Do you like your helm configuration? Please share.

goldenstate

Member III
Blogs Author
I am doing a fairly comprehensive upgrade of the electronics suite on my boat. I'm planning to use a NMEA 2000 Raymarine suite:

i70s transduce pack for wind, speed, depth
ev100 Autopilot with p70s control head
AIS700 transceiver (send/receive)
9" Axiom Multi-Function Display

Prior to my install, I need to consider how to set up the instruments as a compromise for utility, cockpit encroachment etc..

Here is my current helm:

IMG_7656.JPG

When I am seated, visibility for the instruments is quite good, but I am 6'4" and I have to squat down if I want to read the instruments while standing and driving

IMG_7655.JPG

The pod box obscures the the analog compass.

Several different options exist:

1. Remount new 4" control heads in the same way.
Positives: Minimizes encroachment into the rest of the cockpit.
Negatives: Difficult to see the instruments while standing. Obscured analog compass.

Here, Chris has a big pod box on Thelonius 2 with the face tilted up:
I think he has more space between the wheel and the pedestal guard than I do on my 32.

2. Get a single-bend pedestal guard like a Navpod AG118 https://www.hodgesmarine.com/napag116-navpod-ag116-pedestal-guard.html
Positives: Improves readability.
Negatives: Juts out into the cockpit. Somewhat less elegant IMHO

3. Mount a shelf forward of the pedestal guard to hold the instruments. I think
Positives: Improves readability
Negatives: Juts out into the cockpit. Cable routing back into hull?

I'm thinking of something like this.

I should say, I'm not trying to be obsessive about "the way Chris does things." It's just that his videos are the best examples I can find about how people who care about boats have resolved these problems on Ericsons. This is where I hope the forum comes in:

Are you happy with the trade-offs for ergonomics and space for your helm set-up? Please share.

Finally, I have a couple of related questions that may be of interest for discussion.

Do you have a dedicated chartplotter on your helm? Do you use it frequently?

I have a dedicated chartplotter now in that I bought a $8 rubber thingamajig from Amazon to mount my iPhone on my pedestal guard. A few dollars for Navionics gives me an app that provides far more excellent visibility and information than what I have seen for dedicated GPS plotters much more money. I hate that I rely on my iPhone for everything, but my god, can you believe how much you can do with an iPhone?

I could put a Raymarine MFD on the helm and nothing else (in theory) and have a chart available whenever I wanted it.

Has anyone run an autopilot from an Multi Function Display (MFD)?

One of the big selling points for NMEA2000 systems is easy networking of shared information. My current plan is for my Axiom 9" MFD screen to be mounted inside the cabin, assembling all of the AIS, transducer, and piloting information. Calm, indoors. The little 4" control heads (Transducer Data and Autopilot control) will be outside on the helm.

Alternatively, I could mount the 9" Axiom on the helm, and supposedly I can use it to command the ev100 autopilot. I wouldn't even need the little 4" control heads. The problem with this idea is that the Axiom 9" MFD is a touch screen. I picture myself at night, in the rain with wet fingers trying to doink a new compass bearing onto the screen and wishing I instead had an actual plastic button to press. So, the little control heads with physical buttons go outside.

Then, if I need a chartplotter in the cockpit, I use an iPad or comparable to repeat the Axiom screen from inside, or Navionics and get to the harbor where I want to go. One downside of this thought is that the iPhone/Pad is more fumbly (getting the device secured into some temporary mount) and not as weatherproof as the purpose-specific Raymarine MFD.

How have you solved these problems?

Thank you,

Tom
 

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Christian Williams

E381 - Los Angeles
Moderator
Blogs Author
One easy factor to manipulate is the pedestal guard that all this junk attaches too.

The replacement 1" ss tubing guards on both those boats cost $100 from Railmakers. I like a "higher" guard because more cockpit crew can grab it at the same time. The tubing can easily be bent with a 30 or 45-degree jog in it, so as to tilt an instrument pod for easier viewing.

A pod sorta neatens things up, and many are available from suppliers. The pod of Thelonious II I designed in cardboard, and a plastics shop reproduced the design in 1/4" white acrylic for $200. So you can have anything made to your own design.

Now to realm of opinion: I have waterproof instruments at the helm. I have dedicated AIS belowdecks (only) at the nav station (a Vesper Watchmate) because AIS targets clutter my 7" chartplotter screen, and bright sunlight makes interpretation in the cockpit difficult. I really enjoy a chartplotter at the helm to give instant situational awareness, GPS speed, depth and time to destination. My Tacktick wireless anemometer works fine but is a luxury of zero practical value.

Most important to me is convenient placement on the binnacle of the wheel-pilot control screen, because I alter course by pushing its buttons, and very frequently. I considered installing it on the side of the cockpit but I'm glad I didn't. I need the control face to be in the line of sight forward.

pod.JPG...Instrument console A.JPG
 
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goldenstate

Member III
Blogs Author
@Christian Williams "The tubing can easily be bent "
Were you able to bend the 1" stainless yourself with a conduit bender or did you have a fabricator make the guard to your specification?
 

Christian Williams

E381 - Los Angeles
Moderator
Blogs Author
Railmakers did it, following a simple drawing I provided. Standard angles are cheap--90, 45 etc. A radius atop the guard, as the boats came with, is twice as expensive because they have to set up a custom jig.
 

goldenstate

Member III
Blogs Author
I see, thank you. I just reached out to Railmakers - you must have used the one in Costa Mesa.

It turns out there is another, nearly identically named company "Railmakers San Francisco Bay" in Northern California and the guy with whom to speak is Monty Smith at (510) 773-0304 for future readers...

I'm still interested in everyone's helm ideas/commentary.
 

Loren Beach

O34 - Portland, OR
Senior Moderator
Blogs Author
When I added a 9" Lowrance radar/chart plotter, I built an frp platform for it that secures to the guard. I needed extra height to raise the new instrument where it is easier to see, and also to get it away from magnetic interference to the ship's compass. Having the straight legs extended by a foot & polished out was inexpensive. I did not put a tilt in it, after deciding that it was OK without one.

Note that all of our sailing instruments are on the cabin back, and the AP control head is on an inside combing by the helm.
Only important detail to remember is that the wireless remote for the vhf has a small speaker and can also affect the compass if it is parked in one of the drink holder slots right in front of the compass.

In use, we do keep the day's paper chart spread out on the nav table, but 90% of our navigating is done from the helm position. The Lowance is easy to use and works well.

A caveat: DO read the manufacturer's warnings about all of their instruments regarding "compass safe" distance. The big box merchants like WM will almost never mention this... but the dedicated marine electronics store in my city will be glad to discuss it and suggest mounting options to allow for it.

Edit: found some 2016 pix from a cruise.
About those Raymarine ST-60 set of sailing instruments: those filled the holes from the former Datamarine round instruments, BUT... only after I glassed a 1/4" width frp ring into each hole. Lucky me, the bezel on the Raymarine's totally covered the fill-in ring. :D
River cruise 2016.JPGcruise, powering, 2016.JPG
 
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Geoff W.

Makes Up For It With Enthusiasm
Blogs Author
My boat came without much of any electronics - I have a speed/depth/temp screen readout mounted directly next to the companionway (much to my chagrin, that's a big hole to patch). It's nice to have there for viewability, as it's easy to read from most locations. It's also viewable by the whole crew, who join me in celebrating new speed records, or who have alerted my wandering mind that the depth is decreasing.

The downside is if a boat visitor is sitting in front of it, or jogs it with an elbow, it becomes unusable. And it has gotten whacked a couple times with winch handles, knees, elbows, and now is showing some damage...may be time to replace it as well.

My old Raymarine ST-2000 control head is mounted to the binnacle, clunky and obviously dated. It's not too hard key +1/+10 degrees from the backside, however, being big rubber buttons.

I just picked up an ev-100 autopilot myself and am quite excited to install it, being one of the most-used pieces of kit onboard. Curious to get your thoughts on how you'll install the sensors, wiring, and Seatalk/NMEA backbone-whatsits... that's the part that trips me up.
 

footrope

Contributing Partner
Blogs Author
I have enjoyed my chartplotter upgrade, installed in 2014-15, located at the helm in a Navpod. Alongside the plotter to the left is the i70 display and to the right is the ST-4000 Autohelm control head. My previous plotter was at the nav table. I also have a radar, which displays on the plotter and can be overlaid with the chart display. You may not need a radar - I don't see one in your list.

Things to consider with a new angle guard. I installed a new "standard" sized 1-1/4" diameter tube angle guard because that matched the Navpod mounts. The 1-1/4 tube had enough room for the radar cable (Raymarine 18") and all the Seatalk, NMEA interfaces, transducer, etc. that were required to connect to the plotter. The Navpod spacing and the new angle guard legs spacing is 12 inches (on centers). The old one-inch angle guard that was removed was about 12-3/4 inches on centers. I chose to keep the cockpit floor fittings at the 12-3/4 inch spacing and had a jog bent into the angle guard below the Navpod to match the wings (or table) at the base of the compass (Railmakers NW in Everett, WA). The new 1-1/4 fittings I installed on the cockpit floor look fine even though they were larger than the molds in the floor.

Compass considerations. If you read the fine print, the Axiom may come with a recommendation about how far it should be mounted from the compass. My e7D has a little magnetic door for the SD cards and there was a distance recommendation that I just barely managed to follow. I don't know if it was necessary, but I do like a reasonably accurate compass. I didn't have to do anything heroic with the angle guard, I just mounted the Navpod as high as I could on the guard.

I like the helm location for the plotter display. It really helps me get into tight spaces and get around our rocks and through the narrow passes up here in the NW. Being able to change the zoom and be close to the 7-inch display is quite comforting. While my old ST4000 autopilot does show status on the bottom of the plotter display, I haven't been tempted to use the plotter touch screen. The newer autopilot certainly will be convenient from the plotter. I just use the control head as I always have.

Have fun with the upgrade. If you want any pictures let me know. I don't believe I posted a thread on my upgrade.
 

Christian Williams

E381 - Los Angeles
Moderator
Blogs Author
thoughts on how you'll install the sensors, wiring, and Seatalk/NMEA backbone-whatsits..

Here's a 3-part blog on installing the SPX-5, and nothing much changed for the EV-100 (except I have calmed down some :) . )

 
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toddster

Curator of Broken Parts
Blogs Author
As it happens, I am re-configuring mine at the moment as well. My "helm station" involves different issues, since Arcturus is a tiller-steered boat, and the gadgets go in the front of the cockpit.

The trend certainly seems to be to get more data from fewer gadgets. Unfortunately I'm pretty much stuck with four separate Raymarine ST40 displays - as long as they keep working, a big upgrade is not in the cards. I'm adding an a78 MFD (predecessor to the Axiom). Data from the ST40s can be displayed on the a78 "sailing data" screen, but they still have to physically exist somewhere. And where I sail, I want that depth number on display at all times.

I had planned to continue using a cased iPad at the helm, as a remote for the a78 MFD at the chart table. But I came across this second used a78 that can be operated in slave mode. Seemed like a more robust solution for a couple of boat bucks. But now I have to fit it in somehow.

Other gadgets at the helm:
VHF remote mic (which includes a small AIS display), The main radio is below at the chart table.
Waterproof 12V outlet. This was originally to power an iPad that might be on for long periods of time and for a corded halogen spotlight. Neither of which are needed now. I suppose it's still good to have, but I'm not sure for what...
Outlet for tiller pilot cable.
I've thought of adding an electric horn button (one is included in the VHF RAM mic, but you have to page through software screens to find it, by which time whatever you were honking about is over with.) Another possibility is a manual switch for the windlass.

A little name plate with the boat name, number, and call sign, might be a nice touch.

Some issues with the helm-at-the-front include:

Should instruments go on either side of the companionway, or in a center location. I.e. in a pod on the hatch turtle?

The stock configuration (or at least as it came to me) was electronics to the left of the companionway, magnetic compass on the right. Advantages include easy access to the back plane through the "kitchen cupboard" locker and associated wiring channel. The compass remains well clear of any potential interference. Disadvantages include: One would sometimes like to rest one's back on that surface, while reclining in the cockpit. Instruments way over on the low side can't be seen from the high side, when heeled over. Especially when wearing polarized sunglasses. I actually ran aground because of that, once. Oh, well, and because of helmsman error too, I suppose. Bights of excess line from cabin-top winches tends to hang down over those positions.

I vacillated for and against the centerline pod several times. Advantages - can be seen well on both tacks. It's near the line of sight when looking at the water ahead of the boat. Disadvantages - hard to wire, especially if there are a lot of gadgets in it. Mocking it up, I found it really awkward to reach and manipulate touch-screen devices at that distance. "In the line of sight" might not be a good thing at night.

Other possible locations include below the companionway - I saw one boat that replaced the lowest hatchboard with an instrument pod - or incorporated into the dodger - mine has still not been fabricated.

Oh, BTW, Gemeco (parent company of Airmar) has a nifty free phone app called "installer" that among other things helps you sniff out compass issues with your phone's magnetometer. Although in practice, I found that the hand-bearing compass was a more sensitive "sniffer," the app does give you numeric values.
 

goldenstate

Member III
Blogs Author
@footrope

I hadn't thought about using wider 1.25" diameter tubing for the Pedestal Guard, but it makes sense for routing cables. I think what I have is the OEM 1".

I would appreciate seeing a photo of your helm - particularly how you have arranged the e7d and the pilot control head side-by-side or otherwise. Is it one big box?

At this point I am not planning to add a radar.
 

goldenstate

Member III
Blogs Author
@Geoff W.

I have been puzzling through the layout of the backbone etc. today.

Made some progress. Raymarine has a lot of information in forums, but that seems like a difficult way to see someone walk through an example, which is my current (lazy) way of learning to do things, on YouTube. Raymarine totally ignores the concept of a "Backbone" in their own literature, but you can see how the backbone exists in all of their mock-up diagrams. You just have to figure out the NMEA2000 standard method and the Raymarine-land version of it.

When I feel I have resolved enough questions such that I can contribute something helpful, I will do a write up.
 

Loren Beach

O34 - Portland, OR
Senior Moderator
Blogs Author
FWIW- a friend of mine with an E-38-200, did install a new guard in 1.25 SS. He fabricated a new plate for the base of the compass also where the guard goes thru both sides. This also gave his cabling a lot more room than I ended up with on ours - factory 1". We have multiple (small) cables for the plotter and on the other leg the cable for the AP drive motor.
 

Loren Beach

O34 - Portland, OR
Senior Moderator
Blogs Author
Raymarine totally ignores the concept of a "Backbone" in their own literature, but you can see how the backbone exists in all of their mock-up diagrams
Our Lowrance plotter / radar combo does have a simple small-cable "backbone" under under the port side cockpit seat, and that was also where we later added an input from a new in-hull DS transducer. This way we can display depth on the main plotter screen.
Yeah, I know we could add a $ black box to bring in the depth information from our existing Raymarine DS, but this scheme gives us depth redundancy and there is a lot of bottom stuff to avoid in our area.... :(
 
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ddoles

Member II
I just completed a very similar set up on my E38-200 last summer. Faced all the same questions and am very happy with my solution. I posted on the site here a brief description.
I would be happy to share more if you like, feel free to pm me.
 

footrope

Contributing Partner
Blogs Author
Pictures of the front and back of the Navpod. I installed new Raymarine nav gear, replacing 1990s Ratheon gear that was failing after ~20 years. The new radio is a Standard Horizon GX-2000 with the extended wiring for the remote mic/controller at the helm. In addition to the radar, I added the AIS-650 transceiver that interfaces to the e7D (AIS target overlay and alerts) and the radio (for selective calling). The old ST-4000 autopilot interfaces the remote fluxgate compass data to the SeaTalk-ng bus via a SeaTalk-1 to ST-ng converter. The hole for the autopilot head was too big, so I adapted it with a piece of 1/4" Plexiglas. With the radar and the fish finder transducer wired to the e7D I used both legs of the angle guard for wire routes. My radar is on a mast at the stern that also supports the AIS T/R antenna and a VHF-UHF whip for 144 and 440 MHz.

I kept two of my old instruments for use as repeaters below at the nav station. The ST-50+ Depth and Wind Speed/Direction indicators are interfaced to the ST-ng bus. I can monitor these at anchor with the e7D switched off.

Helm_Nav04-small.jpgNavpod_Installed_rear03-small.jpgNavpod_components_and_wiring01-small.jpg20170102_140634-small.jpg
 
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goldenstate

Member III
Blogs Author
Thank you, Craig @footrope. Nice pictures, and a tidy installation.

I like the remote mic for the VHF radio. My entire VHF head unit is on the helm which is nice in some ways, but also ungainly.

The Raymarine MFD line with physical buttons is now the "Axiom Pro," starts at the 9" screen size and costs 2x the the entry level "Axiom" touch-screen-only version. I like your setup with the e7d - if I could buy something more compact like that it would be an easier decision to include a plotter.
 

Christian Williams

E381 - Los Angeles
Moderator
Blogs Author
The jog in the guard tubes works well for Craig.

My VHF radio is at the nav desk only. The former owner had a mic and speaker installed just inside the lazarette, so he could communicate from the helm. Kinda clumsy, so I removed all that. The downside of VHF comm from the nav desk is that I have to turn the engine off to hear what anybody's saying. Might be my ears.
 

goldenstate

Member III
Blogs Author
@ddoles Your build turned out handsomely. Nice work.

I also see you snuck your GPS antenna above the backstay radar mount. Good idea. I've been puzzling that one out too.

You don't have a separate control head for your autopilot. Does this mean you are controlling the pilot from the Axiom touch-screen? If so, is the Axiom pretty easy/reliable for wet fingers and quick adjustments?
 

David Grimm

Squid!
Similar to everyone else here. I welded my pod up out of stainless. I extended my tubes 1 foot. Garmin 942xs in the middle. P90s below deck linear pilot control on the right and a 70s MFD on the right. My AIS is at the nav station and overlays on the Garmin via 0183.

The switch on the left is for the radar dome power and the 3 position switch on the right is off/simrad wheel pilot/below deck pilot.

The Garmin wirelessly transmits to my magnetically attached Samsung tablet at the nav station so I can keep an eye out and make course adjustments from anywhere on the boat.

Dave
 

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