Hello all, I haven't posted much on here up to now but I would like to tell you about a new autopilot
I recently installed on my 1973 Dufour
35. When I bought the boat it only had a very old Autohelm
(one with a course computer separate from the tiller drive) in which I had not too much confidence. So after looking around a lot and reading lots of sailing forums
I found the Bcalmxp autopilot from a German manufacturer who also builds windvanes (windautopilot.de). It took a while before I actually got my autopilot; course computer+ AHRS-sensor, 4 SS push buttons and two LEDs (The computer commands any kind of drive so I still use the Autohelm
drive) but I immediately started installing the autopilot. The beauty of this autopilot is that it can be remotely controlled with your Android smartphone as well as with the push buttons you install anywhere in the cockpit
you like. The AHRS-sensor is very good as it senses magnetic heading as well as attitude and rolling which makes for very goog controll. At first I was not too impressed with it's course holding capabilities and I was even almost once boarded by the Dutch Coast Guard because they thought I was drunk because the boat was going all ov er the place. The manufacturer had warned me to fit a rudder
feedback sensor though so that was what I did. The course computer accepts data from a potmeter but I chose a Cherry Hall sensor instead because this seems a bit more reliable. Since fitting the rudder
feedback the autopilot steers better than me and I have about 42 years experience sailing (from Optimist over Laser and Snipe to an Etap28 en now my Dufour).
The possibility of remote
control via Bluetooth with a smartphone gives quite some interesting features, when the Bluetooth connection is lost
for more than 10 seconds the computer will turn the boat hard to starboard and there's even the possibility to connect the computer to the engine
shut off. This is very interesting for me as I do most of my sailing solo and have often worried about falling overboard
and seeing my boat sail off. The smartphone app is also where you adjust the settings of the pilot and has the calibration tools built in.
All in all I found this a very good autopilot which is able to inegrate with the rest of my system using NMEA0183. The smartphone app even gives you the possibility to send the GPS-data from the phone
to the pilot.
Anyone wanting more info on this: B-CALMXP intelligent Sailpilot
By the way, his windvanes look very good too and I hope to purchase
one of these in the future: WindGear by Joern Heinrich - PRODUKT - Allgemeine Beschreibung