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Old 01-02-2018, 07:04   #1
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Autopilot garmin vs simrad

Looking for a new pilot for my boat. Down to Simrad vs garmin. Like the idea of plug and play for the garmin with my garmin plotters. But haven't heard a lot of good about the garmin longevity anyone have experience with it?
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Old 01-02-2018, 07:17   #2
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Re: Autopilot garmin vs simrad

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Originally Posted by b-rad View Post
Looking for a new pilot for my boat. Down to Simrad vs garmin. Like the idea of plug and play for the garmin with my garmin plotters. But haven't heard a lot of good about the garmin longevity anyone have experience with it?
It has been my experience that Garmin specializes in "obsoleting" equipment after 3 years and often, after 5 years, claims not to have replacement parts for "old equipment" (but will gladly sell new replacements). Nor can the stuff be repaired by local marine electronics shops as Garmin will not share wiring diagrams/schematics nor sell parts. Simrad gear is more robust and parts are more readily available, even for older gear which can often be repaired, when necessary, by competent marine electronics shops. I wouldn't take Garmin equipment if it were offered for "free".

FWIW...
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Old 01-02-2018, 07:22   #3
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Re: Autopilot garmin vs simrad

No experience with Garmin. But my Simrad autopilot acted up. When I called tech support, they wouldn’t even provide a wiring diagram, they used “obsolete”. I didn’t even want parts, just a diagram which I am sure existed.

FWIW
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Old 01-02-2018, 07:23   #4
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Re: Autopilot garmin vs simrad

Our Simrad AP has been great. Interfaces fine with our Garmin MFD.

I disagree with the contention that Garmin waits 3-5 years before declaring equipment "legacy." In my experience it's been closer to 12-18 months. But maybe with APs they give you a break.
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Old 01-02-2018, 08:31   #5
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Re: Autopilot garmin vs simrad

Based on reputation and great tech support I installed a Simrad AP. It was perfectly plug and play with my Garmin plotter. Didn't have to call tech support or even open a manual. Plugged in the NMEA2000 cables and turned on the power et voila.
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Old 01-02-2018, 08:32   #6
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Re: Autopilot garmin vs simrad

I am not sure when Simrad quit making the Robertson AP-35 which I have. The screen on the control head became unreadable and I was able to find a new control head, as well as a shop that could repair the old one.

I would go with Simrad if it were up to me.

I have Garmin GPSMAP4210, which is "Legacy" not sure how much longer I will be able to update it.
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Old 01-02-2018, 08:35   #7
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Re: Autopilot garmin vs simrad

So far Garmin support has been great...but I am only a year past warranty. I have been looking at replacing my Autohelm st4000 but can't see that any of the others are any better. More bells and whistles but when sailing there is a limit to what bells and whistles can do with varying winds.

Will be very interested in the outcomes on this thread but in sailboats I am not finding anyone who "loves" their AP over time.
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Old 01-02-2018, 08:36   #8
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Re: Autopilot garmin vs simrad

We had new electronics installed spring '16. Garmin MFD's and Simrad AP. They seem to play nice just fine.
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Old 01-02-2018, 08:39   #9
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Re: Autopilot garmin vs simrad

I sell this stuff, and alas, most if not all manufacturers produce a product for three to five years then stop. A couple of years after that and the support ends. This is more true with the plotters as opposed to other equipment, but the issue is pretty much across the board.

Having said that, most equipment today is interchangeable given the use of standards such as NMEA 2000, 183, etc. An autopilot is pretty straight forward when it comes to interchangeability.

If you haven't purchased a unit yet, check with your supplier and see what their return policy is. A good return policy will give you some peace of mind in case they don;'t play nicely together. Just be sure to keep all the parts, boxes, etc. It makes it much easier to return and the people you buy from will be more likely to assist you with a different pilot.
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Old 01-02-2018, 09:06   #10
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Re: Autopilot garmin vs simrad

I replaced 5 yr old Raymarine electronics with new Garmin 7612's and Sinrad autopilot with Garmin. Support is awesome along with performance and integration. Never seen Raymarine in an airplane. Electronics are not refrigerators, with the speed of technology advancement, you should want to replace after a max of 5 years.
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Old 01-02-2018, 09:25   #11
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Re: Autopilot garmin vs simrad

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Originally Posted by svHyLyte View Post
It has been my experience that Garmin specializes in "obsoleting" equipment after 3 years and often, after 5 years, claims not to have replacement parts for "old equipment" (but will gladly sell new replacements).

FWIW...
This is my experience with Garmin too.

I was looking at a Simrad autopilot as all my other gear is Simrad, but there is practically no reviews reports or other information about the performance good or bad of the Simrad system. In contrast, the web is full of positive reviews, install notes, and experiences of the Raymarine Evolution system. I bought the latter.
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Old 01-02-2018, 09:28   #12
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Re: Autopilot garmin vs simrad

WITh Nmea2000 nowdays there is little need to worry about staying with same brands. Especially for autopilot which has a limited set of functions anyway. I have Garmin chartplotters and radar,OpenCPN PC, and Raymarine autopilot. All work together just fine.
Just get one with features you like and has a good service record. My Raymarine has worked well for 7 years now.
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Old 01-02-2018, 09:46   #13
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Re: Autopilot garmin vs simrad

I've used Simrad autopilots and Garmin chartplotters in the last two boats. The Simrad has been rock solid. I'm not sure about the more recent Garmin autopilots but the Simrad has also seemed like someone is really driving. Maybe it was the Norwegian fishing boat parentage. The North Sea is no place for toys. Mine has never had a brain fart and suddenly turned 30 degrees. In most sailing situations it steers better than I can by hand.

Unfortunately, the really boring display but solid Simrad models I have (AP24 controllers) have been replaced by fancy new models with lots of color and "smart" bells and whistles. This has all happened since Simrad was bought out in the rollup into Navico. Maybe Navico is different, but usually Private Equity guys screw things up.

I notice that the new Simrad AP48 controller still has the "turn 10 degrees" and "Turn 1 degree" real buttons. These are so much better for dodging lobster pots. Click once to change course 10 degrees to port. Wait a few minutes until the pot or log has gone by. Then click once 10 degrees to turn back on course. I never let the chartplotter steer because it makes it too easy to not look ahead and the chartplotter sure isn't looking ahead.

The Garmin controller has "virtual" buttons on the screen for 1 and 10 degrees above the real button which is labeled for something else. It's confusing enough to navigate a boat without pressing buttons that have the wrong label.
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Old 01-02-2018, 09:53   #14
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Re: Autopilot garmin vs simrad

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Originally Posted by Squanderbucks View Post
WITh Nmea2000 nowdays there is little need to worry about staying with same brands. Especially for autopilot which has a limited set of functions anyway. I have Garmin chartplotters and radar,OpenCPN PC, and Raymarine autopilot. All work together just fine.
Just get one with features you like and has a good service record. My Raymarine has worked well for 7 years now.
Except that you can't update the software unless you have a plotter of the same brand that can control the autopilot.
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Old 01-02-2018, 10:21   #15
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Re: Autopilot garmin vs simrad

Would you please share the name and location of the shop that works on the Robertson/Simrad equipment.
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