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Jackson Cuda transducer install, pt2

July 26th, 2012 · 1 Comment

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If you missed the first part of the transducer installation, you can check it out here

And I’m back from ICAST and prepping for Outdoor Retailer. Busy busy is me. Here is, however, the completion of the transducer installation on my Jackson Kayak Cuda.

the Anchor through-hull wire seal

With the transducer installed in the scupper, it’s now time to deal with all the cable, wiring up the battery, and getting things finished up. I spend a good amount of time in the surf, so I want to make sure my installation is water tight. A number of other guys have routed the cable under the lip of the center hatch on the Cuda. This, however, also creates a large area for water to get into the kayak, and I’d rather avoid that. My solution uses a waterproof deck fitting made by Ancor Marine. These wire fittings are made to seal up around wires going in/out of boat hulls. Most people will be good with the 1/2″ NPT sized fitting, but measure your sonar plug to make sure. There are a few parts to the fitting. The main body of the fitting which includes the wire seal and o-ring, a smaller nut that secures the fitting to the kayak from the inside, and a larger nut that creates the seal. The large nut is internally conical, which creates the compression used by the seal in the body to secure the wire. It’s a pretty slick design and quite inexpensive.

you can see how thick the material is lain down by Jackson Kayak

Now, before making holes on the kayak, it’s really time to find out where to best install the fitting. Because I run my anchor trolley and cleat on the left side of the kayak, I installed the transducer on the right hand side of the kayak to reduce clutter. I also want to make sure to keep the wire from the transducer out of the way, so it’s best to install the through-full fitting on the nearest flat surface you can find. I installed mine on the side area between the scupper the bungee keeper for one of the rod stagers. The transducer and fitting are immediately in front of the seat and plenty out of the way. To install the fitting on the kayak, you are also going to need a pretty large hole–21mm would be ideal but, seeing as I have a severe shortage of metric drill bits, I went with a 3/4″ bit and filed out the hole a little bit larger. By going this route, I was able to keep expanding the hole ever so slightly until I could actually screw the fitting into the hull of the kayak. This, added with a little bit of silicon, makes a very nice water-tight seal against the kayak. There is also the rubber o-ring to give even more waterproof protection. Once the fitting is in the hole, reach through with the smaller nut (feel free to give it some silicon around one side if you’d like) and firmly make the fitting permanent. I used a pair of large crescent wrenches to make sure things were tight–just don’t go overboard and damage the fitting.

Don’t forget what way the cable will be running and install the nut backwards. This is the correct direction

Now it’s all about feeding the cable into the kayak. Of course, sonar manufacturers supply A TON of cable, but they’re not all that accustomed to guys putting these fish finders on kayaks. No, don’t even think of cutting and splicing a transducer cable. There’s too much going on inside to get it back together again. Just feed the plug through the nut, then the rest of the cable, then feed the plug and cable through the fitting. Once you have everything inside the kayak, and the cable between the fitting and the scupper just the way you want it, then slip the outer nut onto the fitting and tighten it down. Again, you’ll probably need a wrench to help you out. You want to get this plenty snug around the cable. This is the final waterproofing seal and Anchor says if you do this right, the seal is good for upwards of 300′ of submersion. Ideally, if you get this part right, then your kayak will never be down at 300′ to test it out.

Everything good and tight now

Time to move inside the kayak. To make life easy, I coil up all but the first three feet of the transducer cable. I secure it with some velcro wire ties, then attach the coil to one of the scuppers with more velcro wire ties. This just keeps all the cable out of the way and keeps it from tangling up with the rods I end up storing in the kayak. Things can quickly become a mess if left loose. Now, the rest of that cable, the first three feet, we need to attach a battery and run to the head unit of the sonar.

I run a decent sized battery, a 12 volt 8 amp brick. Yes, I could use a smaller one, but I’m pretty bad at charging the battery and this will give me weeks of use before it dies. A lot of guys like to make small battery packs out of AA sized batteries but, again, I’m not all that great at getting them back on the charger after a single day of fishing. In any case, it’s good to have some sort of container for the battery so it’s not directly exposed to all the elements.

Brick battery, velcro’d to the bottom of the container, 3amp inline fuse, ground extension. Note the small tube of No-Ox-Id. I use this on EVERY electrical connection on the kayak.

My old kayak had a canvas bag that was meant to hold the battery. The problem is that it also held onto water and didn’t like the idea of drying out at all. As such, the terminals on the battery corroded and things just weren’t good. Instead, I use a cheap food container. For brick batteries, most containers around 2 quarts in size will be ideal. This gives plenty of room for the battery and the wiring and fuse to go along with it. Your fish finder should have come with the inline fuse holder. If not, go to an auto parts store and get one and a 3amp fuse to go with it. Without the fuse, you run the risk of electrical fire, which will be no fun, even if there’s plenty of water around. I also coat every electrical terminal and connector with No-Ox-Id. No-Ox-Id is an electrical connection grease that will prevent corrosion and is packed with metal shavings so that it will conduct electricity. It’s awesome stuff that I’ve been using for a long time on my cars, and now on my kayaks. It’s not cheap, but better than anything else on the market. Apply conservatively to all your electrical connections so they don’t rust or crust up with salt. Fortunately a little bit goes a long ways.

this Kroger branded food container turned out to be a perfect fit in the Cuda

I drilled a pair of small holes about a half inch apart on one side of the container–about the same size as the wires connected to the battery. I made my own wire for the ground terminal to make up for the fact that it doesn’t have the in-line fuse like the positive side. With a small slit between the holes, I was able to push the terminals through (should have attached those AFTER I ran the wires out the side). I know a lot of guys use waterproof boxes for batteries, and I mentioned some problems with canvas battery holders. The food container isn’t going to be waterproof, but it will serve to keep things mostly dry. The way I see if, if I have enough water inside my kayak to be causing problems with the battery and electrical stuff, then I have much larger things to worry about. All I’m looking for is a little bit of protection that won’t be absorbing moisture either. The food container was, in my opinion, the best option.

1/2″ hole to pass the sonar cable to the fish finder, fill this with silicon and you’re set

I have chosen to install my sonar on the hatch of the Jackson Cuda. So far it hasn’t gotten in the way for me, and I have no problems getting in and out of the hatch as I need. The base of my fish finder covers up the large 1/2″ hole needed to pass the cable through the hatch. Once the base is installed, and the cable routed, I filled things in with silicon to get a good seal. Should water come in through here, it’ll be caught in the tray of the Cuda center hatch, and it won’t amount to much water either. I use the tray to keep the cables out of the way, and I’d say things work out just right for me.

The bungee should give plenty of support to keep the battery box in its place

To finish things up, I decided to secure the battery box better. While it has a pretty tight fit, the battery weighs in around 5 pounds. It wouldn’t take much of a jostle to send the box flying out of its little home between the scuppers. The solution was a length of bungee cord I had laying around. I wrapped it around the two scuppers and across the front of the battery box and tied it off. It’s important to make sure the bungee is tight enough to keep the battery box secure, but that there is also enough play to get the battery box out so you can charge the battery before your next trip.

and we’re done!

If you’re installing your sonar on the hatch of your Cuda, then you’re done! Let’s say, however, that you don’t want your sonar on the center hatch. Maybe you’re installing your fish finder onto your Jackson Coosa. If that’s the case, then there are just a couple more steps. With the Coosa (I know, I should go down and take photos, but I’m feeling lazy at the moment and trying to get this done before a fishing trip), Decide on where you want to mount your fish finder. Personally I like mine up between me and the Day Hatch. There’s an oval here intended for the Tallon Accessory Socketwhich is a great setup. Install the Tallon sockets in the various ovals and you can easily move rodholders and electronics mounds wherever and when ever you need. They can get pricey though. Currently I have a MightyMount installed and next to it another through-hull wire seal. So, yes, you’re looking at drilling another large hole in your kayak. Keep this fitting close to the mount so there isn’t a lot of excess wire laying about. Install it just like the other. Be mindful of your reach! With the Coosa, there’s not as much interior within reach of the front hatch, or even the Day Hatch. Don’t drill until you know you can get to an area from the inside. You’ll also need to remove the lardge piece of foam from the kayak to get to much of the area you’ll likely install the fish finder. This foam is a good thing to have. If you need, cut it out to make room for the mounting hardware and put it back inside the kayak.

While the puck is protected inside the kayak, you will lose water temperature functions of your sonar.

Don’t want to be drilling as many holes? Or maybe you’re unfortunate enough not to have a Jackson Kayak with scuppers built to install transducers? Installing the transducer puck inside the kayak is always an option, and is exactly how I ran my fish finder for years. I cut a piece of foam to fit around my transducer and glued it into place with some Marine Goop. The downside of this method is that I had to put a bottle-cap’s worth of water into where the transducer fits. Sometimes that was a pain. There are other methods similar to this too. Some just Goop the transducer right to the hull. Others use some sort of putty. Either way, you’ll still need to install a through-hull fitting, like above, next to where you mount your fish finder.

Hope this has been useful!

Tags: Kayak modification

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