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  • Qi Wireless Charger

    • Year: 2017 Brand: Malibu Model / Trim: VLX Cost: $500-$999 DIY or Professional Install: I installed it

    After purchase of my Malibu VLX, I quickly realized how much I would like a wireless charger in the Sport Dash phone holder.  The phone holder worked great and held the phone where it was easy to see and use.  The downside was cords hanging down around your knee or hands as you were moving around the boat.  So the winter of 2017-2018 I set out to build myself one.  I expected sooner or later Malibu would do something similar and for 2019 they released a wireless charging option that is basically just like mine.  So this buildup may not be the best option for a Malibu anymore, but it might provide some inspiration into a buildup for other boats.  So here is the buildup, start to finish with LOTS of pictures.  It is basically a copy and paste from my post last year on The Malibu Crew.  This build performed flawlessly during the entire 2018 summer season.


    In the perfect world, I would of started from a totally new dash I designed as there are a few things not ideal with the thickness and placement of some things in the stock dash metal housing.  However, I wanted to keep the stock look without going through the trouble of making an entire new dash and do the plating and brushed finish of the stock piece.  So to eliminate the steps of replicating that, I decided to purchase an extra sport dash from Malibu parts for modification.  I did this so I could just do a total swap out of the dash.  If the prototype didn't work or charging technology changes greatly over the next few years I will always have my stock dash to throw back in.  So upon getting a new dash from Malibu, I measured everything up and modeled everything in CAD.




    Upon drawing all of it up, I realized due to the thickness of the aluminum stock dash where the pad and coil were going I only had 0.150" of thickness to work with.  I would of loved to recess the Seadek flush to the top surface, but that was not possible with a 5mm pad thickness.  So, the Seadek was going to be above the stock dash surface.  This presented a minor problem of the left moving 'jaw' would hit the protruding Seadek pad if it closed to the full amount.  Who has a phone that is that small anymore that you need the full slide of that stock Malibu jaw?  I don't know of a phone that small.....maybe an iPod?  Who uses those anymore?  So I decided to make a new sliding back plate that would be wider and stop the left moving jaw just a few thousands from the Seadek pad.  This still allows you to hold a phone several hundred thousandths narrower than an iPhone X.  I will have to look back at my model to see exact numbers, but it will hold anything standard from iPhone 6 and up.

    This is the new sliding back versus stock back piece.  The slot is for the wire to pass through from the coil and allow for sliding of the part.


    This is the back of the pieces.  I machined the slots for the springs just for purposes of prototyping and test fitting.  I had no intentions of sticking with the springs due to machine work you will see later.  Any future part would not have the spring slots machined as they are useless upon final assembly. 


    I ended up sandblasting the machined back as it does show thru the slots from the front side so to knock down on the noticable 'shine' I sandblasted it.  I also coated all bare aluminum with Everbrite which is supposed to protect bare aluminum in marine applications.  We will see how it does.


    This is the development board I started from.  I have since found a different one that I wish I started with as it would of eliminated a voltage convertor you will see later.  I desoldered the coil from this board and incorporated the coil into the dash as you will see.  The circuit board goes into a water tight box.


    Machine work taking place on the stock dash



    Here is the stock dash after machining modifications.  I created a recess for the Seadek pad.  I also left a pad for the coil to be industrial epoxied to.




    Charging coil wired up


    Charging coil in its pocket


    The back fully assembled.  Since I was loosing the ability to use the stock springs for the tensioning, I used a gas cylinder.  Since I was machining the stock dash and new sliding back, I did add two holes so I went with a shorter cylinder than he used and also mounted parallel to the movement of the sliding arm.


    The next issue was trying to mount the circuit board somewhere.  I went to my boat in storage back in January '18 and looked for a decent place to mount the circuit board box.  The box I was using is overkill and larger than a 'production' type box would be, but much easier for me to deal with working on my desk.  There was really no good place(easy) to mount the box without drilling holes or something so I decided to make a backing plate to mount the circuit board box to.  This way the dash would install exactly as the stock dash does.  You would install the 4 washer/nuts as stock, then I would have .500" spacers that would space a backing plate above the gas cylinder, then you install 4 more locking nuts and it is basically an all self contained piece.  Absolutely nothing stock on the boat is modified to mount it this way.  No holes drilled in the boat anywhere, etc.  I cut some 1.75" studs to replace the stock shorter studs in the stock dash to allow for the 0.500" spacers and backing plate + extra nut. 

    Backing plate being machined



    Backing plate finished, sandblasted, and coated.  The square hole is for the coil wire to pass through.  The round hole is for the sport knob wire to pass through.


    Circuit board box mounted to backing plate.  The box as mentioned above is overkill, but it made for working in much easier.  I don't have a picture of it, but the board was actually mounted to a piece of lexan cut to fit the inside of box to limit movement, wiring cleaned up, and foam placed to stop any vertical movement. 


    As I may of mentioned above, I kinda wished I had started from a different circuit board, but I didn't see it until way late in the project.  It is not a big deal other than I had to add a 12V to 19V convertor as the circuit board requires 19V.  Another application I could of used is 12V all the way through.  I may purchase one of these sometime to tinker with.  So here is the circuit board box and the wiring.  Some of this wiring was made longer than needed while I prototyped on my desk.  It can be shortened, but it is all hidden anyway under your dash.


    This shows the backing plate spaced above the gas cylinder to not interfere there.  You can also see the longer studs and .500" spacers.



    Wireless chargers use magnetic fields to transfer power.  Metal surfaces do not allow for the magnetic field to pass through which is why I had to place the coil on the topside of the aluminum dash and required all the work above.  To cover this coil, I decided on Seadek.  I got a test piece and verified it did not interfere with the magnetic field at all.  So I set out to get some custom Seadek made.  This turned into a 6 week ordeal which I finally got mostly what I wanted.  I requested 5mm single color storm gray Seadek.  The company I was dealing with does outstanding work, but they have been SUPER busy lately so it took them forever to get to my project.  After checking up on the project, I got an email saying they didn't have 5mm storm gray instock so they decided to use 6mm storm gray over black.  This makes the pad .040" thicker than I was expecting.  Not a factor in functionality, but aesthetically I would of rather had the 5mm single color.  You can barely see the black layer at the edge but not very noticeable especially installed and in the sun.  The laser engraving turned out perfect.



    So here is the Seadek installed.  It matches fairly well.  Indoor lighting affects the matching depending on the light.  Sunlight, it is pretty dang close.


    Installation in the boat.  All went well other than I had to grind a little on my backing plate in the top corners near the stud as there is not a ton of room between the stud and the fiberglass.  5 minute fix and it went right in. 

    Here is the under side of dash.


    There is plenty of 12V and ground buses/terminals within inches of the dash so electrical hookup is a piece of cake.  I used a 2 amp fast blow fuse to the 12V terminal so it is protected from drawing anything big.  Should never draw much more than 1amp.

    Here are a couple pics of the finished(pretty) side installed in the boat.






    I have a second version where I used a different circuit board and I am also attempting to slice the seadeck pad in half with a hot wire cutter to allow the pad to sit more flush.  I will update if I get that version wrapped up soon.


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    Super cool project. So jealous you have the ability to cnc what you want. That would be a game changer for sure!! Whole lot nicer than hole saws, mini air saws, grinder,  drill and index, die grinders etc. 

    Always nice to see a mod that looks factory installed. 

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