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Old 11-02-2011, 06:31   #31
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Originally Posted by goboatingnow View Post
I have no experience of any of teh tiller pilots, but I can say that my Raymarine below decks units wehere very reliable and I delivered maybe 20,000 miles of these units with only one issue.
My trouble was with the wheel pilots of both Autohelm and Raymarine (same thing).

I expect that by now all autopilots use gyro-stabilized (solid state) compass and also the software should all be worked out. Only factor left is feature-set and reliability of the electronics.

The drive however is a separate chapter. There is a clear winner on that front and that is WH Smith because Will uses big heavy-duty commercial components for the hydraulics. Most other brands try to make it as small as possible, as a single unit. I would only buy a drive unit from them if I had hydraulic steering (just the hydraulic motor) or the Mamba steering (just a motor that engages the steering system's gearbox). In all other cases I would select components for hydraulic steering and add just the hydraulic motor of the AP manufacturer.

I would not buy a tiller- or wheel-pilot of any brand (nor those electric-linear drives from Raymarine) even if I had a 30-footer. But my whole point of view is offshore sailing so it might not make sense for all cruisers.

ciao!
Nick.
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Old 11-02-2011, 14:36   #32
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The Raymarine autopilots still ship with gimbaled flux gate compasses, not modern solid-state compasses, although they can use data from N2K compasses if the flux-gate is not attached. Their compass is the same one they have offered for at least a couple of decades. From my perspective, aside from the controllers, the autopilot hardware development stopped a long time ago. With the abysmal reliability of the cockpit autopilots one could have hoped for better.

While I do like some of the features that come with the modern controllers, in truth my old Autohelm 2000 (the first 6-button digital unit with separate drive and integrated controller/compass) held a course better then anything since. Such is progress...

If I do go back out cruising with this boat I will have to adapt a below-decks autopilot. As expensive as they are, they are a bargain compared to continual replacement/repair of the current tillerpilots.

Perhaps with the new ownership of Raymarine there will be more investment in R&D. I'm not holding my breath...
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Old 11-02-2011, 14:55   #33
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Originally Posted by CarinaPDX View Post
The Raymarine autopilots still ship with gimbaled flux gate compasses, not modern solid-state compasses
Ah, that explains the first $500 or so of their price advantage. Like with most things, you get what you pay for.

I also wonder how many AP's come with a N2K rudder angle sensor; I've only seen it as standard with the Simrad units and, like the compass, this is added value too.

cheers,
Nick.
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Old 13-02-2011, 17:22   #34
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Ah, exactly what I was thinking. But... this is easy! Just put a hydraulic ram on the stern, lead the hoses up to just below deck level and lead through the stern using glands or even bulkhead connectors.

There you are; lots of outboard powered boats use the same system for primary steering.

ciao!
Nick.
I have a suggestion. Use Scanmar's Autohelm wind steering setup and then use a Tillermaster type AP to run the windvane when you want to be under power.You can attach their trim tab right on your transom hung rudder instead of using the rudder that the Autohelm usually uses. I have 36000 sea miles with an Autohelm wind steering setup and recommend it.
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Old 01-09-2013, 00:54   #35
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Re: Integrated System Advice

I went with the Sigma AP28 autopilot to work with the JEFA autopilot direct drive.
Simrad NSE12, wind instruments, IS40 mf and IS20 360 deg wind analog.
Depth Sounder and AIS 400.
Furuno Radar 1835 stand alone.
Now considering the addition of the B&G Zeus Sailing Navigation System.

Feed back welcome

Jeff
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