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Old 09-02-2014, 03:10 PM   #1
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Heading Sensor

  • A good heading sensor costs about $800.
  • My autopilot has a free NMEA 0183 heading sensor output.

Why should or would I buy a heading sensor for $800 when I can just use the one from my autopilot?
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Old 09-02-2014, 03:19 PM   #2
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Believe they're supposed to be more accurate. We've been thinking about an N2k sat compass, but our fluxgate is fine for now.
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Old 09-02-2014, 03:38 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by N4712 View Post
We've been thinking about an N2k sat compass, but our fluxgate is fine for now.
No "wandering" by the autopilot when on the Sat Compass (they are very, very accurate). When I switch to the backup autopilot (which is on the fluxgate), the boat wanders along like a drunken sailor....
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Old 09-02-2014, 03:45 PM   #4
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No "wandering" by the autopilot when on the Sat Compass (they are very, very accurate). When I switch to the backup autopilot (which is on the fluxgate), the boat wanders along like a drunken sailor....

How is it in rough seas? We talked to a couple with a 47' and they said in rough seas they have to manually steer because the Sat compass wanders. I'm assuming they just didn't have it calibrated correctly, because I've heard great things about them.
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Old 09-02-2014, 04:25 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by obthomas View Post
  • A good heading sensor costs about $800.
  • My autopilot has a free NMEA 0183 heading sensor output.

Why should or would I buy a heading sensor for $800 when I can just use the one from my autopilot?
I'm not sure what the purpose of the question is: you already have a heading sensor so why do you need a heading sensor?

Some Radar/plotter such as certain Furunos require a proprietary output to enable chart overlay, by the way.
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Old 09-02-2014, 04:26 PM   #6
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How is it in rough seas? We talked to a couple with a 47' and they said in rough seas they have to manually steer because the Sat compass wanders. I'm assuming they just didn't have it calibrated correctly, because I've heard great things about them.
Mine has never had any issues, even going under bridges. In large following seas the boat will wallow quiet a bit (corkscrew), but that's the autopilot trying to keep up, the sat compass seems fine. Usually setting the autopilot to "Work" mode and backing off the stabilzers a bit calms down the wallowing.

I do know that some boats had issues with rough seas because the inertial sensor for the Sat Compasses was mounted on the wrong axis (so the SC was unable to compensate correctly for lots of pitching & rolling). It was horizontal instead of vertical, or something similar. Once correctly aligned, the sat compass behaved beautifully.
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Old 09-02-2014, 04:30 PM   #7
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My new to me boat, 38 Sedan Present has no working auto pilot. Has an auto helm that the Smithsonian has contacted me about. I am leaning toward a Com Nav for economy or a Garmin for seamless Garmin on the boat. That being said, why should I even have a flux gate. I have a boat with a fat ass and in a following sea I want a robust, sensitive autopilot. I am concerned about what I think is an undersized rudder. Will mate it up with Garmin 4210 with V2. both Com-Nav and Garmin sez it will work. Talk to me more about a heading sensor.
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Old 09-02-2014, 04:42 PM   #8
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[QUOTE=caltexflanc;263663]I'm not sure what the purpose of the question is: you already have a heading sensor so why do you need a heading sensor?

Precisely! I already have a heading sensor so why do I need a heading sensor? You catch on so quick.
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Old 09-02-2014, 04:48 PM   #9
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The little ComNavs are nice, I have used them on boats we chartered. In very simple terms, you need a good heading sensor to make it work correctly. It needs to know which way the boat is pointed, to correct to either the compass course you want it to follow or the waypoint position from the Garmin.
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