I spent a lot of time during my build just thinking and researching all of the various design components and a major one was the design and layout of the center console. In hindsight I ended pretty much going back to my original idea, and that was to copy most of what Chuck Mazzola had done on Reel Sweet. I didn't completely finish mine, however, until this past week when I received and installed a wireless engine kill switch from Fell Marine.
In the hope that I might help any others that are mulling over their design, I thought I'd post a photo and explain what's there.
Starting at the top and working my way down, you'll see a stainless grab bar that runs up each side and over the wind screen. I consider some type of hefty grab bar to be essential in these center console boats (mine's a 21' Widebody). You just have to have something to hold on to as you're moving around when it's rocking and rolling. It doesn't have to be designed just like mine, but trust me, it will increase your sense of security a thousand fold.
The wind screen is not essential but it's a wonderful creature comfort. I made this one of Lexan but not until after the first summer/fall of fishing. I had to guess about the best dimensions and luckily it's perfect. The wind flows just over the top of my head and I never worry about losing a hat. I also don't get frozen from wind chill.
Centered on top of the console is the compass. A real challenge with limited console space is where to mount items like the compass that should be kept away from other electronics. I couldn't figure out any other alternatives and so I tested the compass first by just sticking it down with two sided tape. It turns out it doesn't seem to be bothered and so it became permanent.
To the right of the compass is a Ram mount for my cell phone (another recent addition). Family obligations require me to remain in touch plus my phone is the backup for GPS/chartplotter. The Ram products are very nice and I'd recommend them.
Down and to the far left is a BlueSea switch panel.
Next and on top is a BlueSea 3 way bilge switch (On/off/auto). Also not seen inside the console is a high water bilge alarm.
Below the bilge switch is a 12 volt accessory socket.
The large center screen is a Garmin 7612 MFD. The 12 inch screen is kind of a luxury, but it's sure nice on aging eyes. In addition to the chartplotter, the sonar shows Chirp, down and side view, and it's all connected via the network to the autopilot. A lot of the engine information can also be displayed.
The smaller screen to the right of the MFD is the autopilot display/controller.
To the right of the autopilot is a fuel gauge.
The two larger round gauges below the autopilot and fuel are the Etec engine gauges. A lot of their information is also available on the MFD.
Down on the next panel and to the left of the wheel is the VHF radio. The VHF often get stuck where you can't see their display without standing on your head. This one's a little low but still easy to see.
Above and to the right of the wheel is a horn button, and the larger round item right below it is the control base for the new engine kill switch. This replaces the worthless lanyard that almost no one wears. It has a small fob that I'll carry on me and it automatically kills the engine if I happen to go overboard. This is another thing that certainly isn't a necessity, but it would really suck to be out by myself and watch the boat merrily motor out of sight.
Next to the right is the engine control binnacle, and to its right is the autopilot wireless controller. I can either leave it in its mount or carry it on a neck lanyard.
Inside the console is what seemed like several miles of wire, 2 batteries and the autopilot pump. The console extends over the tops of the stringers which allowed me to run wiring, cables and hoses outside of them.
I had lots of help when I was building and I hope this helps to pass it on. Let me know if you have questions.
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