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Old 02-10-2017, 09:18   #1
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autopilot

Looking to buy an autopilot for our 12 ton oceanic sailboat with cable steering from the helm of the center cockpit.
Lots of conflicting information and proprietory electronics.
The debate is between NKE. Simrad or B&G. We updated our wind, depth and speed to raymarine i70 a couple of years ago. NKE requires that all instruments are theirs. Simrad and b&G require a wind sensor and display change. Don't really trust rayamrine autopilots for world cruising.
Any thoughts?
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Old 02-10-2017, 14:15   #2
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Re: autopilot

You might consider adding WH to your short list. They are very beefy, made in Washington State and use pretty much off-the-shelf components. Not sure about finding someone to install it, however. We did ours ourselves. But, after tracking down a nuisance hydraulic leak, it has performed well for us.
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Old 02-10-2017, 16:47   #3
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Re: autopilot

I think you should put Raymarine on your list as well. I two Raymarine that have done 3 Atlantic crossings + 20000Nm coastal sailing. They are still going strong and will take of for a fourth Atlantic crossing in November.

I have been using Raymarine Computers together with drive units from L&S and Hypro.

Normally it is the drive unit that fails. Many manufacturers uses hydraulic drives from https://www.hypro.co.uk. Simrad, B&G, Furuno, Raymarine buy some of their hydraulic drives from Hypro.

The only major hardware problem I have had was this summer when the L&S drive gave up on a 3 day crossing. That is the drive that NKE uses. I replaced that with a drive from Hypro. The L&S drive is degraded to backup.


I have also had B&G, Simrad and Furuno pilots on earlier boats. I have had no hardware problems with them. But I very much prefer the Raymarine as it always have been performing better in big seas.

I would like to test a B&G or Simrad autopilot as I’m sure they have improved their software from earlier generations.

For world cruising you should either install a backup autopilot or carry spares. Autopilots do not fail often. But if they do on a long passage it is a major problem.

Also do not forget that autopilots uses electricity. You want to have backup for your charging system.

A Wind steering unit solves that problem.
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Old 02-10-2017, 17:49   #4
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Re: autopilot

This type of question really has no answer. A well installed and calibrated AP should work fine on your boat if the drive is properly sized and sails trimmed.

I did a fresh install of all electronics, and went with a full B&G set up. After reviewing all the offerings out there, I felt that B&G has the best for sailing if you have performance in mind.

You can certainly install an AP without any regard to the rest of the system if the wind data is NMEA 2k. But I felt there were benefits of matching the brand of AP and chart plotter. Specifically, it makes adjusting settings and firmware updates easier.
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Old 02-10-2017, 17:58   #5
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Re: autopilot

You can get raymarine instruments to talk to a simrad or B and G. You need to buy a little " black box".
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Old 02-10-2017, 19:09   #6
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Re: autopilot

I added a Simrad and kept my Garmin chartplotter. The Simrad has a controller option that doesn't require a full display but at the same time, is a no problem, plug and play with my Garmin on the NMEA2000 network.

As noted, you can get the Raymarine instruments to talk to a Simrad or other standard NMEA2000 device if you buy a Raymarine adapter and tinker with the wiring a little.
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Old 02-10-2017, 19:49   #7
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Re: autopilot

Hhmm no idea why you don't consider Raymarine "world cruiser" ready. Our boat has run a Raymarine autopilot for 14 years. In that time it has crossed the Atlantic 3 times and the autopilot NEVER skipped a beat.

In fact we just replaced that AP last year due to a lighting strike. After tons of research I decided that Raymarine has the best AP on the market and replaced it with the latest offering (Evolution). Even though all our other gear is B&G. That AP has now steered us 1000s of miles and never skipped a beat.

I think you need to look into it more.. I'm not a fan of hydrolics on a sailboat (just my preference). Your boat is right on the cutoff between a Type 1 or Type 2 Linear actuator. Personally I would go up to a Type 2. The Ray Linear actuators can be used with other brands of AP computers and heads.
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Old 02-10-2017, 21:59   #8
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Re: autopilot

Quote:
Originally Posted by travellerw View Post
Hhmm no idea why you don't consider Raymarine "world cruiser" ready. Our boat has run a Raymarine autopilot for 14 years. In that time it has crossed the Atlantic 3 times and the autopilot NEVER skipped a beat.

In fact we just replaced that AP last year due to a lighting strike. After tons of research I decided that Raymarine has the best AP on the market and replaced it with the latest offering (Evolution). Even though all our other gear is B&G. That AP has now steered us 1000s of miles and never skipped a beat.

I think you need to look into it more.. I'm not a fan of hydrolics on a sailboat (just my preference). Your boat is right on the cutoff between a Type 1 or Type 2 Linear actuator. Personally I would go up to a Type 2. The Ray Linear actuators can be used with other brands of AP computers and heads.
You can buy two Ray linear actuators,& have a spare aboard,for the price of one decent hydraulic system,& the linear actuator is very reliable. IMHO

Most autopilots put out a simple port,stbd & clutch signal & will run most brands of drive systems,but verify for your particular application.

Some additional a/p info links Building an Autopilot Base

/ Len
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Old 02-10-2017, 22:06   #9
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Re: autopilot

Im guessing here ,but i think you might find more raymarine linear drives successfully circumnavigating than any other brand...in saying that i do have a issue with mine at the moment.
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Old 03-10-2017, 04:54   #10
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Re: autopilot

Quote:
Originally Posted by deblen View Post
You can buy two Ray linear actuators,& have a spare aboard,for the price of one decent hydraulic system,& the linear actuator is very reliable. IMHO
Only have a few miles on my Ray linear but have had discussions with other owners that have indeed used them for many long passages with no problem. Another benefit, they are relatively quiet in operation compared to most hydraulics.


Quote:
Originally Posted by deblen View Post
Most autopilots put out a simple port,stbd & clutch signal & will run most brands of drive systems,but verify for your particular application.
Exactly. I kept my Ray linear drive and power it with a Simrad AP computer. As far as I know the only consideration is whether your AP computer has sufficient power output to operate whatever brand, model and type of drive you use.

Simrad tech support did insist that I needed to use a relay between their computer clutch output and clutch on the Ray linear drive instead of driving the clutch directly. Checking specs and power draw I think that was mainly a CYA requirement than an actual necessity but it was easy enough to implement so why not.
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Old 03-10-2017, 05:06   #11
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Re: autopilot

I would also like to plug the Raymarine units. I recently replaced an old raymarine below deck computer (I kept the drive unit) with their new Evolution computer and there is a remarkable difference between the two! The Evolution does not "hunt" the way the old computer used to, plus I believe that the learning capabilities of the new computer does not tax the drive unit as much probably consuming less power doing so. The other advantage is that the Evolution does not use a fluxgate compass but a heading sensor that is less sensitive to magnetic interference.
Just my two cents worth...........
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Old 03-10-2017, 05:34   #12
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Re: autopilot

I also debated between NKE and B&G. The NKE was very appealing, and the autopilot may be a hair more responsive due to the faster protocol (Topline bus). I went with B&G H5000 Hercules primarily based on the longer lead time getting the NKE system from France. Achillefs at Chicago Marine Electronics has been very good go work with.

Cheers,
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Old 02-01-2018, 14:12   #13
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Re: autopilot

Jdazey, could you report on the H5000 please?

I'm trying to decide between the NAC-3 and the H5000 units (Hydra or Hercules) autopilots by B&G.

Our boat is similar to yours, in that it's 15m long, 7.6m wide and tops out at just over 9 tonnes.

Thanks for any help or advice you can offer.

Paul.
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