. Their systems are beautiful to look at and can run north of 5 GHz. Since the Plug n Play staff know graphics systems incredibly well, we asked about the Elsa Gladiac 776 GS that we need. Of course the adapters they sell are far higher performing and weren’t built a decade ago, but they got on the phone to help us and found a local server sales and service company that might have a compatible graphics adapter.

In addition to working on finding us a compatible used graphics card, Plug n Play offered to test our card to ensure it was a hardware problem rather than a driver issue. That was really kind of them. Our graphics adapter wasn’t able to light a pixel, whereas a similar current-generation Nvidia driver in the same box worked great. We were now certain we needed a replacement graphics adapter.

Plug n Play called about a week later. In a show of amazing customer service, they’d somehow managed to track down a used Nvidia 6200 graphics card that is compatible with the graphics driver in our Nav Net 3D black box. It’s not identical to the failed Elsa Gladiac 776 adapter (a clone of the Nvidia 7600) but since it’s supported by the same graphics drivers, it might just work. Getting the card in and out is a real pain the way the black box is mounted, but James has had a fair bit of practice by this time, and is getting pretty efficient at it.

At the moment of truth even Spitfire picked up on the excitement. The block box booted up properly using the new graphics card without a hint of a blue screen. But it remained in VGA and single-monitor mode, rather than switching to high resolution extended-screen mode.

We found that if we just went into the installation menu after booting, the system would properly switch into high resolution extended-screen mode. Aside from having to briefly enter the installation menu at startup time, the black box is otherwise working perfectly. After several days of ocean time, we’re now halfway to South Africa from Reunion and the black box hasn’t glitched once. It’s soooo nice to see it back. THANK YOU Plug n Play!


If your comment doesn't show up right away, send us email and we'll dredge it out of the spam filter.

14 comments on “Thank you Plug n Play!
  1. Rod Sumner says:


    Glad you arrived safely.

    Just curious why you report your times on the blog as EDT, soon to be ET as of Sunday morning. I would have expected PDT as your home(?) port is Seattle!


    • Rod, the web site time zone should be reported to you in whatever your local time zone is. So, if you live and operate in ETZ, then the times reported should be in eastern time zone.

  2. Gary Cummings says:

    96 degrees. That warm water must limit your max power to short bursts if you had to use it.

    • Your right Gary. To avoid the wind shift that would make the Agulhas current crossing dangerous, we changed our schedule from arriving Monday morning at 7am and moved it back to Sunday night at 5pm. To do this, we ran at 190 hp for the last few days. In these water conditions, we can do that comfortably and probably could go as high as 200 hp continuous. But, we like the flexibility that comes from being able to use more power for long periods of time when needed. Our engine is rated for 231 hp continous duty adn so I’m considering increasing the size of the keel cooler to allow comfortable operation in even 100F water. We won’t for sure make that change but, if we can do it without the cooler being excessively exposed outside the hull pocket, we probabably will do it.

  3. John Worl says:

    Looks like you have a restaurant named Porky’s right near you. Trust there is good food to be had. Most importantly – perfect timing crossing the Agulhas!

    • Hi John. You are right about passing the Agulhas current at the right time. Winds were in the low 20s but not opposing so it was a pretty good crossing. Reportedly opposing winds can drive waves as high as 60′ so that current is deffinitely one that commands respect.

      We were initially scheduled to arrive 7am Monday morning but the fast changing weather on the South African east coast ended forcing a change of plans. Since the winds were expected to be from the South early Monday morning, we ramped the speed up and were able to get in around 5pm Sunday night in good conditions. It’s nice to have the fuel on board to be able to make a change like that.

      All the best to all our friends back at the Bellevue Sail and Power Squandron.

  4. Tim Kaine says:

    Glad to see your leg is about over. The roll seems to be getting heavier based on the numbers in the stats box. Thankfully you missed all the big waves?

    • The winds are again predicted from the south starting tomorrow so it looks like we did the right thing and picked up the pace. We have been running for days at 185 hp whereas the standard engine in the N52 is rated 165HP intermittent. Having an engine rated to crank 231HP 24×7 is a nice.

      When the weather report got unfavorable for crossing the Agulas current, we changed our target arrial time from Monday at 7am to Sunday at 6pm and continued the trip. We pay more for the fuel but avoiding the waves that result from south winds into the Agulhas current is worth every penny of it in my opinion. Weather here changes quickly and, although tomorrow may be fine, it’s really not worth finding out if not necessary.

      Conditions are great right now and expected to be pretty good for the rest of the run in. We will enter the Agulhas current in about 7.5 hours but winds should be with the current so we don’t expect it to be rough.

  5. Tim Kaine says:

    Good luck and good weather for sure. Funny how being out in absolute open water sometimes is safer then waters that are close to land masses.

    • You’re right Tim. The weather models are usually much more accurate away from the disturbances of land masses and, ironically, some of the worst weather we have seen has been close to shore.

  6. Tim Kaine says:

    Wow!!! 8 knots showing on the stats box on the map Take a pic of that rooster tail your boat must be throwing out. :) The seas must be at peak favorable conditions.

    • Good catch on the boat speed Tim. As you know, we were aiming to arrive 7am Monday morning but there is a condidition that absolutely must be avoided. The current off the east of South Africa is one of the strongest in the world. When it is opposed by wind, the waves stand straight up and can exceed 20m. The weather report changes surprisingly frequently but yesterday, the wind started to be predicted to 20 kts directly against the current near to Richards Bay. Not good at all so we put the hammer down and are running at 8.4 kts right now attempting to get in before the wind shift. You can bet we will be watching that weather report very carefully.

  7. Stewart Kelly says:

    Really amazing and a Godsend to find those tech experts at Plug n Play! Glad you are making good time and enjoying calm seas.

    • Plug N Play was amazing. They went to considerable effort to round up a circa 2006 graphics adapter. More likely to be found in a museum than in use in a modern navigation system :-). We have met a lot of very kind and helpful people in our run around the world.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.