Cruisers Forum
 


Join CruisersForum Today

Reply
  This discussion is proudly sponsored by:
Please support our sponsors and let them know you heard about their products on Cruisers Forums. Advertise Here
 
Thread Tools Search this Thread Rate Thread Display Modes
Old 13-05-2019, 10:50   #1
Registered User
 
messias's Avatar

Join Date: Jan 2011
Location: Salted & Fresh Water
Boat: Dehler Varianta 65
Posts: 183
The "perfect" switch / Control Panel

Good afternoon everyone,

While refitting my old boat, one of the projects was a complete overhaul (actually build from scratch) of the electrics and electronics. It went pretty well and I was happy with the result... then one thing led to another and I ended up designing/building more panels for friends.

My question to the board is if YOU would have the possibility to renew everything, what would your desires be? What would be a "must have"? "Would love to have" and the absolute perfect panel for you?

Would it be completely digital (as in touch screen and all of that), a combination of both digital and mechanical fail safe?
And what about raw materials... Is the usual boring black aluminium good enough for you or would you rather have something different?

Thanking you in advance for all the input,
Cookie Jar.
__________________

messias is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 13-05-2019, 16:05   #2
Registered User
 
CaptTom's Avatar

Join Date: Apr 2004
Location: Southern Maine
Boat: Prairie 36 Coastal Cruiser
Posts: 1,521
Re: The "perfect" switch / Control Panel

I think I'd go with analog gauges - and plenty of them. That's just a personal preference though. "Must Haves" would be flexibility to swap parts (like, different capacity breakers) and extra room for future additions. Easy ability to manage different loads from different sources as needed. For example, I have two 30A inlets. I can switch my water heater to run off either one, depending on what other loads are on each at any given time.

As for the panel itself, I've had great luck with designing my own custom panels from Front Panel Express. I downloaded their design software and order with just a few clicks. There are probably other companies which offer a similar service, that's just the one I happened to find first. I like being able to lay it out my way, and have text etched in. I even have a small version of my boat's logo etched on. Lots of options, but I like the traditional black panel with white lettering.
__________________

CaptTom is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 13-05-2019, 17:04   #3
Moderator
 
a64pilot's Avatar

Cruisers Forum Supporter

Join Date: Oct 2013
Location: Albany Ga.
Boat: Island Packet 38
Posts: 25,414
Re: The "perfect" switch / Control Panel

Most truly exotic digital instrumentation replicates an analog gauge, either by a ribbon display or similar and often also displays the number.
Many, many digital gauges especially on ones that can change rapidly either have a “snap” function to where they go to the correct reading when close, or are dampened to slow the display so the last digit or so isn’t always an 8.
Apparently you can more easily interpret a needle or similar, but a number requires thought.

On particularly busy instrument panels some will rotate the gauge so that optimum is needle straight up, the old UH-1 was done that way, you could just glance at the panel and if they were all straight up, all was good.
A panel full of a bunch of numbers? Good luck with that.

Sometimes nothing wrong with old school.
a64pilot is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 13-05-2019, 23:46   #4
Registered User
 
messias's Avatar

Join Date: Jan 2011
Location: Salted & Fresh Water
Boat: Dehler Varianta 65
Posts: 183
Re: The "perfect" switch / Control Panel

Thanks for the input gentleman!

Quote:
Originally Posted by CaptTom View Post
I have two 30A inlets. I can switch my water heater to run off either one, depending on what other loads are on each at any given time.
Interesting... (I have always ran small boats, so the loads are nothing compared to yours). Besides the water heater, what else do you have that can draw so many amps?

Quote:
Originally Posted by a64pilot View Post
On particularly busy instrument panels some will rotate the gauge so that optimum is needle straight up, the old UH-1 was done that way, you could just glance at the panel and if they were all straight up, all was good(...)
Sometimes nothing wrong with old school.
That "straight up needles" is a very good idea!
I have always liked old school as well and I am still a big fan of the good old toggle switch. But the times are changing and there are more and more requests for a more "modern" looking panel.
Would you guys find interesting the idea of having a reliable "old school" panel in the cabin, but with a fully digital -and portable- mirroring device at the helm (attachable anywhere actually)? Something like a tablet-like display that could show you all systems at once in a glimpse?

Thanks.
messias is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 14-05-2019, 06:37   #5
Registered User
 
CaptTom's Avatar

Join Date: Apr 2004
Location: Southern Maine
Boat: Prairie 36 Coastal Cruiser
Posts: 1,521
Re: The "perfect" switch / Control Panel

Quote:
Originally Posted by messias View Post
Interesting... (I have always ran small boats, so the loads are nothing compared to yours). Besides the water heater, what else do you have that can draw so many amps?
100A battery charger, 40A battery charger, two reverse-cycle air conditioners, electric range, 12/120V refrigerator, whatever else I plug in...

I'm used to smaller systems too. And sometimes I end up with just one 15A outlet for shore power. So I'm pretty hands-on with load management.

Quote:
Originally Posted by messias View Post
Would you guys find interesting the idea of having a reliable "old school" panel in the cabin, but with a fully digital -and portable- mirroring device at the helm (attachable anywhere actually)? Something like a tablet-like display that could show you all systems at once in a glimpse?
I guess it never occurred to me to want power management capabilities at the helm. That's more for running the boat.

I sort of go the other way. I want the navigation and engine data to be portable. I can already get all my navigation data over WiFi via the Vesper AIS. I really, really wish they'd expand the set of supported NMEA data to include engine information. I have two handheld remote mics for the VHF radios. I guess it would be nice to see charging status and maybe current loading remotely, but that's pretty far down on my list.
CaptTom is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 14-05-2019, 09:36   #6
Registered User

Join Date: Sep 2017
Location: Langley, WA
Boat: Nordic 44
Posts: 729
Re: The "perfect" switch / Control Panel

One thing I did with my panel - colored indicator lights.

If a circuit breaker is always on no light.

If it is sometimes on normally green light.

If it should not usually be on red light.

Sometimes normally on are things like navigation lights, sailing instruments, etc.

Not usually on are things like strobe light, pressure water pump, bilge pump, propane gas valve.

When sailing I can't hear the bilge pump or the pressure water pump. When a water tank is empty the pump runs continuously.

One glance and I know if there is an issue. I also have an audio alarm on the bilge pump so without looking I have a sense of a problem if it keeps cycling.
stormalong is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 15-05-2019, 04:48   #7
Registered User
 
CaptTom's Avatar

Join Date: Apr 2004
Location: Southern Maine
Boat: Prairie 36 Coastal Cruiser
Posts: 1,521
Re: The "perfect" switch / Control Panel

Quote:
Originally Posted by stormalong View Post
One thing I did with my panel - colored indicator lights.
I like this idea! Do the lights just show that the breaker is on or off, or actually show that the pump (for example) is drawing power?

My problem is that what "should" be on or off depends on whether I'm underway or not, anchored or on shore power, day trip or cruising, etc.
CaptTom is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 15-05-2019, 06:03   #8
Registered User

Join Date: May 2011
Location: Toronto
Boat: Sandpiper 565
Posts: 3,880
Re: The "perfect" switch / Control Panel

I overbuilt our custom DC panel (because I'm like that) but I think a few of the ideas are worth sharing.

  • DC breakers - one or two more than needed. Breakers are in the usual logical groups: Nav Lights, Cabin Lights, Nav Instruments, VHF, Stereo, Starboard and Port Aux (12v jacks), etc
  • I didn't do it on mine, but on newer boats I've seen that each breaker has a small LED which is quick confirmation of the circuit being live.
  • load switches with built-in LEDs for nav lights, anchor/steaming etc
  • analog expanded-scale voltmeter (10 to 15V) with switch. I used a good edge-meter which reduces the panel real-estate needed
  • my labelling for breakers and switches is laser-printed paper strips in clear plastic holders (cut-down clear file tabs). They look good but are also easy to change. If you are pretty sure of your desired grouping, a custom silkscreened or engraved panel is of course the best-looking
  • I put a 12v jack and binding posts for one of the Aux circuits right on the panel. Makes it easy to temporarily plug in or hook up anything 12v.
Upstream of the panel, I put a 40A self-resetting automotive-type thermal breaker at the battery to protect the panel feed and the panel itself. The value was chosen because I know I'll never draw 40A from 12v on this boat. (In fact I could have used 30 or 20A. Hmmm.) Obviously every boat's requirement will be different. You can plan to protect certain parts of the panel with such a breaker (eg lights, instruments, radio, stereo) while giving heavy loads (eg inverter, windlass) their own breakers direct off the battery. And obviously starters connect directly.

My boat doesn't have multiple battery banks so I have little to contribute there. I've seen boats with two symmetrical banks and a 1/2/both/off battery switch, and boats with the direct-connected start bank and an echo-charger to a single house bank which feeds the panel.


[edit] - yeah Capt Tom, I like LEDs and lit switches too, and they typically draw just 5 to 10 mA each.
Lake-Effect is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 15-05-2019, 09:20   #9
Registered User

Join Date: Sep 2017
Location: Langley, WA
Boat: Nordic 44
Posts: 729
Re: The "perfect" switch / Control Panel

Quote:
Originally Posted by CaptTom View Post
I like this idea! Do the lights just show that the breaker is on or off, or actually show that the pump (for example) is drawing power?

My problem is that what "should" be on or off depends on whether I'm underway or not, anchored or on shore power, day trip or cruising, etc.
For things with their own automatic switches, like the bilge pump and water pressure pump the light goes on only if it is pumping. For things like the propane gas valve and the emergency strobe the light is on when they are switched on at the panel. The battery charger indicator is lit if it is switched on at the panel.

Things that are always on have no indicator.
stormalong is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 24-05-2019, 17:43   #10
Registered User
 
MarkusK's Avatar

Join Date: Feb 2017
Location: Lacolle Quebec
Boat: Tanzer 8.5 #51
Posts: 136
Re: The "perfect" switch / Control Panel

Quote:
Originally Posted by a64pilot View Post

On particularly busy instrument panels some will rotate the gauge so that optimum is needle straight up, the old UH-1 was done that way, you could just glance at the panel and if they were all straight up, all was good.
Reminds me of my Honda Interceptor VF500. I could tell that I was in sixth gear because tach and speedo needles were exactly parallel to each other.

Straight up was 180 kph at 10000 rpm. Err...extrapolated...
__________________
Markus
MarkusK is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 11-06-2019, 02:22   #11
Registered User

Join Date: May 2012
Location: Tweed Heads,N.S.W. Australia
Boat: Dinghies to Admirals Cup contender,the lot.
Posts: 91
Re: The "perfect" switch / Control Panel

…..hour meters on the bilge pumps...…..shows if they have been operating whilst away from vessel...…..
grahamb is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 11-06-2019, 03:03   #12
Bailing as fast as I can.
 
GILow's Avatar

Join Date: Sep 2008
Location: Adelaide, South Australia
Boat: Swanson 42
Posts: 4,932
The "perfect" switch / Control Panel

My preference is for:

Analogue gauges for power consumption and production.

Logical grouping of displays and components.

No annoyingly bright LEDs.

Decent dimmer control on the whole thing.

Oh yeah, and the switches the right way up. What’s all this up-for-on nonsense?
__________________

__________________
Count-down has commenced.
GILow is offline   Reply With Quote
Reply

Tags
control panel

Thread Tools Search this Thread
Search this Thread:

Advanced Search
Display Modes Rate This Thread
Rate This Thread:

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are Off


Similar Threads
Thread Thread Starter Forum Replies Last Post
"What makes the perfect boat woman...perfect" Celestialsailor Our Community 221 10-10-2017 10:38
380 S2: "Auxilary" Switch on Electrical Panel Navasana Lagoon Catamarans 7 01-06-2017 04:30
Perfect Boat or Perfect Place? Hanna&Chris General Sailing Forum 22 08-10-2009 19:27



Copyright 2002- Social Knowledge, LLC All Rights Reserved.

All times are GMT -7. The time now is 21:37.


Google+
Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.8 Beta 1
Copyright ©2000 - 2019, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.
Social Knowledge Networks
Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.8 Beta 1
Copyright ©2000 - 2019, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.

ShowCase vBulletin Plugins by Drive Thru Online, Inc.