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Old 01-11-2009, 22:05   #1
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Wind Vane Steering Knowledge Wanted

I am researching wind vane steering options. After a bit of study, I have a question about what might or might not work. Wind vane steering, operating principally on apparent wind, requires input from the vane to the course correction device. If apparent wind is the input device, why does it have to be so cumbersome? Could not a simple wind vane with an electronic output be directed to a course change device such as a autopilot. Remember...There are no stupid questions, just stupid answers. Your input, of any kind, is always appreciated.
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Old 01-11-2009, 22:46   #2
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Could not a simple wind vane with an electronic output be directed to a course change device such as a autopilot.
Many autopilots can take NMEA input from a wind instrument.
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Old 02-11-2009, 01:45   #3
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If you believe all those little electrons will always go to and do what you expect them to do, by all means rely on an autopilot. Personally, the only faith I have in electronics is that they will screw up, probably when I need them the most. Also, autopilots are hungry beasts, you'll either have to run your engine every day or so, install a generator, a windmill, and/or solar panels. You can easily double/quadruple the cost of an autopilot just to feed it. Of course, since those are electronic entitities in themselves, they are prone to failure as well. Oh, and there are the spares that you should take for the autopilot.

Mechanical windvanes typically work for days/years on end with minimal maintenance. If you are unfortunate enough for the vane to need service, it doesn't take an EE degree to figure out how to fix them. The worst problem you'll probably have to deal with is replacing the control lines. With a little ingenuity, you can even set up the mechanical windvane to steer with a tiller pilot for heading control. Very low electrical drain since the vane is providing the muscle for steering and low cost.
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Old 02-11-2009, 02:41   #4
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I don't see why it wouldn't work.

How about using a tiller pilot driving the wind vane? This wouldn't give you steer to wind capability, but this set up is great when there is no wind around and way cheaper than installing a full blown autopilot for a 50' boat. (buy two tiller pilots and have a spare!!!)

If you can find a tiller pilot that can be interfaced with your boat instruments and has a steer to wind function, you're sorted.
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Old 02-11-2009, 03:17   #5
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I don't see why it wouldn't work.

How about using a tiller pilot driving the wind vane? This wouldn't give you steer to wind capability, but this set up is great when there is no wind around and way cheaper than installing a full blown autopilot for a 50' boat. (buy two tiller pilots and have a spare!!!)
This option was demonstrated to me at the Southampton Boatshow recently when I asked Hydrovane. Their is a small hand tiller (about 9" in length) which something like an ST2000 or hydraulic ram could attach to if you didn't want or couldn't use the wind vane panel, or say your main ruddr was damaged. Looked very neat and well engineered.

No connection with them but could be a future customer.

Self Steering Hydrovane Selfsteer

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Old 02-11-2009, 03:44   #6
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Windvane / Autopilot

Most Windvanes will accept a small (ish) Tiller-pilot for example the Hydrovane has a fixing point as does the Monitor, Aries and Windpilot. The addition of a small tiller-pilot is a great aid to life with a windvane.

You can arrange for NMEA or proprietory bus input (Seatalk for example) from a masthead wind instrument transducer. These do also work but the wind direction at the mast head is often very different from that felt at sea level. The choice is yours however. The difference is that with a windvane the motive power to the steering system is free, with a tillorpilot / wind instrument the motive power will be provided by your battery bank.

Both work well although the windvave is by far the more reliable and more refined steering engine.

Have fun,

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Old 09-11-2009, 04:44   #7
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How about using a tiller pilot driving the wind vane? This wouldn't give you steer to wind capability, but this set up is great when there is no wind around and way cheaper than installing a full blown autopilot for a 50' boat. (buy two tiller pilots and have a spare!!!)

I
This is exactly what I have (Windpilot and 2 x Autohelm 2000). The Autohelm controls the Windpilot not only when there is little wind but also when I'm close to the shore and the wind direction changes frequently.

Klaas
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