At almost any marina, a short walk down the dock will yield several results of improper antenna clearance for radar, satellite TV and/or phone/internet, VHF and basic satellite GPS antennas. While every install is usually somewhat of a compromise due to available real estate to mount these components, many times it is very clear the technician either didn’t know or care to give adequate clearance for the beam width of the radar or proper mounting of antennas. This lack of clearance can cause anything from degraded performance right out of the box to eventual product failure, not to mention inadequate spacing between human beings and radar beams.
How does he do that? The NMEA 2000 network is a CAN bus on which multiple manufacturers can share data and sometimes even control of components. Engines, chartplotters, autopilots, VHF radios, AIS, stereo systems, and monitoring systems are just a few things that can utilize this network. We test the network both statically without it powered up and also with an expensive specialized dedicated meter that gives multiple points of data regarding the overall health of the network. If there is a problem on the network we will know about it and be able to rectify it before the boat goes into service. Unfortunately the industry standard is “if it works, it must be right” and nothing beyond power up is done.
“Housecleaning” in this situation refers to the old equipment wiring and/or components. On one of the last installs I did, which was on a 2014 boat (not very old), I removed components and wiring from two previous install attempts. Some of that was simply abandoned/not even connected. When it comes to running wires on a boat, many times rigging tubes are full right out of the gate/the day the boat was built. Leaving old equipment wiring is sloppy at best, but unfortunately I find it on almost every job. It also adds weight to the boat, as well as confusion when trying to service or add components moving forward. Add to that the fact that it’s not labeled and what should take less than an hour now takes half a day.
On most of the installs I have seen, there is little to no labeling. What that means is that before I can diagnose a problem, I have to determine what at least some, if not all, of the connections are for.
Do you get those diagrams for your records when he is finished? Beyond the most basic install, diagrams allow not only for proper planning of the install, they are a good reference for future work. They verify the proper setup of networks and power supply. Many times they are just a simple drawing, some clients prefer to have formal drawings made up at the end of the install so they can keep them with the boat’s records. These types of drawing are very time saving for anyone that has to come to the boat later to service or add equipment.
Power supply is much more that the size, technology, and number of batteries, although that is the primary starting point. For an install to meet ABYC and NMEA standards, the power supply requires wiring and circuit protection not to exceed 3% voltage drop for electronics and 10% voltage drop for lights and pumps (summarized). It also requires individual circuit protection for each component. Can your technician tell you what voltage drop the wire is sized for on your existing equipment/panels?
Is he passionate about what he does for a living? It is odd to me that so many people in this industry have a dislike or even a hatred for boats. Are they up at 4:30 am devoting time to the latest things and best procedures in our industry? Not likely.
Is it the person you are talking to or someone else? What is the involvement of the person you are talking to in the project?
This person may or may not be the person you are speaking to about the job in the beginning. Certifications for electronics installations are through the ABYC and NMEA. They set the standards by how this equipment is to be installed. Unfortunately, a vast majority of people in this industry, including boat builders, don’t know or care enough to even inform themselves as to the proper way to do this type of work.
Are there standards by which you do business? Is there a profit margin in your work? More questions that help to determine if this is a good fit.
Is it performance? Price? Speed of completion? These are questions that help me to interview new clients to find out if we are a fit or not.