Category: How-to

Changing transducers -- "So you have a 5200 problem?"

May 16, 2014


I'm tentatively proud of Gizmo's 2014 forward transducer installs (which you can see better by clicking on the photo above). I knew it would be hard to remove the three ducers installed there in 2010 and "mistakes were made" during the replacement phase, but I'm fairly sure the boat is set up now to properly compare EchoPilot FLS with ForwardScan, and I also look forward to checking out the manly HD version of Navico StructureScan. Plus, there are yet other possibilities for the forward retractable casings and two new fixed transducers back aft...

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Shaft Razor long test, with a look at the competition

Apr 5, 2014

Shaft_Razor_line_cutter_installed_on_Gizmo_cPanbo.jpgThere are still patches of icy snow left from a memorable March in Maine, but I enjoyed a recent afternoon wandering around the boatyard checking out shaft cutters. Pictured above is the Shaft Razor that's been protecting Gizmo from line wraps since the spring of 2010. Like my stainless rudder it picked up a lot of barnacles last fall, but that double set of super-sharp serrated teeth were still quite effective. The Shaft Razor is also a good value that has required zero maintenance, and while I saw some interesting competition around the yard, I wouldn't trade it...

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Gemeco iNstall ipad app, for do-it-yourselfers too

Jan 23, 2014

Gemeco_iNstall_home_menu_aPanbo.jpgFirst of all, Gemeco's iNstall app is free if you already have an iPhone or iPad. Second, though aimed at professional marine electronics installers, some of its tools are valuable to do-it-yourself types and even just regular boaters...

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3M Scotchloks, is my love so wrong?

Dec 29, 2013

3M_Scotchlok_UYbx_connector_test_cPanbo.jpgIn October I promised to eventually discuss the 3M Scotchlok IDC connectors I used to tap into Gizmo's engine gauge wires in order to install an Actisense EMU-1 Engine Monitoring Unit. Given that two experienced commenters already strongly dismissed these connectors for boat use, I did more research and testing. Tentative conclusion: while 3M does indeed state that Scotchloks like those tiny UY butt connectors above are meant only for 22-26 gauge solid copper conducter wires, they still seem like the fastest, surest way I've seen to splice the fine gauge stranded wires we often deal with afloat. Could it just be a mistake that's kept a lot of useful Scotchlok models out of 3M's limited marine line, or did I miss some major difference?

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Ancor goes NMEA 2000 & the BEP Pro Installer line

Nov 15, 2013

Ancor_NMEA_2000_cables_n_connectors_cPanbo.jpgPerhaps, coming soon to a marine electronics store near you (though not yet online) is a fairly complete line of NMEA 2000 cables and connectors under the well-known Ancor brand. I particularly like how the kits and explanatory packaging will encourage consumers to set up their own small networks. The 2 and 5-meter cables, for instance, are sold as Backbone/Drop Cables, while the 10-Meter is simply a Backbone Cable (because a spur shouldn't exceed 5 meters). I saw the preview Ancor line above at IBEX, but learned more about it in a special Soundings Trade-Only advertorial publication designed for next week's METS show...

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Azek PVC board, great for electronics panels?

May 6, 2010

At first I was just going to replace the electronics panel at Gizmo's lower helm, but I got carried away.  And at this point I've got a boat that I can't start -- because the engine instruments, and much else, are disconnected -- in a slip that I'm just bumming until the real occupant's yacht is launched (which accounts for slow posting here).  But the project is going well, and I'm particularly pleased with the Azek expanded PVC board product I'm experimenting with for the dash panel(s)...

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Medusa Power Analyzer Pro, & some results

Mar 4, 2010

The average boater doesn't need a power analyzer like this, but battery scrooges and testers like me might be interested.  This Medusa Research Pro is actually designed for radio control hobbyists but its features and value appealed to my inner geek, and so far I've been really pleased with what it can do...

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Cool tools: Rhino 101 & Triplett Fox/Hound Jr.

May 9, 2009

There are numerous cable labelling devices and styles, as folks have commented about in the Gizmo schematics entry and the systems forensics saltwater pathogens entry (;-).  I even have a low-end, but decent Dymo LetraTag Plus whose tape labels can be made work okay on cables.  But last week I noticed, and bought, this newish Dymo Rhino 101, which can be used with self laminating cable labels.  I like it; it's simple, light, and fast, and no batteries are required.

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System forensics, assume nothing!

May 2, 2009

Here's a Gizmo plumbing detail that turned me on from day one:  A hot/cold shower head plus salt- and freshwater outlets (with quick disconnects, yet) all clustered neatly under the fly bridge ladder, with hose storage.  They're even labeled well!  But, when I first fired up the freshwater hose to rinse off the cleaning work I'd started with salt -- the resources are limited where I'm tied up -- I got a funny feeling and took a taste...

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Plug protection, w/ finger cots

Feb 9, 2009

 All Spec finger cots image fc100lbr

There's an old thread at on how to best install a plotter in an open cockpit so it can be easily removed. Sandy offered the interesting suggestion of using "finger cots" to protect the loose power and data plugs when the unit is put away. Finger cots? Well, hopefully I'm not completely naive, and some of you don't know what they are either? They are used extensively in electronics manufacturing, as seen above, and have other quite different uses, as discussed in Wikipedia. At any rate, finger cots seem handy for protecting plugs and handling circuit boards--and who knows what else--and they can even be found on Amazon.