Custom Electrical Panels, Mark Rogers – original

What a customized panel
can do for you and
your boat”

Highlights from this Segment

– Wiring conundrum connecting low to high power according to marine standards

– Connect a PC to a Chart Plotter to a VHF Radio

– Specifics you need to know for customizing your own electrical panel

– Which items should have their own breakers

(transcript for this segment)  

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Here’s what you’ll discover in this presentation…

  • A powerful strategy to increase the longevity of your batteries
  • A simple way to upgrade your instrument panel
  • The #1 reason to replace the wiring on your boat
  • Learn what the new standard is starting end of July 2010
  • Discover how easy it is to replace custom panels yourself
  • What you need to know to effectively connect low power instrument power leads to larger
    units with heavier power leads
  • The most useful technique to repair the rubber sleeve protector on an outboard external wiring harness
  • The single quickest way to have a new customized wiring harness made
  • Two major reasons to have a customized instrument panel
  • Two tips to finding a schematic for wiring harnesses

About Mark Rogers

Mark Rogers has been tinkering with electronics since the age of 15. He started as a studio engineer for a local radio station, graduated to the music industry as head electronics technician, then went into broadcast and recording studio engineering and construction. In 1991, he overhauled the electrical system on his 36′ sailboat. Since then, Mark has been troubleshooting and customizing electrical systems on other boats.


Robin: Cool! Ok, An interesting wiring conundrum is how do you effectively, and safely to Marine standards, connect low power instrument power leads to larger units with heavier power leads? For example: 30 or 32 wiring to AWG 14 or 16 tinned copper stranded wire.

Mark: Often you can provide a single breaker for those items that will have a feeder fuse block, with the requisite number of fuse positions for those devices.  That way, each small wire can go to its own terminal on the fuse block. Lets you bring in a larger cable or larger wire like a 14, 16 or #10 depending on how many fuses or the amperage is going to be between the breaker and the fuse block. And then, small amperage fuses for each individual small device and each little wire goes to its own terminal. It lets you get rid of the inline fuse holders you find in the power leads of each unit and moves them all to a central location as well, so that’s nice. You’re not looking for wires maybe tie wrapped up in a bundle somewhere. Then with the higher current items like radar, vhf and single side band (ssb) radios generally we’ll give each one of those their own breakers. It’s the small current stuff we’ll use as a single master breaker for.

Robin: A number of manufactures now make it possible to connect a PC to a Chart Plotter to a VHF Radio, so we can get navigation software all working together. What does that entail?

Mark: In that case, there’s a couple of ways to do those type of connections. You can either use the little #22 wire size heat shrink covered butt connectors and just splice the wires together or something like the Blue Seas #2408 or similar terminal block with little ring terminals for each wire. The advantage to doing it with the ring terminals and the terminal block is, you can move things around and reconfigure if you need to. Where as with the heat shrink butt connection if you want to change stuff you’ve got to cut the butt connector off and re-splice again, so. We like the terminal blocks but it depends on if you’re going to change it or not in the future.

Robin: Ok. So, we’ve decided as a boater we want to get a customized panel. Can you walk me through the process of how to get one?

Mark: Well, we basically start by having a discussion about what the customer’s needs are. Sometimes the discussion can be pretty simple and straight forward if he only needs a small number of breakers to fit in a given space and maybe a meter or two. If that’s the case, we just need to know a few other things such as the style of breakers he wants: flat, actuator, toggle style. Does he want indicator lights? Does he want the labels backlit or not? Then, we can come up with a pretty quick cad design and price estimate and send it to the customer as a

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