For the following tid bit, I only had a zerox copy to go from and part of it
was missing. It covers some pretty basic stuff concerning dash board installation work
that may seem like common sense but, too many seem to ignore that sense, when they get a
drill and a saw in their hands.
Planning a complete electronics installation can be a tricky business, but with a
little foresight the job can he made immeasurably easier right from the get-go. The first
priority (way before you start cutting holes) is reconsider how you intend to use the
boat. In addition to determining the number and type of electronics you'll be putting
aboard, the use of the vessel also determines the priority of these items.
For example, let's say you'll use your new boat primarily for fishing and diving. This
means, that in addition to the VHF radio, which should be within easy reach no matter what
you're doing, you might want to mount the LCD or video depthsounder and plotter closer to
your seated position than, say the radar. By a similar token, you'll use your loran or GPS
quite a bit to guide you to your favorite fishing/diving spots.
In the case of a cruising yacht, the helmsman will want easy viewing of the radar and
video chart displays to assist in long range navigation. Since longer trips are on the
agenda here, electronic navigators can be further outboard or over head, as frequent
access to their controls won't be an issue.
The next consideration is often over looked: Are you left or right-handed? Other factors
being equal, you'll want to keep higher priority items on your strong side.
Next, consider glare and instrument visibility. Remember that regardless of how pretty a
unit looks in The showroom, glare can ruin the whole setup. One good way to cut glare is
with gray fabric on the underside of the bimini. Another is a matte-black dashboard, which
will absorb instead of reflect light. You should reduce white reflection as much as
possible around the helm station. Be particularly careful when choosing a mounting
location for video displays, since direct sunlight can make their displays unreadable.
There are several ways to install electronic equipment: flush-mounted in a console or
bulkhead. bracket mounted atop the console chart table, suspended from overhead, or flush
mounted inside an overhead electronics box. Keep in mind that while overhead electronics
boxes can add quite a bit of additional mounting surface area to the layout, you can get a
stiff neck looking up at them all the time. That's why you'll often times see less
frequently used equipment up there, including SSB radios. digital depth sounders and
perhaps a backup loran or GPS.
Think about how you'll actually mount each item and whether or not it is waterproof. Will
you need to have separate covering boxes built? What about the dash material itself?
Making a mistake while cutting holes in aluminum, Plexiglas, and Formica is not cheap, so
you may went to consult an expert before you make a mistake.
Look under the dash. Is there enough room to flush-mount your electronics. taking into
account the dimensions of the unit and the power plugs/cables that come with it'. How
about ventilation? If humidity is a problem, consider installing an inexpensive "heat
stick" that can reduce moisture in the area.
Next is the all-important matter of adequate power for the units. Here's a starter
1. The power source should be large enough to handle the amperage and line loss. This is
particularly important in the higher drain items like radar and SSB.
2. All power should come directly from the battery not the ignition.
3. All positive cables must be fused.
4. All cables should be coded and neatly wrapped.
5. Always leave enough cable in the installation to allow the equipment to be pulled out
6. All connections should withstand at least six pounds of pull before separating.
7. Good grounding (earth grounding, not to the negative side of the battery) is essential.
Inadequate grounding (particularly with SSB radios) will at a minimum cause problems with
transmission/reception and will affect other onboard electrical systems.
As you can see, we've just barely scratched the surface so a word to the wise: Consider
how you'll use your new boat, and then consult a full-service electronics dealer.
You'll both be glad you did.
The Do's and Dont's of installation work.