Old boat, old electronics what did you do? - SailNet Community
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post #1 of 29 Old 05-20-2017 Thread Starter
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Old boat, old electronics what did you do?

I am sure I am not the only owner of an old boat that still has those 70s 4" round instrument displays poking through the bulkhead. I have 4 of them! Just wondering what others have done when these fail or just get tired? Cost of any upgrade is a big factor considering way value of used boats has plummeted.

Background:
I have 1978 vintage Datamarine depth & speed. Both still work! But they have the original LED digital displays that are quite dim and hard to read in sunlight.
There is also a log, but it at present just fills the hole. Not needed and hasn't worked for years.
The wind instrument has an LCD speed readout. It failed but I found a replacement and soldered it in. The instrument works, but suffers from unreliable data connections between head and top of mast (3 plugs).

The thru hull transducers are still good. Ideally I would get new head units that could use them. But they are quite ancient! The masthead unit is rough, but still in one piece (changed cups once).

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post #2 of 29 Old 05-20-2017
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Re: Old boat, old electronics what did you do?

I have B&G Hornet Sailing monitor...w/ wind, boat speed and a Hecta depth ... with 4" cockpit repeaters. They are 32 years old.. and have worked continuously without a problem They are no longer supported... so when they fail... I will be forced to go current generation. No I can't network them to a plotter at the nav station which I almost never look at...

For now they are WAY more than I need and very precise with boat speed to .01 of a knot!
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post #3 of 29 Old 05-21-2017
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Re: Old boat, old electronics what did you do?

DMI services Datamarine instruments. Have parts and can service the units and also have a line of replacements instruments. Here's the link. DMI Marine, Inc.

A possible cause of the hard-to-read displays is that the polarizing films has been damaged by the sun over the years. Look at the displays with polarized sunglasses. If that increased the contrast, then some inexpensive polarizing film from Amazon will make them much more readable. The readouts can be replaced, but it's not cheap if you have DMI do it.

If you don't have covers for the instruments, get some from DMI. Only $5 each.
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post #4 of 29 Old 05-21-2017
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Re: Old boat, old electronics what did you do?

I glasses over the holes, Installed a teak binocular holder on the outside and a chart/document holder on the inside to cover the areas.
I also didn't have 4 holes, could look at drink holders etc. Maybe mount a GPS/MFD through bulkhead to "fill in". Louvered vents...
Lots of options, probably harder to decide which options you want.

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Re: Old boat, old electronics what did you do?

Quote:
Originally Posted by JimsCAL View Post
DMI services Datamarine instruments. Have parts and can service the units and also have a line of replacements instruments. Here's the link. DMI Marine, Inc.
I am aware of DMI and have bought both covers and masthead cups set from them in past. However, their replacement Phoenix heads are pricey at $499 and it is not clear whether they would work with existing transducers. I haven't asked because ~C$1400 is just too much for those instruments even if transducers will work. I might ask if they can upgrade the LED readouts. I replaced the LCD readout on my wind instruments, so maybe that is another option. But presumably would have to stay with LEDs.

Still interested in what others in similar situation have done. Hopefully without spending too many $$$$s
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Re: Old boat, old electronics what did you do?

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Originally Posted by Tanski View Post
I glasses over the holes, Installed a teak binocular holder on the outside and a chart/document holder on the inside to cover the areas.
I also didn't have 4 holes, could look at drink holders etc. Maybe mount a GPS/MFD through bulkhead to "fill in". Louvered vents...
Lots of options, probably harder to decide which options you want.
I could make plugs out of Starboard or similar and close the holes. A couple could be used for new instruments, I guess. But maybe a combo unit at pedestal would be all we would need.

What did you do for instruments after you closed off the holes?
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Re: Old boat, old electronics what did you do?

Garmin GPS with a NEMA 2000 speed/depth/temp transducer. Thought about updating wind but I'm happy enough with a standard windex. Not racing anymore so I've taken a more relaxed approach, I'll get there when I get there...
Still have a bulkhead mounted compass just in case of an electronics failure.
Just sailing Lk. Ontario so not like I really need a whole lot of complexity, main thing I like is being able to set my tiller pilot to follow a track while I kick back and keep the sails trimmed.
That is also on the network.
DSC VHF is nema 183 direct to the gps.

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Re: Old boat, old electronics what did you do?

Quote:
Originally Posted by FreeAgent View Post
I am aware of DMI and have bought both covers and masthead cups set from them in past. However, their replacement Phoenix heads are pricey at $499 and it is not clear whether they would work with existing transducers. I haven't asked because ~C$1400 is just too much for those instruments even if transducers will work. I might ask if they can upgrade the LED readouts. I replaced the LCD readout on my wind instruments, so maybe that is another option. But presumably would have to stay with LEDs.

Still interested in what others in similar situation have done. Hopefully without spending too many $$$$s
I did replace the round Kenyon instruments in my previous boat with newer square ones. I also had four holes. Filled them in with plywood when covered with epoxy and painted. Three of the four were then covered by the new instruments. I put a small holder for a handheld GPS or VHF in the fourth. You are looking at close to $1500 for as speed/depth/wind system.

Try the polarizing film trick. Made my 30 year old Datamarine instruments much more readable. I am holding off on replacing them until they die.

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Re: Old boat, old electronics what did you do?

I'd personally just say the instruments are old enough to replace, not go down the long road of trying to baby more years out of them. So, you pull them, sell 'em on ebay as spare parts or toss them, as you fancy. Then fill the holes in the hull by epoxying in matching plugs from good plywood, and check out your local "trophy" shop, the ones who make bowling trophies and all. They can probably sell you a nice sheet of white phenolic or other "plastic" that cna be mounted over the plugged area, so there's just one neat new "plate" where all the old stuff was. (Or you can buy something online, or really splurge and do fiberglass repairs.(G)

Decide what new stuff you want, decide how you want to lay it out, make sure the new "plate" will be large enough and sized properly to make it look like that was always the intent, to be the backing plate for the new installation.

Plan the whole thing out and get all your measuring done. Buy the instruments and materials, one weekend and you'll have it all installed. And with any luck, it won't need any attention for another 20 years.

The hardest part these days is to pick out which toys, and to try to lay your hands on them in a store to see if they actually work as well as everyone claims.
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post #10 of 29 Old 05-21-2017
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Re: Old boat, old electronics what did you do?

If it works, I would leave it. The longer you can wait, the more up to date stuff you will get for your dollar. And maybe do just one big update later. The hard to read display might be improved as suggested. Polishing the display surface with the stuff used to polish car headlights sometimes works too.

Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.
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