SailNet Community

SailNet Community (
-   Electrical Systems (
-   -   Helm control panel question (

dem45133 07-28-2013 02:26 PM

Helm control panel question
Hello again all.

I still do not know why... but of the sailboats I've owned and those I considered, it seems they spread the gauges and controls all over the cockpit. I have no idea why but there must be a reason. On this Seafarer, the starting/engine panel is underneath the aft seat between your legs, the depth meter on the port back side of the cabin, the knotmeter in the base panel of the starboard cockpit seat... Why? Am I missing something being a novice? Part of it is probably to protect from sea spray I suspect.

Oh, I will be designing up some kind of hard dodger/pilot house also in the future, so all lines will come to me. I'm too old to be running all around the deck and my wife simply can't now. I always be sailing single handed. Thus I want the boat info and lines to come to me (so to speak) while I sit in the shade. (sorry you younguns... your day will come soon enough... before your even realize it, trust me) I really wanted a motorsailer, but can't afford or haul that heavy or pricy... so I'll make one out of this Seafarer sort of. I'll research that later on but the 1st step is a real console and thus the question below.

Since my Seafarer is a pedistal wheel boat I want to design up a whole boat clear covered monitoring console... all engine gauges (tach, oil pres, water temp and starting), depth meter, knotmeter and whatever else, moving map GPS maybe, into a single console in front of the wheel. It already has the pedestal mount compass.

Has any of you built up such an animal? Does someone make one that will not break the bank? Looking for sources and ideas.


Gladrags1 07-29-2013 07:23 AM

Re: Helm control panel question
4 Attachment(s)
Typically, engine instruments are grouped together on a panel created by the engine manufacturer and placed somewhere near the helmsman seat. Since you don't need to constantly monitor them they could be placed perhaps at a seat back to the side of the wheel. Probably wouldn't be blocked by someone sitting there due to the wheel being there. The other instrument gauges are typically placed around the pedestal, on pods mounted on the guard (a stainless steel tube attached to the wheel pedestal). There are lots of products created for mounting instruments there but you can create your own out of starboard or teak. Create cardboard mockups first to see how it will effect your vision. Do a google search for sailboat instrument mounts and you will find lots of options out there. Unfortunately, the mounts can get pricey but stuff can be made cheaply enough.


chucklesR 07-29-2013 07:46 AM

Re: Helm control panel question
I've done mine so everything is in one place. I used a Navpod system pod that provides me with a 20 inch by 13 inch surface.
I'm not 'done' yet, still need to add an autopilot control head, windlass switch and engine ignition.
Does it break the bank, not so much but it depends on the bank. You will understand your wiring, that much I promise.
I started with this:
And here's where I am now.
The gauges aren't fastened in yet in the photo, I had to quit for the day and wanted a picture - that's several months ago.
I also have a 12v plug on the back side, useful for fan's and such.

dem45133 07-29-2013 08:00 AM

Re: Helm control panel question
"Since you don't need to constantly monitor them they could be placed perhaps at a seat back to the side of the wheel."

Thanks Gladrags1, I'll start looking.. but I'll likely build up my own just because, but still look at the factory items for ideas. As for as your statement above... I am one who has had countless hours operating many types of equipment and working engines... scanning over the gauges every minute or so, is just part of operating whatever it is (power boat, combine, tractor, track hoe, semi truck, your local commuter, any thing with an engine really). If there is ever an issue on the engine... one needs to see it coming before its a big problem. The scan takes a micro second is all. Its hard for me to operate anything whose systems are not monitored.

I sometimes think people think little engines do not need monitoring... it still an engine working to its design... doesn't matter if its 1 cylinder or 24... its all the same systems and needs.

Thanks, regards, Dave

dem45133 07-29-2013 08:12 AM

Re: Helm control panel question
Hello ChuckelsR

Yea, thats what I'm talking about! I love natural wood... its too bad no one (at least that I've found yet) that makes a clear wood finish that is UV PROOF.


chucklesR 07-29-2013 08:22 AM

Re: Helm control panel question
Oh you can do it in wood.
I seriously considered it. My boat is a center cockpit so with the enclosure left on the wood is protected.
Previous owners aside of course. I just got the boat in March.

I'm with you and being able to see - and therefore know what is going on. My Yanmar 44 came with just dummy alarms - no gauges.
The idea that you should just go blindly along until the engine (for example) overheats and THEN worry about it is ridiculous. I want to know before I break it.

PaulinVictoria 07-31-2013 10:40 PM

Re: Helm control panel question
Make sure you can see over it ;)
The main issue I've seen with these huge instrument pods is that a lot of people end up fixated on them and forget to look out of the cockpit at where they are going and what's around.
Generally, the stuff is spread all over the place because that's where the previous owners found it easiest to mount rather than necessarily the optimum position. New boats which were designed from the outset with integrated electronics tend to be more organised, where as your typical GOB had basic mechanical instruments mounted on the bulkhead and then went from there over the years.

Omatako 08-05-2013 10:10 PM

Re: Helm control panel question
The primary reason why I haven't placed all my instruments on the binnacle is because when one is sailing any length of voyage (more than say 3 hours) one doesn't necessarily want to stand behind the wheel the whole time.

If your instruments are all there, that's where you have to be to see them.

A close friend has a new (2012) Beneteau and all the instruments are behind the twin wheels. He can see nothing of them unless he's at the very back of the cockpit. With the autopilot set on a three-day reach, that's the last place you want to sit, right in the weather all the time.

The only instruments I have at the binnacle are the steering compass and the Autopilot controller. Everything else is grouped together but where it can be seen from just about anywhere in the cockpit.

Just my personal preference, YMMV

dem45133 08-05-2013 10:50 PM

Re: Helm control panel question
Thanks... I'll think about that some. Maybe the whole console could be positionable for where ever one is sitting.


manatee 08-06-2013 12:28 AM

Re: Helm control panel question
How much will the various 'gizmos' affect your compass as they are turned on & off in various combinations? Anything with electricity running through it sitting that close to a compass makes me nervous.

All times are GMT -4. The time now is 04:29 PM.

Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.7
Copyright ©2000 - 2017, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.
vBulletin Security provided by vBSecurity v2.2.2 (Pro) - vBulletin Mods & Addons Copyright © 2017 DragonByte Technologies Ltd.
User Alert System provided by Advanced User Tagging v3.1.0 (Pro) - vBulletin Mods & Addons Copyright © 2017 DragonByte Technologies Ltd.
(c) LLC 2000-2012

For the best viewing experience please update your browser to Google Chrome