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Old 07-16-2019, 02:43 PM   #1
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autopilot recommendations

I have a twin engine 44 ft 40,000 lb Sun deck Cruiser. It has a single Helm on the flybridge I am looking for recommendation for an autopilot
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Old 07-16-2019, 03:16 PM   #2
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Problem with recommendations is everyone will recommend what they have to affirm their selection.

All autopilot are similar with few variances in features.

I would start by prioritizing what functions on an autopilot will be useful to you. Then go to a boat show or find a marine electronics store that carry multiple brands and start your search there. Try the different control units for ease of use and functionality. Have the salesperson describe the features.

Understand that many electronics salespeople work on commission or some sort of incentive plan. They also will push items in stock for quick sale. Some manufacturers products may offer higher commission or be part of a sales promotion contest for the employees.

The size of your steering rams will determine the size of the autopilot pump. Make sure to buy a pump sized correctly. Stores might spec undersize pumps to reduce total purchase price. Especially to match competitors pricing.

After narrowing your autopilot choices to a few models, ask forum members with those units for recommendations.

If interfacing the autopilot with other electronics, getting an AP from the same manufacturer will ease set up.

Choosing an autopilot is an important decision. Compared with chartplotter, depthsounder and radar, an autopilot will be the most used instrument on the boat. Make sure button placement and function are easy to use.
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Old 07-16-2019, 04:38 PM   #3
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Comnav.
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Old 07-16-2019, 07:51 PM   #4
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Been very happy with Garmin, however all the instruments are Garmin too so it was a logical addition.
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Old 07-16-2019, 09:13 PM   #5
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Problem with recommendations is everyone will recommend what they have to affirm their selection.
I'm not going to recommend what I have as it's long out of production. That said, I like my Simrad / Robertson AP20 so much thst I've resisted upgrading it even though it's 17 years old.

Probably can't go wrong with a Garmin, Comnav, or Simrad.

Ted
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Old 07-16-2019, 10:32 PM   #6
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I'm not going to recommend what I have as it's long out of production. That said, I like my Simrad / Robertson AP20 so much thst I've resisted upgrading it even though it's 17 years old.

Probably can't go wrong with a Garmin, Comnav, or Simrad.

Ted
I have an older Simrad Robertson autopilot too. And, I also like my Robertson too much to upgrade. I've been picking up autopilot components on eBay for spares. So far everything has been working without issues.

I bought my autopilot when Robertson was located in Washington State.
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Old 07-16-2019, 10:49 PM   #7
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I am only familiar with the tiller style autopilot. I imagine I need something with a hydraulic pump. Googling I only see kits that are not complete. So I'm asking being unfamiliar with autopilot components what all I need to make a functioning system does anybody offer an all-in-one component kit that has everything in one box?
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Old 07-16-2019, 10:53 PM   #8
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One more recommendation to my original.

Pick a manufacturer that has excellent customer support. By humans, on the phone.

An autopilot is a complex installation with several components that require exacting installation and programming after install. And many installation manuals are difficult to understand requiring quick support from the manufacturer.

Many manufacturers pass the support responsibility to the distributor or dealer who are not equipped to provide that. Westerbeke and Victron Energy are two companies that provide no support other than their crowd sourced web support.

I'm sure there are others out there, but I've experienced the best customer support from Furuno, either on the phone on in person at Camas, Wa.
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Old 07-16-2019, 11:55 PM   #9
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Whatever your local yard installs and supports. Support being the key word. Furuno, Garmin, Raymarine, Simrad are all competitive with each other and offer good products. They sell integrated solutions but local techs do the installations. If you already have a radar unit or chartplotter from one manufacturer then integrating an autopilot from that same manufacturer will probably be simpler. Having a certified local tech to debug inoperative systems has a lot more value than manufacturers claimed "feature" list.
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Old 07-17-2019, 09:57 AM   #10
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Buy the one the commercial guys buy. Mostly Comnav...
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Old 07-17-2019, 10:38 AM   #11
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I am only familiar with the tiller style autopilot. I imagine I need something with a hydraulic pump. Googling I only see kits that are not complete. So I'm asking being unfamiliar with autopilot components what all I need to make a functioning system does anybody offer an all-in-one component kit that has everything in one box?
I have been researching APs. If you have hydraulic steering, you have two choices. Hydraulic of course and they can be expensive, or mechanical. The mechanical unit uses a motor to drive a pulley that is attached to the wheel. Once that is solved, you can figure out if you want to tie into the electronics for full operation or have a stand-alone system that runs a heading you set until you switch it off or set a new heading.



Hydraulic inline set up. This is one of many ways to do it but seems to be the most robust.





The wheel pilot.
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Old 07-17-2019, 12:25 PM   #12
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Be sure you get one that supports a JOG stick.

A lot of people use that exclusively, and never go back to a wheel.
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Old 07-17-2019, 04:40 PM   #13
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Be sure you get one that supports a JOG stick.

A lot of people use that exclusively, and never go back to a wheel.
Agreed, have a jog lever for my stern docking station. Also see what is offered for remotes. Personally I prefer hardwired. Seems that remotes and jog levers are an area where most manufacturers are offering less choices and technology really hasn't improved. Part of what keeps me from upgrading is less choice in these items compared to what I currently have.

Ted
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Old 07-17-2019, 05:38 PM   #14
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If you already have a radar unit or chartplotter from one manufacturer then integrating an autopilot from that same manufacturer will probably be simpler. Having a certified local tech to debug inoperative systems has a lot more value than manufacturers claimed "feature" list.
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Old 07-17-2019, 06:59 PM   #15
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Problem with recommendations is everyone will recommend what they have to affirm their selection...
No. I'm not going to reaffirm what I have. If I were buying today, I'd be looking seriously at a Comnav 1001.

Jim
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Old 07-17-2019, 07:57 PM   #16
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I have a discontinued Robertson but if buying today, I would get a Furuno 711C.

I sold one to a client in May and the customer support he got from Furuno was above and beyond their responsibility. Client is very happy with the new auto pilot in his 55' Sunship. He replaced a Robertson AP 20.
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Old 07-17-2019, 08:02 PM   #17
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Buy the one the commercial guys buy. Mostly Comnav...
FWIW Si-tex = Comnav or the other way around(can't remember) but Sitex stuff is good to go.

I use a Garmin Tr1(few generations old) that I bought parts used for around $500 so in that respect I recommend it.

I'd prefer a simple electric wheelpilot. Dialing the TR1 in isn't awesome and it has enough extras to make it kind of a pain.
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Old 07-17-2019, 08:32 PM   #18
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FWIW Si-tex = Comnav or the other way around(can't remember) but Sitex stuff is good to go.

I use a Garmin Tr1(few generations old) that I bought parts used for around $500 so in that respect I recommend it.

I'd prefer a simple electric wheelpilot. Dialing the TR1 in isn't awesome and it has enough extras to make it kind of a pain.
I like the Simplicity of the electric Wheel pilot. who makes one I can handle a 44000lb. 44ft boat?
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Old 07-19-2019, 10:56 AM   #19
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I like the Simplicity of the electric Wheel pilot. who makes one I can handle a 44000lb. 44ft boat?
"Delivers 86ft-lbs to the wheel." I believe that should cover it.


CPT Autopilot Inc.
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Old 07-19-2019, 11:14 AM   #20
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"Delivers 86ft-lbs to the wheel." I believe that should cover it.


CPT Autopilot Inc.
Perfect
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