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On board Gizmo, the last frontier

Written by Ben Ellison on Feb 25, 2013 for Panbo, The Marine Electronics Hub

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In retrospect, it's almost funny that the very first picture of Gizmo I published on Panbo (repeated above) highlighted that mess of wiring tucked under the circuit breaker panel. In the four years since, I've at least figured out, and in many cases changed or removed, nearly every electrical component on the boat. Just before I went to the Miami show it seemed like the time had come to attack what lay behind that nice little access door, but things did not go well...

My plan was to detach all the terminal strips and remount on them on a square of plywood that I could slide up behind the hinged breaker panel when I needed to change circuit configurations to install improvements like the Maretron DCR100. But as I worked through the access door and from behind the breaker panel, I realized that there were more terminal strips down there than I anticipated. Plus it became clear that the person who did the original wiring somehow had much more access to the space than I did... 

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As you can see above, the situation deteriorated as I detached more and more terminal blocks and cable hangers. I created an even worse mess of wiring that I still couldn't pull up or out of that cavity, even after I removed the companionway stairs and the access door frame. Drastic action was required...

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I had to cut a much larger access hole in poor Gizmo! And, yes, I do wish that I'd done it before detaching most of the terminal blocks. I also wish that the original installer hadn't laid such a booby trap, but I'll try to remember how easy the rest of the boat's wiring is to access.
   At any rate, I ended up re-installing many of the terminal blocks and am not done yet. But guts of Gizmo's wiring is finally fully accessible and thus ready for upgrading. The photo below shows how I left things when I headed back north on Friday. The DCR100 will of course get more feeds and a permanent mount in the lower section, and the CZone power distribution and switching box is ready for circuit feeds. If you compare the top photo with this one you'll see how many components have been removed -- like the second 30 amp shore power feed and the various switches needed to integrate it. The picture will probably make a professional installer shudder, but I think it's safer and more rational than it may look.
   But it will be a few weeks until I get back to this project and couple others I've made room for. Most of that time I'll be home in Maine but I took a significant detour en route. Check my DeLorme inReach page. I'm in Las Palmas just about to experience a B&G product launch and demo. I will report on that soon.

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