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Project Log:  Saturday, January 21, 2012

I continued my cut-and-paste approach to the new helm mockup.  I'd been spending a lot of time on the helm area and various mockups because I felt this was a critical feature of the boat--both for function (first) and aesthetics. 

I felt there was room for improvement over my original (version 1.0) setup using a tall console entirely above the "dashboard".  Version 1.0 worked, but ultimately wasn't giving me what I really wanted, so earlier I'd started down the road towards my vision of an partially-recessed electronics console (version 2.0). I had the basic idea, but the details had to work themselves out on the fly.  While the end result of those efforts hadn't quite fit the bill, the process had led me in the right direction, and had given me a good starting point for the next revisions.


Beginning with the net result of last weekend's work (seen in the photos above), I made some changes, which I'll refer to as version 2.1.  The version above was more or less right in terms of proportion and concept, and was recessed to the practicable maximum amount for which there was room (thanks to a 5" depth restriction in order to stay above the main saloon overhead), but I wanted to make it more streamlined.  I felt the path to this desired end began with extending the angled sides of the recess all the way to the back of the raised portion of the console, with a corresponding change in the shape of the electronics mounting surface itself.

After some layout, I cut oversize pieces of scrap plywood to form the new angled sides and tacked them in place with hot glue, then worked out the shape and angles required for the new mounting surface.


With the pieces joined together, I made the final cuts to bring the new sides flush with the dashboard and console as needed.  I feel compelled to keep mentioning that because this design process was entirely minute-by-minute, the construction details of the mockup were intended to provide basic appearance and proof of concept only, not precise templates for future use.


Another change I wanted to make to version 2.0 was to return the angled engine instrument panel to its original 20° angle, rather than the shallower angle I'd tried.  I'd considered running the angle all the way up to the base of the electronics console (in place of the narrow horizontal "shelf"), but this would have caused the cutout at the bulkhead to end up too deep to stay within my 5" maximum.  I could have gotten around this by raising the recessed console accordingly, but that would defeat the main purpose.  With a small fiddle, I thought the horizontal area could possibly prove handy for storage of incidentals.

I laid out the position of the new 20° panel and cut the vertical front panel of the helm console commensurately shorter to accommodate the new position, then installed the plywood panel I'd originally made for version 1.0.  However, I made some minor changes to the installations in this panel, filling in the holes I'd cut for the fuel gauges in favor of installing the autopilot control head in that space.  For the moment, I moved the four round gauges up to the sides of the electronics console, though I was considering some other locations as well.  I'd get to all that in more detail later.

To be sure the whole layout worked as intended, I temporarily installed the helm pump and wheel once more, along with properly-sized printed simulations of the electronics and gauges to allow for easy positioning and repositioning of the basic installations. 


I liked the new appearance and functionality.  The recessed console was far less bulky, and even more useful as redesigned.   One may note that I'd not yet provided space for the sailing instruments (two 4.5" square instrument heads) and VHF radio, but I had other ideas in mind for those, though precisely how and where these would end up would remain to be seen based on additional mockup work.

For comparison, I placed the original (version 1.0) electronics box on top of the new mockup.  the reduction in bulk was substantial and pleasing.

As before, I tested the throttle lever operation and clearance.  Its existing position just barely missed clearing the new angled cutout. 


I didn't yet know how much of the lever travel would actually be required when connected to the engine, but I didn't want any undue restrictions on the operation.  So I moved the throttle assembly slightly to the left so the lever would clear the cutout and provide full travel ability. 


Late in the day, I began some early layout for a box to contain the sailing instruments and possibly VHF.  I was considering an overhead box, located above and behind the center window in the pilothouse, but wasn't yet sure how it would work out; clearance above the window was  fairly minimal, and there was also the overhead hatch/skylight to contend with.  I'd some other minor changes in mind for the helm console as well, which I'd effect tomorrow.

Total Time Today:  4.5 hours

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