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Old 04-14-2013, 11:05 AM   #1
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Non existent flybridge electronics

The original owner and previous owner of our boat had no use for a flybridge (not sure why they bought a boat with one), and therefore the flybridge was equipped from the factory with only the wheel, a compass and motor controls. I like the flybridge vantage point as well as the cool breeze on a nice day and will likely use it 50% of the time. The boat has a Standard Horizon CP300i chartplotter, a 1981 Furuno radar, which I am removing, and a depth finder on the lower helm as well as a full set of motor, voltage etc. gauges.
My question is how to transfer/install enough essential instrumentation to the flybridge without breaking the bank. The CP300i is not networkable.
My thoughts are to have at least the following available on the flybridge.
Compass, already installed
Chartplotter
Depth
RPM, Voltage, engine temp, oil pressure
Possibly a camera view of the ER

Here a couple of options.
Leave the existing chartplotter on the lower helm and install a new one, looking at the Standard Horizon CPN1010i for the bridge which is touch screen and networkable. This would require an additional thru hull for the transducer to get depth on the bridge.
OR
Remove the existing CP300i and install a larger unit like the CPN1010i and install a monitor on the bridge. The problem that I see with this is that in order to change anything I would have to go down to the lower helm. Two new units are just to much $$.

For gauges, I can either install new hardwired gauges on the flybridge, install sensors and read everything electronically on the chartplotter or use a video camera and monitor to see the existing gauges.

Anybody have any experience on something like this? Just can't get my head around which way to go and the more you look at in the stores and the more sales people you talk to the more you get confused.
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Old 04-14-2013, 01:06 PM   #2
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What functions do you want on the bridge & do you want everything on one display? I have a cp300i on the bridge with MDS 10-5 radar & a old lowrance 3200R digital depth meter. Lower helm a cp1000 & the master lowrance 3200 depth meter. I run from the bridge 85% of the time. If you want radar you can buy the Si-Tex 12" 2 kw scanner for a little over $1000.00 & that includes the junction box, cable & hardware. You add a heading sensor & you can overlay radar on your chart.
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Old 04-14-2013, 01:17 PM   #3
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What functions do you want on the bridge & do you want everything on one display? I have a cp300i on the bridge with MDS 10-5 radar & a old lowrance 3200R digital depth meter. Lower helm a cp1000 & the master lowrance 3200 depth meter. I run from the bridge 85% of the time. If you want radar you can buy the Si-Tex 12" 2 kw scanner for a little over $1000.00 & that includes the junction box, cable & hardware. You add a heading sensor & you can overlay radar on your chart.
Thanks Ron, I am removing the old radar for a couple reasons, first it is an antique and secondly in this area I just don't need it. If in the future we decide to go for a long haul then yes I need to be able to add it then. I can also just add another chartplotter with depth to the bridge but that leaves me up there with no engine instrumentation which I am not comfortable with.
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Old 04-14-2013, 02:55 PM   #4
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In terms of duplicating engine monitoring (rpm, oil pressure, water temp etc) assuming you have conventional (vs electronic) engines, you need to replace the senders with dual-station versions. There is a good chance you have unused wiring in the harness that runs from engine(s) to lower helm now. Spare wires can be used to take the feed from the dual-station sender up to the flybridge from the lower helm. Senders are relatively inexpensive; basic Teleflex gauges from Defender or similar are relatively inexpensive. And I'd agree, if you are going to be using the flybridge a lot, you want engine monitoring there.
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Old 04-14-2013, 03:03 PM   #5
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On the chartplotter, if the budget will run to a new one I'd go that route, for redundancy...but get a network-able model so that if/when the lower helm unit packs it in, replacing it with a less-expensive 2nd screen becomes feasible. An alternative approach is to use a dumb monitor on the flybridge, but if the lower helm unit will support a keyboard and/or mouse, you may be able to make these wireless or bluetooth and thereby achieve control from the flybridge. (I do the latter with a Furuno NavNet3D MFD at the lower helm and a dumb monitor on the flybridge: no problem using a wireless keyboard and mouse on the flybridge to control/select MFD functions from the f/bridge).

On the engine room camera....most dumb monitors and many MFDs will accept video feeds, so installing an engine room camera & connecting it to either or both of the upper and lower helm screens is usually pretty straightforward, with getting the cabling through often the hardest. You may be able to look at wireless solutions.
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Old 04-14-2013, 03:05 PM   #6
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I don't see a VHF on your list, but I would strongly advise installing one. Make it a completely separate installation from that on your lower helm, including antenna, for redundancy. Don't consider a handheld for that purpose, as their range is very limited for both transmitting and receiving.
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Old 04-14-2013, 04:19 PM   #7
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On my boat, I didn't see the need for a second set of engine gauges & tach on the bridge. Accordingly I have idiot lights, each with a beeper for seawater flow, oil pressure, engine temp, & bilge pump. I have a small dash mounted sounder, engine controls, and AP switch. My radar, AP, and GPS are below. I have never minded going below to navigate, change AP headings, or adjust RPM. I have idiot lights and beepers in addition to gauges below as well since no one really stares at gauges.
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Old 04-14-2013, 08:32 PM   #8
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Aquabelle, the lower helm chartplotter does not support networking, bluetooth, keyboard etc. that is what interested me in the CPN101i which does all of the above. Also the engines are all conventional and I do have a duplicate lower helm instrument panel salvaged from a hurricane damaged boat exactly the same as mine. I could put this up top and install the dual station sending units you speak of. I will have to check availability of the sending units.
Conrad, I do have a Standard Horizon VHF radiio at the main helm and I agree a second one with DSC on the bridge is likely a good move. The lower one does not have DSC. These are fairly inexpensive these days.
Brooksie, I'm too much of a worry wart to not have any indicators on the bridge for engine functions, either have to go with a video of the existing gauges or as stated above, or install new sensors and install my spare panel on the bridge. I know lights let you know when something has gone wrong but I think gauges can give a little advanced warning. There are apparently also electronic sensors that feed the GPS and all functions show up on the Chartplotter but I am told this is very pricey. If anyone has done this I would be interested in the cost.
Thanks guys.
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Old 04-14-2013, 10:46 PM   #9
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Allan, when I bought my boat, there was engine controls and instruments up on the flybridge, but nothing else, not even a compass. I added compass, and moved the old Lowrance X70-A Sonar from downstairs main helm up there when I bought a Lowrance GPS/Sonar combination unit for the main helm down below, where I do drive from most of the time. I then managed with a handhelp GPS unit up top by adding Marine mapping to my car GPS and for some time this sufficed. However, more recently I got an iPad with GPS, and Navionics mapping on it, and it does for that now, and provides a good backup for downstairs as well. The large HD display is superb, and I can use it at home as well for all the other stuff it does. However, recently, almost within days of each other, both the depth function in the downstairs combo unit and the old depth sounder up top failed. This latter development being quite a good example of why getting separate units rather than all combined in one is better if one can. The GPS function in the Lowrance downstairs still works perfectly, so I have just put in a relatively inexpensive Lowrance greyscale sonar only unit, setting it up so the transducer just fires thru the hull, so avoiding a thru-hull fitting - works well, and I'm liking the huge depth numbers separate and not overlaying the GPS chart. Up top I will do the same, as I now have the Navionics on my iPad, I don't need or want a permanent GPS upstairs, as being portable, it is saved the potential damage of weather exposure up on the flybridge, which is quite hard to avoid. I used to try and put the old Lowrance in the flybridge cupboard out of the weather, but the heat in there, even with a solar vent into it, was not kind to it, then one day I forgot to do that, and overnight rain finally killed it off - so much for allegedly being water proof.

So my advice for the flybridge is to get the engine control info up there somehow - I definitely agree with you on that, but the depth and GPs functions can be added as separate and fairly inexpensive items by not trying fancy networking, but using standalone units, both of which can be demounted quickly and kept safe out of the elements below when not in use. Flybridges are not instrument friendly places at all, unless converted into what FF calls oxygen tents, and even then heat and humidity will do their worst.

Since the aforementioned failure of the sonar in my combo unit I am also convinced of the sense of redundancy, created relatively inexpensively by keeping old equipment if it still works, and just adding new as required. When both my main sonars died together, the thing that saved the day was the old original stroboscopic Seafarer (with digital readout as well), that still works and was still in place. You might want to rethink the removal therefore of that radar. I wish I had one actually, but can't really justify buying new. But if my boat had one which still worked, no matter how old, I'd keep the dang thing for sure.
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Old 04-14-2013, 10:56 PM   #10
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[QUOTEBrooksie, I'm too much of a worry wart to not have any indicators on the bridge for engine functions, either have to go with a video of the existing gauges or as stated above, or install new sensors and install my spare panel on the bridge. I know lights let you know when something has gone wrong but I think gauges can give a little advanced warning. There are apparently also electronic sensors that feed the GPS and all functions show up on the Chartplotter but I am told this is very pricey. If anyone has done this I would be interested in the cost.
Thanks guys.[/QUOTE]

I understand but if you loose seawater flow or oil pressure for even a few moments at cruise power, you will loose your exhaust system or your engine bearings and no one, not even a self proclaimed worry wart, watches his gauges constantly. You will save hundreds of dollars as well.
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Old 04-15-2013, 02:16 AM   #11
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I recall being on a Great Lakes 33 many years ago, and it had a nifty window in the upper deck by the helm station that allowed you to look down at your lower helm instruments. Does your vessel have this window, and if so is it useful?
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Old 04-15-2013, 02:52 AM   #12
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Actually these wirelss( reversing) camera things one can buy these days could well be the best and cheapest alternative to duplicating all instruments, and a bit less drastic than cutting into the deck to make a window. I set one up on my wife's Outback, as it was the model just before they came standard here, and it works a charm. If you had one focussed on the instruments, with the screen up top, the power being switched on by simple toggle upstairs and down, and they work off 12v, then you have it all there, and look, no wires and no holes...! Then just add depth and GPS - plenty of quite inexpensive units, (or use iPadfor GPS like I do), and Bob's your Uncle...
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Old 04-15-2013, 08:33 PM   #13
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I recall being on a Great Lakes 33 many years ago, and it had a nifty window in the upper deck by the helm station that allowed you to look down at your lower helm instruments. Does your vessel have this window, and if so is it useful?
That's funny you should ask, I was down to the boat today and was thinking about that little window and wondered whether the PO had installed it or whether it came from the factory. It is pretty useless actually. You need to have really good eyes to see anything and obviously aren't watching what's going on around you when you your looking down the hole. Underway (Making way, your choice) and sloppy it's totally impossible. It was a cheap way out that just doesn't work. Glad you brought that up, now I know.
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Old 04-15-2013, 08:37 PM   #14
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Actually these wirelss( reversing) camera things one can buy these days could well be the best and cheapest alternative to duplicating all instruments, and a bit less drastic than cutting into the deck to make a window. I set one up on my wife's Outback, as it was the model just before they came standard here, and it works a charm. If you had one focussed on the instruments, with the screen up top, the power being switched on by simple toggle upstairs and down, and they work off 12v, then you have it all there, and look, no wires and no holes...! Then just add depth and GPS - plenty of quite inexpensive units, (or use iPadfor GPS like I do), and Bob's your Uncle...
Good one PeterB, hadn't thought of wireless units. If I put a chartplotter in that takes a video input I may even be able to do a split screen, chartplotter, instrument panel video. That could work.
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