Lazy Ka came to me well equipped
with with several electrical upgrades by former owners. She had running
lights, an anchor light, and an electric bilge pump with through-the-hull
discharge. For batteries she had two 17.2 AH Yuasa (NP-18-12B) gel cell
batteries which by their nature are not subject to the hazard of spill,
nor do they require periodic service of the electrolyte. But for all these
good things, her service panel was was an old automotive buss fuse block
that was mounted just inside the companionway in an exposed location. The
panel was just waiting to be damaged by gear moving about the cabin, or
stepped on by Skipper or crew passing in and out. The exposed nature of
these components also had questionable long-term durability; evidence of
corrosion was present, and one of the toggle switches had failed for
With several months of sailing under my belt, I had developed a rather
A marine distribution panel to
replace the jury-rigged automotive components.
External battery charging
terminals wired through an isolation switch to allow quick connection of a
charger without crawling inside the cabin.
extra 12-volt power receptacles for other, yet to be
determined accessory expansion in the future.
Additional cabin lights suitable for reading, while stretched out in the berths.
Upgrade to a marine stereo system with
remote to the cockpit (the unit must be MP3 capable.)
This was without a doubt going to be my biggest upgrade to date.
first obstacle, where to put it all and still have easy access of use and
for future service. I toyed briefly with the idea of mounting the components on the inside
of the cabin bulkheads to the port and starboard of the companionway, but
quickly discarded this location as difficult to access.
I finally settled on a thin,
low profile, accessory panel, or console, mounted aft of the compression post
CLICK HERE for a larger image.) The panel would hold
all electrical components at a single location, be easily accessible through the
companionway, and would be of little inconvenience when the berths are
occupied. Infact, I've found that all elements are easily accessible from
the berth . . . another plus for this plan.
The console components break down, from left to
right, as follows:
|1. DPDT (center
off) isolation switch ($8.00 @ local Ace Hardware). This switches the batteries between onboard circuitry
and the external charger terminals (see picture left below), thereby isolating the circuits from the
unlikely potential of damaging surges during charging.
2. A Marine Distribution/Service panel (West
12V Switch Panel - 6 Circuit
/ Mfg #55342WM) @ $40.00.) The panel switches are assigned circuits as
|ANCHOR LT =
RUNNING LT = Running Lights
CABIN LT = Cabin Lights
BILGE PUMP = Bilge Pump
ACC 1 = Compass Light
ACC 2 = 12-volt accessories (Stereo, 12-volt receptacles, etc.)
Immediately above the distribution panel is a label panel for easy
identification of switch funtion from the cockpit (Plastic stock
& Dymo labels @ $7.00.)
4. After considerable online shoping for a stereo head-unit, I
settled on the Pyle Model PLCD18MRMP In-Dash Marine AM/FM/Weather Band
Radio/CD/CD-R/CD-RW/MP3 (from disc.) This player also features a Full
Face Detachable Panel & wired remote as well. Typical best online
delivered price is in the $150-$160.00 range. If you shop this unit, be
aware that Pyle makes several lesser priced units that do NOT
include the MP3 feature. For more details on this head unit
Gang of three 12-volt power receptacles for future 12-volt needs (West
Marine Triple 12-V Receptacle
#6867907 / WMELE#SC-30283P-B) @ $13.00.)
6. DPDT (center off) switch - currently unassigned. This switch was
originally destined to be an on/off switch for the cockpit speakers, but
when the stereo head unit arrived, I found that the integrated fader feature
accomplished the same thing . . . a switch would be redundant.
Two 3.5" speakers are mounted into the bottom of the console for
bed-time music in the cabin (Marinavox
MV-6003 3" Full Range Dual Cone Speakers;
Look for a $20.00 per pair price online for these MSRP $40.00 speakers.
Check Ebay for slightly better pricing.) These great little speakers are
available in White as well as the Black and Gray pictured here.
incidental components not referenced above:
- AM/FM antenna for stereo
head-unit (West Marine Interior AM/FM Antenna (Model# 222184 / WMHVF#
- One "I-plug" Aux input so that
daughter Jen can plug in her personal MP3 player to give us an even
bigger music library on the water. This little gem adapts a 3.5 mm
phone plug from a portable MP3 player to the RCA input jacks of the
head-unit Aux circuit. (West Marine Model #7805600, $15.00) By the
way, don't bother to shop this one. You can expect to pay $15.00 for
"I-plug", or a similar hardware virtually anywhere. This may well be
the best value to be found in the West Marine catalog.
The total time for this project, including
meticulous design, fabrication, wiring, and installation on Lazy Ka
exceed 40 hours spread over three weeks. But now that it's all finished
and working as planed, I can honestly say that this mod was well worth
the time and expense.
Pictured above: Wired remote to the stereo (top,) the
Auxiliary input (i.e. MP3 player plug in,) and external battery
charging terminals (bottom.)
LED cabin lights were purchased from
SuperBrightLEDs.com and installed into fixtures mounted inside the
port and starboard bulkheads. Note that the switches are oriented
toward the companionway for easy access from the cockpit.