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Old 29-09-2007, 11:41   #16
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Wow, Chuck, compared to the deafening silence from Simrad in response to a clear question of hardware compatibility in their Robertson product line, I'm convinced. There are lots of interesting geeks on Bainbridge Island; they get my vote. Frankly, if their hydraulics are proportional and quiet, I might go for that as well...

The photo below is the quadrant area, with a wheel in the cockpit and a joystick in the pilothouse. The gray pump (only one of the two motors visible in the photo) is for the latter; the black assembly is part of the Robertson. Bypass valve for emergency tiller is up in the cockpit. It all works quite well (though noisily in the case of the autopilot pumps), especially now that we found a small leak in the nose of the main cylinder that had resulted from the control arm dropping a quarter-inch or so. I noticed it as a slow creep at either end of wheel travel, and the surveyor spotted the cause.

Anyway, I'll talk to WH about replacing the Robertson, since I can park in Eagle Harbor to get it done!

Years ago when I started the Microship project, one of the first FORTH embedded systems was the autopilot. We put three-axis accelerometers on the boat to establish data on 6 degrees of freedom, then used a neural network back propagation algorithm to learn from a human helmsman and a given sea state. You know how you soon get to the point where you just "feel" a wave going under you and do something unconsciously to keep the boat on course? Our code captured that.

Of course, different sea states didn't work so well, so we made a database of coefficients corresponding to each training session. The system's first job was to determine if any of the known conditions corresponded closely enough to conditions (and boat angle relative to them) to be useful, and if not, it would call for a training session. A bit too geeky for normal autopilot users, but the intent, of course, was to minimize the amount of hunting and correction necessary... more effectively than just turning up the integration in a PID loop or taking the cheap approach of damping.

Another one of those things I'd productize if I had infinite time and a team of clever people!

Anyway, even with all that, I'd still prefer a well-designed "appliance" from folks who stand behind their products; I don't want to be chasing an obscure overflow bug whilst beating off a lee shore.

Cheers!
Steve
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Old 30-09-2007, 03:58   #17
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Very nice installation Steve (except for the exposed live front terminal strip, connecting un-tinned wires).
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Old 30-09-2007, 05:04   #18
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Gord - yah, that's on my list! Definitely a no-no in my book, though the surveyor didn't mention it. Once, years ago, I had a pre-Yaesu Standard Horizon VHF in a tiny little Fulmar trimaran. The inline fuse was just one of those open nylon holders, and the wire was exposed. The cockpit took a wave, and although everything continued to work just fine I did a teardown analysis after a 2-week loop through Puget Sound and the San Juans. Water had wicked all the way up about 2 feet of power wire, and it was even discolored and corroding inside the case. A good early lesson!

4 AM and I'm up making notes... pre-closing jitters. I take possession Monday.

Yikes!
Steve
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Old 30-09-2007, 06:46   #19
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I opted for furuno. I got the autopilot 500 that interfaces with the hydraulic steering in my morgan via a reversing hydraulic pump. I put on control at the nav table and have another removeable remote that is in the cockpit while underway. Interfaces with all nmea formats. Has learning capabilities. Is used by navy, coast guard , police departments. Everything except remote is belowdecks and out of sight. Acts as separate helm for redundancy in case of helm pump failure. Has dodge feature and some others I havent seen on other autohelms. Very quiet operation, you cant here the pump runniing unless your in the engine compartment. (rubber mounts and flex lines). Expensive, around 4k but just a little more than other belowdecks systems.
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Old 30-09-2007, 10:33   #20
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Mmm, sounds nice. I have a Furuno 1932 (not the year!) open-array 48-mile radar, and am impressed. Will take a look at the 500... thanks!

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Old 30-09-2007, 21:53   #21
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Originally Posted by avazquez View Post
I have a Frers Beneteau First 456. Currently I am looking for a suitable Autopilot. Any suggestions in terms of brands, model etc????
have a Autopilot AUTOHELM from England model 6000. I have it for 20 years now-never had a problem. it is my faithful crew- never lets me down!
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Old 30-09-2007, 22:35   #22
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We used our Autohelm 7000 linear autopilot for eleven years all the way around the world. I had a bearing fail on the motor in French Polynesia, and I stripped the gears one time off the Great Barrier Reef. Otherwise, the autopilot worked fine. It steered us 99% of the way around the world.

Suffice it to say, the Autohelm 7000 did a good job for us.
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