September 01, 2023
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Here is the fuse panel cover, also labeled to eliminate confusion when it’s important to know exactly what wire is going where.
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.
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 shrinking the connections only increases the reliability of mains. It’s easy and satisfying.
Here is the fully assembled and ready to use fuse panel to support the front graph install.
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.
Here is the functional sideways socket screwdriver thingy. I need a sideways drill.
Here is the installed fuse panel ready to rock. This is creative and functional.
Here is the heading sensor installed, which is necessary to mark waypoints on Humminbird’s Mega 360.
The Hydrowave is easily attached to the head of the trolling motor. Simple!
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.
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.
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.
With the wires run correctly, the base can be put back in place and reattached.
Zip ties will help keep the wires compressed and organized.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Here is another angle of the baby-size kickstand. Easy and functional.
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!