This dim photo, taken with available light, turns everything we thought about navigation gear layout on its head. We are in the process of revising the Matrix Deck helm on Cochise, throwing out every design approach we have employed over the past 40 years in the process.
There is a large stack of tried and tossed prototypes in Cory and Angela McMahon’s Triton Marine shop. Each step has led us down a new road of discovery. Normally we would have waited until we had a completed project to show you what we have been doing. But if any SetSail visitors are working on navigation system layouts now, we want you to be aware of this.
This project started as a way to reduce screen and instrument glare on windows, thereby improving our night vision. This was easily achieved by dropping the monitors well below their usual desk top position. Having tried several dozen combinations, we can tell you that the monitor tops at roughly 28″ to 31″ above the deck works well. More on this later.
From the photo above you can see that there is no discernible window reflection.
When we began this quest we assumed we’d always be standing while keeping watch in traffic or in navigational scenarios requiring quick action. After all, we’ve been doing this a long time, and like most mariners, standing up was part of the drill. We never asked ourselves why.
Then, after hours of 3D modeling, prototypes and revisions numbering in the high 40s, an epiphany. If we had good sight lines–now possible with the lowered monitors–and we could comfortably reach the required controls while seated, standing was no longer a necessity. It became an option.
We have been standing all these years because we had to, in order to have a good view and in order to touch all critical controls instantly. Since we were standing, we could spread things out, nav desks were larger, etc. A self-perpetuating cycle .
The first time we sat at the revised controls with Cochise underway, this all instantly came into focus. The “aha” moment.
Here are two views of the console. First at night above…
…And in daylight. We are moving a few thing around to gain even better operational efficiency, and then we are done.
There are now four monitors in the equation. A 49″ touch screen to port, a pair of 32″ monitors center, and a 55″ mounted on a swing arm to starboard (the other monitors rotate on a transverse axis). We will have more to say on many of the details when we have this set up completed.
For now the principles are:
- Lower the monitors to below desk or coaming height, where they can be viewed nearly vertical.
- Cluster controls and instruments where they can be easily reached while seated.
- Keep sight lines forward clear of monitors and instruments.