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Outdated To Updated Part 9: Front Graph Install

In Part 9 we demonstrate the installation process of three Humminbird Helix units on a Bass Boats Technology Triple Mount.

Outdated To Updated Part 9: Front Graph Install

Catch up on the series:

Part 1: Bass Boat Breakdown

Part 2: Bass Boat Interior Repairs

Part 3: Minn Kota Raptor Install

Part 4: Bass Boat Repower

Part 5: BBT Custom Dash Graph Mounts

Part 6: Electronics Full Repower

Part 7: Minn Kota Ultrex Install

Part 8: 360 Mount and Ethernet Hub




In Part 9 of this series, we’ll demonstrate how to maximize the front-deck applications to updating a 2007 Ranger Z20. This boat was not originally designed to support this amount of technology, but with the right gear, some creativity and extra effort, you can bring an older rig like mine to state of the art.

We’ll demonstrate how to add three graphs to the front of an older bass boat meant to accommodate modern applications including Humminbird’s Mega 360, Live and of course standard 2D, Down Imaging and of course Lakemaster Mapping—all connected through the One-Boat Network.

And a shout out to Bass Boat Technologies for making available a unique mount for this specific boat, without it this build would not have been possible. BBT does a tremendous job building custom components for new and older boats, making modern technology integration very simple. Not only is this a cosmetic update, but the support and reliability are unmatched. I highly suggest contacting Bass Boat Technologies to see about updating your boat. You won’t be disappointed, I promise.

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Old front graph mount

The previous set-up was certainly productive for its time. I had a single Humminbird G2N Helix 12 placed on a bridge mount over the front side of the trolling motor pedal. It worked well and I never had any issues, but a serious upgrade was needed with the addition of Humminbird’s Mega 360 and Live sonars.

new graph mount not installed

The new layout would feature three graphs, two G4N Helix 12s and a G4N Helix 15 to provide ample amounts of information and separation of details with multiple graphs. The Bass Boat Technology graph mount was custom built for a 2007 Ranger Z20 and will replace the existing old and beat-up plastic face plate. This is a much sturdier option, and it nicely dressed everything up.

Heading sensor and Hydrowave

In addition to adding three graphs, one of which will be supporting Mega 360, I elected to add a special Humminbird AS GPS HS – External Receiver with Heading Sensor so I could add waypoints to 360. Without this sensor, you won’t be able to do that. I also decided to add a Hydrowave to help increase and encourage fish feeding behavior. This product works well when fish are suspended or even in a neutral to negative mood. Smallmouth bass are especially reactive to the Hydrowave.

old bow plate

Here you can see the old bow plate. I kept the gray plastic base and of course, the switch pad, but the junky old metal piece got scrapped.

front plate reuse

The old front base plate is ugly, but it’ll be 90% covered up with the new piece. Don’t throw this away, and be especially careful removing it if doing so for the first time.

Beneath bow in Ranger z20

Here’s what’s beneath the plate—a tight fit for anything for sure, but this is where you need to get creative. Read on.

install fuse panel and ethernet hub

I need to get this Humminbird Ethernet hub and fuse panel securely installed inside that small area, and, I knew it would be challenging. I had a plan.

ethernet hub backer

Ranger is known for adding a ton of foam to their boats, and it’s a good practice. The boats are literally unsinkable. But that adds difficulty when adding components in odd places. For example, I needed to securely attach both an Ethernet hub and a fuse panel to something, but foam wouldn’t be enough so I attached both to a small piece of treated plywood that would eventually be glued and screwed to the foam.

backer board installed

Here is a shot of the backer boards installed. The one of the left is for the Ethernet hub and the one on the right is for the fuse panel. I wasn’t sure if there was a better way to do this, but after running through big water many times, the whole thing is still very secure. So, this worked well.

boat fuse panel wiring diagram

This diagram was helpful in helping me wire the fuse panel. The whole point is to take one primary power source into the panel and distribute separately through individual connections that are protected by an adequate fuse. In this case, I’d be attaching Mega Live power, Mege 360 power, power for three units and the power for the Ethernet hub and heading sensor mentioned above, that means having heavy enough wire running from the batteries was critical.

Humminbird’s suggested wiring diagram

This diagram was helpful in helping me visualize how each unit would be connected. The only difference here is I have a separate battery for the graphs altogether, so the power won’t be shared with the cranking battery or standard boat accessories. You can refer to Part 6 of this series for those details.

assembled fuse panel

Here is the assembled fuse panel. I labeled each wire with white electrical tape and a sharpie to know what’s what. You need to keep track of what wire goes where in the event of additions or troubleshooting. This has saved my butt more than once.

front fuse panel cover

Here is the fuse panel cover, also labeled to eliminate confusion when it’s important to know exactly what wire is going where.

front main wires

As you’ll recall, I chose to use 6-gauge marine grade tinned copper wire to support a heavy draw. Here are the positive, negative and ground wires before I prepped them to connect to the fuse panel.

main wire prep

Using a hydraulic wire crimper was critical to creating solid bonds with the lugs. This tool was inexpensive and worth every penny for this project and future projects.

heat shrink main connections

Heat shrinking the connections only increases the reliability of mains. It’s easy and satisfying.

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Here is the fully assembled and ready to use fuse panel to support the front graph install.

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How’s the old saying go? “Necessity is the mother of invention.” I know there are better tools for this job, but this is all I had—and it worked. Yes, I’m kinda proud of this thing.

sideways Phillips socket

Here is the functional sideways socket screwdriver thingy. I need a sideways drill.

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Here is the installed fuse panel ready to rock. This is creative and functional.

heading sensor

Here is the heading sensor installed, which is necessary to mark waypoints on Humminbird’s Mega 360.

hydrowave attached to trolling motor

The Hydrowave is easily attached to the head of the trolling motor. Simple!

run wires correctly

With the fuse panel and Ethernet hub installed, connect the wires in an orderly fashion, but don’t forget to run wires through the right parts of the faceplate and mount first, or you’ll get to do it twice like I did.

graph base reinforcement

I chose to add two strips of 1/4-inch aluminum stock to reinforce the new mount. This will make access tighter inside the front, but it’s much sturdier because of this addition. You’ll want to just assume this is necessary before you discover it was critical and something is broken.

color coded wires

In addition to labels, I also color code everything so it’s visually easy to connect ends. This is super important if changes need to be made or you need to troubleshoot a problem. I color code every graph and corelating wire to minimize any potential confusion.

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With the wires run correctly, the base can be put back in place and reattached.

ready to attach gimbles

Zip ties will help keep the wires compressed and organized.

helix plugs

One of the things I love about the Helix units is the simplicity of the plug system. You can plug all the wires into the back of the unit with one quick snap, and it’s ready to go. Simple and easy—note the color-coded tape. This will help keep everything consistent.

installed faceplate and wires

Here you can see the Bass Boat Technologies base is installed on the faceplate cover—it’s securely attached to the fiberglass AND the 1/4-inch aluminum stock I added as reinforcement. This thing is super sturdy because it has to be.

rear of the bbt mount

This is the reverse angle showing the wires going through the center of the mount. While the faceplate I was working with did not have an additional wire gromet, I should have added one as that would have reduced the number of cables that needed to go through here. If I were to do this over, I’d add a secondary cable access point. But this worked.

front mount with cables

Here is the front view of the mount with the cables coming though. This is an overwhelming view, but I have a cable management plan in mind, and once the graphs are all installed and plugged in, this will look much cleaner.

finised graph mount

Here is the Bass Boat Technologies Triple Mount fully installed and ready for the graphs. I still have some wire/cable management to tend to, but it’s a very clean and functional finish.

trolling motor head cable management

The Humminbird Mega 360 and Mega Live cables have been run up the shaft of the Minn Kota Ultrex, but the transducers are yet to be installed. They need to be loosely passed through the coiled cables. Keep them loose to accommodate the trolling motor head turning over 360 degrees. Don’t’ make this mistake, trust me.

tighten gimble

If you’re like me and using recycled parts such as this Helix gimble, be sure to tighten the sides if they are loose. The last thing you want is your gear to bounce around in big waves. Plus, after you’ve installed this super cool new triple mount, the last thing you want to worry about is stuff getting rattled to death. Double check every connection and component.

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Make sure you have enough cable pulled out of the front compartment to comfortably attach the Helix plugs. I had to go back in and remove a couple zip ties to extend the cable reach so it would fully attach to the back of the unit. Tight cables will turn into trouble, keeping them slightly loose will save you headaches.

hydrowave installed

Installing the Hydrowave head unit is a piece of cake. I had it positioned out of the way and sorta beneath the right-side Helix 12. It’s easy enough to access and operate. And I won’t accidently trip on it.

Three helix units installed

Here are the three Helix units installed and ready to test out. It’s a very clean look! I also waited until this point to install and connect the Minn Kota Raptor Stomp Pedals. I knew I’d be lying on this part of the deck and moving a bunch of stuff around, but they were an easy add and worth the wait.

bbt mount base adjustments

The Bass Boat Technologies Triple Mount is highly adjustable. I had to move the entire rig as far to the right as possible to accommodate the trolling motor as it deployed. If I was starting with a new boat and putting new holes in for the trolling motor, I’d have moved it out slightly, but I made this adjustment instead of adding new holes in the fiberglass to accommodate the trolling motor bracket.

BBt mount kickstand

With the Triple Mount moved all the way to the right, I noticed some mild bouncing when running on rough water. It was minimal, but to eliminate any play, I fashioned this little kickstand to keep it from moving. It was very inexpensive and simple. Problem solved. Stay creative, my friends.

graph mount kickstand

Here is another angle of the baby-size kickstand. Easy and functional.

turned on first try

And they turned on the first try. I focused very hard on making sure everything was connected correctly the first time because I knew it would be a pain to go back in and troubleshoot. Take the extra time to do things right and you’ll function right out of the gate. Talk about awesome. This project is coming along nicely.

More to come, stay tuned!

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