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Walleye Boat Rebuild Part 6: Electronics Setup

Space, set up, and the number of devices can cause different game plans when rigging and wiring boat electronics.

Walleye Boat Rebuild Part 6: Electronics Setup

In Part 6 of Robertson's boat build, he talks about using appropriate wire sizes for electronics, mounting, and how to get into the hard-to-reach spots.

In today’s fishing game, electronics are more important than ever. No matter if it is something as simple as having mapping on your GPS or as advanced as being able to track an individual fish on Mega Live Imaging, it all starts with how you setup the infrastructure on your boat.

Mounts

Ross Robertson placing Humminbird electronics on a Bert's Track.
Bert’s Custom Tackle Bert’s Tracks are clean, strong and low profile.

I have been using Bert’s Custom Tackle Bert’s Tracks for nearly 20 years because they are clean, strong and low profile. The ability to have something so secure yet so easy to remove is a big plus for me. I planned to attach a Bert’s Track to hold graphs at both the bow and stern. On the rear I decided to go somewhat unconventional and run two sets of tracks back-to-back so that I could have just about any spacing or placement of the graphs I wanted. It was easy to access underneath and through the bolt. The use of large fender washers or pieces of aluminum bar stock is a great way to make sure you have a secure fit.

Wiring

It is necessary to use heavy enough wire that you will not have amp drop that causes interruption on your graphs. Look at online amperage drop charts to see how heavy of tinned-copper wire you should run based on the power the units pull and how far your wire needs to travel.

Wires coming out of a boat compartment.
Use heavy enough wire that you will not have amp drop that causes interruption on your graphs.

Running much heavier wire than was required when this boat was made 20 years ago required a few tricks. We quickly realized that it would be much easier to run one large 6/2 duplex marine wire to the bow instead of five 10/2 wires. To even get the 6/2 wire up to the bow we had to literally saw through many feet of solid foam and create our own rigging tube in it. This was done with an extremely long spade drill bit in areas where we had a little room to work in. In the tight areas, we ended up switching to a file attached to the wire on one end and a rigging wire on the other. We then worked this rig back and forth like a saw to create a large enough hole to easily pull the wire through. A little unconventional, but very effective.

The other savior ended up being my Micro Aqua Vu camera, which let me get eyes on spaces that there was no other way to see. Being able to see where we could run a wire snake or what direction it needed to go not only allowed us to get the wires through, but saved a lot of time. If you own an Aqua Vu, know that it can be as handy in the garage as it is in the lake.

An Aquq-Vu screen used during wiring for a boat.
Micro Aqua Vu can be as handy in the garage as they are on the lake.

Panels

I have always found it easier to take a piece of starboard and mount all of the switches and panels directly to that. That way, you only have to mount the large board in your boats compartment. This makes it much easier to secure everything as well as make changes in the future. Two separate battery switches and distribution panels were used–one for the dedicated electronics battery and one for the master power that is connected to the house battery. Don’t skimp on this step–I strongly recommend using tinned copper fittings and heavy wire for all of the connections.

A boat battery with lots of switches and wires.
Use two separate battery switches and distribution panels for the dedicated electronics battery and the master power, with tinned copper fittings and heavy wire.

A separate panel had to be placed on the bow of the boat where the large 6-gauge wire was run so that wiring could be kept to a minimum. While the compartment behind the bow electronics panel is large, there is no place you can firmly mount anything to it. The answer was to take a piece of aluminum angle and bolt it to a piece of starboard. This essentially provided a firm shelf to mount the distribution panel and ethernet box to.

The old saying that “There is more than one way to skin a cat” also applies to rigging and wiring boat electronics. Space, setup, and the number of devices you have can cause for different game plans in different rigs. Just make sure to run wire heavy enough to avoid power issues with our modern-day electronics that pull much more power than units of yesteryear.

Ross Robertson

Bigwaterfishing.com




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