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Old 03-07-2016, 08:27 AM   #1
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question: which autopilot?

I have a 1987 Marine Trader 38, twin screw, with hydraulic steering at upper and a lower steering stations. The boat will not hold a course unless I am holding the steering wheel (and even then...) . I'm thinking about installing an autopilot, but I'm not sure what would make the most sense for my boat. I would like something that can talk to a NMEA 2000 network. Thanks for any suggestions.
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Old 03-07-2016, 09:32 AM   #2
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If your boat won't hold a straight course even when you are holding the wheel, there is something amiss somewhere. Suggest you get to the bottom of that issue before investing in an autopilot.
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Old 03-07-2016, 10:03 AM   #3
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Do you have a means of accurately synchronizing the engines?

As for what AP, I really wouldn't now what is right for you and your style of cruising or level of features you need. Personally, I lean to the ComNav line of APs, but that opinion is worth about what you paid for it. Garmin, Simrad, Raymarine, Furuno all make nice units, and I have used and/or owned examples of each.
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Old 03-07-2016, 10:17 AM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by hmason View Post
If your boat won't hold a straight course even when you are holding the wheel, there is something amiss somewhere. Suggest you get to the bottom of that issue before investing in an autopilot.
Howard's right. I Suggest you bleed the steering system according to the manual. You'll need two people to get that done. Do you have the manual?
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Old 03-07-2016, 12:05 PM   #5
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I agree with bleeding out the system. That's a prerequisite to a pilot anyway.

As for pilots, I have had the current models from Simrad and Furuno. Both support NMEA 2000. The simrad pilots steer very well, but I have had interfacing challenges with them, and know other people who have too. The Furuno NavPilot 700 is my current favorite. Supports both N2K and 0183 so will interface to pretty much anything. And it has a knob for steering which I really like.

Comnav is all 0183 only. I don't know about Ray or Garmin.
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Old 03-07-2016, 12:12 PM   #6
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Maybe I am just not as literal minded, but I took the OP's aside "(and even then....)" to be nothing more than a humorous and self-deprecating comments on his own ability to drive a straight course.

I think the real issue is are there any suggestions on an AP system he might look at?
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Old 03-07-2016, 12:25 PM   #7
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Maybe I am just not as literal minded, but I took the OP's aside "(and even then....)" to be nothing more than a humorous and self-deprecating comments on his own ability to drive a straight course.

I think the real issue is are there any suggestions on an AP system he might look at?
You nailed it. I get to day dreaming out in the Bay, then come back to reality, and wonder why that buoy that was previously in front of me has mysteriously moved off my starboard bow. Pesky buoys...

I did not realize that Garmin was in the autopilot business. I plan to buy one of their radar/chartplotters, so if they also make an autopilot gizmo for hydraulic steering systems, that may work out well.

As for bleeding the system, I have never done it, so that in itself may be a worthwhile exercise.
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Old 03-07-2016, 12:25 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by seattleboatguy View Post
I have a 1987 Marine Trader 38, twin screw, with hydraulic steering at upper and a lower steering stations. The boat will not hold a course unless I am holding the steering wheel
Quote:
Originally Posted by hmason View Post
If your boat won't hold a straight course even when you are holding the wheel, there is something amiss somewhere. Suggest you get to the bottom of that issue before investing in an autopilot.

Agree. When we got our current boat, there was a relatively minor issue with the existing linkage... can't remember whether it was a mechanical or hydraulic problem, but the symptom was... that the boat wouldn't hold a course unless I was at the wheel, correcting all the time.

Fixed that, all better.

AP install came later.

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Old 03-07-2016, 12:47 PM   #9
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any are fine....especially these days.


if you are going with a marine installer rather than DIY, see what they recommend and give the best deal on.


Years ago Simrad was king...no longer and have not heard of any particular brand better or worse than others.
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Old 03-07-2016, 02:19 PM   #10
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I did not realize that Garmin was in the autopilot business. I plan to buy one of their radar/chartplotters, so if they also make an autopilot gizmo for hydraulic steering systems, that may work out well.
I am very simple minded. If you are thinking of getting a radar/chartplotter, I would see about getting an AP from the same manufacturer to make integration very easy.

My current boat has a factory installed Raymarine package. It is very nice that all the pieces talk to each other, use the same connections etc... I am not bright enough to figure it out on my own. I am sure Garmin would be the same way.
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Old 03-07-2016, 02:25 PM   #11
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Unless using a whole 2000 backbone..


0183 was easy enough for most pilots and chartplotters....better to go with what you want or is just better in terms of box or reliability than sticking to one manufacturer. Though as I have posted...for an autopilot...most are fine. I don't know much about Garmin pilots...they were late to the party but I haven't heard bad things about them other than their setups for outboard engines.


Eve if using a 2000 backbone...and I am not that familiar with all units...wouldn't it just be a small adapter if using an out of family product?
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Old 03-07-2016, 03:42 PM   #12
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Autopilot is one of the best boating purchase I have ever made. Do it if you can afford it.
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Old 03-07-2016, 04:11 PM   #13
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I did not realize that Garmin was in the autopilot business. I plan to buy one of their radar/chartplotters, so if they also make an autopilot gizmo for hydraulic steering systems, that may work out well.
Yes they bought Nautamatic, maker of the excellent TR 1 and Gladiator APs, about 10 years ago. They pioneered the function of being able to grab the wheel and manually steer without turning off the AP function first, which they labeled "Shadow Drive".

I too would lean towards your idea of using the same mfr as the navigation system for ease of integration, especially if buying a new complete system and anyway, Garmin makes good stuff.
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Old 03-07-2016, 04:17 PM   #14
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You nailed it. I get to day dreaming out in the Bay, then come back to reality, and wonder why that buoy that was previously in front of me has mysteriously moved off my starboard bow. Pesky buoys...

I did not realize that Garmin was in the autopilot business. I plan to buy one of their radar/chartplotters, so if they also make an autopilot gizmo for hydraulic steering systems, that may work out well.

As for bleeding the system, I have never done it, so that in itself may be a worthwhile exercise.

================
By all means, if you have a Garmin Plotter go with a Garmin Autopilot. The Garmin to Garmin has a function "Guide To" that I have not been able to work on my current Garmin Plotter to Ray. This little goodie allows you to select a destination, it gives you a selected course with all way points, you approve and it takes off like a blood hound. Keeps you in deep water, makes course changes automatically Just watch that you do not run over another boat. Very slick

I have not been able to get my Garmin to Ray to do that.

The other benefit is by staying with one manufacturer the finger pointing stops.
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Old 03-07-2016, 06:09 PM   #15
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Originally Posted by seattleboatguy View Post
You nailed it. I get to day dreaming out in the Bay, then come back to reality, and wonder why that buoy that was previously in front of me has mysteriously moved off my starboard bow. Pesky buoys...

I did not realize that Garmin was in the autopilot business. I plan to buy one of their radar/chartplotters, so if they also make an autopilot gizmo for hydraulic steering systems, that may work out well.

As for bleeding the system, I have never done it, so that in itself may be a worthwhile exercise.
We just purchased a Garmin equipped boat including Autopilot and while we've only put 30 hours on it, I'm pleased with it's functionality and it's integration.

We have a Garmin GPS Map 8215 that has an Auto Guidance function and connects to a GHP 20 with Smartpump Autopilot.
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Old 03-07-2016, 06:34 PM   #16
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I have the Garmin 7210 and their autopilot as well. Good combination for sure.
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