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Old 14-06-2016, 09:38   #1
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Complete Nav Electronics Install - DIY or ?

I've got a boat with pretty old Raymarine electronics - E80 classic and all the other associated stuff (SmartPilot autopilot, ST60+ instruments, etc). Things are starting to break down and I'd like to upgrade everything to the latest and greatest. I've never worked on these marine navigation systems before, but I am fairly electronics saavy.

My question is this: should I attempt to DIY the whole project, hire a professional to do it, or is it possible to hire a professional installer as a 'consultant' to help me come up with the plan / schematic and then doing most of the work myself. I'm leaning towards #3 but wondering what CF thinks. The main reason I'm wanting to DIY is so that I really understand the system top to bottom and can fix it myself when things go wrong.
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Old 14-06-2016, 12:00   #2
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Re: Complete Nav Electronics Install - DIY or ?

I always prefer to work with clients and let them pull the wires and make the connections themselves

They need to understand how this all works since I won't be there when it breaks

Some techs don't like to work with customers, I do...


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Old 14-06-2016, 17:22   #3
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Re: Complete Nav Electronics Install - DIY or ?

Quote:
Originally Posted by cainiao View Post
My question is this: should I attempt to DIY the whole project, hire a professional to do it, or is it possible to hire a professional installer as a 'consultant' to help me come up with the plan / schematic and then doing most of the work myself. I'm leaning towards #3 but wondering what CF thinks. The main reason I'm wanting to DIY is so that I really understand the system top to bottom and can fix it myself when things go wrong.
If you have the confidence with electricity and electronics, and are willing to do some learning and careful planning, and have the time... then DIY can be very rewarding as well as a saving. If you can find a good, knowledgeable dealer and give him/her the order, you may find that they will be very helpful with the system design and advice. Or you can shop online for best prices, then hire someone to be your designer and mentor.

I'm sure that if you ask questions and post diagrams of your intended system, you'll find lots of help here too.
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Old 14-06-2016, 17:31   #4
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Re: Complete Nav Electronics Install - DIY or ?

Electronics is easy peasy.... if it's a N2K you just plug and play.... biggest challenge is install the units and running the wiring.

What system to get is the question and where you like to see the data... at the nav station and or in the cockpit.
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Old 14-06-2016, 17:56   #5
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Re: Complete Nav Electronics Install - DIY or ?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Scott Berg View Post
I always prefer to work with clients and let them pull the wires and make the connections themselves

They need to understand how this all works since I won't be there when it breaks

Some techs don't like to work with customers, I do...


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Astute and correct.

Scott is one of the few who really understand.

Thanks.
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Old 14-06-2016, 18:03   #6
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Re: Complete Nav Electronics Install - DIY or ?

DIY for sure, and sell your "old" stuff or donate it, some cruisers would love an upgrade to it.
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Old 14-06-2016, 18:05   #7
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Re: Complete Nav Electronics Install - DIY or ?

Having designed a number of systems and installed maybe a dozen, I say if you are not secure with your system design skills or installation skills, hire a pro. Or else hire one for the parts where you are not able or willing to do the part.

If the design is good, you can do at least part of the install by yourself than ask a pro to check it, finish up the hard parts and switch the system ON.

I found the design stage edging on difficult, install part easy and interfacing easy to impossible (depending on how well the design was done ...)

A project for a keen hobbyist at any rate.

b.
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Old 14-06-2016, 18:27   #8
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Re: Complete Nav Electronics Install - DIY or ?

I would go for no. 3 myself, having done just that on most of my systems. But here is something to try first. All of the major brands (I vote for Garmin!) have extensive installation manuals on line. Read them and see if they make sense to you. If not, then ask questions. If it still doesnt make sense then hire the pro to advise you. There is absolutely no reason to pay somebody $120 an hour (or whatever they charge where you are) to pull wires through narrow places unless you really don't want to do it. My experience is that the problems encountered are almost always poorly done connections. Be willing to do things slowly and to do them over again if need be. But first, go to a boat show and play with all the different brands to see which you like best. West marine is a pretty good place to do that too.
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Old 14-06-2016, 22:47   #9
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Re: Complete Nav Electronics Install - DIY or ?

I ran the wires, cut the holes in the panels, installed the knot meter, depth sounder, auto pilot, and wind point gauges, VHF, Ham radio, tuner, GPS Plotter, autopilot, Pactor Modem, AIS, depth sounder transducer, wiring, and the antenna farm all theses electronics required. Once it was all together the ham radio, AIS, VHF and Pactor Modem didn't work.

Hired an electronics technician to figure out what was wrong. The Ham radio turned out to be an internal issue with the radio not sending a signal to the tuner. Buying a tuner that tuned off the radio's RF output solved that problem. The Pactor Modem needed the proper adapter cable and a software install which a trip to Farallon Electronics took care of. The AIS was figuring unscrewing up my Coax connector solder job and figuring out how to get it to talk to the plotter. The VHF was another one of my poor solder jobs with a coax connector. $400 spent on the electronics technician was cheap money spent as I had no idea where to even start to figure out where the problems lay let alone fix them.

The amount of time I spent running the wires and mounting the hardware and other boat yoga exercises probably saved me a boat unit at a minimum if I'd had a professional do them. Probably would have cost that alone to install the masthead VHF antenna.
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Old 15-06-2016, 11:11   #10
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Re: Complete Nav Electronics Install - DIY or ?

There are many, many advantages to DIY installs/repairs as others have stated. I'm in Oriental, NC and operate a DIY Marine business. There are several mobile guys and of course the boatyards. They all charge $60-$80 per hour and only want to do the entire job. I don't want to do the entire job at all and about 70% of my business is as a consultant only. In a few cases I do more but won't take on a project unless the owner wants to do as much as he/she can.

Several have said it and I'll say it again. You learn A LOT when you do most of the work and are prepared to resolve issues when there is no one else around. If you want to PM me I'll be happy talk with you.

Here is a link to my website: DIY Marine | only the help you need

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Old 15-06-2016, 11:18   #11
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Re: Complete Nav Electronics Install - DIY or ?

For sure do it yourself. I did and am very happy with how everything works great--radar, AIS, chartplotter, MFD, autopilot, SSB, VHF radios, bouquet of antennas for AIS, VHF (2), GPS, Satphone, SSB, and solar charging system.
Very rewarding and eliminates boat mysteries in your head. You definitely end up knowing where everything is, where it goes, how it goes, etc., and you know your diligence in making secure and solid connections. Get a good wire stripper, crimper, heat gun for lots of shrink tubing, etc. Let yourself enjoy it and don't rush.
Enjoy!
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