DIY Electronics Installations

A do-it-yourself project on a small boat or tender can give boat owners insight into managing system installations on more complex helms.

Call and Response
For a VHF radio, why not the innovative standard Horizon GX2100 ($400) with built-in ais receiver? This two-for-one saves hassle as well as money since you don't have to install a separate AIS unit to view AIS vessels on your plotter. Get your unique identification number for DSC (digital selective calling) and integrate this cool new radio with the HDS-8. Both the GX2100 and HDS-8 comply with the NMEA 2000 standard, so you can wire the two together using a simple bus bar. AIS works on the radio's optional remote microphone too; its simple locator display shows nearby shipping in relation to your boat. Wiring diagrams to integrate the GX2100 with a Lowrance display or other plotters are posted on Standard Horizon's website. Standard Horizon, 800-767-2450;

Target Acquired
For ease of installation one choice is Lowrance's HDS-8 multifunction display ($1,565) with Navico broadband radar ($1,699). The HDS-8 display has a built-in GPS receiver and built-in processor for a sounder/fish finder that minimize cables and connections. The innovative radar displays hazards within feet of the vessel as well as targets up to 24 miles away, but it also happens to be one of the simplest to install. Unlike some pulse radars, no technician is needed — the radar's solid-state components require no adjusting. The signal processor is housed in the dome, so the cable is hardly thicker than a VHF cable — easier to run than the chunky, stiff cables of traditional radar. Because broadband radar emits one- 20,000th the power of old pulse radars (and one-10th the energy of an average cell phone), the radome is safe to mount anywhere, simplifying installation. And if you mount the 8-inch display using an articulating seaview pod from PYI ($415), you can avoid hacking a square in your fiberglass console. Lowrance, 800-324-1356;; PYI, 800-523-7558;

Tune it Up
Lowrance partnered with the marine stereo company Fusion to add a fun module to the HDS system, this one called SonicHub ($299). SonicHub hardware consists of a waterproof docking station for iPod, iPhone, MP3 and other music storage devices, along with an AM-FM tuner. Music is totally controlled from the HDS, wired to SonicHub via the NMEA 2000 network. For ease of installation, the docking station can be mounted without cutting a hole in the dash. Includes marine-grade 6.5-inch, 200-watt speakers. Lowrance, 800-324-1356;; Fusion, 623-580-9000;