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Old 12-11-2006, 18:02   #16
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Rick, how do you spec or select an autopilot to those capabilities, versus the usual "toy" guides from the makers??
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Old 12-11-2006, 22:08   #17
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Originally Posted by hellosailor
In 25-40 knots and 8-16 foot waves...Really, does anyone use an autopilot? And if you are trimmed and the rig balanced, do you really need one? Is it really going to respond in any useful manner, up and down each wave?
Any cruising boat is driven by the autopilot nearly all the time. Generally, they work quite well. Really.

Balance changes depending on how reefed you are and what point of sail you're on, and how badly the waves are bouncing you around. When everything works you can go half an hour without touching the wheel, However, when everything is not working, and it is dark, and there are islands that you'd like to avoid, and why the f*** (sorry, we're on a boat, remember) does the wind keep building, then it is really nice to have a little gadget to steer the boat for you, however ineptly.

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Old 12-11-2006, 22:21   #18
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G'day Scott, i'm with you that an highpowered A/P is about the number 1 device on board.

We had a Autohelm TP 4000 on our light 30 foot cat that we took to New Cal with a bit of shitty weather on the way.

This unit was a fair bit bigger than req. but never had a problem in any weather if sail combination was correct.

As soon as we crossed the South Passage Bar east of Brisbane, A/P on and stayed that way until we came into New Cal, leaving us plenty of time to concentrate on more important things like watching for shipping and trimming/changing sails.

I think on our next cat we'll go for something a bit more commercial in the A/P department though.

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Old 13-11-2006, 04:01   #19
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Rick:
Is anyone producing a classic Spinning Mass Gyroscope, suitable for cruisers?
What are fibre-optic, ring laser, and gas-rate gyroscopes - and how suitable are they, for our purposes?
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Old 13-11-2006, 06:09   #20
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Rick,
Thanks for the excellent advice! Any brand and model preferances?
Frank
I have an Autohelm 7000+ It does a far better job of steering than I ever can. It has 3 course options... compass, wind angle and 'go to waypoint'.

Compass course works fine...

Wind angle struggled a bit downwind in big rollers while crossing the Atlantic as it automatically disconnects if the wind angle changes by 20 degrees. The yaw sometimes made it 'think' there'd been a big windshift. I'm sure I could have tuned this out but most times we wanted compass course anyway.

Never tried the go to waypoint as that is more a motor boat feature.

It really is a magnificent bit of kit.
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Old 13-11-2006, 06:47   #21
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I've been liking reports on some of the Coursemaster and TMQ auto pilots. These seem to be more of a comercial unit and TMQ are made just around the corner from me.

Apart from plenty of grunt, I like the rotary knob for adjustment
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Old 13-11-2006, 09:47   #22
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Some people (e.g. Dashews) say that WH Autopilots (whautopilots.com) are as good as it gets, at least for hydraulic steering systems.
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Old 13-11-2006, 18:40   #23
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Quote:
Rick:
Is anyone producing a classic Spinning Mass Gyroscope, suitable for cruisers?
What are fibre-optic, ring laser, and gas-rate gyroscopes - and how suitable are they, for our purposes?
I have worked with ring laser gyros. Mostly they cost about $100,000 US. They would work really nice and do operate on 12 volts too. They just are not cheap enough. It would take some software to really use them well but we integrated them with GPS and DGPS to do some very accurate measurements.

They also like a calm condition to power up and calibrate themselves. They basically need to cancel out the rotation of the earth so they can get serious about measuring changes in velocity in 6 degrees of freedom. Very cool devices and very reliable and accurate. The software side would be a serious project to work on. Trying to model a changing sea state to project course corrections real time would be on the edge but possible. You would need a very powerfully hydraulic auto pilot to be able to use it.
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Old 13-11-2006, 19:16   #24
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Originally Posted by BambooSailor
Some people (e.g. Dashews) say that WH Autopilots (whautopilots.com) are as good as it gets, at least for hydraulic steering systems.
Thanks for that . I've submitted an email and am waiting on a reply from them.

Dave
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