7. Easy Does It: When connecting cables, there's no reason to be Conan the Barbarian. Forcing connectors together with all your might can bend their pins, which means the connectors will have trouble mating. You'll have to manually bend the pins back. At worst, bent pins can touch and short out the device or cause wrong connections to be made. Our tech support reps revealed that the more pins in a connector, the thinner the individual wires and the more likely that they'll be mangled if they're roughly put together. Of course, the thinner the wires, the easier it is to bend them back. The downside? The more wires, the more complex the connector. If you bend the pins in a connector, you can often bend them back (gently) using needle-nose pliers or tweezers. Be sure to disconnect power before you attempt this. But the best thing to do is make sure that pins don't become bent in the first place.
8. Pull the Plug: Connections can short when changes are made to them while devices are operating. If you turn on your portable GPS to obtain fixes, activate the plotter to bring up a local chart, and then connect the two together while they're both on, you risk harming one or both units. Also, when you remove a connector, you risk letting pins make contact with a connection that shouldn't occur and accidentally surge power through a line that's meant to accept data. One company told us about a user who connected a running GPS receiver to a running plotter, damaging a component in the plotter so that it no longer displayed charts accurately. The plotter manufacturer had to replace an entire circuit board.
9. It's All Well: That electronic device may say "waterproof" and it may even float if it's dropped, but there's no reason to put those claims to the test. Splashproof implies a device may be splashed with water and it won't let water leak into it. Waterproof means a unit may be submerged underwater to a certain depth and it won't allow water inside its housing. Even though a device is labeled waterproof, if you place it in an environment where it's constantly exposed to the elements, something is bound to happen. Battery contacts may corrode. And water can seep into the circuitry compartment and damage components. Electronics manufacturers love to tout anecdotes about how their devices were accidentally tossed overboard and left submerged for days and still worked. This does happen. Nevertheless, keep your gear as dry as possible.
10. Wet Behind the Ears: If water ever gets into your unit, don't turn it on immediately. In severe cases, you can simply shake the unit and hear the water sloshing inside. Water inside a unit can cause the electronics to short. In this case, it's best to contact the manufacturer for instructions. And if you can't reach the vendor, wait until the unit has dried out before turning it on.
11. Waylay in Transmission: Some devices, such as GPS receivers and chartplotters, let you upload and download waypoints and other data to and from a PC. Whenever you have an electronic device connected to a computer to transfer information, don't interrupt the session. At best, an interruption will stop the session, and both the PC and electronic device will be fine. At worst, the electronic device may lose memory. The solution depends on the unit itself. Some can receive data through a PC to ensure that the device has the information it needs to operate. Others may have chips that will need to be replaced, requiring that the device be sent to its manufacturer. Always let a unit finish its uploads and downloads.
12. Not Any Port in a Storm: When connecting an electronic device to a PC, deactivate any software that uses the same port (usually the serial, COM1, or COM2 ports). A program for uploading and downloading waypoints often has its own configuration screen that lets you set the port and activate and deactivate any conflicting software. By separating the device or program that operates on each port, you ensure that the software won't send a strange code the electronic device isn't looking for. If the device receives erroneous information, for example, waypoints may become illogical locations, or worse, it may erase the memory.
13. You Know This Stuff: Don't eschew those directions! As usual, reading the user's guide and heeding its instructions will help you avert most disasters. You've paid serious money for that piece of electronics and dream of convenience, too. So get serious about how you install and use it.