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Installing an H5000 System

Peter Gustafsson installs a full H5000 system on his J/111, Blur³.

As happy as you are looking at a pile of packages containing new instruments, it does make you a little nervous about the installation.

Martin Gadman from Happy Yachting and I committed a full day to make the most of his knowledge. Before that, I had done most of the time-consuming jobs running the wiring and assembly. In total, we spent 35 hours from clean boat to working system…

After 6 seasons we know how to sail the boat and know how we want to use the electronics. So the relevant people in the team had a pretty good idea of what was important when we had the chance to reinstall.

Some important factors were:

Ergonomics. Everything must be in the right place, so the right people view them properly and utilize all functions. Here we have removed some displays and moved others to make sure they are all in the right places.

Robustness. Everything must be mounted to withstand severe weather, flogging sails and moisture. Where the plotter has previously been mounted in a bracket, we will now mount it in proper housing. Where the mast instruments were previously open at the back, they are now covered and many other small improvements to make the system really robust. In the last Caribbean 600, several boats retired because the electronics went down – so that risk has to be minimized.

Serviceability. This is easy to forget. Most people put electronics in, behind or under stuff where they are not visible. However, when you need to, it’s completely impossible to access them. On Blur, everything will be easily accessible in darkness and +20 knots wind.

This is the second article in this series. In the first, I explained why we chose B&G and our thoughts behind the setup.

In the cockpit, we previously had two multi-displays on the sides and one on the steering wheel. We’ll remove the latter, and the only thing at the wheel is now a Zeus³ 7” plotter, which can control the autopilot and display data.

The two Graphic Displays on the cockpit sides look good both when you stand…

… and also when you sit and steer or trim the mainsail. Back a meter from the screen, you can see how it looks from the helmsman’s position.

Here we show tactical data, such as current, bearing/distance to mark, time to layline and TWA on the next leg. Data that is used occasionally, but does not need to be in the line of sight.

The autopilot controller we have chosen to put in the front of the cockpit. Previously, it was located at the engine controls down by the left foot when standing behind the wheel. Now you can control the pilot on the chart plotter, or with the remote, but also sit in the front of the cockpit to adjust the settings.

Here you also sit when shorthanded, so the control is close to hand. Or when motoring. Previously, the NKE remote control has often hung here to be easily accessible.

It can be a little messy to get everything installed nicely at the chart table. All new boats have very nice cabinets, but after a couple of seasons, it usually gets crowded and looks like spaghetti. This time we did everything from scratch.

In connection with this, I also chose to separate all navigation gear on separate fuses. Not necessary, but less dependency seems like a smart move?

In addition to the H5000, there is also an AIS from True Heading, our own GPS, VHF, WiFi and some other stuff.

What you can see is H5000 Hercules, AIS and two 12V connector blocks. The small white antenna is for AIS and will be moved up. The fuse is 32A for the autopilot, which goes in a thicker cable separately from everything else.

The two NMEA blocks contain (from, from the left):

  • n2k_01: barometer
  • n2k_02: 3D-motion
  • n2k_03: Vulcan 7″ instrument at nav station
  • n2k_04: Hercules CPU
  • n2k_05: 12V, with an equal load in both directions
  • n2k_06: AIS
  • n2k_07: GPS
  • n2k_08: autopilot controller

One of the most difficult things was to estimate the correct lengths of all NMEA 2000 cables. But Martin brought a selection, so we could easily find the right lengths. It all looks good but takes up a lot of space to route the cables.

At the front of the chart table cabinet is the barometric pressure sensor and NMEA-serial converter. GPS’s are mounted “in the roof” and thus go through the deck. This has worked surprisingly well, so we will keep them there.

3D motion should be as close to motion centers as possible and is now located at the bottom of the chart table, about 50 cm to starboard, and 1 meter aft, of the boat’s motion center.

As usual, some things took longer than expected. Like the he placement of speed and depth sensors.

This is what it looked like before we started, when the depth transducer sat in the small cup (mounted by the shipyard when the boat was built), and the log was flush mounted on the center line. This was nicely done in France when the boat was built.

The new depth transducer can fit into the hole with some small modifications, which makes it easy.

The log is harder when we have to drill from the old insert (which was 43 mm) …

… and drill to mount the new one (which is 53 mm). The actual mounting will be done when it gets a little warmer. It’s important to get everything straight and aligned.

We also connected the wind sensor (which goes directly into the H5000 processor along with the speed sensor). At the top of the mast, the tube fits in the same bracket as the newer Garmin mast head unit we had.

Here, N2k also comes down from the four displays on the mast, coupled with the transducers, and goes aft to the chart table.

One of the things that took time was to get some thicker N2k cables to fit into the narrow tubes that were designed for narrower cables. Builders should fit wider tubes to accommodate future cabling.

This is how it looks on the aft bulkhead in the starboard aft cabin. Previously, many of the NKE gadgets went at the back, but this is much easier to service and keep dry and clean.

The compass has been difficult to place. We moved around the Nexus HPC quite a lot before we found this location interference-free.

The NMEA block contains:

  • 2k_09: rudder angle sensor
  • n2k_10: Zeus³ 7″-plotter
  • n2k_11: graphic display
  • n2k_12: compass

Here you will also see the cables run underneath the deck to be neat. Previously, all cables were run in a pipe below the berth, but this has caused water to flow back and forth. Now I plugged this and the cabling will be both drier and shorter.

Nothing is so good that you can not do a little better :-)

With the same thinking, the autopilot sits on the aft end of the port cabin. Here’s just a meter in front of the drive arm, where we keep the Raymarine’s electromechanical drive. It was some additional work because the drive wants its own power supply in thicker cables. But it turned out very well.

The NMEA block contains:

  • n2k_13: –
  • n2k_14: H5000 Pilot
  • n2k_15: remote control receiver
  • n2k_16: graphic display

A big difference is the web interface, where you can instantly see all the devices and the data they deliver. We’ll be coming back to this, but now it felt extremely easy to see what was working and not.

Always fun when something goes faster and easier than you imagined.

There are naturally lots of “small things” left, but the big work is done. The only thing that we have not verified is the autopilot, which needs to “feel” the quadrant before commissioning. Now it’s out of the boat so it has to wait.

Here is the list I’m currently working on:

  • Flush Mount the log
  • Adjust the fitting for the depth transducer
  • Adjust and fasten wiring
  • Mount Vulcan 7 “+ VHF in new cover plate at nav station
  • Mount Sat-phone + external antenna?
  • Build a small box at the steering wheel to Zeus³ 7 “+ MOB button + VHF remote
  • Widen mast console so it fits the new instruments
  • Replace the mast cable for masthead unit
  • Replace the mast cable to the instruments on the mast
  • Update Navionics chart
  • Replace the chart table computer

And surely something else …

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