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Old 19-06-2007, 08:35   #1
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Which Autopilot??????????????

I have a Frers Beneteau First 456. Currently I am looking for a suitable Autopilot. Any suggestions in terms of brands, model etc????
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Old 19-06-2007, 12:49   #2
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I am happy with the Raymarine unit (ST60). I didn't buy the one with the "learning" feature and after extensive tweeking to get it right, I wished I had spent the extra bucks.

George
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Old 19-06-2007, 12:56   #3
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Autopilot

What about compatibility with Garmin GPS?
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Old 19-06-2007, 13:11   #4
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As far as types go I think you need a below deck hydralic powered AP. Many would fit the task. I would not be so concrened with the brand name, but the cost is not cheap. Also I never use a GPS interfaqce with an AP yet both my past boats had the option. I use the AP to set a course after I have steered it to the way I'm going then lock it in for the next way point. To do that you don't need a GPS tied to it. Simrad and Raymarine both maske reputable ones and have for many years.
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Old 19-06-2007, 17:28   #5
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Hey George - I'm pretty sure the ST-60 is the instrument line. The 6000 or 7000 series stuff is the autopilot. I KNOW you know that - but others out there might get confuzelled.

I also wish that I had got the "learning feature". I understand that it IS possible to upgrade existing units. I haven't checked into it.
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Old 19-06-2007, 18:38   #6
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I also am pleased with our Raymarine unit. It is a linear unit and handles our catamaran very well. And it has not balked at large following seas. It is interfaced with the Garmin GPS but I don't really use the option other than to go to a waypoint and not an entire route. I think it opens an oppurtunity to have a wreck . Auto pilot is a wonderful thing, but I still stay at the helm.
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Old 19-06-2007, 23:55   #7
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The Robertson AP200DL that came with this boat- a pretty heavy (12T) 40' cruiser- has always been the best helmsman aboard, until it recently developed a problem. (See new post) Robertson was bought out by Simrad, so that's where I'll be looking next.

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Old 29-09-2007, 01:02   #8
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Mike - how has your experience been with Simrad regarding the Robertson? My new (to me) boat comes with an AP100 with good hydraulics but a malfunctioning head, though I have yet to open it up and check for the obvious intermittents, bad grounds, missing feedback inputs, etc. If it does need to be replaced, I certainly want to keep the existing $$$ hydraulics. Manual control works fine, but in auto mode it chatters randomly.

Simrad has not responded to my initial inquiry about this via their webform, so it makes me wonder a bit about support. Any update?

Thanks,
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Old 29-09-2007, 04:05   #9
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I'll put in a vote for Alpha 3000. Mine has been on duty 98% of the time the boat has been underway for more than 18 years and tens of thousands of miles. Low power mos fet... does not interface with GPS. Rugged and reliable. I don't care for some of the LCD displays I have seen which can't be read except head on. The 3000 has a rotary dial (360) which is intuitive to use and you can tack or gybe with it!

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Old 29-09-2007, 04:38   #10
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Robertson was bought out a very long time ago by Simrad. That makes it the ugly step sister in a corporate culture. It's based in Norway. The combined S/R product line has had parts available for a long long time.

I had an Simrad/Robertson AP11 on my last boat and recently needed some work on it. The AP11 was a very popular unit and was around a very long time. You need a decent S/R repair person as often the support is not so great factory to end user. I doubt they will have parts from an old Robertson but I suppose it is possible.

You won't get a control head repaired by the factory - period. Matter of fact they won't repair a computer board - but there are folks that do. I doubt you can repair the control head though. Not much to service and easily trashed if it got a salt water leak.

They really prefer you work through a dealer. They do stand behind the products should you ever have a defective part and I think the S/R software is way ahead of Raymarine 7000 if have on the current boat. I'm not sure how would interface old hydraulics with different compass and computer mainboard.
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Old 29-09-2007, 09:19   #11
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I have the Simrad AP11 with 2000HDL hydraulic drive. Its worked well, but just had to replace the motor in the drive after only 25,000 miles. Have bought spares on eBay. The old unit was a Robertson AP100--the Simrad AP11 will work with almost any drive, but I replaced the old mechanical drive with the 2000HDL back in 1998.

Anthony--you can take a look at my installation when I get to Fajardo in November.
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Old 29-09-2007, 10:35   #12
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In my humble opinion and that of every other owner of these autopilots that I have communicated with this one is the greatest. We have about 8 years experience with it with 0 breakdowns.

WH Autopilots
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Old 29-09-2007, 10:54   #13
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Chuck... thanks! They are on Bainbridge Island, and I will be there on my shakedown cruise in a couple of weeks. Already wrote them, thanks to your link.

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Old 29-09-2007, 11:21   #14
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Steve, to give you an example, Wil Hamm, the owner, gave me his home phone number because I was installing the autopilot on a weekend and the office would be closed. Never seen this kind of customer support. Returns my emails within hours and even sometimes on weekends.
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Old 29-09-2007, 11:39   #15
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Steve:

Here's another vote for Will Hamm and his W-H autopilots. I installed the P-3C model with hydraulic ram 3 years ago and LOVE it. Just returned from a summer in Maine; the autopilot did most of the steering.

You won't find a more robust and reliable autopilot, nor one with better support.

Pix of the parts to my P-3C as received from the manufacturer can be seen at: Gallery :: Born Free's New W-H Autopilot

Click twice on each pic for full resolution.

Say "hi" to Will, and thanks for a great product.

Bill
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