The trivial issue first: Since the N2K network does provide a minimal amount of power, it's possible to have the circuit breaker for the autopilot
turned off and still have enough power to bring the display up, indicating that the autopilot
is on and fully functioning. But it isn't. There's only enough power to bring up the display and not enough to power the steering
mechanism. Circuit breakers will trip and fuses
will blow if you're not aware of this. The simple solution is to leave the circuit breaker for the autopilot on all the time.
The second issue we have is that about once every 24 hours, regardless of whether we're under power or sail, the autopilot display goes into alarm
mode, it stops steering
and says, "Cannot find autopilot computer". Canceling the alarm
is easy (press any key) and the normal display returns instantly. Then we re-engage the autopilot and it's fine for another 24 hours or so. All three of us are so used to the problem that we can be back under autopilot control in a matter of a few seconds. I can see the mental gears of those reading this spinning away, thinking, "This guy is an idiot. It's either a wiring
problem, an SSB
transmit problem or maybe a refrigerator compressor
that cycling that's causing his problem.". First, I'll match my skills at routing, dressing and terminating wires and cables
with the most discerning of technicians. For 25 years I owned a low-voltage contracting company and spent way too much time doing it. I've isolated the ground, relocated the related cables
away from any high amperage cables or sources. There is no correlation to the use of the SSB
(although keying the SSB's mic does send the autopilot into a steering frenzy) or VHF
. We have even gone to the extent of shutting down our refrigeration
compressors to see if that would cure the problem. It didn't.
I bought a second AC42 but that has the same problem. I have been in touch with Simrad
technical support and they want us to ship them the units. Now that we should be staying put in Australia
for a while, we'll do just that.
Regardless, I still like the Simrad
autopilot very much. Fortunately, our boat balances very well so it makes it easy to get the autopilot dialed in to where there is little correcting that has to be made, under most conditions.
Fair winds and calm seas.