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Old 02-14-2017, 10:03 AM   #1
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Autopilot

Can anyone offer suggestions about which autopilots seems to offer the best return for investment dollar suitable for use on a 38 foot, 24000 lb dual station trawler. Would like to know about ease of instillation, reliability and cost.

Here is some additional info as requested......
I plan to interface this unit to my Garmin plotter.
The boat has Hydraulic steering.
Will either need two control stations or a hand held remote.
Will be used to primarily steer a straight line, but will also use it to follow a plotter course.
The boat has twin, Cummins 270 with a typical cruise speed of around 10 to 12 kn.
Thanks everyone
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Old 02-14-2017, 10:09 AM   #2
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Greetings,
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Old 02-14-2017, 10:13 AM   #3
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Welcome to the forum! A little more information would be useful.
Will it be interfaced to other electronics?
What electronics do you have know?
Hydraulic steering?
Hand held remote?
Simple steer a straight line and or follow a plotter course?
Single or twin, what speed?

Ted
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Old 02-14-2017, 10:33 AM   #4
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Four things
  • Panbo is your friend
  • A correctly installed AP system an important driver
  • Who will do the install and what is their experience?
  • Choose a unit that will seamlessly integrate with existing plotter and something like Coastal Explorer if you add this capability later.
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Old 02-14-2017, 11:19 PM   #5
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There's really no wrong choice, as all of the major brands in the autopilot lineup end up doing the same & costing thing ,with some minor exceptions. Probably, IMO, the most bang for your $$ would be a Raymarine EV200 with a Type 1 hydraulic pump, assuming your steering cylinder volume is smaller than 14 CI, which it most likely is, considering the size of your boat.
The only other things you would need,in addition to the EV200 system , extra wiring & plumbing fittings/hoses , would be another control display (or handheld remote) & an Actisence data converter to interface the Raymarine to your Garmin (Actisence is the brand name, & you would need it to convert either NMEA 2000 or NMEA 1083 to Raymarine SeaTalkNG data, depending on which one you are using on your Garmin plotter). If you're planning on installing the system yourself, it's not a hugely complicated job but a little knowledge of plumbing & electrical wiring is required to make a good job of it.
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Old 02-15-2017, 12:02 AM   #6
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I have heard good things about Garmin, but have no 1st hand experiance with them.

https://buy.garmin.com/en-US/US/cOnT...ilots2-p1.html
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Old 02-15-2017, 12:32 AM   #7
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SeaBum , you might want to try to get this thread moved to the electronics section.
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Old 02-15-2017, 08:09 AM   #8
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When picking a new one I went with what all the commercial fisherman around here use: ComNav. Super simple, reliable, and when I called the company with pre-sales questions they spent a bunch of time working with me.

Not a lot of bells and whistles, but I really only view my AP as a helmsman, and don't use it to steer to waypoints, just headings.
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Old 02-15-2017, 09:29 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by questionmark View Post
When picking a new one I went with what all the commercial fisherman around here use: ComNav. Super simple, reliable, and when I called the company with pre-sales questions they spent a bunch of time working with me..
i had a ComNav years ago and loved it! As the OP says....super simple and reliable.
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Old 02-15-2017, 09:58 AM   #10
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We have older simrads on our boat that we've been happy with, Iv'e also been using a Garmin Reactor on an outboard boat we have and Iv'e been thoroughly impressed. The only thing i don't like about the reactor- is that you're forced to use Garmin's pump, and heading sensor but that doesn't matter in most cases.
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Old 02-15-2017, 10:05 AM   #11
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We have a Simrad AP24 with 2 control heads that we installed 8 years ago. It hasn't hiccupped once. I'd buy another one.
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Old 02-15-2017, 12:41 PM   #12
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I think one of the most important considerations is how to update the AP software. Just about every manufacturer wants you to have one of their MFD's to update the software, which is generally updated one to two times per year. That can change the actual cost of ownership. If you go with the same manufacturer as your chart plotter, then you need to be sure the model you have can be used to update the software. I am most familiar with Raymarine APs and from a network perspective, the STng network is NMEA 2000 just with a proprietary connector. I believe you can buy a commercially produced STng to N2K cable now, although they are not hard to makeup up by cutting the connector off an STng trunk cable and replacing with a Maretron N2K connector.

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Old 02-15-2017, 01:38 PM   #13
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I would go with the latest Raymarine series. Also you should try searching the topic. There is a fairly recent thread that discusses this.

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Old 02-16-2017, 08:00 PM   #14
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Another vote for Comnav. Many of these on both commercial and pleasure craft in PNW and Alaska. I'm very happy with mine.
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Old 02-16-2017, 09:10 PM   #15
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If I was interfacing with Garmin, I'd get Garmin. We've been very pleased with ours. Just came as part of the package and we didn't know whether we'd be happy or not.
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Old 02-16-2017, 09:48 PM   #16
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I think it is a better idea to match the AP to the navigational system you have then to try something seperately. I have a Raymarine system and a Raymarine AP. If I had Garmin then I would have had a Garmin AP.
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Old 02-16-2017, 10:16 PM   #17
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I'm not saying your shouldn't match brands between autopilot and Nav system, but auto pilots are one area where you don't HAVE to match. Comnav is a good example, with lots of pilots and maybe no matching nav systems?

The communications that allows a pilot to follow a route is well established and standardized over both NMEA 0183 and NMEA 2000. I've used it personally and seen it many more times work just fine across brands. It's a nice example of where inter-operability actually works well in marine electronics.

But if you DO match brands, you might be able to get one or two extras. Auto pilots have control panels where you set your course, steer manually, and tell it to follow a route being broadcast by your nav system. That's all common across all APs. Additionally, if you have the same brand AP and Nav system, say Garmin, you can also control the AP via a pop-up window on the nav screen so you can engage and disengage from the nav screen just the same as you engage and disengage from the AP control panel. Some people find that convenient, and others feel is takes up otherwise useful screen space on the nav system. But that's basically what you get with matched brand between AP and Nav system.
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Old 02-16-2017, 11:02 PM   #18
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There are some extra features available Garmin to Garmin. However, all I'm saying is their autopilot is comparable to others and there is really no reason not to match. Not too long ago some autopilots were considerably better, but the gap has really been closed.
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Old 02-17-2017, 07:07 AM   #19
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A few years ago, when we owned a sailboat, I installed and connected a new Raynav Evo autopilot to a new Garmin Plotter. At that time (and maybe still) no one made a cable to easily interface these two units to one another. Finally, after many calls to pen and paper technicians at both Garmin and Raynav I managed to speak with a support person that had retired from the military as an electronic technician. His advice was simple and profound, "buy a Garmin and a Raynav cable, cut one end off of each, and connect the four wires coming from each cable color to color." He said the systems are both NEMA 2000 compliant, and as such they need to have matching colors on their signal wires. I followed his simple directions and within a few minutes had succeeded in making my Garmin and Ranynav units shake hands with one another and was off steered by autopilot headed to a GPS waypoint.

Yoou may find this an interesting link

The Marine Installer's Rant: Installing the Raymarine Evolution autopilot
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Old 02-17-2017, 11:22 AM   #20
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For decades I have used Robertson and later Simrad autopilots on my boats. I am upgrading the entire electronics suite in my new-to-me boat with Garmin equipment. I almost purchased a new Simrad AP, but after some research, decided to try a Garmin Reactor instead. I liked the idea of being able to engage the AP from the plotters.

The only downsides I can see with the Reactor are that there are no knobs on the control units to adjust the course, or steer the boat. I hate using the left/right buttons for some number of degrees of adjustment, multiple presses etc. Also, there is no provision in Garmin AP lineup, either now or in the immediate future, for a jogstick. I like fingertip follow-up steering as provided by Simrad autopilots. And finally, some of the basic AP functions are several layers deep in the menus, I prefer more dedicated buttons on the controls.

I'll know more in a few weeks after it is installed and I become familiar with its features and operation.
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