Helm ergonomics #2: Gizmo’s pilothouse

Ben Ellison

Ben Ellison

Panbo editor, publisher & chief bottlewasher from 4/2005 until 8/2018, and now pleased to have Ben Stein as a very able publisher, webmaster, and editing colleague. Please don't regard him as an "expert"; he's getting quite old and thinks that "fadiddling fumble-putz" is a more accurate description.

9 Responses

  1. Peter Geise says:

    Somewhere between the placemat charts w/magnifying glass and a helm that “fits like a glove” will be the sweet spot for me. Thanks for testing and explaining the myriad of options and configurations; nobody does it better! I’m ordering placemats and a 7” Garmin MFD today.

    • Ben Ellison Ben Ellison says:

      Thanks, Peter! I bought four of those Pickering placements with different large area charts covering a good stretch of the Maine coast, and they are beautifully made. Also, the magnifying glass in their marketing is for real; the detail is that sharp.

      But, full disclosure, though I only learned this from a personal note that arrived with my order: Pickering Co. is at least partially the brainchild of an old friend who once did excellent marketing and design work for quality marine electronics companies like Navionics and Lumishore. Old friend yes, but totally trustworthy company definitely.

  2. Fred Murphy says:

    Do the CZone tank level indicators need a hole in the tank. I’ve never heard of them . I’m trying a Gobius system for fuel monitoring because it doesn’t require any tank penetrations. Any ideas friends.

    • Ben Ellison Ben Ellison says:

      Hi Fred, I’ve never had to mess with the four Wema tank level sensors built into Gizmo’s stainless water, waste, and fuel tanks 21 years ago. What the CZone Signal Interface does is to translate the Wema impedance signals into NMEA 2000 while also adding extensive configuration options for matching the displayed tank percentage and volume figures to the actual tank shapes (and resulting impedance signals).

      But that does involve a CZone to USB bridge and fairly complex software, so it’s really only appropriate as part of a larger CZone system. More detail here:


      And there are many other ways to accomplish the same goal these days. The Victron Cerbo I’m about to install has four impedance tank sensor inputs just as one of many added features to its main electric power monitoring work. And I’ll be able to configure them on my phone or tablet with the free Victron Connect app, and see the resulting tank levels remotely and over N2K.

      • Ben Ellison Ben Ellison says:

        PS I’ve never tried Gobius tank monitoring but they’ve been around a long time and good to see their sensors now work with metal tanks too.


        I have had occasional trouble with the Wema sensor that hangs down into our waste tank, but hope that banging on the top and/or flushing the tank will mean I never have to replace the sensor 😉

    • Wolfgang says:

      I never heard of Gobius, so I checked it out. Looks the Gobius sensor only detects fluid in front of the sensor (or not). If you want to see 1/4, 1/2, 3/4 and 1/1 tank levels, you need 4 sensors and a Gobius Hub to connect them to, and a NMEA2000 interface to connect to your NMEA2000 system / MFD.

      I have a few Philippi UTV sensors (needs a hole on top of the tank, or replaces you current sensor), works ultrasonic and gives a linear 0,5 – 2,5V output. Works like a charm for over 10 years. At startup occasionally condensation or moisture blocks the sensor of the waste tank only, but this effect disappears after 15-30 minutes, as the sensor warms up or something. The fresh water and fuel (diesel) tank do not have this effect, working always.
      (The original Sealand (now Dometic) sensor lasted only one year, before it got stuk. Cleaning a waste tank level sensor is not a nice job.)

      If I would choose a new sensor for the tanks, I would go for a pressure sensor type. Not an easy job and requires empty tanks, but looks like the most throuble free solution. Otherwise the ultrasonic type.

  3. Fred Murphy says:

    Thanks Ben for the input. I’m thinking the impedance sensors, require top mount and probably a hole, which was very difficult without removing the tank for me. I’ve got the three sensor kit that will allow percentage calculation. They were substantially cheaper when ordered from west coat blackwater tank company. Not installed, waiting for warmer weather.

    • Ben Ellison Ben Ellison says:

      Right. My tanks had the sensor hole fittings build into their tops, and then at some point someone added Magic Marker notes about being super careful when removing the waste sensor or parts of the fitting will fall to the bottom of the tank. Another reason I hope to never mess with it! Hope your Gobius install goes smoothly, but seems like nothing can go really wrong.

  4. Ben Ellison Ben Ellison says:

    I learned via email that I was confusing in my side note about how a Yacht Device J1708 Engine Gateway “can bridge some electronic engine info that the [Actisense] EMU-1 can’t see.” To be clear, they are completely different solutions to the same issue.

    The EMU-1 translates signals going to analog engine gauges into N2K while the YDES-04 works with the version of J1708 electronic data that Volvo Penta was apparently experimenting with in my diesel 21 years ago. So it’s neat that the YD device just plugs into the TAMD74C’s diagnostic port and delivers info like engine load, hours, and fuel burn that I’d only seen when a technician with the right (and now rare) tool was aboard. But, then again it doesn’t deliver oil pressure, it didn’t exist when the EMU-1 was developed, and it won’t do anything for many engines that the EMU-1 works fine with.

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