Radar, Radar Pole/Mast, Chartplotter, Instruments

Discussion in 'Main Morgan 38 Sailboat Forum' started by mpearson, May 23, 2017.

  1. mpearson

    mpearson Mark Pearson Staff Member

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    Portland, OR
    Hi all - in case anyone is considering upgrades, here is our recent experience:

    We recently got a radar pole from Kato Marine in Annapolis, and my wife & I mounted it with 2 struts for braces. Very nice build, all stainless steel, and very professional/rugged. Not the cheapest thing, but it’s the best quality we’ve seen. It also has a gimballed top plate so if we are on a long run where we are heeled, we can angle the radar for maximum efficiency. We love it (see below).

    I've been shopping around at boat shows and online for 4 years and I'm really happy we got the Kato radar pole.


    On the pole we have mounted a 4g radar antenna, lower anchor light**, satellite phone antenna, Baroplug (a NEMA 2k air temp & barometric pressure sensor), stern navigation light (LED), cockpit light (LED), and a crane with blocks for hauling our dingy's outboard or hauling in a overboard crew member.

    We got a new 9” B&G Zeus 3 chartplotter & two B&G Triton2 displays. We mounted all of this in a NavPod-like fiberglass instrument panel that I made, also including our old (1990’s??) Simrad AP-11 autopilot. The home brewed NavPod was exactly sized for our setup and helped conserve space in the cockpit. It also conserved $$ since we would have needed 2 NavPod units to fit all this, and it would have cost around $1,100.



    It’s also color matched to our canvas which my wife loves, so I love it too (!). I added a couple of USB ports on the back to charge phones & tablets, and a little teak holder for Rite in the Rain notebook & pencil. Can’t ever seem to find those when I need to write quickly.

    We took it all out for sea trials this weekend in the Pacific across the Columbia River bar. We were double reefed in 34mph winds and pounded by 8+ ft waves. On the way out we were were socked in with fog, but could feel our way excellently through the big ships & crab pots with the B&G 4g radar & AIS transceiver. We were very happy with the entire system.

    Our ancient autopilot crapped out at the end, but we put it down for an overnight nap, and it was fine in the morning. Very much like me.

    Next weekend we begin our offshore leg up to Puget Sound area.

    I hope everyone has found summer and that they are enjoying it!
    -Mark

    ** Huh? What is a ‘Lower Anchor Light’?! John & Amanda Neal recently recommended this to us and it makes sense. When you are in a crowded anchorage at night, the people zipping around in their boats & dingys are not usually looking up 60 ft in the air for lights. We therefore installed a secondary lower anchor light, about 10 ft above the water. It’s small & LED, so doesn’t take much power.
     
    Last edited: May 23, 2017
  2. datswite

    datswite Ken Ferrari

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    Cobb Island, MD
    That pod looks fantastic, Mark. Great work!
     
  3. john Gonzalez

    john Gonzalez Member

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    Mark, I have to ask you. How did you make the Pod?
     
  4. mpearson

    mpearson Mark Pearson Staff Member

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    Hi John - since you asked (!), here is my little essay with photos:

    It took a few weeks of calendar time, but only about 18 hrs of labor. I'd do a quick coat of something, then need to wait for a day for it to dry. Hence the calendar time dragged on but it wasn't really that much work.

    I’d estimate that I used about $200 in material costs, paint, fiberglass, etc.

    I started by making a two-piece mold using MDF wood. I normally hate this kind of wood, but it is much better for making molds than plywood, in my opinion.


    All of the following had lots of drying time, sanding, etc.:
    I used plaster to form the 1” fillets for the curves on the edges. Then several coats of automotive primer paint to help smooth/fair everything. Then several coats of PVA mold release agent which makes a slippery surface so the gelcoat will pop off the mold.


    Then two coats of 'laminating' gelcoat, and I started fiberglassing. One layer of woven followed by chopped mat. Then repeat.

    Then the moment of truth: pop it out of mold. Shazam! It looks like it actually worked. I can never tell if something is going to work until it pops out of the mold.

    Template the instruments and drill/cut holes.

    Cut edges of two mold pieces to match.

    Epoxy two halves together using West Systems 610.

    More sanding/fairing.

    I got some very good quality automotive paint and clear coat from an auto shop. Color matched to our canvas color and certified by my wife. :) Two coats automotive primer. Two coats of automotive paint. Two coats of a clear protective layer that came with the automotive paint.

    I made the decision before I started that I didn’t care if it had some blemishes. To make a perfectly smooth glass-like finish would have taken a lot more time than I had. And then I would constantly have to worry about someone (like me) scratching up the surface.

    So, I consider this similar to the ‘pre-stressed’ furniture you buy. Where someone at the factory has beaten it with a chain so you don’t need to worry about scuffing it up ;)


    We are very happy with the way it looks - it has sort of a cast metallic appearance, and our little blemishes look like they came out of the casting process. It takes up a lot less space than the billowy looking pre-made NavPods.
     
    Last edited: Jun 2, 2017
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  5. john Gonzalez

    john Gonzalez Member

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    I am totally impressed Mark. Thanks for posting these pictures. It is obvious that a lot of work went into this. You saved a few bucks for sure. I hate to think of paying $600.00+ for a pod when one can customize their own. I think it is very well done and moreover, something that perfectly fits your instruments.

    I have done a lot of glass repair work so far on my boat so far but I have not made a part or item. I think I might give it a try. I would like to make my own Pod and a hatch cover for the anchor locker which is teak. Thanks again.
     
    Last edited: Jun 2, 2017
  6. jimcleary

    jimcleary James M. Cleary

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    Mark

    Nicely done. I like the idea of creating two halves and joining them together. Your project is an inspiration to us all. I hope your journey is going well. Sail safe!

    Jim
     
  7. bobfnbw

    bobfnbw Member

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    Looks great. Since I rarely handled the boat from the wheel, my plan was to put the instruments under the dodger where they can be seen from the wheel but protected and accessible from the dodger. My last boat had that same radar pole without the gimbaled mount but the outboard hoist .... not sure it would lift a full grown man well though... but it would help.
     
  8. pmf44

    pmf44 Member

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    You must be an engineer--nice work! Please publish this in Good Old Boat! I think your traveler has been placed forward of the companionway. On my 1980 382, the mainsheet array will not allow for such placement.
     
  9. mpearson

    mpearson Mark Pearson Staff Member

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    Pmf44 - yes, you've accurately 'outed' me as an engineer. Perhaps with a little undiagnosed OCD. ;)
    Thanks!

    Indeed, on a 384 like ours, the traveller is on the deck, forward of the companionway.
     
  10. rickdowe2

    rickdowe2 Richard Dowe

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    Morning Mark, quick question on your Kato Radar Post. The davit that you have on it for lifting the motor, when you haul the engine up does the arm rotate freely or are there detents that lock the arm in place. I have a Forspar and it swings!
     
  11. mpearson

    mpearson Mark Pearson Staff Member

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    Hi Rick - the crane rotates freely & does not have dents/stops. We secure it by tying the hoist line to a rail and snugging it down. Otherwise it would flail around when underway.
    Cheers
    Mark
     

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