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Old 18-04-2012, 06:24   #16
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Re: Mine Died... What Autopilot to Buy?

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Originally Posted by btrayfors View Post
W-H P3C Autopilot.

IMHO, it's the only game in town for a robust autopilot which can handle large and small boats, power and sail. A heavy favorite of the fishing fleet in the NW Pacific.

Great support.

New W-H P-3C Autopilot

See both pages. Click twice on each pic for full resolution.

Give Will Hamm a call -- he answers personally any time of day.

Bill
W-H or Comnav would be my only choices, but then I have a dual hydraulic helm on a steel boat and my other autopilot is a wind vane. I'm not interested in AP to the mark...I'm interested in something that will run 24 hours when I'm motoring through the ITCZ and the wind kacks but the sea doesn't.

The Raymarine stuff is good to a point, but I've heard too much in the way of failures (and seen a couple myself) to think of it as a long-term contender.

B&G is priced for racers in my view.

Just my .02. I have a 30 year old Autohelm 1000 tiller pilot for my 33 footer that works great after the initial adjustments, but it can and has been overwhelmed even in Lake Ontario when the wind's been up. All APs have such limitations in my view and it's a good thing: you should be hand steering after a certain point, or hove to if that's too much.
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Old 18-04-2012, 06:27   #17
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Re: Mine Died... What Autopilot to Buy?

Having read to the end of the thread, one notes that W-H and Comnav are "commercial grade" and "the choice of the fishing fleet".

Basically, those are code words for "less expensive" and "more reliable" to me, because I have a low opinion of "recreational sailor electronics" in most cases. YMMV.
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Old 18-04-2012, 06:30   #18
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Re: Mine Died... What Autopilot to Buy?

Thanks guys... I have some research to do now I guess....

Anyone have any good sources other than the usual (West, Defender, et al?)
ETA: I am interested in below deck systems only... I'd like to use my existing ray marine type 1, but not hung on that
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Old 18-04-2012, 21:56   #19
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Re: Mine Died... What Autopilot to Buy?

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Originally Posted by S/V Alchemy View Post
Having read to the end of the thread, one notes that W-H and Comnav are "commercial grade" and "the choice of the fishing fleet".
Correction: those are the choice of US (NW?) fishing fleet.

In Europe, the Robertson/Simrad takes that place and they have never even heard of the W-H. I have both of these pilots and always use the Simrad because it is modern. The W-H is old but doesn't fail.

cheers,
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Old 18-04-2012, 22:04   #20
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Re: Mine Died... What Autopilot to Buy?

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Originally Posted by s/v Jedi View Post
Correction: those are the choice of US (NW?) fishing fleet.

In Europe, the Robertson/Simrad takes that place and they have never even heard of the W-H. I have both of these pilots and always use the Simrad because it is modern. The W-H is old but doesn't fail.

cheers,
Nick.
Any comments on power draw for the Simrad? For most of us, when at sea the AP is possibly the biggest user and a more efficient unit would not hurt. We don't all have room to put a big Northern Lights generator to run these things.

In a test I read years ago the Alpha beat out all the others in this regard.
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Old 18-04-2012, 22:14   #21
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Re: Mine Died... What Autopilot to Buy?

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Originally Posted by Maggie-K View Post
If you drive is still Ok you can replace the control head , computer , compass and rudder sensor with a Comnav 1420 kit . . Did this with my old WH and is outperforms the WH with half the current draw. Sitex autopilots are Comnav with different cosmetics.
Comnav makes commercial gear for the fishing fleet solid stuff
My kit cost around $900 for the whole works with all the above mentioned parts

Excellent support and advice on their help line .
Details please. Sounds great to cut the current draw.
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Old 18-04-2012, 22:17   #22
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Re: Mine Died... What Autopilot to Buy?

I suggest talking to the guys at Accusteer, up in Bellingham, WA. They make the hydraulic rams for all the brands and could give you guidance on what really works rather than internet lore and rumor.
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Old 18-04-2012, 22:48   #23
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Re: Mine Died... What Autopilot to Buy?

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Any comments on power draw for the Simrad? For most of us, when at sea the AP is possibly the biggest user and a more efficient unit would not hurt. We don't all have room to put a big Northern Lights generator to run these things.

In a test I read years ago the Alpha beat out all the others in this regard.
The power draw is determined by the boat and sea state, not by the pilot. If you get tired handsteering because it's tough, the AP will also use a lot of energy.

ciao!
Nick.
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Old 19-04-2012, 06:53   #24
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In my view as a balance between cost reliability and performance the Raymarine x series pilot is very good. Couple it to a hydraulic linear drive and it's very very good. I'd avoid any of the wheel steered rubbish.

The main problems I see with Raymarine is due to the wide choice, people fit underpowered units and then wonder why they are unreliable. I've seen dealers do the same thing.

Dave
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Old 19-04-2012, 07:00   #25
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Re: Mine Died... What Autopilot to Buy?

my hydraulic simrad uses only a sip of electricity to function. is electrically assisted hydraulic mounted on quadrant. i love otto. reliable and constant.
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Old 19-04-2012, 07:13   #26
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Re: Mine Died... What Autopilot to Buy?

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The power draw is determined by the boat and sea state, not by the pilot. If you get tired handsteering because it's tough, the AP will also use a lot of energy.

ciao!
Nick.
Hi Nick,

Sorry I think my question was not stated clearly so please allow me to elaborate.

Of course sea state. sailing upwind or downwind or just motoring has a huge impact on AP current draw. I have a few thousand sea miles with several different boats and APs so have a pretty clear understanding of how that works. With properly trimmed sails sailing upwind I have been able to set an AP to draw almost nothing. Running downwind with large following swells obviously draws a lot more. Also, different boats require more steering work in some conditions than others.

What I am trying to determine is; under the same conditions, in the same boat, which APs use more or less power?

I think there can be some large differences. Don't know all the details of current brands but years ago someone did a comparison test with several of the top models and the Alpha was dramatically lower in power draw than any of the others.

One factor as I recall was because the other models tested drew power to engage the clutch in the drive unit so even when the AP motor wasn't running the unit was drawing power. The Alpha had some other system maybe a mechanical clutch that did not draw power which saved a lot of juice.

Then there is the smartness factor. I have had APs that worked a lot less than others, in the older units mainly by manually adjusting rudder rate, dead band, etc. Newer ones can be much smarter with potentially the ability to "learn" the steering characteristics of the boat and conditions to reduce the amount of work the drive unit has to do.

So on this basis, comparing apples to apples, which APs are more efficient or are most modern APs relatively the same in power draw?
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Old 19-04-2012, 07:21   #27
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That information is simply not available as it depends on the drive units chosen, the type of boat and the usage. For example setting up a fast response can have a dramatic effect on current.

The only way you could reach a reasonable comparison would be on back to back trials.

The second thing is that you might have high current consumption by design , because that's the cost of thoses big linear drives.

Comparing current across pilots is useless without a detailed drive spec and usage understanding. Otherwise you could compare quiescent current but that's an irrelevant metric

Dave
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Old 19-04-2012, 07:30   #28
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Re: Mine Died... What Autopilot to Buy?

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Originally Posted by s/v Jedi View Post
Correction: those are the choice of US (NW?) fishing fleet.

In Europe, the Robertson/Simrad takes that place and they have never even heard of the W-H. I have both of these pilots and always use the Simrad because it is modern. The W-H is old but doesn't fail.

cheers,
Nick.
Fair enough. I would have included the Robertson when it still was Robertson, but I have heard some things about their line since Simrad took them over some years ago that have made me less enthusiastic. It doesn't mean they aren't as good as they used to be, which I can't evaluate as I've never played with one or spoken to a cruiser who seriously tested one.

By the way, I am on the Great Lakes preparing a steel sailboat for offshore/extended cruising. All the W-H and Comnav units I've seen operating (not many, admittedly), I've seen around here. The simplicity, low draw and ruggedness of the units in every part has impressed me, because that's what I require going forward.
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Old 19-04-2012, 07:38   #29
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Re: Mine Died... What Autopilot to Buy?

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Thanks guys... I have some research to do now I guess....

Anyone have any good sources other than the usual (West, Defender, et al?)
ETA: I am interested in below deck systems only... I'd like to use my existing ray marine type 1, but not hung on that

I'm testing the new Geonav autopilot now, should install it on the 25th of april. I'll keep this thread up if your interested.

Geonav Autopilot Reviews ?
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Old 19-04-2012, 07:48   #30
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Why do you feel the necessity of a WH commercial autopilot to sail a leisure boat on the Great Lakes.

Secondly part of WH reputation comes from using large beefy drive units. Take the same approach with other peoples autopilots and you'll get similar results.

You should also discount the " I've heard certain things about company X". All the big four produce good equipment and all will have their supporters and detractors . all will do a good job

Dave
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