Thursday, February 14, 2013

How To Install SuperNova Fishing Lights On Your Kayak

I have been working on the rigging of my new Trident 13 for four months now. I am finished and am going to start a series of post on what I did and how I did it. I plan on finishing with a monster overview post, showing all of my customization. This is the third post in the series.

1st post: Installing a Fish Finder
2nd post: Upgrading a Plano Dry Box

When it comes to night fishing in a kayak, there are two lines of thought regarding light. Some want as little light as possible. They believe light just ruins their night vision and can spook fish. Others believe that the more light the better, light lets you see, makes you visible to other boaters, and attracts fish.

I fall in the latter category. I want to be lit up well so others can see me and I want to be able to see what I am doing. For this reason, I decided to add SuperNova lights to my kayak.

Actually, there is another reason.

SuperNova lights look awesome!

Adding SuperNova lights to your boat is a project. You should only attempt it if you have a working knowledge of electricity, have a well stocked tool box, and don't mind putting holes in the OUTSIDE of you hull. You will need to know how to solder and be able to figure things out for yourself because.......

The kit comes without instructions. What you see in the above picture is all you get. It also comes without some parts which I consider necessary. So, be prepared to think for yourself. 

It should also be noted that everything that comes in the $100 kit can be purchased on Ebay for less than $30. So, if you are very confident, that may be a better choice. A post is to follow on how to do this without a kit.

 I chose the kit because I figured it would be easier. Kits contain every part you need and come with clear instructions, right? Well, not this one. I don't want to harp to much on this because it is a decent kit, but it will come up again.

After I realized that the kit had no instructions I went online and downloaded some from SuperNova's web site. These instructions were an adequate guide, but far from clear, especially when it came to the wiring. 

The first thing I did was mock up where I wanted the lights to go. You want them to be above the water line, but out of your line of sight. They are bright and will ruin your night vision if you look directly at them. 

A piece of masking tape is perfect for lining the lights up.

The next step is the most nerve racking. Drill a hole about half an inch from the heat shrink on the light switch to run the wire through. Use a drill bit as close to the wire size as possible. 

The idea of putting a hole on the outside of my boat is.......hard. But, I did it.

Next make a hole for the switch. Choose a place accessible, but out of the way. The switch is waterproof, but it is a good idea to put it in a place that does not stay wet. Use a 1/2' bit.

Do not install the switch yet. You will want to mock up all of the wiring before you do anything else. 

The wiring diagram in the instructions did not help me much. This is how I did it:

Yay! I haven't used Paint in years!

Here is an actual picture of my wiring. Keep in mind, I am far from an expert.

Hook it up to a battery and make sure it works. Oh wait! They did not include any way to hook it up to a battery. They also did not address this in the instructions. 

Go to Radio Shack and buy some alligator clips or some other way to connect it to a battery. 

This light set draws 1/3 of an amp. The manufacturer recommends a 5.5 amp hour 12v battery. This should give you over 15 hours of burn time.

If everything works, solder all of the connections and then cover the connections with heat shrink. It is out of the scope of this blog to show you how to solder wires and apply head shrink. You can learn about soldering here and heat shrinking here

Next, install the switch. You have to unscrew the waterproof boot, locking nut, and indicator plate. 

Stick it in the hole you made, and then screw all that stuff back on. 

Now you have the pleasure of running the wires. The kit comes with zip tie anchors which are awesome for running wire in the hull of a kayak. Sadly, the kit did not have nearly enough. Two!?! They expect me to do it with two? Go buy a small bag. They will come in handy someday around the house. 

Try to keep your wire up and out of the way as possible. You do not want stuff hanging on it.

You are almost done. All that needs to be done is to permanently attach the lights and then plug your holes.

Using the masking tape as a guide, apply the provided adhesion promoter. Wait three minutes and then very slowly and carefully peel back a few inches of the sticker on the back of the lights and apply it. Work down the light until it is fully attached. You do not have to press hard. Don't mess up. There are no do-overs on this step.

Sorry, no pictures of this part. I had my hands full. 

Fill in the holes in your hull with silicon or some other waterproof filler. 

The final product is really, really cool!

I know I have been hard on this kit because it did not include instructions and some minor parts, but overall I am pleased and do recommend it.....if you are handy. My only concern is its durability. Will the LED's break if I hit a stump? Of course, now that I know how this goes together I can buy a replacement LED strip on Ebay for less than $10 if one does break.

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