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72 | BoatU.S. Magazine
place, and insert the mounting hardware. If
the included hardware consists of screws,
replace them with through-bolts and aircraft-grade Nylock locking nuts, which will keep
the mount more secure.
STEP 2 RUNNING THE
WIRES AND CABLES
Before you can get power to your new radio,
you’ll need to drill one more hole in the
helm, this one for the wires. To determine
the best location, put the radio in the binnacle mount and see where the wiring harness falls. Locate a spot for the hole that
won’t force any hard or abrupt bends in the
wires, and be sure to use a bit that makes
a hole of sufficient size for both the wiring
harness and the antenna cable. After drilling
the hole, feed the radio’s wires down into it.
You’ll also need to bring the antenna cable
up through the hole, but first, remove the
cable’s connector by cutting it off. Discard
the old connector — reusing it risks a poor
connection — and after feeding the cable up
through the helm, attach a new Centerpin
PL-259 connector to the end according to
the included instructions.
The rest of the wiring work will have to
be done from under the helm; depending on
the situation, you may or may not need to
extend the power leads for the radio to reach
your power source. If you do need to extend
them, use only the wire type and size(s) that
conform to ABYC standards (see our Tech
sidebar). Crimp butt connectors to the wire
connections, protect them with the adhesive-lined heat-shrink tubing, and close off any
gaps with liquid electric tape. At the terminal
ends, crimp on terminal connectors, again
protecting the connections with adhesive-lined heat-shrink tubing and liquid electric
tape. Don’t attach the terminal connectors to
the power source just yet; we’ll do this as we
complete the final stage of this project.
STEP 3 INTERFACING THE
VHF WITH YOUR GPS TO
ALLOW DSC FUNCTIONALITY
You might be tempted to skip this step.
Don’t! According to the Coast Guard, even
though all VHFs sold in the U.S. are required
by law to have DSC functionality, 90 per-
cent of the boats with GPS and VHF units
onboard don’t have them properly interfaced
— even though DSC (which gives the Coast
Guard your exact location, identity, and
boat information automatically, if you make
a mayday call) is one of the best and most
cost-effective safety features available today.
STEP 4 SECURING THE SYSTEM
With everything in place, it’s time to batten
down the hatches. Start by securing a clamshell fitting (see
in the helm, and
seal the opening
with a healthy dose
of silicone to prevent
water intrusion. Next, use
tie wraps or cushioned clamps to support
the power and NMEA interface wires at least
every 18 inches, in accordance with ABYC
recommendations. Finally, with the battery
switch turned off, attach the power leads.
Ideally this would be negative to a ground
bar, and positive to a dedicated circuit breaker
at a breaker panel with tripping capacity as
recommended by manufacturer. Now, you’re
ready to turn the battery back on and test
the system. Perform a standard radio check
on a non-commercial and non-government
(“working”) channel, such as 68 or 72, to
make sure everything is operating properly.
Then fill the cooler with snacks and drinks
and go enjoy some time off the dock. After
completing this job, you deserve it.
Lenny Rudow is BoatU.S.
Magazine’s electronics editor.
OCTOBER | NOVEMBER 2011