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Old 19-04-2012, 12:34   #31
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Quote:
Originally Posted by S/V Alchemy

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.
The Simrad/Robertson pilots are still made in the original Robertson facilities by the same Robertson people AFAIK. I actually think they got better and now they integrate with other Navico brands components like B&G (look at that again, B&G is different now, just like the rest of the bunch after all the bankrupties or close calls).

I like the looks and features of new products from B&G and Raymarine even though I just did away with all their gear aboard Jedi.

I also agree with Dave here: the reputation of W-H is reliability and the big industrial hydraulic drive. I use that same drive on my Simrad. Anybody can just buy that drive as it's generic industrial hydraulics components.

The W-H pilot is old school and I think it's time to move on. That doesn't mean I don't like mine... it means I wouldn't buy it again if it ever fails.

Power consumption: I could install a solenoid operated hydraulic by-pass valve which indeed uses power just like your propane solenoid, and the Simrad would actuate it to get control of steering. However, I installed one with a manual morse cable, so no power draw for that. Other than this solenoid you have the issue of these old big pilots that run hydraulic pump(s) continuously but I don't think you're looking at any of those. It then gets down to power efficiency of the units and I think a safe bet is that older designs use more power but not substantial I think. You wouldn't notice less run time on batteries while underway.

ciao!
Nick.
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Old 19-04-2012, 13:28   #32
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Re: Mine Died... What Autopilot to Buy?

You also need to consider the features you want.

Steer to wind?

Steer to a track?

If yes, what interface? NMEA0183? NMEA2000?
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Old 19-04-2012, 13:34   #33
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Re: Mine Died... What Autopilot to Buy?

Quote:
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".

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.
The commercial shrimp fleets on the gulf coast use either robertson, simrad or wood freeman units to drive gulf coast hydraulic powerpacks. It's not about the brains so much as about the brawn. Almost any autopilot brain will be long lived protected in a wheelhouse driving solenoids, leave the heavy lifting to an appropriate drive unit.
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Old 19-04-2012, 14:08   #34
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Re: Mine Died... What Autopilot to Buy?

In my opinion there is only one auto pilot.. CPT worked for 20 years Cpt rebuilt her reasonably and going strong she should go another 20. Simple and strong.....
No I have NOT been paid to say this just love it and every one I know thats been cruising with one loves it...
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Old 19-04-2012, 16:59   #35
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Re: Mine Died... What Autopilot to Buy?

Quote:
Originally Posted by goboatingnow View Post
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
The information may not be available but it is certainly attainable. As I said, in the same boat under the same conditions which AP draws more current. Of course having several different APs installed in the same boat or having several of the same model boat with different APs is not something I see happening. But I think you can still determine some rough idea of the relative efficiencies of the different APs by looking at the average power use in various conditions over a time period in a number of boats. Won't get data accurate to decimal places but if any units are significantly better or worse on power consumption I think it would show up.
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Old 19-04-2012, 17:23   #36
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Re: Mine Died... What Autopilot to Buy?

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Originally Posted by skipmac View Post
The information may not be available but it is certainly attainable. As I said, in the same boat under the same conditions which AP draws more current. Of course having several different APs installed in the same boat or having several of the same model boat with different APs is not something I see happening. But I think you can still determine some rough idea of the relative efficiencies of the different APs by looking at the average power use in various conditions over a time period in a number of boats. Won't get data accurate to decimal places but if any units are significantly better or worse on power consumption I think it would show up.
Skip: Like I said, you're looking at 1-5% differences with the modern designs having the best efficiency. I do have two pilots installed, I'm not guessing.

cheers,
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Old 19-04-2012, 17:52   #37
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Re: Mine Died... What Autopilot to Buy?

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Originally Posted by s/v Jedi View Post
Skip: Like I said, you're looking at 1-5% differences with the modern designs having the best efficiency. I do have two pilots installed, I'm not guessing.

cheers,
Nick.
Hi Nick,

Unless I missed a post did not see any previous post that put any numbers on the comparable efficiencies, only your comment about older units drawing more than new ones.

If you indeed see max 5% difference between your Simrad and the old W-H then of course that difference is pretty minor.

So if the power consumption, reliability and steering ability is about the same, for me I see little reason to go with a "new school" model based on new features and new cost. For me I'm not interested in interfacing, linking to GPS or other additional functions. I might change my mind in the future but for now I actually prefer an AP that I set manually and is independent from the rest of the electronics.
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Old 19-04-2012, 20:00   #38
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Re: Mine Died... What Autopilot to Buy?

Quote:
Originally Posted by goboatingnow View Post
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
I am planning a five-year circumnavigation in a 17 tonne pilothouse steel cutter. I will be carrying a new diesel, two alternators, four 135W solar panels on an arch and a 400W wind generator, all feeding a 1000 Ah house bank.

I already have a dual hydraulic helm. So that's why I want commercial grade gear. We are going exploring.

As for rep, I use the reductive principle: The company of which I've heard the least amount of criticism is worth investigating. W-H and Comnav are in that group, as Koden and Furuno are in radars. I agree that no company is perfect, but the absence of complaint can itself be a recommendation, in my experience.

It's like Garhauer. They are almost 100% word of mouth. I frequently encounter people that have never heard of them and have spent big bucks on Harken and Ronstan and Antal, etc.

Fine gear, all of it, but if you aren't a racer, you can get 3X the Garhauer gear of an equivalent durability and a slight weight penalty for the same price as the race-inspired Harken stuff.

Which is why Garhauer is like a Masonic handshake...you think you've joined a secret society. I find Comnav is similar. So is Fortress Anchor, I suppose.
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Old 19-04-2012, 20:05   #39
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Re: Mine Died... What Autopilot to Buy?

Quote:
Originally Posted by s/v Jedi View Post

The W-H pilot is old school and I think it's time to move on. That doesn't mean I don't like mine... it means I wouldn't buy it again if it ever fails.

Power consumption: I could install a solenoid operated hydraulic by-pass valve which indeed uses power just like your propane solenoid, and the Simrad would actuate it to get control of steering. However, I installed one with a manual morse cable, so no power draw for that. Other than this solenoid you have the issue of these old big pilots that run hydraulic pump(s) continuously but I don't think you're looking at any of those. It then gets down to power efficiency of the units and I think a safe bet is that older designs use more power but not substantial I think. You wouldn't notice less run time on batteries while underway.

ciao!
Nick.
Good comment. As for the Robertson/Simrad, as I said, it's just scuttlebutt I've heard. I will include it in my "review for purchase" folder if it has the features I want, but frankly we steer windvane under sail and AP under power, so it's not the same issue as AP only in terms of power consumption as that is largely covered.

I think we can agree that the belt on the wheel thing is not ideal. It seems to work too much on any boat I've seen it on, although that could be operator error in making it way too sensitive. Me, a five degree yaw is usually acceptable...the next watchstander can correct it!
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Old 19-04-2012, 20:11   #40
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Re: Mine Died... What Autopilot to Buy?

Quote:
Originally Posted by skipmac View Post
So if the power consumption, reliability and steering ability is about the same, for me I see little reason to go with a "new school" model based on new features and new cost. For me I'm not interested in interfacing, linking to GPS or other additional functions. I might change my mind in the future but for now I actually prefer an AP that I set manually and is independent from the rest of the electronics.
Well, I wrote you won't notice the difference. Over dimension the drive... it will only consume the power needed to turn the rudder, a bigger drive can even use less energy than a smaller one because you operate it within it's sweet range while the smaller one is overloaded.

Reliability is the same for top brands only. But I agree that my Simrad AP25 that is 6 years old is about as good as a new AP28 although the menus are organized a bit better etc.

Same for W-H pilots. The old ones require jewelers screwdrivers to adjust the analog circuits but keep steering a somewhat decent compass course.

You should be interested in interfacing with GPS though, because it can significantly improve safety aboard. For example: it will allow the autopilot to correct for current and leeway which can be crucial to safety in short-handed approaches to narrow entrances with commercial traffic, lively seas and cross currents etc. NOTHING is better than noticing the AP correcting (pointing into the current a bit) so that you follow a straight line over ground and then quickly steering straight ahead again as you go between the jetties that shield you from the current. Like an airplane landing with crosswinds.
Another big thing is gybe protection (happens on every boat without it) or just steering to a wind angle. Ask anyone with vane steering: they all think it's important to have.

The AP will still function when other electronics fail or are shut down... you only loose the extra functions.

ciao!
Nick.
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Old 19-04-2012, 20:35   #41
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Re: Mine Died... What Autopilot to Buy?

I installed a Raymarine 7000 below deck unit on my new 37' sailboat in 2006. A great unit with little or no problems over 6 seasons.
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Old 21-04-2012, 15:06   #42
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Re: Mine Died... What Autopilot to Buy?

Mine got sick after reading this story!! Autohelm 3000. It is only a few years old too mid 1980's. So a look in & found the socket for the wind vane had faulty contacts & since this function is not used on my boat the connections shorted out. I suspect it may out last me now!! If any one has a spare drive motor please don't bin it I would like one as a spare. Will be "over there" for a drive across the top end next month.

Regards Bill
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Old 21-04-2012, 15:35   #43
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Re: Mine Died... What Autopilot to Buy?

I have been digging deeper..... anyone know the test procedure for the linear drive? is it a simple 12VDC polarity issue? If it is good, I want a system that will utilize it.. if not I'll get a whole "kit"
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Old 21-04-2012, 23:11   #44
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Re: Mine Died... What Autopilot to Buy?

capttman - i also love my cpt wheel pilot. had it inspected and readjusted by cpt last year for $150. works great on my 20000 lb cutter.

but the op is only interested in below decks pilots so i guess we're out of line here....
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Old 22-04-2012, 00:17   #45
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Did you check the circuit board in the junction box. Our 6000 died a few year ago. We checked everything, even sent the computer to raymarine properly. What we found was that the metal strips on the circuit board had deteriorated over it's 18 years and developed hairline cracks. It could be as simple as that and easy to replace.
Regards Joe
PS how's your display, clear of faded. I might know an interested buyer.
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