Monday, July 30, 2012

Our new Chartplotter!


navigation is crucial. it goes hand in hand with sailing. we're not big on electronics and technology. but we know that we needed to get something compact and simple to help us find our way. last year i attempted to take a coastal navigation class through the coast guard auxiliary. i fell asleep every single class. the teachers were old retirees with mono-tone voices. i learned enough when i was awake to read and measure paper charts. with use it will come back to me. we don't want to be fully dependent on electronics because we know they will break on us, fail, errors will occur, and sometimes we just might not even have enough battery power to use them. for this reason we will still own and practice using paper charts of the places we will visit.

so with that said. we purchased the Standard Horizon CPF190i for many reasons. quite a few of our boating friends have this model and recommended it to us. i did some research on other models before purchasing just because technology is always advancing. here's a few reasons why this model is the one for us: built in charts of all USA, Canada, Mexico, Bahamas, Caribbean, Cuba, and Central America (other chartplotters require you to purchase chip cards for $100-300 for each area!), built in fish/depth finder, GPS, 3 yr. water proof warranty (plus i got the extended international 2 yr where they will ship you a new one for free internationally), and AIS compatible (which i think of as a new age cheap mans radar and might look into later on).

here it is unpacked.

purchasing something like this for a sailboat is a little different than getting one for a power boat. power boats usually just flush mount their electronics into the console, just like a car would their CD/radio player. sailboats usually aren't set up like that. we wanted to be able to use the chartplotter from inside and outside of the boat. either out in the cockpit while the helmsman is in control, or inside the galley if someone wants to be out of the weather sitting on the couch navigating our next course. i've seen a couple people's set ups and was thinking of their flaws and how i could perfect it to my own style. i couldn't stop thinking about a dentists lamp, how they can move it anywhere and it stays put. so i thought i could go to the store and take apart a desk/architects lamp. i didnt' find any that seemed sturdy enough to support the chartplotter. so then i thought about maybe a microphone mount. but didn't feel like going down that alley and driving around looking for music stores. so i kept wandering around the store knowing i would find something that could work.

i found this. 
i figured the chartplotter weighs not much more than a big old flood light.

so with a little alteration and total void of the warranty. i was going to make this thing work for me. i ripped the light bulb sockets from both ends, and the wires from the center tubing.

here's the mount that came with the plotter. pretty basic. baseplate bolts down, swivel bracket fits in. i removed the basemount and saved that just incase i needed it for a future project.

now that i had the black swivel bracket all i had to do was secure it to my robotic arm. 
(thank God i had Erector Sets growing up and was in Odyssey of the Mind in middle school)

so with some stainless steel hose clamps i got that thing tight.

now to make a wall mount for it. Bruce had some wood in the back of his truck, like always. thank you Bruce for the mahogany i believe it is? C-clamp 3 layers of that together and bored a perfect snug hole in it.

i filled the hole with marine grade adhesive and crammed the NASA arm in there snug.

damn i'm a genius.

worked out some epoxy putty and stuck that flush around the base of it for added support.

after reading a few owners manuals i was able to hook up the wiring. and in the near future i will be hooking up the NMEA wiring to connect the GPS of the chartplotter to our AutoTiller pilot and we can steer completely computerized. again we're not that tech-savvy so we won't be completely reliable on this feature, it's just nice to have. also i will be wiring the transducer for the depth/fish finder. i got the model that goes inside of the boat and shoots through the fiberglass to scan the bottom. i didn't want to deal with putting a hole in the bottom of the boat and mounting it that way. the only difference is i won't be getting the water temperature. not a huge concern of ours.

just defusing a bomb. no big deal.

Piña watching me solder the wires in. she's always such a big help.

i always feel uncomfortable drilling holes into my boat, but here goes!

so here is the rough draft version of the wall mount. at this point we are planning on leaving in 3 days for a circumnavigation of Catalina island. not much time to get it done the pretty way so ghetto will have to do for now. when i re-do it i plan on running the wires inside of the flexible white arm so that they aren't exposed and can pop out the backside of the wall mount and run flush on the ceiling to the circuit board. that way it won't be exposed to water, weather, Piña, or getting ripped out on accident.

damn! look at the reach on that thing. to the bottom left of this picture is a seat where you can perfectly view the Plasmo Contest 101 compass (at the top left) and the chartplotter is right in your face. when not in use it can bend down or backwards to be stored out of the way.

bam! it can bend outside too!

so beautiful. later that night i got a call from NASA requesting i come work on the next shuttle launch, i politely denied their request and humbly got back to my projects.

see how it points right to that seat there? 
excuse the mess in every single photo. thats just how it goes sometimes.

heres me sitting in that seat looking at the chartplotter.

this is the old fish/depth finder that was on the boat when i bought it. i'm pretty sure it's cancerous. no lie. radiation comes off of it. when i would turn it on it would start humming like an old microwave and blinking that orange light around. if you got close to it you could just feel the electronic waves in the air. i removed this, which made wiring the chartplotter a breeze. all i had to do was trace it's power supply to the circuit board and re-wire the chartplotter onto it. and when i hook up the transducer all i have to do is trace that line with the new wire and plug that one in. 

after removing the old unit Piña thought it was necessary to attack it.

all said and done. here is the rough draft of our Standard Horizon CPF190i chartplotter fish/depth finder

here we are in our slip by the bridge.

it even shows swell and tide charts. i can check the surf every morning!

this is where that old cancerous fish/depth finder was mounted. after removing that for Piña to gnaw on, i thought it would be the perfect placement for our handheld VHF. we purchased the west marine vhf155 model for a good price and many features. it's completely submersible waterproof, floats, has weather alerts, an LED strobe light that blinks SOS when activated, 2 battery packs, charging mount, 12 hr. battery life, plus a 3 yr. warranty.

a bunch of new technology lately! we're quite a few steps closer to successful up to date coastal navigation on a budget!

Friday, July 27, 2012

Piña lately

just thought everyone should take a break from reading about boat projects and see what Piña has been up to lately!

Piña was going crazy looking out the window the other morning and i had to peak and see what she was looking at. holy crap! a red eyed raptor staring straight back! 
(also check out the high resolution fly in the corner)

Piña enjoying her first dinghy ride around the harbor. she was quite curious of everything going on.

Piña chillin hard with uncle Nukka

Piña hopping from dock, to uncle Brian's boat, to dock, and then back home.

New Auto Tiller

when i bought the boat it came with a navico 1600 autotiller. pretty old, but it got the job done. we needed something more up to date, with more torque. i chose the Simrad TP22. we could have gotten the lower model for cheaper. but i've found with boating that you need to know when to splurge. the TP22 is good for boats up to 34ft. so we're on the small side of it's capabilities, which is good because we're going to be beating the shit out of it. i also was interested in this model because it has the ability to connect with our chartplotter (gps) via NMEA. i haven't taken the time to set this up yet. but once i do we can choose a GPS location on the chartplotter and then hit the navigate button on the auto tiller, and it will automatically steer us to that location! pretty futuristic and bad ass. we've been warned though not to fully trust this option for navigation, due to the fact that it's a robot and can not see obstacles, wave movements, etc.


wiring the Simrad tp22 was actually pretty easy to do because of our former Navico model. both companies have combined over time, and their products are quite similar. all i had to do was re-trace the wiring that was already in place, and tap into it's power source. 

This is the old plug.

simple removal. 4 screws and 2 wires to snip.

inside under the cockpit. we tapped into the former power supply.

while i was busy wiring and figuring out the instruction manual. claire took the time to freshen up the wooden panel for our new outlet.

here's the new plug mounted on the fresh wood.

pretty clean looking inside the cockpit.

to the right is the old mount. the new auto tiller sits farther back.

wooden brace for the mount. old one on the right.

here's the new mount for the tiller. it has a pin on the back bottom side. this is for it to pivot on as it holds and steers the tiller for us.

here's the construction zone. the new auto tiller in the center. see how it rests on the tiller? theres a pin on the tiller for that metal rod to sit on. normally our hand would be on the tiller moving it left and right to steer us. but with the auto tiller that metal rod moves in and out, maneuvering the boat for us. it has quite a few settings. manual, auto, GPS compatible, and can even be set up to read the wind. we can even tell it when we want to tack!