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Old 16-09-2009, 16:17   #1
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Raymarine Autohelm Glitch - Thoughts?

Richard Spindler, publisher of Latitude 38, is experiencing a puzzling glitch with his Raymarine Autohelm 6000. Here's part of his description from today's 'Lectronic Latitude:

* * *

"
Specifically, when first turned on, and for about the next hour, it acts like it's on crack. The helm is erratically jerked from one side to the other every few seconds, and eventually veers way off course in one direction or the other. Yet after about an hour, and with absolutely nothing else having been changed, the autopilot mysteriously becomes our perfect little friend, responding accurately to our every gentle touch."

* * *

To read the entire account, go to:

Latitude 38 - The West's Premier Sailing & Marine Magazine

Scroll down to "Boat Electronics Quiz."

Lots of wire-heads read CF, and it's possible one, or more, will recognize the symptoms. How about it, does anyone have a possible explanation for this odd behavior?

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Old 16-09-2009, 18:49   #2
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Electronics. May be humidity in the circuit that evaporates when the thing gets warmer. When cold the grain of salt attracts humidity again, the process repeats. Wash in alco, if does not help - replace the brains.

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Old 16-09-2009, 19:25   #3
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TaoJones,
I think the key word in Richard's article is the word "old". He has had this boat for 15 years or so. Doria, his skipper/girlfriend, a very competent sailor, delivers this 63 foot cat ( a tad big for a 6000 IMO) from SF to Mexico to the Caribbean and back by motoring with the autohelm doing all the steering.
I would meet Richard in St Barths each New Years Eve.
Regards John
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Old 16-09-2009, 19:30   #4
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I have a Autohelm 4000 (very similar) which had the same problem.
I found bad circuit board connections, so I sent him an email with a description.

Steve B.
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Old 16-09-2009, 22:11   #5
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The Autohelm 4000 is a ring on the wheel with a motor and clutch with a cockpit control unit and was a rethink of the 3000 used for smaller boats.
A 6000 is a below the deck drive with either a liner drive or hydraulic drive with a flexgate compass, computer, cockpit control unit and rudder sensing unit. Small guage wires between each unit, in an intense marine environment, over a period of time, can and will corrode and fail somewhere between one terminal and another. The damaged wire can be identified by testing the circuits, but once this has happened to one circuit it will happen in another place.
Identifing the unit as an Autohelm instead of a Raymairne indicates that the unit is rather long in the tooth, ie. old.
After owning/living aboard a boat for 22 years and cruising for nine, I can safely say that every electronic device on a sailboat can and will fail.
John
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Old 17-09-2009, 03:56   #6
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IIRC the 6000 can be operated without the rudder sensor, although response is not as good. However, these problems sound like a possible damp in circuit board problem associated with the rudder sensor, which clears when it warms up. I would recommend confirming that the unit will operate without the sensor, and then disconnecting it. Switch on will tell if this is the problem or not, and wil at least have helped to narrow the problem down.
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Old 18-09-2009, 17:36   #7
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From today's 'Lectronic Latitude, publisher Richard Spindler reveals that the response to his Autohelm problem has been overwhelming. He's grateful, but the deluge of emailed responses is threatening Latitude's servers, so he'd be even more grateful if they'd stop:

* * *

"So thank you very much to everyone who was so gracious as to offer insight with our problem. But please, please, please, no more, or we'll soon have more responses than there are people with electricity in India."

* * *

To read the entire piece, go to:

Latitude 38 - The West's Premier Sailing & Marine Magazine

Scroll down to "Staggering Response to Autohelm Problem."

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Old 19-09-2009, 14:35   #8
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Four power transistors mounted on a heatsink in the middle of the board was causing my problem. The leads go STRAIGHT into the board with no circular bend to them for expansion. This causes microscopic cracks in the solder connections, and the steering problem. I found cracks on three of the four transistors. Now it works great.
The whole repair took less than a half hour, cost nothing but a bit of solder.

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