Boaters face the common need to accommodate more and more useful electronics in less and less available helm space. To eliminate this problem, here are some proven tips.
1. VHF Radios
Your radio must always be at least within arm’s reach. If helm-top or flush-mount space is out, choose a set that has a full-function remote microphone option. The radio can then be placed out of the way, and the fist-size remote mike can be hung at a convenient spot on a bulkhead. Standard Horizon created two space-economy radios by building two sets in one case. The GX1700 ($229) sports both a VHF and a GPS in the same case. Its GX2150 ($399) adds an AIS receiver.
There are several aftermarket products that create room for electronics where little is available. National Products (rammount.com) manufactures a line of RAM swivel brackets and swing-out arms that require a footprint of only a few square inches. NavPod (oceanequipment.com), Seaview (seaviewglobal.com) and Edson International (edsonmarine.com) each produce an array of mounting pods and overhead enclosures that can multiply your mounting space.
3. All-in-One Displays
Multifunction navigation displays that bundle a number of devices and added functions into one unit are the most practical solution for saving helm real estate. Displays with screen sizes typically from 5 inches, like the Lowrance HDS-5, to 15.5 inches, as with the Garmin GPSMap 7215, make extra elbowroom by combining the GPS, chart plotter, fish finder, radar, AIS, video cameras and even satellite radio and live satellite weather imaging into one unit. Input connectors provide you with the option of attaching additional devices.