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Old 26-11-2015, 21:22   #1
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Any recommendations for an auto pilot?

Hi folks,

I have a 2001 Hunter 460 under contract and it does not have an auto pilot. Current electronics are, Raytheon RC 530 Chart plotter w/Raystar 120 Antenna,
Raymarine Autohelm ST60, depth, wind, speed and Raytheon 53DSC VHF, Magnetic compass. I am guessing that what I am getting is the original bare bones equip. I would like to hear some suggestions on what auto pilot I should install, used or new? Just an FYI, I am USMC trained avionics tech and very capable with any aspect of trades, I plan on doing this myself, not looking for suggestions on "if I should do it" just what products would be recommended for a proper job. Thanks
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Old 26-11-2015, 23:18   #2
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Re: Any recommendations for an auto pilot?

If I were you, I would instal a Robertson auto pilot sized for a vessel slightly larger in tonnage than yours. They are an easy install and very reliable. As a back up, try and pick up an amazing old Wood Freeman, commonly known as an Iron Mike'. They are bullet proof but difficult to set on an exact heading. Once set, they will take you across the Continental Divide if asked to with no course change. I'm n a trip down the coast from Vancouver, Canada to San Diego, CA, the most inexperienced crew member set the Wood Freeman on course and won the lottery we had going for longest distance to a way point without a course adjustment! Nice to have a back up, believe me! Phil
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Old 26-11-2015, 23:20   #3
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Re: Any recommendations for an auto pilot?

You say Raymarine Autohelm ST60 in your post, sounds like an autopilot to me.


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Old 26-11-2015, 23:27   #4
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Re: Any recommendations for an auto pilot?

As above, but did you mean the St60 instruments only, not the AP? Anyway, the Robertson mentioned above have not been made for years - Simrad (now navico) bought them.
Your instruments are NMEA2000, so you don't need to have Raymarine unit. You also have not said what your intentions are for this AP. For local and coastal, I'd get a unit (Raymarine or Navico/B&G) with the Gyro rate compass - way better performance than the fluxgate versions. The B&G one is the Triton series.
If you are going around the world, I'd have a very close look at the B&G 5000 series - closest thing to a person at the helm that I have yet seen, but of course more $$
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Old 27-11-2015, 06:12   #5
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Re: Any recommendations for an auto pilot?

Okay, on the issue of what is listed in the sellers listing I am a little confused myself, it does indeed state "autohelm" but it also states that a autopilot should be added. I have attached some pictures of the equipment from the listing, any help would be appreciated. As for my plans, with this boat coastal cruising and a trip to the Caribbean, I will be sailing with my GF and we both are novice so I am looking for a system that can be depended on. As far as price, I am a value man more that overall cost. I would like to find a product that goes well with what I have and will be a one time solution.
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Old 27-11-2015, 07:28   #6
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Re: Any recommendations for an auto pilot?

You might look at the Raymarine S2G or S3G processor unit (the G on the end means it has the rate gyro sensor included). No longer in production but available on ebay. They are compatible with the ST 60 instrument set and the Raymarine Chartplotter. You will also need a 6000 series control and display unit, and the real heart of the system an actuator to turn all that smarts into actual rudder movements. MY preference is DC motor drive systems, some prefer hydraulics. Raymarine makes several versions so does everybody else. I am using a 40 year old Benmar drive unit that is bullet proof but probably not quite up to your requirements. Don't get too hung up on matching mfg with the drive unit (under all the marketing BS they are all PM DC motors). Improved performance will be had if you also include a rudder position transducer and in that case stick with the same electronic mfg.

Steering a sailboat for hours/ days on end gets old in a hurry, AP is not a luxury in IMO.


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Old 27-11-2015, 07:32   #7
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Re: Any recommendations for an auto pilot?

I have only experience with the Alpha 3000 for about 25,000 miles. It's a great pilot. It does not interface with GPS which is fine and probably preferable. I've done some deliveries with boats that have had other pilots. They seemed fine... below decks. I prefer the rotary dial for the course setting to punching a button and read an lcd display.
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Old 27-11-2015, 08:23   #8
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Re: Any recommendations for an auto pilot?

Think of an A/P as another crew member that you don't need to feed and that will not be distracted/fatigued while standing a watch. They do, however, need to be "supervised" for occasional aberrations.
Take a look at a Raymarine Type 2 electro-mechanical linear drive to drive the steering quadrant. Speced to 44,000 lbs displacement, very robust, repairable in the field and very common. Couple that with a Raymarine p70 series control head placed where the helmsman can set/adjust. Easy to operate, even with gloves on.
While it is true that when you peel away the marketing, the actuators all operate the same, in the interest of a warranty issue getting raised, I'd stick with all the same brand. Don't forget the include an appropriate rudder position sensor and you should be all in at $3K for the hardware.
This should go well with what you already have.
PM me if you want more details.


Quote:
Originally Posted by tucamonday View Post
Okay, on the issue of what is listed in the sellers listing I am a little confused myself, it does indeed state "autohelm" but it also states that a autopilot should be added. I have attached some pictures of the equipment from the listing, any help would be appreciated. As for my plans, with this boat coastal cruising and a trip to the Caribbean, I will be sailing with my GF and we both are novice so I am looking for a system that can be depended on. As far as price, I am a value man more that overall cost. I would like to find a product that goes well with what I have and will be a one time solution.
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Old 27-11-2015, 08:31   #9
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Re: Any recommendations for an auto pilot?

Quote:
Originally Posted by tucamonday View Post
Okay, on the issue of what is listed in the sellers listing I am a little confused myself, it does indeed state "autohelm" but it also states that a autopilot should be added.. I would like to find a product that goes well with what I have and will be a one time solution.
OK you are in a very interesting situation that can be VERY good!
My boat is the same year a d has a similar raymarine set up.

The 6002 Autopilot is the most reliable bit of kit I have ever seen and its done my 35,000nms wonderfully well!

The interesting thing is that a the kit listed was wired together WITHOUT a course computer. All Ray stuff now appears to have the course computer required, and it costs lots!
So you have a choice of buying a second hand old one that suits the kit you already have(should be inexpensive) or buying all new kit with course computer (not cheap!)

Now, in 2 seconds flat people will reply to this saying I am talking ****, but I ain't.

The misleadi g description in the ad is easily solved when you see the boat: look in the back lazarett and if you see a huge black blob attached to the quadrant you have the auto pilot.
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Old 27-11-2015, 09:06   #10
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Re: Any recommendations for an auto pilot?

I bought a used Ray marine off eBay (s400g I think are the numbers) that was a similar vintage as my and your older raymarine equipment. Hooked it up myself, to my existing pump of unknown brand, and it has worked perfectly for over a year and almost 2500 miles. Don't be afraid to go used and save a bundle. Installation was a piece of cake.

But I wouldn't go with some of the stone age units suggested, they just don't track straight like the stuff from the past 10 years or so.
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Old 27-11-2015, 09:18   #11
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Re: Any recommendations for an auto pilot?

Looking at the photos, I see an alpha 3000 autopilot control head. If value is what you are looking for, why not get acquainted with the installed system. Service and parts are available. If the other gear is operational, why not get acquainted with that too. Making future changes and choices will be enhanced by some firsthand experience. I see a thruster ( bow? Stern?) is also installed. My guess is a previous owner put together a good system for its day - and not shabby for today.



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Old 27-11-2015, 09:30   #12
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Re: Any recommendations for an auto pilot?

Ditto the Alpha 3000. Very low energy consumption and very fast response. I've got about 12K miles on mine and am very happy. A friend did a circumnavigation with his, and it never missed a beat. It interfaces with nothing, which for me since I like independent systems on my boat, is just fine.

I have had very bad experiences with Raymarine. On the way to Bermuda on a friends boat, it puked about 300 miles from the island, so we hand steered there...trying with only two on board. The Raymarine dealer replaced the drive unit with a new one which lasted only 6 weeks. And the tech support from the Raymarine tech center was terrible. You are forewarned!
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Old 27-11-2015, 09:45   #13
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Re: Any recommendations for an auto pilot?

Autohelm is a former brand of autopilots and instruments, which got bought by Raymarine. So this does indeed not mean that there is an autopilot installed.
Autohelm had its own proprietary bus system called "SeaTalk" which Raymarine continued. You have such a "SeaTalk" system, and interfacing it with something from another manufacturere might come with some issues. So a Raymarine autopilot is probably the right thing...
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Old 27-11-2015, 11:20   #14
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Re: Any recommendations for an auto pilot?

you say you have good experience with systems so that give you some more options. You don't have to stick with a 'plug and play' set up from one manufacture. Have a look at the Octopus pumps for a drive, get an H bridge module for power then you can use a small course computer as it is only providing a control voltage to the H bridge not the power for the drive. You can finish up with a system that is both cheaper and more efficient. The other point is to case everything electronic in decent water tight boxes. drive computers are very vulnerable to damp, hence the 'mount below deck' instruction. In bad weather almost no boats are that dry below deck!
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Old 27-11-2015, 12:56   #15
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Re: Any recommendations for an auto pilot?

Quote:
Originally Posted by MarkJ View Post
The interesting thing is that a the kit listed was wired together WITHOUT a course computer. All Ray stuff now appears to have the course computer required, and it costs lots!
So you have a choice of buying a second hand old one that suits the kit you already have(should be inexpensive) or buying all new kit with course computer (not cheap!)

Now, in 2 seconds flat people will reply to this saying I am talking ****, but I ain't.
Well, it took longer than 2 seconds, but the 6002 contains the course computer inside the control head. So your system indeed does have a course computer.

Mark
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