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23 Cougar dash upgrade

Luv2gofast

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So I thought it might be interesting to see my dash upgrade and complete rewire of my recently purchased 23 Cougar MTR. I have scrapped nearly all of the wiring, switches and gauges and am in the process of upgrading to NMEA 2000 bus everything. I have decided to go with Livorsi Vantage View gauges with a Mercury NMEA gateway. Also adding a Lowrance HDS 7 touch and Livorsi LED indicator for the trims and jacks. I have learned a lot about NMEA 2000 in a short period of time but I'm sure there is plenty more to go so feel free to ask questions and make suggestions.


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This is the dash as I got it.

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This is my Photoshop mock-up to sort the layout.
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Luv2gofast

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Next I started figuring out which wiring harnesses I needed. When the engines were upgraded to the 300XS's the PO used 14 pin to 9 pin analog adapters so new harnesses were needed to bring the Smartcraft CAN bus to the dash for conversion to NMEA 2000.
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Old harnesses and other wiring
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New Harnesses
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Luv2gofast

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Next I started on the dash plates to cover all of the holes.

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And time to decide on the gauge style/color. I have some speedos of different colors so laid them in to take a look. Also made a foam board template.
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Originally I expected to go with the light carbon but decided the platinum/chrome would look better with the dark carbon look cover plates.
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Luv2gofast

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I found the switches I wanted and did the layout for them and finished machining top plate.
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Then made a template for the bottom, printed the Lowrance, the trim/jack indicators and some more switches to work out that layout.
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Luv2gofast

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Both of the panels finished and time to cut some holes. I had to heat the panels and form to the curve of the fiberglass and JB Weld screws into the back side of the panels to make them lay down correctly.
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Luv2gofast

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The Lorance HDS 7 touch for GPS and Depth, maybe some overlays and a gauge page. This is the first time I've had one in a boat so not sure what all i will use it for. It will also put the GPS speed out onto the NMEA bus for the Livorsi GPS speedo.
 

Luv2gofast

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Got everything wired that I had installed. Ordered the Livorsi stuff this morning. Found a great place to get striped wire. https://4rcustomswire.com/ I like to match the original color codes on everything for ease of trouble shooting. I hate it when a wire changes color in a loom! I had to get a kit of Delphi connectors to match up to the mercury stuff. All ring and push-on connectors are crimped. soldered and shrink sealed.
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HydroSkreamin

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Looking good! This brings back a lot of memories of all the time I spent doing all of this on the StressEliminator...trust me, it's all worth it!

Keep the updates coming.
 

Luv2gofast

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Looking good! This brings back a lot of memories of all the time I spent doing all of this on the StressEliminator...trust me, it's all worth it!

Keep the updates coming.
Thanks for the encouragement! The boat has good bones and was freshly repowered so it deserves the face lift. It is for sure a much bigger project than I envisioned but will be a source of pride once completed. I saw your thread and what you did is amazing! I don't think I could handle that project. But there is also something to be said for knowing every inch of your boat...
 
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Boat211

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I really enjoy these kind of threads. Great work. I am with you on the dislike of wire changing colors mid-loom. Keep it up. Looking forward to finished photos.
 

Luv2gofast

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Bimini frame is done and in the shop for a cover...I don't sew. (Thanks to my son for those pics)

Got the gauges installed and started cleaning up the wiring last night. I had them mostly wired because I had Livorsi send the harnesses when I placed the order for the gauges. Got the gauges last week so now that they are installed I can sort the wire routes and get that cleaned up. I wish I had room in the shop, it would make it much easier to work at night. Target is October 18th to leave for Havasu for a week of enjoying my effort. It won't be done but I will have the critical stuff working and can play with the programming and sort out some details.
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NMEA 2000 bus and gateway
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HAP

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Nice heat gun. Looks like a Raychem... Thanks for sharing your quality job.

R,
HAP
 

Luv2gofast

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Nice heat gun. Looks like a Raychem... R,
HAP
Ha ha...got it at Lockheed salvage about 30 years ago for probably $5. Put a new cord on it and it's been working great ever since!!


Awesome!! What is next?
Now I get to rebuild one of the sportmasters...caus I burnt one up. I got so buried in the dash and rewire that I ran out of time and didn't change the lube before the Havasu trip. I hate self induced pain! I did get 100mph out of it before I broke it. I'm starting to get a feel for it and it feels great at speed! All of the dash / wiring upgrades worked great so still on that list are the senders for the jack indicator and a launch control for the tab. I want to make a "launch control" that push a button (already installed) drops the tab all the way down then when I hit the gas the a mercury switch trips a timer to bring the tab up to level. It really helps it get on plane with the tab but I hate having to run it up manually every time I launch. Oh yah...also pretzled the Bimini frame so need to figure that out and need to redo the sound system but haven't locked in what I'm going to do with that either. So many projects - so little time...
 

Shlbyntro

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Nice work. I'm not a fan of NMEA or any digital comms for the matter but it looks nice
 

Luv2gofast

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Nice work. I'm not a fan of NMEA or any digital comms for the matter but it looks nice
Thank you! I've heard of problems with NMEA but have not seen any so far on my setup. What is it that you don't like about it?

Bob
 

Shlbyntro

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Thank you! I've heard of problems with NMEA but have not seen any so far on my setup. What is it that you don't like about it?

Bob
Really, it's the principal idea behind it. I dont like complex integration of electrical systems, especially near water. With analog systems, your only choice is compartmentalization. Each gauge has it's own signal wire, each control had it's own cable, each bilge pump and blower has it's own switch and power lead. If one system fails, it generally fails independant and you still have all your other systems in tact and working properly

In NMEA systems, it's all integrated. All systems are using same comms leads and a computer is prioritizing inputs/outputs. When systems fail, the rest often go haywire as there are confusing inputs going through the comms and the computer doesnt know what to make of them. All your systems are interdependent upon each other and that's what I dont like.

I do however also recognize alot of the benefits that it offers that are limitations for analog style systems. So it's a trade off that we all have to decide if we want or not. I am just personally in the "not" category because of the redundancy benefits of analog systems that NMEA cant compete with.
 

Luv2gofast

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Totally understand and I felt the same way many years ago when electronic fuel injection started showing up in cars. I knew how a carb worked and could tune them until the engine ran perfect...almost. Once I accepted that fuel injection was here to stay I studied it and figured out how it worked. Of course there are many advantages with fuel injection that you just can't get with a carb. CAN bus is here to stay in cars and I have a pretty good understanding of it and again there are some huge advantages. I like the integration of the gauges with the engine management controller. There is a bunch of diagnostic information that can be displayed and gauges that don't need to be looked at often can be combined into one display. Not trying to sell you on NMEA2000 (CAN buss for the marine industry) but just give you and idea why I chose to give it a try and learn more about it. So far I like it but that may change as I know there are some problems. First I've found is that there is no code assigned for jack plates...


Thank you for stimulating a conversation about it. That's what I was hoping would happen with this thread because discussion is good for learning and I want to learn more about NMEA. Maybe I should have called the thread "NEMA conversion".



Bob
 

Shlbyntro

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I still like carbs over fuel injection lol. I'm fortunate to have cut my teeth during the transition from carbs to fi in boats so I am actually very good with both.

Your right, the integrated displays are one of the huge benefits of the "Nema" systems. Also integration of radar/sonar with the engines and autopilot systems.

One of the biggest benefits being that of Joystick controls which require multiple engines to be talking to eachother as well as the controller in order to function properly. I'm still the guy who puts a 40 footer in its slip with the stand alone throttles and shifters though, even when theres a joystick right next to me.

There are huge benefits, but they come at a large cost. I prefer cheap, simple, dependable; even if it means sacrificing some frills.


I'm getting to do a retrofit on a Formula 400SS this winter, customer is having me remove his 525s and installing 520s in their place. And guess what, all new digital controls and touchscreen displays...... it's going to be a rigging/setup nightmare, yay me!
 

Luv2gofast

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It may not be the nightmare you expect (hopefully), I will be waiting for your opinion after the project is completed...

I'm very good with electronics, computers and wiring so if you have any questions feel free to throw them my way. As I said I learn something from every question and problem!
 

Shlbyntro

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Nah, I've done 1 before. they're nightmares on these larger boats when the boat was never built for smartcraft and accessories. You will likely be changing almost the entire engine control harness. If you really want that touchscreen that has all your engine management data on your dash, I say go for it!

The change over is much easier when you have good access to your harness runs.
 
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Luv2gofast

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That's what I did. Removed all of the interior, gutted all of the wiring except for the battery cables and started with new engine harnesses, identified and bought all of the mating connectors and tools to crimp them, put it all back together with new everything!
 

Luv2gofast

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Last update for the season. Everything worked great except for the bimini frame which I didn't support correctly for 65 MPH. I'll make a new one and have learned from my mistake. I had 2 1/2 great days getting used to the boat and after several runs in the 80's I got a chance to run it up close to 100 a couple of times. Jack position is going to be important to handling at top speed. On the last day while taking a nice long cruse with my wife, I locked up a gear case. We took a scenic (slow) ride back to Windsor with one engine... I hadn't finished the senders for the jack indicators yet and also now need to rebuild the gear case (it was full of water, I knew I should have checked it) so brought it back to Simi where my shop is.

I made jack indicator senders because i couldn't find any I liked. I have the Lavorsi LED indicators that will take 0-5v but the senders Lavorsi sells use a Morris cable which I think is overkill for jack plates. I made mine to use bicycle cables and found stainless cables and jackets. It was a lot more work than I thought but I think they came out nice.

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While I had it home I glassed plywood blocks with stainless 1/4" Tee nuts to the floor for the throttle and new trim peddle. The throttle was screwed to the floor and the holes were getting stripped. I have never liked screwing into the floor with sheet metal screws. I got used to trim peddle on my Lavey and really like it so added one on the Cougar. I finished the jack indicators and tore the gear case apart to find a couple of sized bearings and a broken drive shaft. That was stupid of me to expect that the oil was checked by the previous owner. Didn't have a drop of oil, only water and rust! I'm surprised I got through 2 1/2 days.

I took it back up to Havasu and put it to bed for the winter...

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Gelcoater

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Great work!
Some of us really dig threads like this.
Making something better than it was.

Your wiring ain’t bad, want a job? :D
 
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Luv2gofast

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Great work!
Some of us really dig threads like this.
Making something better than it was.

Your wiring ain’t bad, want a job? :D
Thanks! I enjoy making things mine and doing them my way. The problem with that is most of the time I have to do it myself so way too many projects on my shelf! RD has built us a great sand box here and I really enjoy looking at other peoples work so decided to give some back. There is still lots to come when I have time so stay tuned.

Wiring never comes out exactly the way I want but I have done quite a bit of it and it's always solid and works. I have a job but need to retire so that I have time to do all of the projects mentioned. Thanks for the offer, once I get retired and caught up...I might.

BTW I love your thread on making beautiful boats (gelcoating), truly amazing to see that process! I learned a bunch from it but probably won't get a chance to use that knowledge as it's way out of my wheel house. The glass work I do is functional but far from art!
 

Luv2gofast

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Time for an update. The jack plate indicators work great and I got some time to play. The more I drive this boat the more I like it. So much different from the Lavey. The Cougar is so much better in rough water and my wife is fine with about 20 MPH more because of the freeboard.


I brought it back home to get a new windshield made by Jay Martinez. He did a great job and turned it around quickly. While I have it home, I'm doing a bunch more upgrades. Much easier here with all the right tools.

I decided to go with a microcontroller for the tab launch control. I've built things with microcontrollers before but that world has changed! I got an Arduino Nano for $20 and a relay board for another $10. I have several hours invested in learning the programming but what a great way to build dedicated devices. I was going to use a mercury switch and timer relays but this is so much more versatile and easier to make changes. Just plug the laptop into the USB and change some values. Originally, I thought an accelerometer would be the best to trip the "tab up" function but that wasn't working out so I switched to speed. I took the NMEA 0183 RMC sentence from the Lowerence for speed fed it and the switch to the Arduino, took outputs from the Arduino to feed an indicator on the switch and the relay board and wrote the program.

The way it works is press the "launch" switch down and it runs the tabs down for 22 seconds (full down) with the indicator blinking to show the tab movement. Once the tab reaches full down the indicator stays on indicating "launch ready". When I take off it watches the GPS speed for 25MPH then trips the program to bring the tabs up with a 17 sec timer and again blinking the indicator to show tab movement until full up. I also have the tab status tracked through power cycles so that if the tabs are down it won't try to run them again and just goes into wait for speed mode. That's the beauty of a microcontroller, as I was working on it, I thought of other things that I would like it to do and just added a few more lines of code. No rewiring or additional components required.

Anyway, long post but here is what it looks like. 20200521_163625[1].jpg 20200521_232756[1].jpg 20200522_145308[1].jpg
 

HydroSkreamin

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Nice work.

Is launch mode always on, or is that user selectable?

I can see where you might want to use them in rougher water for cruising on plane loaded with passengers.

My guess is that you can stay on plane at 17-19 mph with them down, even with passengers. It really makes a difference if you can use them.

Cool feature, and nice work 👍🏽
 

Luv2gofast

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No it has two switches, one for manual u/d and the other sets it into launch mode when I press down and if I press up it cancels launch mode and puts the tab up. On my boat there are two tabs tied together with a plate making them into one wide tab between the motors. It's a stepped transom so the tab is out of the water once I get up to about 45 or 50 mph. The tab may help in the 25 to 40 range but I for sure need it to get on plane quick. I have been running it manually every time I take off which is a real PITA. Now it one button and go. If I decide I need it at certain low speeds I can change the program to do that also. I'll see how it works on the water in a couple of weeks. 20200430_125933.jpg
 
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