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Old 28-12-2010, 01:17   #1
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Autohelm 5000 Remote Problem

I have an Autohelm 5000 (linear drive to rudder quadrant) autopilot that has worked well until recently. The problem seems to be in the cockpit remote control unit (company designated as Auxiliary Control Unit - ACU). This control has two dials: Set - Duty which connects or disables the remote control, and Left - Right which is a direction override to the Set heading.

I used to be able to power up the master control unit in the cabin, then switch the control to remote, then run up to the cockpit where I would steer to the desired course, switch the ACU from "Set" to "Duty" and let it take over.

The a/p still works fine when set at the main control down below. But now when I switch to remote the boat starts veering off in one direction. I cannot get it to stop by using either right/left control on the remote. Only turning the remote off stops the problem.

This is a new problem. I think this did not fail all at once. I had the problem suddenly late one night, but on a sail a couple weeks later it worked fine. Then a couple days after that it happened again, and has stayed faulty.

I am thinking there must be some sort of short in the ACU? I have a search set up on eBay for a used remote unit. But does anyone have any ideas here? I'm willing to tinker and splice. (Wondering if something went bad on the L-R dial? Maybe I could disable it?)

I really need to be able to turn the remote off, steer to a desired heading, and then switch it on - from the cockpit. Going below and back is a drag.


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Old 28-12-2010, 09:41   #2
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Open up the remote, remove salt with fresh water and a toothbrush. Dry fully under a lamp or similar, reinstall.
I'd give that a 90% chance of success.
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Old 28-12-2010, 18:25   #3
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The remote can be opened, but you will need to crack the joint at the unit base and the faceplate. Reseal with acrylic cement. The idea of cleaning out the unit is good, I use either alcohol or an electrical cleaner. Do not use wd40!

Also, check the connections INSIDE the plug end where it attached to the main control. The crimp joints often break.
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Old 29-12-2010, 11:49   #4
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If you open up the remote, be sure to check the condition of the knob shaft seals.
If they're rubber o rings, replace them.
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Old 05-01-2011, 22:38   #5
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Well... this task is not going well.

First I had a bear of a time getting the cable unscrewed from the back of the case. After finally getting the fitting off I discover it is not a plug, but rather a pass through for the cable which is multi wire, and attached inside.

Then trying to get the unit opened I only succeeded in breaking off part of the face plate. I can see that it is glued tight. No movement gained in separation after much prying - only one corner of the faceplate broken off and a crack in the other side. I think I am going to have to take a hacksaw and carefully cut this open. Unless someone has another idea to share...?

I have to move this boat in a couple days and it wold be real nice to have this remote panel working, given it is freezing here.
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Old 06-01-2011, 12:45   #6
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The case sould be opened at the point where the back housing meets the back of the faceplate. Use Acrylic glue to get it back together. Try using an xacto knife to cut into the area where they are joined.
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Old 12-01-2011, 21:22   #7
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Solved

I have a working a/p remote again.

I shall skip the embarrasing details of the things I did before discovering the problem and just cut to the answer.
The Lesson Is: Always look for the simplest solutions first.

It was a knob problem. Commonly, when you have a knob that has a line or ridge on it to indicate where it is pointing, the spindle on which it fits will have a flat side that nests only one way in the back of the knob. Not with this unit. Both spindles are smooth and round. The knobs simply grip by pressure where ever you stick them on. However there is a ridge around part of the back of the knob which only allows it to turn within a limited space on the unit itself. But it is up to the person to stick it on in the right position.

In this case the knob for the Left/Right variation was slipping. It was not obvious because it had enough grip to hold onto the spindle, and it only turned within the designated range due to the shape of the back of the knob. But it was not gripping the spindle hard enough to actually turn it.

So, somehow it had been been turned to one side while gripping the spindle hard enough to turn it, too. But then was not gripping hard enough to move the spindle when turned back to the center position. That is why the boat would veer off to the right when the control was switched to the remote panel, and why turning the Left/Right knob left failed to counteract that veering.

I have repairs to make to the unit case and faceplate, but at least it was working for my day trip north in the winter cold.

(now if I can figure out why the Vigil radar crapped out just before sunset that day I will be a truly happy cruising camper)
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Old 29-01-2017, 16:11   #8
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Re: Autohelm 5000 Remote Problem

I have recently purchased a boat that has the autohelm5000 and I would love the chance to to talk to someone who owns one. I don't know if all parts are there, or even how to get it started, or test that it works. The equipment looks in good clean conditions with all wiring nicely intact. I have the head, control arms and remote. Can send pictures too.
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Old 26-04-2017, 07:55   #9
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Re: Autohelm 5000 Remote Problem

if you send pictures i will try to help i have a unit that i use on my sailboat works well do you have manual for unit pretty good instructions in there?

Paul
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