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  #1  
Old 02-12-2011
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Endoscope/snake cam -- a look inside our mast

A few months ago DavidPM and I tried to run a messenger line down the mast of my boat. We were installing a Bullet2HP long distance WiFi at the top of the mast and needed to run the Cat5 cable to connect it to the router at the nav station.

We could not get the messenger line to run down to the mast's exit point inside the salon. No matter how many times we tried, it didn't go through. Today I found out why.

For this project (and to locate a socket that rolled under the hull liner) I bought a snake camera/endoscope. Here's the unit I bought for about $50 including shipping.



Here's a shot taken from inside the salon. I put the camera in the mast through the holes where the anchor light wire comes out.


I saw right away why we couldn't get the messenger line (and the new wire) through the mast.

I then went up on deck and looked down the mast. These shots were taken from about 5 or 6 feet above the deck.






Note the conduit that brings the wires down the mast, right to the top of the baffle. You can see the wires going from the conduit to the center hole.

.

I know you REALLY want to see up the mast, right? Here are 2 pictures of that.




Hope you enjoyed these. Now I have to figure out how to get a messenger line down through these obstacles. The endoscope has attachments that go on the tip. I may be able to use it to help feed a messenger line around corners or at least throught the 2 baffles.

Regards,
Brad
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Last edited by Bene505; 02-12-2011 at 08:11 PM.
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Old 02-12-2011
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Brad is studying up for a second career as a Proctologist...

Nice post and photos...
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Old 02-12-2011
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Is the "messenger" just a length of string or small diameter line? If so, go to your local hardware store and get a fish-tape, like this:



It should be stiff enough to allow you to squirrel the end through the necessary holes/conduits while using the image from your endoscope to guide it.

If that doesn't work, you may have to consult with Miss Frizzle and her class:
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Old 02-12-2011
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Very cool indeed. I noticed a black (coax?) wire looked bent at an acute angle, and seemed frayed..worth a closer look? (photos from deckside down)
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Old 02-12-2011
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Very cool bene! You are the king of cool gadgets.
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Old 02-13-2011
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Mastoproctectomy


Use something weightedlikea sinker for fishing...that helped me thread the messanger down
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Old 02-13-2011
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Brad
Are there wires in the mast running where you want to feed the new cat 5 cable? If so, use one on the existing wires to pull a messenger up (or down) the mast after freeing one end. Then use the messenger to pull that wire back along with the new cat 5 cable.

ps Those snake cameras are handy at times. I've had mine for 4 or 5 years but it cost a bit more than $50.
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Old 02-13-2011
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mitiempo View Post
Brad
Are there wires in the mast running where you want to feed the new cat 5 cable? If so, use one on the existing wires to pull a messenger up (or down) the mast after freeing one end. Then use the messenger to pull that wire back along with the new cat 5 cable.

ps Those snake cameras are handy at times. I've had mine for 4 or 5 years but it cost a bit more than $50.
Mitiempo and Paul323

We tried that with and unused coax cable. David pulled it down (with a string attached. It got all the way down but the taped-on string made enough of a bump on the side of the cable that it stopped the cable from making the turn at the bottom of the conduit. The cable snapped in half (on a diagonal).

That's what you see in the picture, a short length of broken coax with shiny wires showing. Paul spotted it.
.

Previously, we used a 3 foot length of pull-cord attached to a string. It provided a good weight, and you could hear it inside the mast when you "jigged" it up and down at the blockage/baffle.

Smack -- headed out to go surfing right now (car's already started).

Regards,
Brad
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Old 02-13-2011
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Oh, that's clever! I have never looked inside a keel-stepped mast before. It looks like the interior is set up like a dorade to route water coming down the conduit out through the drain hole. I guess the conduit reaches to or below the top of the baffle pipe to ensure the wiring runs uphill part of the way so water does not run down it and into the cabin.

Would you have any chance of jiggling a bent fish tape poked up through the baffle pipe and snagging a messenger string dropped through the conduit? Tying a fairly long, skinny fishing weight to the end would cause it to fall to down and away from the conduit. OTOH, that approach would take a boatload of patience.

Maybe the right approach is a fairly stiff messenger wire you could force down through the conduit and out into a tangle that would be easier to grab with a fishtape. Hmmmm ....

I wonder how boat builders thread their wire and cables originally? They've got to have a technique for this.
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Old 02-13-2011
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Pure inspiration. I just ordered the endoscope from Amazon! Thanks Bene.
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