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Old 10-03-2013, 14:11   #1
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Autopilot recommendations?

Hello everybody,
I am currently looking into getting an Autopilot for my 30 foot S2 sailboat. The cheapest option is Raymarine but it seems like there is a bit of troubnle with the X5, so I'm not quite sure about that one.
Also I already have a Garmin chart plotter and idealy I would like my gear to talk to each other. Are the any recommondations on a small boat auto pilot (she is wheel steered, so all the tiller models are off). And eventually I also want to connect the auto pilot with wind instrument on the mast head (not in place and not bought yet)
Any ideas that come to mind?
Thank you already...
I did read through the forum quite a bit before posting, but couldn't quite find what I was looking for...
Thank you!
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Old 10-03-2013, 14:51   #2
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Have you considered a Garmin GHP12 (Class A) if you're desperate to keep the Garmin brand running throughout the system?

Also, does your steering system suit a piston (long arm) or rotary type drive, this should be investigated before you start looking at options.

I'm with you on the RM autopilot, however an X10 system might be worth looking into as it negates the need for a rudder position transducer. However, I still prefer transducers as I find it to be handy to know where the rudder is laying without referring to the bit of tape wrapped around the 12 o'clock position on the wheel!
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Old 10-03-2013, 19:31   #3
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Re: Autopilot recommendations?

I'm not necessarily desperate to stick with garmin, I just like the option of having the gear communicate with eacch other.
As for the steering system a rotary drive would be better suited, there is not a lot of space on top of the rudder, so a piston won't have the necessary range.

I just looked at the garmin GHP 12 as well, but to be honest I'm not quite sure what the gear is, that would be necessary, obviously the drive unit and the core pack but does it take more than that?
Thank you for the answer!
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Old 10-03-2013, 19:36   #4
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Re: Autopilot recommendations?

CPT Autopilot Inc.
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Old 10-03-2013, 20:01   #5
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Re: Autopilot recommendations?

I have had very good performance from Raymarine and excellent service in the recent past. Phone support is also excellent. They are an excellent source for troubleshooting and installation support.
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Old 10-03-2013, 20:05   #6
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Have the garmin control head and it will drive a linear drive of other manufacturers. Look at the best drive for your boat and then a compatable head end. I thinknthe garmin head end had a better price oint then the x10.
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Old 10-03-2013, 20:26   #7
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Re: Autopilot recommendations?

stu jackson -

i'm with you on the cpt autopilot. use mine on a 20000lb 37' cutter; no other wheel pilot could handle it.

but the op is asking for a lot more sophistication. cpt may be simple and strong but highly sophisticated it is not.....
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Old 11-03-2013, 01:56   #8
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Re: Autopilot recommendations?

Quote:
Originally Posted by sabray View Post
Have the garmin control head and it will drive a linear drive of other manufacturers. Look at the best drive for your boat and then a compatable head end. I thinknthe garmin head end had a better price oint then the x10.
So basically I could go for the Garmin control head (Core pack with display and controls) and get a different linear drive? I assume the only limit would be the NMEA communication in between those?
Thank you for helping out!

And I also looked at the other belt driven Autopilot, it seems to be a solid, relyable piece of gear, but not exactly what I am looking for... Thank you still for recommending!
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Old 11-03-2013, 04:45   #9
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Re: Autopilot recommendations?

Quote:
but it seems like there is a bit of troubnle with the X5, so I'm not quite sure about that one.
Not that Im aware if, it has been a good workhorse model.

Dave
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Old 11-03-2013, 04:47   #10
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Re: Autopilot recommendations?

Quote:
Originally Posted by RW Sailor View Post
So basically I could go for the Garmin control head (Core pack with display and controls) and get a different linear drive? I assume the only limit would be the NMEA communication in between those?
Thank you for helping out!

And I also looked at the other belt driven Autopilot, it seems to be a solid, relyable piece of gear, but not exactly what I am looking for... Thank you still for recommending!
Specifically you need the GHP12 pilot to use third party linear drives

dave

The best autopilots are still Simrad ( robertson heritage) IMHO.

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Old 11-03-2013, 05:19   #11
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Re: Autopilot recommendations?

Quote:
Originally Posted by goboatingnow View Post
Not that Im aware if, it has been a good workhorse model.

Dave
Well if it really is that mught be a consideration as well: It is the cheapest option for sure and via NMEA it seems to talk to my Garmin Chartplotter... any other input on the SPX 5 pilot?
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Old 11-03-2013, 05:30   #12
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Re: Autopilot recommendations?

Quote:
Originally Posted by RW Sailor View Post
Well if it really is that mught be a consideration as well: It is the cheapest option for sure and via NMEA it seems to talk to my Garmin Chartplotter... any other input on the SPX 5 pilot?
The main reason they fail, is they are used for designs that are too heavy

However my preference would not be to use wheel autopilots , but to go for an under deck one.


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Old 11-03-2013, 05:44   #13
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Re: Autopilot recommendations?

There is no one size fits all solution here and it depends on your boat, your sailing grounds, your sailing style, and of course your budget. There are clearly so many permutations it's hard to make a recommendation.... not to mention that not too many people have extensive experience with different pilots. But since you asked for opinions I'll offer my experience.

I installed an Alpha3000 on Shiva (36' OAL x 6' deep fin, x 16,000#) after I got her new and hand steered for a few years... perhaps 3 at most. I was new to sailing and the boat and felt I needed to be proficient at helming the boat. Then I decided that it was simply often boring and did not allow me to do much else on board and as I was almost single handing all the time... SO was not much of a sailor... the AP became for me a necessity.

I selected a below decks pilot opting for the more robust alternative to the belt drive units available at the time. This was in the late 80s. I did not have GPS at the time ... it was very new etc.. and Loran C, if I recall was not even outputing steering information/interfacing to an AP. It was not an option and so I got a stand alone pilot.

The Alpha came well recommended and the install was complex... the drive arm which is connected to the ruder post. This has to be very secure and with all sorts of angles and clearances and so forth it was challenging. The install of the compass and the control head were pretty standing stuff.

What I liked about the Alpha system is that the AP is mechanically disengaged when hand steering. This means no drag on the helm and hand steering is virtually the same as it is with no pilot installed. It is engaged and disengaged by using a teleflex cable.

The pilot is then switched on and will steer the boat to the compass heading shown on the rotary dial. The heading selection is also intuitive using the large dial marked off with degree increments. A quarter turn clockwise and the pilot will steer the boat 90 to starboard... and so forth. There are also dials for yaw and how many corrections the AP will make responding to movements of the boat. Obviously more corrections uses more power and presumably steers a better course.

The pilot performed flawless for 20 years or so and then there was a compass failure 2 years ago. I replaced the part and had excellent customer support from Chris as Alpha. Then last year the drive arm went south and it seemed to cause problems in the control head from the feedback loop. I don't understand this. But I had to replace both the control head and the drive unit. Again excellent customer support and turn around.. Simple swap out re install... and I got upgraded software inside the old case and a new and improved and quieter drive unit. The repair was expensive and amount to replacement aside from the teleflex cable and the wiring harnesses. The AP did about 35,000 milies including about 20,000 offshore before the major repair after 25 years. I would say this is excellent service from the AP.

I prefer not having a GPS interface and interpret the course made good and so forth using a plotter. I make the course changes or corrections and input them using the rotary dial. This keeps me more involved in the steering...even if it mean I only do the navigation and not the helming. I strongly recommend against interfacing and AP with a GPS as it seems it can lead to laziness and collisions at sea.

I can't imagine cruising without an AP and the Alpha is on duty 98% of the time... and I hand steer only in harbors, anchorages and marinas and some channels.

I recommend the Alpha 3000 for a boat and style which is similar to mine with similar cruising style. It will pay for itself over time.
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Old 11-03-2013, 06:38   #14
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Re: Autopilot recommendations?

Last year I installed a Garmin GHP12 in place of an old and failing Robertston. My Simrad drive unit still worked fine so I connected that to the Garmin. It was a simple 2 wire installation. Most drive units I have seen are setup like this. No brains for a NMEA interface, just the two leads to drive the motor/pump. You will also need a rudder position sensor but Garmin does not produce one. I simply used a Raymarine RPS because I had installed one on a previous boat.

I also installed all new Garmin instruments and built a NMEA 2000 backbone. Everything connects via NMEA 2000 except the drive unit, RPS and my current chartplotter which is NMEA 0183.

Everything works perfectly. I can drive the boat from a plotted course or wind angle.
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Old 11-03-2013, 08:06   #15
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Re: Autopilot recommendations?

Yep. Too small an AP and you are in trouble sooner.

X5 a fine AP but hates to get overloaded, as does any other make.

Size matters.

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