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patrscoe 03-31-2012 03:42 PM

Homemade navigation housing
I have upgraded my Nav GPS at the helm and have finalized the layout but now trying to decide on how to house the unit along with (3) instruments.
Although Navpods are nice but they can be a bit $$$, especially when you need to (2).
I am looking to build housing units for my GPS and (3) instrument heads and only product that I have seen out there is Starboard, which I never worked with.

Any products out there that is resilient to weather and would look nice at the helm or any experience in building housing units?

I am thinking of a basic box unit, attached to the stainless steel tubing guard, round out the edges of housing units, and recess the GPS into the housing. Similar to a typical Navpod unit but less rounded.

Faster 03-31-2012 06:32 PM

Re: Homemade navigation housing
GOB had a recent article on someone addressing this same issue.

Starboard material is actually quite decent to work with, it machines easily (router) and finishes up quite nicely. IIRC MaineSail made his own instrument platform around the binnacle with it, I've built a cockpit table that worked out quite nicely and it seems to be standing up to UV so far. It takes a screw pretty well too, but be sure to use an adequate pilot hole.

Based on our table experiment, I'd cut it with a router and an edge guide rather than a table saw.. you'll get a much cleaner edge that way.

The only knock on it is that it's rather heavy.. But with care you could certainly create a nice box with radiused edges/corners that might look just fine once done. Attaching it to the binnacle rail will be another challenge...

patrscoe 04-01-2012 03:49 PM

Re: Homemade navigation housing
As long as the material is workable and will last, I should be able to make it work and look nice. Attaching to the guard is not too much of an issue, I can use surface mounted stainless steel tube clamps.
I really do like the Navpods but I have already spent way over my project budget this year on a new feathering prop, Simrad nav station and a expensive bottom barrier coats & paint project.

Faster 04-01-2012 10:37 PM

Re: Homemade navigation housing
As it happens I tried using a holesaw on a piece of StarBoard last night.. it works but the material just as soon melts than cuts this way. Clearing the blade frequently is mandatory. This too would probably get better results using a template/guide and a router bit.

Ritchard 04-01-2012 10:47 PM

Re: Homemade navigation housing
I've used a bit of Starboard lately. I used it to make a panel to cover the holes left by the stone-age Datamarine instruments (no time this spring to glass and paint), as well as using it to make a new face for a used eBay Navpod. It's a really nice material to work with - other than getting white plastic sawdust all over my basement workshop. I respectfully disagree with Faster with respect to cutting. I found that it cut beautifully with a table saw, leaving very clean edges. It sure takes forming with a router nicely.

If you were making a box shape, how would you fasten it together to get a nice result? The material is very hard to fasten to itself, it doesn't really take glue or anything. I understand you can either Ultrasonic or RF (Can't remember which) weld it, but otherwise, how do you make a nice box - esp with the likely 1/4 inch stock?

I may buy a chunk of 1/2 inch to make a cockpit table now. I really like the way it comes out after rounding edges and such.

patrscoe 04-02-2012 08:25 AM

Re: Homemade navigation housing
I would be using 1/2" board, rabbet the corners, use a strong glue bond and temp fasten with stainless steel screws (recess). Has to be secure and somewhat watertight. I never worked with the material before and if it does not take a strong glue bond then it most likely will not work as I don't want the look of all the screws and I will need to round all the corners. A simple box is becoming more complicated.

Ritchard 04-02-2012 09:01 AM

Re: Homemade navigation housing
I just did a bit more reading, it seems it can be glued, using Scotchweld DP-8005 or Lord Corporation's 7540-AB. A quick survey of Starboard glueing posts seems to indicate that it's difficult. Some say impossible, but those are the guys that I tend to like to prove wrong.

Maybe it's worth finding some scraps to test with before you begin to design/engineer your box?

I have heard of scuffing the material with some heavy sandpaper, and as well of hitting it lightly with a torch to sort of "open up" the edges. I'd be interested to know what you find out.

Faster 04-02-2012 10:06 AM

Re: Homemade navigation housing

Originally Posted by Ritchard (Post 853536)
I just did a bit more reading,..... I'd be interested to know what you find out.

As would I... btw I made our table our of 1/2" material and would upgrade that next time.. it's too flexible and without stiffeners will bend and not hold its shape. I've added stiffeners beneath the table and its "OK" but not as stiff or stable as I envisioned. Friends have a 3/4" thick table that is much more solid feeling.. 5/8" might be a compromise if available.

As to table saw cutting, I didn't have a joinery blade so that may be part of the issue.. the sawn edges were quite rough looking. whereas the routered edges came out beautifully.

For fastening I used SS screws.. you could probably sink and plug them as you would a teak table if you wanted to. But it will be very interesting to hear how any attempts at gluing this 'slippery stuff' goes! Keep us posted...

Ritchard 04-02-2012 10:35 AM

Re: Homemade navigation housing

Originally Posted by Faster (Post 853551)
I made our table our of 1/2" material and would upgrade that next time.. it's too flexible and without stiffeners will bend and not hold its shape.

That's interesting to know, I would have thought the 1/2 inch would have been sufficient for a table. Maybe back to the plan of making my table from mahogany.

spinwing 04-02-2012 06:05 PM

Re: Homemade navigation housing
How about this for Plan B?
Last year a friend built one using foam and fibreglass.
He built a block out of foam - building insulation - pink or blue.
Cut it and glued it so that it would fit over the pedestal guard - with some room to spare.
Then he hollowed out the space for his instruments - bread knife and hot knife.
Then he glassed and painted the whole deal.
Sorry that I don't have pictures but you get the idea.
Since you are local, I could arrange a look-see.

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