Auto Pilot Opinions

Discussion in 'Marine Electrical / Electronics' started by Sonofasailor, Jan 3, 2020.

  1. Sonofasailor

    Sonofasailor Member

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    Happy New Year Folks!
    I am in the market to replace my 1987 Wagner Micro pilot with a modern day auto pilot. I am curious to hear from all the experts here on opinions with regard to brand. It is kind of wide open for me since my chart plotter is a Ray Marine C120 and probably will be replaced in the next year or two as well. Does any manufacturer have a auto pilot head unit that will communicate direct with iPad Navionics?

    The boat is a 38' down east style boat. Single screw. Single rudder. She tips the scales at 35,000 lbs.
    Cruise is about 11 knots. looking for station in pilot house and some form of control at the flybridge.

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts with me as I dive into this project.
     
  2. steveinak

    steveinak Captain

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    call our own Wharf Rat Chris he will "steer" you right:D.
     
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  3. Wharf Rat

    Wharf Rat Captain

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    Unfortunately, as far as using a pilot via an iPad and Navionics App, that's currently not an option. Problem is that you would need the App to output 'Go To' or 'Steer To' data in via NMEA2000 PGNs or NMEA0183 sentence format, which Navionics does not (Currently only the TZ iBoat App from Nobeltec has that function) and would also require a WiFi to NMEA2000/0183 Server or Gateway to connect to the autopilot network. The biggest issue there is that TCP/IP has a lot of data packet loss, which autopilots in particular do not like, so it's one of those things that I wouldn't recommend from a reliability standpoint. That's why autopilot compasses at the very least need to be 10Hz minimum (updating 10 times a second) as a continuous and uninterrupted heading source is crucial to a pilot's ability to perform and adapt to dynamic conditions.

    That's a good way to segway into what kind of pilot you might like, as the performance of a pilot is defined in most cases by the accuracy of the heading sensor. These days, most companies are now making solid-state compasses that incorporate a 9-axis MEMS sensor that can detect pitch, roll and heave. Makes it a much smoother ride when the heading value isn't getting thrown all over the place by motion, and with the rate-gyro sensors it also can see a rapid update ROT which allows the pilot to perform when on northerly and southerly headings where you'll see a compass deviate the most, causing the S-ing and hunting you'd see on older pilots.

    All that said, everybody out there (Simrad, Raymarine, Furuno, Garmin, ComNav, etc) are all making high quality pilots that all do a good job when running in auto or in NAV when steering to a WP/Go To; the differences are really more in the different features and product support (both in-warranty and Out-of-Warranty.) First question to ask is will be you re-using the Wagner drive? Do you have a solenoid/power assist steering system onboard, or is it a closed hydraulic system like a Teleflex/Hynautic? If it's the latter, we'll need to ID the model of the cylinder aft to determine the displacement. A lot of these pilot's are made for different sized hydraulic rams as larger cylinders need a heavier pump which needs in turn needs a higher current from the course computer to drive them.

    There's no 'One Size Fits All' option when it comes to these things, so if you want to drop me a PM with a good phone number, we can go over other details and see what exactly would suit your application the best. Sorry for the long-ass reply!
     
    Last edited: Jan 17, 2020
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  4. Gayle Force

    Gayle Force Member

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    Wharf Rat,
    I'm now pricing out a 34 calvin beal and was wondering what your recommendations are for a auto pilot and electronics package is. The refinisher wants me to supply the electronics and he will install them.
    Do you sell electronics without doing the installation ?
     
  5. xbskt

    xbskt Captain

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    Yes he does and everyone here that has dealt with him will tell you to use his services for spec.ing out your boat and buying your package from him for all the effort he puts in before and after the sale.
    The go to guy for all things marine electronic.
     
  6. Regulator23

    Regulator23 Senior Member

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    100% agree.
     
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  7. Wharf Rat

    Wharf Rat Captain

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    Yep, that's part of what keeps the party going at Precision. Drop me a PM with a good phone number and I'll give you a shout to go over what you're looking for.
     
  8. OLD BAY

    OLD BAY Captain

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    X3
     
  9. jersey52

    jersey52 Member

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    Definitely use Chris despite being a Jets fan! He designed and sold a complete system for an offshore commercial boat - from transducers to antennae and everything in between. No one compares.
     
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  10. Gayle Force

    Gayle Force Member

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  11. Gayle Force

    Gayle Force Member

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    Wait, did you say a Jets fan ?
     
  12. Kenneth

    Kenneth Senior Member

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    Are any of the new EPS systems going to improve or simplify the interface with autopilots?
     

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