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Custom engineering for a yacht system integrator

Read the full article by Glyn Hutchinson on Yachting Pages

Whilst some people get excited about colours, fabrics and finishes in yacht building, for AV-IT engineers, there is a strange obsession with equipment racking.

Having the right rack solution for housing and maintaining electronics is a huge plus for our installation engineers and yacht electrical technical officers alike. So much so that where we cannot find a good solution, we get out the drafting tools and design our own.

One of our recent projects was to devise the ideal solution for housing multiple small format devices (Apple TV, Intel NUC’s etc..) in a space efficient but serviceable rack mount arrangement.

We have previously tried various sliding shelves, stacking multiple units on top of each other and mounting sources to a DIN rail, but each of these presented different issues. Problems such as accessing buttons or having to remove a stack of devices to get to the bottom one. Managing a large number of HDMI, Ethernet, audio and power in a small space is also a significant challenge.

The brief:

  • Modular solution
  • Flexibility to house a variety of different shapes and sizes
  • Mechanical fixings to secure the hardware (not Velcro or dual lock)
  • Adequate ventilation
  • Enable access to both cables and buttons (front/back/top)

The Result:

Having modelled the ideal solution using 3D CAD software, we settled on a design that comprises of only 10 unique components. It uses standard fixings to assemble quickly and can be configured to accommodate up to 8 sources in 4U and a maximum of 16 sources in a 5U or 6U configuration.

To securely hold the sources onto the “Blades”, we created custom brackets tailored to the common sources we were looking to mount. Such as the Yamaha WXAD-10, the Sonos Port, Apple TV and Intel NUC.

Lastly, to complete the product, we produce custom semi-rigid (Traffolyte) labels in house on our laser cutter to clearly identify the device mounted on each blade. This also identifies the slot as opposed to the source directly, so should a source fail, it can be quickly swapped out without the need to peel off labels that previously would have been stuck directly onto the device.

This solution is now a standard for our installations, and for what amounts to a small exercise in customised “Bent Metal”, the benefits for speed of installation and end user maintenance are huge.

  • Application – Does this link need high-speed capability – now or in the future?
  • Distance – How long is the cable run?
  • Budget – What are the budget limitations and is there a lower-cost cable that is fit for purpose?

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