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Old 16-03-2009, 18:21   #1
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Raymarine X-5 Autopilot Anyone?

Has anyone had any experience with one of these units? I need to replace my old Autohelm.
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Old 14-07-2009, 12:12   #2
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Good, and bad

Jim,
yes, I've got one. The software is great - no tiller sensor but it is really easy to get to work as long as your installer puts the control unit in the right way up, unlike mine. The wheel drive unit is plastic and not bad, but the motor housings have problems - the back broke off mine and I saw another where the same thing happened. My gear box also stripped itself, which I managed to swap out with another returned unit at a West Marine shop - the one that had the same motor housing issue. My motor housing now has a bunch of extra screws and Gorilla tape until I can get the thing replaced. In retrospect, perhaps the x-5 is better for a smaller boat, maybe up to 30' and perhaps I should have stumped for the full hydraulic set up.
cheers
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Old 14-11-2009, 18:30   #3
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Arrrgggh, it happened again

I just blew up the second X-5 wheel steering gearbox. This thing is rubbish. Don't buy one.
JMB
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Old 14-11-2009, 18:50   #4
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The X-5 is listed as having a limit of 7500Kg laden displacement. It seems the Oceanis 390 is 6500Kg to start with and after adding stuff it could very well be right at the top of the range. Raymarine does caution against using an autopilot that is always working near the top of the range limit. You might not have picked the right tool for the job.
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Old 15-11-2009, 01:58   #5
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I have a ST 4000 GP Autohelm, an S1 and just upgraded to X-5 just for fun and spare parts. My boat is tiller drive so the drive did not change much if it is for minor improvement. The change is in the control head and the addition of a course computer. The latest S1 contain a rate gyro and because discontinued can be purchased with a good discount. The X-5 is an improvement on the S1 and as Seatalk NG. Both S1 and X-5 are equipped with current limit, this should prevent wrecking the drive. Both S1 and X-5 have an RF grounding terminal. RF is a disease common to all new electronic these days.
My boat is over 13 ton but can be easily balanced, it as a slightly balanced rudder, once balanced it can be controlled with the little finger which is little work for a 84 kgf drive and the pilot computer can be tuned to use as little current as possible. The autopilot is called Otto and does a great job in helping two geriatric.
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Old 15-11-2009, 06:43   #6
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Raymarine does caution against using an autopilot that is always working near the top of the range limit. You might not have picked the right tool for the job.
I accept that may be the case, but its funny no-one mentioned this as they were taking my money. BTW neither of the gearboxes really did that much heavy work, the first lasted 2 weeks (mostly ocean sailing) and the second 3 months (mostly sheltered water sailing), so I think the rating claim is way too high. If it lasted 2 years, then I'd say it was a fair cop, but 2 gearboxes in less than 4 months while being within the rated weight does not seem reasonable to me.

I've found another post where the same thing has happened (34' Hunter), and the warranty repair took 4 weeks, which is going to really mess with my plans, so I guess I'm going to have to replace the whole thing.

I would happily accept suggestions on a replacement.
cheers
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Old 15-11-2009, 06:55   #7
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The primary factor in how hard an autopilot has to work, is the balance of the sails.

Learning to do this will not only help the life of your autopilot, it will reduce the power requirements, and will also increase your speed!
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Old 15-11-2009, 07:13   #8
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The primary factor in how hard an autopilot has to work, is the balance of the sails.

Learning to do this will not only help the life of your autopilot, it will reduce the power requirements, and will also increase your speed!
Agreed. The X-5 isn't able to steer if the rig isn't balanced. It is easily overpowered if there is too much weatherhelm or if a big wave pushes the stern.
I didn't leave mine to fight with the main, it wasn't possible apart from being poor seamanship.
cheers
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Old 19-11-2009, 10:39   #9
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Can I connect a linear drive to my X-5 head?

Hi all,
Further to the X-5 saga I have some more news about this product, and I need some advice on my plan to rig up a linear drive to the X-5 controller.

First, the X-5 product. It seems I am not Robinson Crusoe with my drive failure. West Marine up and down the country has X-5 system packs with the wheel drive missing, because they've been replacing them faster than they can get supply of spares. Raymarine don't have any spares either, until "December". One helpful person at West Marine has said she believes that a "tweaked" unit will be available when new stock is available. So I don't need to warn you not to buy one, you probably won't be able to, I certainly can't find one in stock anywhere. Perhaps they will release a new wheel drive in December. The power boat version has been recalled as the clutch can fail and leave you hard over with with no control of the boat.

Secondly, I have a cunning plan to replace the wheel drive with a linear mechanical drive, but there are a couple of challenges. The X-5 outputs 6 Volts to the motor leads. The polarity is swapped for steering each direction.
For the linear drive I need 12 V for the drive and a clutch input. The X-5 does not support the clutch input, so I thought I'd just put this on a manual switch next to the autopilot control. I don't know if any damage would be done to the unit if it got supply to the drive without the clutch engaged, but I'm guessing not. To get the 6v up to 12v I'll need some sort of solenoid with a 6v switching voltage and a 12v switched voltage, somewhat like an anchor windlass solenoid, but it will need a bunch of diodes to cope with the current reversal business. So three questions - does this seem/not seem feasible to anyone. Secondly, can anyone recommend a solenoid solution that will work with this setup? Lastly is my assumption about the clutch function correct?

Cheers
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Old 20-11-2009, 07:49   #10
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does this seem/not seem feasible to anyone.
Cheers
JMB
everything is possible but for the sake of simplicity and reliability it may be safer to upgrade from SPX-5 to SPX-10.
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Old 20-11-2009, 16:05   #11
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I am a Raymarine certified installer and technician, for what it's worth. All autopilots need to be properly matched to the vessel and the waters to be navigated. Given that the autopilot works long and hard, sometimes in overwhelming conditions, the owner of the boat needs to take responsibility for choosing the right gear, or in the event of lack of experience, needs to find someone who has that experience and qualifications to make those decisions.

Don't put light duty gear on heavy boats because that's all your budget will allow. Find someone who really knows what they are talking about, not the guy at the yacht club bar, or the unemployed engineer of your neighbor. Expect to pay a lot of money, and expect the gear to last many years, with regular inspection and maintenance. Lacking either, go without an autopilot and save yourself the headaches. Take full responsibility for your decisions, don't go off blaming the manufacturer or the salesperson to selling you something that was not matched to your vessel and skill level and outside the limits of weather and locale.

I have just replaced a 15 year old Autohelm wheel drive with the Raymarine x-5. The unit is more robust than the Autohelm was, and uses the autopilot module to make controlling the unit more dependable. This is on a customer's Hunter 34. He chose to equip the boat with the full package of Garmin 5200 goodies, but Garmin doesn't yet produce a sailboat autopilot, hence the X-5. Additionally, the Hunter uses an Edson solid linkage to the quadrant bar, located in a shallow trough beneath the removeable cockpit sole. Not enough room for a linear drive, so he selected the wheel drive. The X-5 wheel drive motor is slightly larger than the old Autohelm, and the drive ring is substantially stronger, with more robust spoke bands. The friction with the clutch disengaged is negligible. I would have preferred a more powerful unit, but there are no easy choices. His intended use will be in relatively peaceful Southern California waters, so his compromise is appropriate.
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Old 21-11-2009, 17:22   #12
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Roy,

I appreciate your experience with this unit. Could I ask how you think the X-5 would work for a Catalina 36? My 4000 has worked fine, but I would like to get the remote and the course computer of the X-5 as Step 1 of an overall Seatalk instrument upgrade.

Thanks, Mike
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Old 21-11-2009, 21:37   #13
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Mike in LA, go bigger. You may, one day, want to beat your brains out in the Santa Barbara Channel in the afternoon, just because it feels so good to turn around and hide in a quiet cove. The 36 is JUST larger enough to make it over the hump in sail area and waterline to lure you into greater challenges. You want to be able to abandon control to the autopilot when you get tired, whacked, or merely terrified. Your crew will think you the god of the seas for helping them survive the nasty times. Besides, you have a better chance of fitting a beefy linear drive. Don't go light here.
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Old 22-11-2009, 07:51   #14
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You want to be able to abandon control to the autopilot when you get tired, whacked, or merely terrified
Do not fool yourself autopilots are only machine and need to be supervised all the time. The 4000 had an habit of chucking a 10 degrees change of course when it lost patience, most annoying when going dead downwind. Raymarine must have realised this, the S1 X-5 have a gybe inhibit.

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Mike in LA, go bigger
go bigger means, more current, more power required, more pollution.
More pollution donít they have laws against that down there?

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Your crew will think you the god of the seas for helping them survive the nasty times.
I do not think so if the autopilot can do a better job than the skipper.
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Old 22-11-2009, 09:28   #15
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Oh. Guess I was confused. Carry on.
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