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Old 11-08-2015, 04:34 PM   #1
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Wiring Helm Gauges - Daisy Chain?

My new helm console is on the way, and I've pulled the old console and all the gauges. What a rat's nest that old wiring was! Next will be to wire all the gauges into the new console. But I have a big decision to make.

Each gauge has a ground. And each has an "Ignition" (positive) terminal. Each gauge has a lamp with two wires, positive and ground. Electrically, all positives and all grounds are the same. The only question is where to connect them.

Do I run two separate wires from each gauge and each lamp to a pair of common terminal blocks (One +, one - )? Or do I daisy chain each positive to the previous one, and likewise for ground? Or, maybe two wires for each gauge, each of which connects to both the gauge and the lamp for that gauge?

I have enough wire, heat-shrink ring terminals and terminal block screws for any of those options, so it's not a resource question. It's a reliability and neatness question.

Wondering what opinions might be out there on this.
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Old 11-08-2015, 04:43 PM   #2
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My new helm console is on the way, and I've pulled the old console and all the gauges. What a rat's nest that old wiring was! Next will be to wire all the gauges into the new console. But I have a big decision to make.

Each gauge has a ground. And each has an "Ignition" (positive) terminal. Each gauge has a lamp with two wires, positive and ground. Electrically, all positives and all grounds are the same. The only question is where to connect them.

Do I run two separate wires from each gauge and each lamp to a pair of common terminal blocks (One +, one - )? Or do I daisy chain each positive to the previous one, and likewise for ground? Or, maybe two wires for each gauge, each of which connects to both the gauge and the lamp for that gauge?

I have enough wire, heat-shrink ring terminals and terminal block screws for any of those options, so it's not a resource question. It's a reliability and neatness question.

Wondering what opinions might be out there on this.
When I rewired my panel...I was going to run it all to buss bars for simplicity...but didn't

Once in there and starting to look atvit.it was easier to daisy chair and wound up neater in the lono run I think.

Of course gauge layout and number plus panel complexity could be a reason to run separates...but really don't see it in most cases. Most panels are daisy chained and neat...so why change a good thing? Just stay neat.

Oh and usually you daisy chain like wires.....instrument power, instrument ground, light piwer, light ground, etc...etc...
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Old 11-08-2015, 04:47 PM   #3
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Ground all your (-) wires and run a positive(+)to a switch. That way you can turn the lights on and off as you wish. You can jump from one gauge light to the other and so on.
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Old 11-08-2015, 08:40 PM   #4
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Daisy chain where you can. No need to home run everything.

You can either have the lights come on anytime the gauges are in or have them on a switch.
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Old 11-08-2015, 09:15 PM   #5
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My new Deere panel is all daisy chain wired which makes it very neat. An additional feature on the panel is a potentiometer (dimmer switch) that allows me to adjust the light level of the gauges, like in a car. Would be worthwhile to add if you plan to run at night.

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Old 11-08-2015, 11:11 PM   #6
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If you daisy chain and have one bad connection/solder/joint would you lose all your gauges?
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Old 11-09-2015, 06:40 AM   #7
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"If you daisy chain and have one bad connection/solder/joint would you lose all your gauges?"

Perhaps , but even worse would they all will be inaccurate.Some will read high , others low.

The gauges are basically a volt gauge with a face plate , so a crap ground will harm all readings.

Multiple home runs can be neat with a bit of planning
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Old 11-09-2015, 06:45 AM   #8
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Our gauges came daisy-chained with power, ground, and lighting. Individual sensor signals are of course separate.


I'm replacing with Aetna Engineering digital tachs and CruzPro digital gauges, and these come with internal LED backlighting... so I can eliminate the separate dash light wiring. I'll probably save 10 lbs of copper.


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Old 11-09-2015, 07:01 AM   #9
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Greetings,
Mr. CT. I'm in the multiple home run school with enough slack to be able to remove individual gauges without disconnecting or disturbing adjacent equipment. It's much easier to effect any changes/repairs when a gauge is outside the dash plate rather than having to reach behind said plate to connect or disconnect terminals.
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Old 11-09-2015, 12:09 PM   #10
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Ummm, for those of us who are not electricians or electronics experts, would you please explain (or show a picture) of what daisy chaining is?


Thanks.
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Old 11-09-2015, 02:57 PM   #11
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Daisy chaining is making a group of connections in a series - such as one loop tying in all ground connections, rather than individual cable runs from a terminal block to each gauge.

btw - The ammeter gauge should be wired separately.
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Old 11-09-2015, 03:25 PM   #12
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Well, yes, in "a series". Not "in series". That's something different.

Here's a picture:
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Old 11-09-2015, 04:10 PM   #13
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....it was easier to daisy chair and wound up neater in the lono run I think... and usually you daisy chain like wires.....instrument power, instrument ground, light piwer, light ground, etc...etc...
Here's our 1987 factory panel plus some owner mods. I have found it easy to trouble shoot if I have a low gauge reading or a bulbs out. I have the ability to remove the panel if necessary. By daisy chaining you cut down the size of the wire bundle from the main distribution panel or from the engine room. I have also found contact spray is my friend if I suspect a problem.
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Old 11-09-2015, 05:41 PM   #14
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I'm not sure I see the value of having lamps in gauges unless you use blue or red lamps. white lamps will mess with your night vision, if you must have them use a dimmer or a switch to turn them off. We use a blue led to illuminate the panel in the dark.
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Old 11-10-2015, 06:49 AM   #15
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I'm not sure I see the value of having lamps in gauges unless you use blue or red lamps. white lamps will mess with your night vision, if you must have them use a dimmer or a switch to turn them off. We use a blue led to illuminate the panel in the dark.

I think the Aetna and CruzPro LEDs are red. Been a bit since we've been out at night...

Anyway, they're not at all obtrusive, and are MUCH more subdued than our original light dashlights.

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Old 11-10-2015, 03:53 PM   #16
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Dimmable is good. That said, I've never had gauge lights ruin my night vision before, but I'm a little worried this time because all the new fixtures I ordered come with LED bulbs. Normally I'm a huge fan of replacing everything with LEDs, but I'm hoping these are not too bright.

I also like gauge lights because the heat they put off tends to dry out the condensation that sometimes forms on the inside of the lens.

If the LEDs don't work out, I'll just buy a few regular bulbs to replace them. Hopefully I can find some that have just the right intensity.
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Old 11-10-2015, 08:44 PM   #17
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Capt.Tom, are you replacing both gauge consoles or just the flybridge? I was just under my flybridge and see I have plenty of work to do to correct the rats nest of previous owners not pulling old unused wiring out. I will most likely daisy chain where it makes sense too. Would love to see pictures of your progress as you do your mods.

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Old 11-10-2015, 10:52 PM   #18
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I also like gauge lights because the heat they put off tends to dry out the condensation that sometimes forms on the inside of the lens.

If the LEDs don't work out, I'll just buy a few regular bulbs to replace them. Hopefully I can find some that have just the right intensity.
If you're counting on LEDs to provide heat, you might be disappointed. When they first started using LEDs on commercial trailers, we quickly found out that snow would build up because LEDs did not produce heat.
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Old 11-11-2015, 08:06 AM   #19
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If you're counting on LEDs to provide heat, you might be disappointed.
I don't know, I had some LEDs melt the plastic diffusers on some overhead lights. Still, I suspect you're right and I'll be switching back to incandescent, for that reason if not because they're too bright and not dimmable. But I'm willing to give them a try, just to find out.

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Capt.Tom, are you replacing both gauge consoles or just the flybridge? I was just under my flybridge and see I have plenty of work to do to correct the rats nest of previous owners not pulling old unused wiring out. I will most likely daisy chain where it makes sense too. Would love to see pictures of your progress as you do your mods.
Just the flybridge for now, but if it comes out well, who knows?

As for pics, you may regret asking. Here's what I started with:


I wanted to replace the old tachs, which were never correct, with one NMEA 2000 dual tach, since that's where the good RPM data lives now. I wanted to get rid of that home-made looking console. I wanted to raise the whole thing up and set it at a bit of an angle so I can see it sitting down.

My first step was to make a cardboard mock-up of the new console:


Pulling up the old console revealed this mess:

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Old 11-11-2015, 08:19 AM   #20
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Once I'd ordered the console panel (front panel express dot com) I could begin making the console base. I used Azek PVC board from Home Depot, which I had left over from another project:


And then the fun part; ripping out the old rat's nest and re-terminating the engine wiring harness to new terminal blocks. This will allow me to wire the new console in the shop, and quickly connect the whole thing when it's done.


One more test-fit before I add some mounting blocks so later I'll be able to fasten the new console base to the flybridge. Note the mess behind the base in this picture. I suspect the boat originally had a flush console surrounded by a wooden, hinged box with a plexiglass cover. You can just see the faded outline, and the holes where the hinges would have been. Some PO had placed a wooden lathe over the holes with adhesive. I plan to make a PVC holder here for things like cell phones, handheld VHF radios and beverage cups/cans.
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