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Old 02-15-2019, 01:44 AM   #1
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Helm cord management?

With the advent of more and more use of phone/tablets or other portable devices, what are others using to make cabling more manageable? I'm talking enclosed helm space, not outdoor.

I hate the look of typical Blue Sea 12v accessory outlets.

That said, there are many different standards for how USB devices charge. To that end it's often best to make use of a 12v accessory socket charger. This way you're not stuck with sockets that don't provide what newer devices might need.

To that end I'm thinking of using something akin to a floor/desk grommet box. Something like the kind available from Mockett.

https://www.mockett.com/max/max8-a.html

The idea being I'd hide a pair of 12v sockets behind this to allow for replacing them as needs change, but not having the ugly surface mount kinds of sockets.

I realize there's not likely to be an 'off the shelf' solution that does this. I'm fully expecting to have to fabricate a mounting panel or box behind the grommet door. I'd like to at least have access to plug/unplug devices when needed.

The challenge is in finding the right search terms for such things. Anyone seen/used a hinged door sort of grommet on a boat?
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Old 02-15-2019, 02:18 AM   #2
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Something like this could we wired directly to your 12v electrical system, and dressed up with a standard switch plate to hide the mounting hardware.

https://www.amazon.com/Magnadyne-Bla...1M4EES35X72Q7T
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Old 02-15-2019, 02:25 AM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Benthic2 View Post
Something like this could we wired directly to your 12v electrical system, and dressed up with a standard switch plate to hide the mounting hardware.

https://www.amazon.com/Magnadyne-Bla...1M4EES35X72Q7T
That's something I've seen, along with their combo 12v and USB insert. The downside to those is they're bog-standard USB sockets. No support for higher-amperages or fast-charging (samsung, qualcomm, etc).
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Old 02-15-2019, 02:49 AM   #4
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Some considerations I'm trying to accommodate:
  • use 12v sockets to allow for replacing the chargers as standards change
  • access to the usb sockets to plug/unplug as devices change, like guest phones or an infrequently used device.
  • no have ugly devices sticking out of the helm console.

The circled areas in this picture are where I'm thinking of installing something.

I'm going to be removing those two B&G H1000 displays. I'll likely be replacing at least one of them with a Maretron DSM250. And when I do so they'll likely get moved upward a bit, leaving more room than the H1000's have below them now. If need be, the upper panel is easily replaceable, as it's just a 3/8" sheet. The lower one, however, is not. It'd take more doing to change the lower surface.
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Old 02-15-2019, 02:54 AM   #5
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There's also potentially more room on the sides of the console. This also shows the phone cradle I've been using (it wireless charges the phone).

You can also (barely) make out the existing USB cable I've got draped across the lower console to the one 12v socket on the helm, down next to wheel (no decent picture of it).

Whatever I do end up using will have short USB cables making the connection. I want neat and tidy, not generic 1m cables and twist-ties.
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Old 02-15-2019, 05:17 AM   #6
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Yes, power feeds for charging is a challenge. Many years ago we adopted the notion that wiring and cabling became a priority for new installs and vessel orderliness. We've one friend who bought a new vessel primarily to get his wiring and instruments under control. It can get crazy.

On a side note --

On several occasions we've had guests on board who arrive with enough gear and wires to mimic a shore Best Buy. Finding counter space for the guest stuff is a challenge. Then the frustration sets in because we are seldom cruising in cell tower or shore Wi Fi range. After a few days the bare necessities remain and card games and social conversation occur, kinda fun that way.
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Old 02-15-2019, 05:25 AM   #7
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I would use USB sockets, not lighter sockets. But as you note, the challenge (or one of them) is to find devices that support the max USB power which I think is 2.5A. All the outlets on my last boat were Vimar, so I used a bunch of their AC powered USB receptacles. I was able to fit them into existing boxes and use the existing wiring, which made the job palatable. As I recall, by boxes were 3-gang and were populated with 2 US outlets and a blank in the middle. The USB outlet is 2-gang, so I pulled one US plug outlet and replaced it and the blank with the 2-up USB device. One of the USB ports on each device was high power, so it would charge an iPad.


The really high power charging I think is only on USB-C, and brings 19V instead of 5V to the device. I don't think that's available through the bigger USB-A. Oops, just did some reading and see that it's available in the older plug format too.


Anyway, I'll be trying to install the higher power outlets at least in a couple of places. It sure would be nice to just plug a laptop into a USB-A or C jack and not have a charger flopping around. But it implies a pretty large 60-100W power supply to product 20V @5A.
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Old 02-15-2019, 05:30 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sunchaser View Post
On several occasions we've had guests on board who arrive with enough gear and wires to mimic a shore Best Buy. Finding counter space for the guest stuff is a challenge.

We have ended up creating pseudo charging stations on the boat and at home. With one or two different cables, you can plug in most anything for a charge. It helps a bit.
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Old 02-15-2019, 01:21 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sunchaser View Post
Yes, power feeds for charging is a challenge. Many years ago we adopted the notion that wiring and cabling became a priority for new installs and vessel orderliness. We've one friend who bought a new vessel primarily to get his wiring and instruments under control. It can get crazy.

On a side note --

On several occasions we've had guests on board who arrive with enough gear and wires to mimic a shore Best Buy. Finding counter space for the guest stuff is a challenge. Then the frustration sets in because we are seldom cruising in cell tower or shore Wi Fi range. After a few days the bare necessities remain and card games and social conversation occur, kinda fun that way.
Agreed, on all points. I'd like to make things as orderly as possible without jumping through too many hoops. There's several points to consider with USB charging:
  1. several different standards for charging
  2. using 12v vs AC
  3. cables, oh so many cables
  4. space for the devices while charging
  5. powering devices while in-use
  6. fragility of USB sockets

This eventually leads to the notion of using 12v accessory/cigarette lighter socket style adapters. They're relatively inexpensive. So supporting more than one charging standard isn't too difficult. And likewise won't break the bank if/when they need replacing. They avoid needing AC power from the shore/generator/inverter. That handles points 1,2 and 6.

Points 4 and 5 get to the question of how to use a 12v socket in a way that doesn't look awful.

Does anyone know if Vimar makes a 12v accessory socket for their Idea trim line? Or do they make a 2 position blank? As that would probably be large enough to contain one. I've not found any reference to either in any Vimar materials I've come across. I've ordered a Euro style AC socket with the idea of possibly altering it to fit a 12v socket.
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Old 02-15-2019, 01:42 PM   #10
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You might contact boatoutfitters.com. They make all kinds of storage boxes and can custom make a little box with a door on it.
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Old 02-16-2019, 03:54 PM   #11
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I'm not looking for exterior grade stuff, so items from Starboard and vacu-formed plastic aren't what I'm after.

I posed a similar question to an AV group and one user recommended Extron or Creston, for their conference room cable cubbies.

I think that's more along the lines of what I'm after. But even better, it sparked some better search terms. Sometimes the key to finding stuff is knowing the right search terms to narrow your results.

I don't need one exactly like this with an AC socket in it, but it gets closer to the overall idea of what I'm after.
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Old 02-17-2019, 02:53 PM   #12
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Ok, progress of sorts. The boat has switch plates that use Vimar Idea modules. Beyond just the helm area I've been debating how to get 12v power to other locations and keep it looking nice.

I ordered up a Euro power socket thinking it might be a workable way to get a 12v socket into a 2 position location. They're reasonably cheap and come apart easily enough, leaving a clip that'll hold in one of the frames.

Here's picture of the parts. You can see that a 12v device will fit, diameter-wise. The big question will be how deep does the socket protrude and will there be enough space for that behind the panel. In one place, the side of the lower helm, it won't matter. But in some other places it might.

I don't have any 12v sockets here at the moment so I can't test the idea further.

I've also ordered up a flatter AC socket with the idea of drilling it out and having the socket flange be able to cover any of the usual AC power holes.

Near as I've been able to determine Vimar has never made a 2 position blank, just the 1 position size.
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Old 02-17-2019, 05:40 PM   #13
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And the flat style works even better. This one would allow the 12v socket to sit on the face of the module surface and thus not require as much inward space.

I think the Euro round ones might work better if I put sockets on the starboard side of the helm console. There's enough room to put a Vimar frame on there but any excessively tall 12v devices (and their cords) might be a tight fit. It's the space where the arrow points.

Now that I've found the sort of pieces that will fit, I'll order up a frame and plate to see how it all comes together. Best know that BEFORE carving any holes into teak.
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Old 02-17-2019, 05:47 PM   #14
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For the face of the helm it occurs to me I might be able to use a Decora style keystone frame and some pass-through USB keystones. This might let me put the transformers inside the console and not have to as concerned about how it looks on the front.
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Old 02-17-2019, 08:13 PM   #15
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I installed a Blue Seas USB outlet last spring for my wife's side so we could stop running cables all over the dash. Hasn't stopped the mess entirely but a big improvement.



Unit I went with is Blue Seas #1045. Simply mounts in a round hole although in my case I bought a bracket since it was not to be mounted in the dash.

https://www.bluesea.com/products/104...-_Socket_Mount
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Old 02-17-2019, 09:14 PM   #16
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I had a hole from a power cord to an old gps. I added this outlet can charge two phones and or if I want to use my iPad as backup chart plotter a short cord to a mounting arm.
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Old 02-17-2019, 10:34 PM   #17
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I have replaced strategic PowerPoint's with these and got rid of all chargers


https://www.ebay.com.au/itm/2x-Dual-...edirect=mobile
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Old 02-18-2019, 04:19 PM   #18
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The downside to embedded USB sockets is you don't get fast charging features. You're stuck with whatever wattage/voltage is supplied. Lots of stuff now is using more wattage and higher voltages. I'm trying to avoid installing a dead-end from the get-go. That and USB sockets are fragile. My wife & child can break one just looking at it, or so it seems.

I'm going to order some pass-through keystones and see whether they support the various charging formats properly.
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Old 02-18-2019, 05:16 PM   #19
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I've got 2.4A USB sockets everywhere. 4 at the upper helm alone, along with 2 12V "cigarette lighter" style outlets which can take a USB adapter. We've had up to five USB devices plugged in at once up there.

For USB sockets, I use the ones that come in the same size as the cigarette lighter outlets. Presumably, technology will change in a few years and they'll be easily swapped out with whatever replaces the current flavor of USB ports.
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Old 02-19-2019, 04:49 PM   #20
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I'll put in my two cents worth for USB sockets as well. I've installed them at both helms (replacing the old lighter sockets) and they are very convenient.
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