Wind Instruments

This page was last updated on 30 May 2009.

Yes, they are unnecessary (completely so, in fact).  Nonetheless, electronic wind instruments, which provide a readout of the apparent wind direction and the apparent wind speed, are pretty cool, and convenient, if for no other reason than to confirm (or, in many cases, refute) one's own--or others'--opinion of the actual wind speed at any given time.  I received a set of wind instruments as a gift, and looked forward to installing and using them.  

backdisplay.jpg (14657 bytes)During the winter, with the boat in the shop, I installed the instrument head in the cockpit, choosing a location directly above the existing (and matching, more or less) knotmeter/depthsounder display.  Installing the head was simple, and required drilling a 1-1/4" hole through the bulkhead with a hole saw.  The instrument, which featured its own gasket, then fit into place nicely; I secured it from the back with the provided nut.  I had pictures of the installation, but lost them in a January computer crash.  This is a more recent picture showing the back wiring.

There were two wire leads coming out of the instrument head:  one for the DC power supply, and one, fitted with a multi-pin connector, for the transducer cable.  I wired the unit to the main electrical panel, a simple chore that I shant bore you with here.

The transducer cable came out of the box in one continuous piece, with a pin connector at one end (to plug into the instrument head) and attached to the masthead unit (which featured the tricup windspeed indicator and a small directional windvane) at the other.  Now, ideally it might be nice to run this piece in a continuous length from the masthead to the instrument head, but obviously, with the need to step and unstep the mast with some regularity, this was impossible.  The thoughtful folks at Standard Horizon provided a terminal block to allow cutting and reassembling the cable as necessary.

Since I didn't know how much cable would be needed, I decided to begin at the masthead, run the cable through the mast, and then (and only then) cut off the cable, leaving plenty of excess for later connection.  First, I installed the masthead indicator, which featured a permanently-wired base plug into which the forward-facing stalk connected with a multi-pin connector at the end.  The screwholes in the base connector were just too wide to attach directly to the cast aluminum masthead fitting, so I first installed a small wooden block in the proper location, screwing and epoxying it directly to the masthead.  Then, I screwed the base terminal into the wood and snaked the cable down the mast to the previously-existing mast wiring exit just above the base.  Once I had pulled all the appropriate slack out of the cable, I measured out about 10 feet extra and cut the cable in two, reserving the other half (with its pin connector at one end) for inside the boat.  I tied up the excess at the mast base and left it for later (the mast was still on horses at this point, a few weeks before launch).

wires.jpg (64676 bytes)Inside the boat, I connected the pin terminal at the back of the instrument head, and then led the remaining cable forward, following existing wire runs, to the head, where I pulled out all the excess and left it for later use.  (After this photo was taken, I cleaned up and neatened the wire for storage.)

mastheadwind.jpg (15425 bytes)On launch day a few weeks later, I connected the masthead unit to the base while the mast was still on deck--a simple matter of pushing in the plug and tightening the plastic screw collar.  The new unit added one more complexity to the top of the mast.

wiringconduit.jpg (52329 bytes)The final wiring connections inside the boat took much longer than they should have.  Along with the other mast wires, I ran the transducer cable through a section of white hose running between the mast and a new stainless steel through hull fitting I installed in the deck, and passed them into the cabin below.  I determined an appropriate amount of transducer cable from each of the two ends, and cut the excess off, reserving it for some future use, perhaps. 

connectionswind.jpg (44341 bytes)Provided in the kit was a small terminal block and a covered plasstic junction box, into which I led each end of the cable.  I stripped off the outer insulation, revealing five teeny-tiny wires inside.  Of course these wires were smaller than anything that my stripping tool would work well on, but I used the smallest opening to carefully strip off the insulation from the ends.  Brilliantly, the terminal screws in the provided terminal would not tighten  down far enough to clamp the microscopic wires in place (it's the sort of terminal with openings along the sides and top screws that tighten down, trapping the wire in place beneath).  Therefore, after a failed attempt, I was forced to remove additional insulation and fold the exposed wire ends in half, then in half again, so that I had a large enough bulk of bare copper for the screw to grab.  Fussy little wires are not my favorite!  Next year, I'll come up with a better means of quick connect/disconnect.  For now, I proceeded.

displaywind.jpg (13715 bytes)
With the connections securely made at last, after some fighting, I turned on the power and went on deck to check the operation of the display unit.  It worked!  Very cool.

I spent some time playing with and watching the display, then returned below to finish the wiring job.

mastwiresnottiedup.jpg (31802 bytes)With so many wires now entering the boat, I decided to create a sort of harness by wrapping the bundle in black tape for a smoother look.  Then I installed the wind junction box on one of the support beams for the mast beam, and roughly cleaned up the wiring.  I needed a few different cable clamps, so held off on the final cleanup.  This picture shows the wiring all complete and partially secured, but I forgot to get a picture of the final arrangement and will post one soon.

Project complete!

Update:  2009

After enduring 2 or 3 seasons of inaccuracy, inconsistent readings, and general non-operation of the original wind instruments, I decided during the winter of 2008-2009 to replace them.  After much consideration of the various options available, I selected the TackTick T033 wind system.

Please follow the following links for additional information on the decision-making process and installation of these instruments.

2009 Maintenance and Refit Program:  1/31/09

2009 Maintenance and Refit Program:  3/29/09

2009 Maintenance and Refit Program:  4/11/09

As of this writing in May 2009, the instruments are as yet untested.  More information to follow once the season gets underway.


Glissando, Pearson  Triton #381

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