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Old 03-07-2016, 10:49 AM   #61
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If this autopilot is really going to be used

A few boat bucks difference is probably not the wise factor in your choice of autopilots. On my boat the autopilot is on probably 90% of the time, the larger the boat the more likely the auto pilot is the main helmsman. As to heading sensors, Twistedtree is absolutely right, when your your snaking your way through a rock garden in the fog at night you absolutely want to know where you are pointed and you want to know instantly, where you have been is irrelevant. As to Ray Marine autopilots I have had less than reliable results. I had to replace the course computer, tiller sensor, and control heads on my last boat.
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Old 03-07-2016, 11:49 AM   #62
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Speaking of reliability, or more specifically, customer support, my experience with Comnav has not been good. I have one of their AIS devices and it had some functional problems when I first installed it. I actually don't remember what the exact issues were, but they were all corrected by a firmware update to the unit. The problem was getting Comnav to pay attention long enough to figure out that the brand new unit was WAY out of date firmware wise, then an even longer wait to get the new version so I could do the update. And I did the update myself, so all I needed was for them to email me the update files. I had to hound them for close to a month, with unanswered emails, unanswered phone calls, etc.

Dial forward to today, I've been looking at getting a better sat compass for the N, and handing down the Simrad to the Grady White that we got at home. Comnav's G2 was a strong contender, but I once again could not get clear and consistent answers from them. Even more frustrating, they have made some significant changes to the G2, but made no changes to the model designation or part number. These changes are only detectable by careful study of old vs new brochures and manuals. I was one click away from buying one when I decided to go double check one or two features that were critical to my buying decision, and that appeared to be different in the latest brochure I had seen. Sure enough, things looked to have changed, so I held off on the purchase while I investigated. Once again emails and calls went unanswered, and the answers I got back were unclear. I finally decided they were not the type of company I wanted to work with, so bought directly from Hemisphere GNSS at higher cost. But Hemisphere has given me excellent support in the past and quickly fixed problems, so I'm happy to pay a bit more.

So me personally, given my experience with Comnav - I wouldn't buy from them.
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Old 03-07-2016, 11:59 AM   #63
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There has been some discussion about features, and what you are willing to pay extra for. Our AP use is very basic - Auto mode and Nav mode. I don't use any of the fishing patterns or other things.

But I have come to really value one feature, and that's a dial for making course adjustments versus just having buttons. There are a lot of situations when we run in Auto mode and steer the boat by making course adjustments on the AP. I'll run like that the whole way into a port right up until we are ready to start maneuvering to dock, and we run pretty much every channel in auto mode with course adjustments.

I find a dial way, way more convenient and controllable than port/stbd buttons. I bring this up because the comnav panel you showed appears to only have buttons. The Simrad AP24 is the same way. One thing I like about the Furuno pilot is that both the small and large control panels have dial controls. Only the large Simrad (AP28 and AP70) has a dial. I'm not sure about Ray.

But it's something to consider when you are deciding what you want to spend your $$ on.
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Old 03-07-2016, 01:49 PM   #64
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I'll be honest, the ComNav stuff doesn't excite me. It seems it would do the job, but I was hoping to do better, assuming I can justify the cost.

So I'm starting to look at another angle. The extra cost of the computer module seems to be tied to the higher amperage rating of the larger pumps.

I note that Octopus makes a pump that specs out at 5A "average" for systems with a 10-15 cu. in. cylinder, for around $515 (from Defender.)

The specs on the Simrad AC12N computer (the smaller of the two) say it will drive 8A continuous and 16A intermittent (for up to 1 second).

So, could I buy the smaller-Amp package (whatever brand) without the pump, and hook it up to the Octopus?

The Simrad control head looks really nice, sort of a mini-MFD that I can use for all kinds of things other than the AP. The AP controls are on a wired remote. The whole thing is supposedly N2K, including the rudder position indicator, so in theory I could display rudder angle on my existing MFD or the Simrad control head.

Am I off base here?
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Old 03-07-2016, 02:36 PM   #65
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Not really off base...but yes it does take a bit of coordination to make sure the pieces it and work.


Not sure what size my pump is...but I have the older Raymarine ST5000+ control head...no "brain box or junction box".


It seems to work fine (and I have used a lot of APs) on my 40 foot trawler, so not sure why yours would have a steering ram much larger than mine ?(could but not sure why).


So unless you plan on a round the world cruise...hitting the minimum spec might actually be OK because 99% of the time...my AP isn't working near it's max capacity (max gain and rapid rudder response together).
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Old 03-07-2016, 04:03 PM   #66
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It's hard to do minimum anything, isn't it? There is always a slippery slope, and if you don't do down it, you usually regret having not. And then of course there are all of us pushing you down the slope as fast as we can....
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Old 03-07-2016, 04:25 PM   #67
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I haven't found a huge difference in the pump costs, they all seem to be in the $500-700 range. The problem is, the Type 1 that Raymarine says works with the EVO-200 just barely meets the specs.
OK, you did indeed find an AP that cost $700ish (the ComNav 1420 less pump and rudder ref would be about that). And if you're right on the bubble, then the 20 amps pump current of the 1420 might indeed be relevant over the 15 amps of the ACU-200.

A few points on that 1420...it's hard to imagine installing a rudder reference without some kind of display. ComNav has a display at $300, so I really think you should factor that in. Unless you already have a rudder display? In that case fitting 2 senders might get awkward.

And the ComNav is a flux-gate compass, not the compass and 3-axis (and accelerometer) of modern sensors. Of course we have all operated fine with those legacy compasses for 20+ years, but still...installing that technology today seems kind of sad.

And that multi-button panel. Yes, that will do the job but that's REALLY old interface technology. @twistedtree is correct - rotary knob steering (with a display of the course in degrees) covers more than 90% of my AP interaction - if I didn't have that I'm not sure my wife could steer the boat when I'm not at the helm.

Finally, there's the networking. I see you can add a 2nd station for $225. Add a second rudder display for $300, so that's actually slightly more than the $500 of a P70R. But then you're relegated to the world of NMEA 0183 and I truly feel that installing that technology today is a mistake.
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Old 03-07-2016, 04:46 PM   #68
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I note that Octopus makes a pump that specs out at 5A "average" for systems with a 10-15 cu. in. cylinder, for around $515 (from Defender.)

The specs on the Simrad AC12N computer (the smaller of the two) say it will drive 8A continuous and 16A intermittent (for up to 1 second).

So, could I buy the smaller-Amp package (whatever brand) without the pump, and hook it up to the Octopus?
No, the max draw of the smallest Octopus pump, the 1012 (5-17 ci) is 19 amps. Octopus specs are a little hard to come by, but this link has them.

I wouldn't put a pump that has a maximum draw of 19 amps on a 16amp circuit.
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Old 03-07-2016, 05:07 PM   #69
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Note that a display like the Furuno or Simrad will show rudder position. No need for another display. A typical modern pilot display will show course (both commanded and actual), rudder position, waypoint name, distance to way point, XTE, etc. And lots of other programmable screens with pretty much any data you can imagine.

As for integrating same-brand vs different-brand, I have found no advantage to same-brand. For example, Simrad's AP24 and AP28 both incorrectly display the waypoint name. It doesn't matter what nav device is sending it. The bug is in the pilot display. I reported it to Simrad 2 or more years ago, and they clearly have no plans to fix it.
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Old 03-07-2016, 06:39 PM   #70
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But I have come to really value one feature, and that's a dial for making course adjustments versus just having buttons.
I agree completely. My Raymarine AP has this feature and it is so much nicer than the one on my last boat that simply had the buttons.
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Old 03-07-2016, 08:37 PM   #71
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This is actually getting interesting. Here's where we stand now:

- Octopus pump is out; 19A max on a 16A power supply won't work.
- ComNav is fading fast, just feels "old fashioned" with colored buttons that look like an original "Star Trek" set, inferior compass and NMEA 0183. Questionable support doesn't help.
- Simrad has a nice MFD display and a wired remote, overall an elegant solution.
- Raymarine is gaining ground again. The dial controller and good N2K integration put it ahead, but the pump is just barely within specs. Not sure if the head will display rudder position, but I have two other MFDs that might, if it's on the N2K bus.

Tune in tomorrow for the next exciting installment...
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Old 03-07-2016, 10:51 PM   #72
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- Raymarine is gaining ground again. The dial controller and good N2K integration put it ahead, but the pump is just barely within specs. Not sure if the head will display rudder position, but I have two other MFDs that might, if it's on the N2K bus.

Tune in tomorrow for the next exciting installment...
Please be aware that I am completely ignorant but...

My Raymairine AP controller is a circa 2005 ST8002. It does display the rudder position on the bottom. Not sure about the other controllers from Raymarine.
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Old 03-08-2016, 10:16 AM   #73
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OK Dave, you made me go look it up. The manual shows a rudder indicator at the top of every different display on the p70R:


Not so ignorant after all, are you???
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Old 03-08-2016, 10:36 AM   #74
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For your purposes, at $2100 (or less if a lower offer is accepted) this new Simrad AP26 would be one terrific system. (I have no financial interest in this auction, I simply noticed it on eBay and am passing on the information)

Simrad AP26 Autopilot | eBay

It is Robnet2/Simnet based and is both NMEA0183 and NMEA2000 compatible. It has everything you have been discussing on your wish list.

The AP25/26/27 family of autopilots have now been replaced by the AP24/28 series which are fully Simnet based and integrate directly with the current offering of Simrad products. Simnet is basically Simrad's proprietary N2K network and is easily connected to any N2K network with a drop-cable.

The auction includes:
AP26 Remote Head W/15 meter Robnet2 cable
RF300 Rotary Rudder Feedback
AC20 Junction Box (Computer) 20A
RPU160 12V Pump to 22 cu in
RC36 Rate Compass

This system has true 'Follow-Up' proportional power steering via a knob on the control unit.

Rudder angle is displayed on the screen.

This system has 'No-Drift' steering mode that will correct for wind, waves and current once engaged.

The compass is a modern rate-compass, not just a fluxgate compass. The heading information is output at 10hz from the computer via NMEA0183 and N2K for your other instruments, radar etc.

The computer is duty rated for the larger RPU160 pump. This should provide adequate rudder speed in following sea conditions.

There are many more advanced features that you will likely not need, but could be useful under some circumstances.

While this is a discontinued system, there are many spares available used, and even NIB as with this auction.

I am familiar with this system as it is what I have installed on my boat. I use it 90% of the time.

I have had several Robertson/Simrad autopilots over the years and have always found them to be solid and reliable when properly sized and installed. The AP26/27 is the best one so far.

I was very disappointed to hear the problems Twistedtree had with his installation and hope it was simply due to the size and complexity of his overall navigation system, and not an indication of the autopilot performance users might expect from the current Simrad models in less complex configurations.

Good luck on your project

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Old 03-08-2016, 02:19 PM   #75
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For your purposes, at $2100 (or less if a lower offer is accepted) this new Simrad AP26 would be one terrific system. (I have no financial interest in this auction, I simply noticed it on eBay and am passing on the information)

Simrad AP26 Autopilot | eBay
Thanks Larry!

I put in an offer. It looks like a great unit!
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Old 03-08-2016, 02:52 PM   #76
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Thanks Larry!



I put in an offer. It looks like a great unit!
Agree it's good equipment at a fair price that will meet all of your needs.


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Old 03-08-2016, 04:41 PM   #77
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Just keep in mind that it's not current product, and Simrad will not support it. No spares, no repairs, you are on your own.
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Old 03-08-2016, 06:05 PM   #78
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Just keep in mind that it's not current product, and Simrad will not support it. No spares, no repairs, you are on your own.
Although you will not have a factory warranty, you are not completely alone. Some time back I discovered John Filippelli, JFI Marine Electronics, 313-690-6689 in St. Claire Shores, MI. He is a true Simrad expert and has been working with Robertson/Simrad autopilots for over 30 years. He just flashed an AP27 for me last fall and had it back to me in less than 3 days. It is true that some components, notably the control heads and screens are no longer in production by Simrad. But, the pumps, compasses and rudder angle sensors still are, and even the computers and control heads are still relatively plentiful on eBay. The AP20/21/22 and AP25/26/27 autopilots have a reputation for being very reliable and are still in daily use on many vessels.

As for support, I have spoken with Tom, Brian and Craig at Simrad as recently as last September about older systems and found them generally helpful and polite.

I don't mean to argue, but my experience with Simrad over time has just not been that bad. Of course, YMMV.
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Old 03-09-2016, 01:53 PM   #79
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My ComNav 1420 AP has a RPU100 pump I've done a Google search and can find very little information on it. Does anyone here have a link to parts and specifications of this pump?


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Old 03-09-2016, 02:10 PM   #80
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Your RPU100 is an older Robertson pump as used on the AP2500 and several other autopilots etc.

Basic specs are:

Motor voltage: 12V DC +-20%
Motor power: 100W
Average power consumption: 10-20W
Pressure: 40-80 bar
Motor supply from J1000B/J2500B: 5-14V DC
Capacity (min.-max.): 18-67 cu.in./min.

Info per the Robertson AP2500 Autopilot Instruction Manual dated March 1992.
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