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Old 07-10-2019, 06:54   #1
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To rewire, or to leave alone?

Been a while since I posted on this forum, but thats more or less because things have been going well, so thats good I guess.

I have a decision to make here on the wiring for my nav equipment:

Currently, my Morgan has a Raymarine C120 display, 3 st60 sailing gauges, a Raymarine radar, stand alone AIS receiver, and Raymarine weather module all networked together.

Everything works flawlessly, and the system is about half original seatalk and half seatalk NG.

The previous owner, or whoever he hired, did a terrible job with this, there are soldered connections in radio shack project boxes, homemade seatalk conversion boxes, a weird box labeled 'radar' with a bunch of soldered power wires, its just a mess.

But it works. flawlessly. I want to rip it all out and renetwork everything, but I'm worried I'll be opening a can of worms and take steps backwards on a working system.

Any advice on leave it or rip it out? and if Im gunna rip it out, maybe a way to get the whole thing talking on one interface, no more half seatalk NG?

Thanks!
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Old 07-10-2019, 07:49   #2
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Re: To rewire, or to leave alone?

"It works flawlessly ..." How are you going to improve on that?

If I were you I would try to put aside the money to replace the whole system and then only do it when it stops working flawlessly.
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Old 07-10-2019, 09:25   #3
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Re: To rewire, or to leave alone?

Geez, don’t touch it - go fix something that’s broke.
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Old 07-10-2019, 09:40   #4
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Re: To rewire, or to leave alone?

The counter argument to "it's ain't broke, so don't fix it" is reliability. You are already concerned about the sketchy wiring. How are you going to feel about it in the middle of the night during a blow just off the coast? That's when it is going to fail. I'm a worrier, so I would upgrade it preemptively, not wait for it to fail.
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Old 07-10-2019, 10:22   #5
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Re: To rewire, or to leave alone?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jhardgrave View Post
... there are soldered connections in radio shack project boxes ...
Properly made soldered connections are superior to terminal blocks, butt connectors, or other crimp connectors. Having these inside of project boxes neither adds nor detract - it's all in how it's carried out.

You don't indicate your own skill and knowledge levels. If you're highly skilled, both in the understanding of networking, NMEA/Seatalk signaling, electrical connections, etc., by all means, take one area at a time, gain a full understanding of what's done, and then redo to your own standards of excellence.

Otherwise, as already noted, the more appropriate time to take on such a project might be when equipment gets replaced, or significant additions are needed.
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Old 07-10-2019, 11:59   #6
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Re: To rewire, or to leave alone?

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Originally Posted by nofacey View Post
Geez, don’t touch it - go fix something that’s broke.


And obviously the previous owner learned that electrically the most reliable wiring connection is a soldered connection.

On my previous boat all the hidden electrical connections were twisted, soldered, hot melt glue coated then heat shrink insulated. Heating the heat shrink re-melted to hot melt glue and the excess was squeezed out the ends. In 30 years not one failure.
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Old 07-10-2019, 12:19   #7
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Re: To rewire, or to leave alone?

The previous owner did a terrible job, but it works flawlessly.
Rather obvious contradiction in terms.
Btw - the ST60 instruments are native Seatalk1. There is no way to have everything on the same communications bus - it has to be a hybrid system unless you replace the ST60 instruments.
Seatalk1 was a serial RS-232 type communication protocall, with only a single ended signal referenced to ground. Seatalkng is similar to RS-422 where the signal is differential.
Tear out the whole system or leave it alone.
Radio Shack hobby boxes work just fine in dry locations. Soldering signal wiring works far better than crimped connections in my experience. Of course, soldering is more difficult to master than just pulling out the crimping tool.
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Old 07-10-2019, 12:21   #8
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Re: To rewire, or to leave alone?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jhardgrave View Post
Everything works flawlessly, and the system is about half original seatalk and half seatalk NG.

The previous owner, or whoever he hired, did a terrible job with this, there are soldered connections in radio shack project boxes, homemade seatalk conversion boxes, a weird box labeled 'radar' with a bunch of soldered power wires, its just a mess.

But it works. flawlessly.
Since it all works, you have the luxury of planning out what you consider would be optimum. Then you can make incremental changes, starting with the worst or ugliest.

Crimped terminals and terminal strips are reliable and offer the most flexibility.
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Old 07-10-2019, 13:17   #9
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Re: To rewire, or to leave alone?

Thanks for all of the input guys! To clarify, the soldering looks ok, but my gawd, in some places theres so much extra wire coiled up in the project box, the lid wont close all the way. There's a lack of of wire management or overall design intent, and in some places the solders on small network wires are fully exposed in the engine room.

Im sure its fairly sound work, but it just bothers me looking at it, doesn't give me 'pride of ownership'.

But like someone mentioned above, im comfortable with wires and 12v, but renetworking a hybrid nmea system will push my comfort zone.

I like the idea of leaving it be until ready for a top down refit, so long as I can count on it.

But I'll gladly take any further opinions! Thanks!
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Old 07-10-2019, 13:39   #10
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Re: To rewire, or to leave alone?

it would be good to at least learn how it works and why the PO may have done it that way. you may see some things that need to be changed or improved on. as the OP said: if you wait until it fails it may be at the worst possible time. maybe some labels would help. maybe it's not as bad as you think
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Old 08-10-2019, 00:41   #11
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Re: To rewire, or to leave alone?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jhardgrave View Post
has a Raymarine C120 display, 3 st60 sailing gauges, a Raymarine radar, stand alone AIS receiver, and Raymarine weather module all networked together. ... the system is about half original seatalk and half seatalk NG. ... did a terrible job with this, there are soldered connections in radio shack project boxes, homemade seatalk conversion boxes, a weird box labeled 'radar' with a bunch of soldered power wires, its just a mess

But it works. flawlessly.
In my humble opinion, if it works flawlessly: leave it alone. Changes are that the previous owner knew what he did. Take your time, think/learn, save money and then...

...kick out everything (sell it on ebay), replace all cables and redo it. I'd go with a B&G Zeus3 and an AIS transceiver.
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Old 08-10-2019, 09:59   #12
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Re: To rewire, or to leave alone?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jhardgrave View Post
Thanks for all of the input guys! To clarify, the soldering looks ok, but my gawd, in some places theres so much extra wire coiled up in the project box, the lid wont close all the way. There's a lack of of wire management or overall design intent, and in some places the solders on small network wires are fully exposed in the engine room.
I don't know what it is about some people. They just can bear to cut wires to length. I even cut the telephone/RJ45 cables supplied with many electronics to length and crimp on a new connector.

Anywho, I'd look at eliminating the excess wire, one project box and a time. That'll give you a better understanding of what's been done whilst eliminating offending clutter, which clutter will make diagnosing a failure harder in the future.

You might also look at simply neatening things up with wire ties and mounts, if there is enough slack to do so. It's amazing what a difference doing that makes.

S
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Old 08-10-2019, 10:15   #13
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Re: To rewire, or to leave alone?

Got to agree with most of what has been said , if it works leave it alone ,
Or you can slowly and carefully take one part at a time and clean it up and reset it ,
Pulling it all out and trying to get it back together may be a step to far
1. leave it and it works
2. Slowly take each connection out and redo it and replace it and move on to the next one
3. take lots of photos pull it all out and rewire , this is a big job and will take longer , get you more agitated , create new sweary words and the wife might leave you
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Old 08-10-2019, 10:37   #14
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Re: To rewire, or to leave alone?

You’ll know in your heart if this needs redoing or not. “It works flawlessly” until it doesn’t. My wiring is 20 years old. Much of the wire is not tinned. May of the crimps do not have shrink sleaving. Nothing is labeled. The signs are there. My windlass was “working flawlessly”. Then it didn’t. The fault? A crimped connection failed and it loon a long time to diagnose. Nothing wrong with crimped, many experts will tell you they are better than soldered but with no protection and on non tinned wire 20 years old they will fail.
My lesson? Figure out what’s critical and fix it proactively. Who would fly with an airline that waits for things to fail before they fix them?
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Old 08-10-2019, 11:12   #15
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Re: To rewire, or to leave alone?

I’d leave it alone as it’s dated architecture, wait until you start replacing it with NMEA 2000 stuff, then of course run new cabling, cause you have to.
NMEA 2000 is so old I would have expected it to be replaced by now, but it hasn’t seemingly.
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