Autopilot

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Autopilot

Postby milsten » Fri Dec 27, 2013 8:04 pm

I have a Autohelm 2000 which sometimes won't start up and keeps on beeping or starts as a 800 so I have to reset it to a 2000. Then he works well for a while and suddenly gets out of his mind and sends the boat to whichever direction he likes. So I want to replace him and was thinking about a Ray ST2000+. But it seems that he has to work at the end of his range ( 4,5 tons). Can he cope well with a HR29 ? Has anyone any advise ?
I've seen there is one on Dophin Dance

Best regards
Werner

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Re: Autopilot

Postby Chris » Sat Dec 28, 2013 12:24 am

Hi,

Impulse has an ST 1000+ and whilst I am aware that this is below the recommended specification it seems to manage perfectly well. I have however been looking at buying a 2000+ replacement and keeping the 1000 as a back up but I am finding it difficult to find out what the real difference between the 2 pilots is.

I have read one comment on the net where apparently there is very little difference and the extra cost for the 2000+ is questionable.

The literature states a slightly higher torque rating for the 2000+ which, when things get really rough I would question whether it would make that much difference. I have therefore been looking at the more powerful pilots like the SPX-5. There is a considerable price jump but I feel if anyone is looking for an auto pilot to cope with conditions too rough for the 1000+, the 2000+ wouldn't me much of an advantage.

The other thing is of course boat balance and the HR29 is a particularly well balanced boat. Last summer I sailed for 30 minutes on a starboard close reach without touching the helm or engaging the autopilot. More proof that the HR29 is not over demanding on an autopilot.

I am sure others will add their opinions but IMHO what you are considering would be perfectly adequate and keep your unpredictable 2000 as a back up perhaps.

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Re: Autopilot

Postby Antti_DD » Sat Dec 28, 2013 12:22 pm

Chris, in addition to the torque there is difference in the helm speed of 1000+ and 2000+. For some reason this info is not very well (if at all) presented in the Raymarine's website, but so it says in the owner's handbook. For 2000+ the helm speed from 'lock to lock' (i.e. to move the tiller from side to side if I understood the meaning correctly) is 4,5 sec, whereas for 1000+ the helm speed is 8 seconds. It sounds quite a large difference to me, and I guess that it comes to play especially when sailing in following seas.

Werner, Dolphin Dance came with 2000+ when I bought her, and I also kept one similar from my previous boat. I think that having two autopilots is quite reasonable, given the quality of today's marine electronics. Both of our 2000+'s suffer from stubbornness from time to time. When this happens, no matter how much you change the course with the +/- 10 button , it keeps the heading pretty much straight. On the other hand, sometimes the course starts to wander when the pilot should keep a straight course! It might be an user error, i.e. something in the boat disrupting the compass, but it is strange that this happens only from time to time. My guess is that the pilot likes to think a bit too much by itself. It has an 'AutoSeastate' function on as a default, which I often turn off if this problem occurs. Here is a quote from the handbook about AutoSeastate:
In Auto, WindTrim or Track modes, the tiller pilot is set to AutoSeastate (automatic deadband control) as a default. This causes the pilot to gradually ignore repetitive movements of the boat and respond only to true course variations. By preventing unnecessary rudder movement, AutoSeastate provides the best compromise between power consumption and course keeping accuracy. If you want to switch off the AutoSeastate feature:
1. From Auto, WindTrim or Track mode, press -1 and +1 together to switch from
AutoSeastate to Fixed Minimum Deadband.
2. The “°” sign flashes when Fixed Minimum Deadband is selected. Minimum
deadband provides the tightest course keeping possible, at the expense of
increased power consumption and drive unit activity

Obviously, the choice of the autopilot depends on the conditions in which you are planning to use it. Both the 1000+ and 2000+ cope probably pretty well when motoring or sailing in light or moderate conditions or at sheltered waters, but if you are planning to use the autopilot in rougher conditions – say Force 5 and above offshore – both of the pilots are probably under sized and not up to the task. I definitely agree with Chris that for this kind of use, a stronger pilot such as SPX-5 would be a better choice.

As we know, the longish keel and full depth skeg of the rudder make the HR29 very directionally stable boat. With a correct sail trim she pretty much looks after herself when sailing to windward as Chris pointed out. However, the downsize of this underwater body and unbalanced rudder construction is that the pressure on the tiller can be quite large when sailing downwind in following seas. A few hours of steering in those conditions is equivalent to a gym exercise. Obviously, this strains the autopilot as well. I have created a strong distrust in my 2000+ in these conditions, so I don't dare to let it steer the boat for a longer period of time when there is a risk of gybe for example. Also, I would be concerned about the energy consumption, since the pilot constantly turns the tiller from side to side. You can almost hear the sound of power being sucked out of the batteries... I don't have personal experience on these , but I would guess that the more advanced gyro pilots are better in this respect, since they have better means to 'think ahead'. These cheaper tiller pilots are basically late all the time so they end up steering back and forth...
Antti Laine, Forum Administrator
HR 29 # 483 "Dolphin Dance"
Blog: http://sydolphindance.com / Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/sydolphindance / Twitter: https://twitter.com/sydolphindance

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Re: Autopilot

Postby Chris » Sat Dec 28, 2013 1:05 pm

Thanks for that extra bit of technical info Antti. I seem to remember reading somewhere that the faster helm speed is within the clever electronics and not the power/torque of the motor used. I believe the motors are the same in both auto pilots.

Over all I think these tiller pilots are perfectly adequate for what they are and cost, we just need to recognise their limitations.

The movement I had in the rudder stock I am sure didn't help the poor old tiller pilot trying to make up its mind where to head which is another reason why I am refurbishing the rudder and rudder stock.

Ideally I would like a system similar to my last boat where the pilot was in the depths of the aft locker and constantly attached to the steering quadrant. I think this could be possible, attaching a linear drive to the steering stop possibly?

I haven't delved too deeply as yet but just food for thought. Cost to use is also something to consider and as you say Antti, it depends on the usage. For those lucky enough to have a windvane system, this for lengthy passages, must be the kit to have… Mmmm now where have I seen an HR29 with one of those??

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Re: Autopilot

Postby Antti_DD » Sat Dec 28, 2013 2:22 pm

Chris wrote:Over all I think these tiller pilots are perfectly adequate for what they are and cost, we just need to recognise their limitations.

This is well put! Hopefully I did not sound too critical for these tiller pilots, since for a shorthanded sailor, they definitely offer a huge help when hoisting or reefing the sails, putting on the mooring lines and fenders or motoring and hour after an hour at calm sea. They also offer a chance to make a lunch or have a cup of coffee (or tea ;) ) while sailing. My previous boat had an Autohelm 800 and it went silent during one singlehanded cruise, and it was then that I realized how dependent I was of it...even going to the toilet became a hassle.

As I wrote earlier, in some downwind conditions I would not trust them for a longer period of time, but it is often possible to change the course of the boat to be less demanding for the autopilot while eating a lunch, going to the toilet etc.
Antti Laine, Forum Administrator
HR 29 # 483 "Dolphin Dance"
Blog: http://sydolphindance.com / Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/sydolphindance / Twitter: https://twitter.com/sydolphindance

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Re: Autopilot

Postby Tentation » Sat Dec 28, 2013 2:38 pm

Hi,
TENTATION has a ST 2000+ and so far I am pleased with it, despite the fact that I came trough the same problem :o .
We were sailing during a rainy day when an heavy downpour fell on us. Seconds later the AP emitted a series beep-beep and stopped working. Once in shelter at the marina I opened it and found water in the casing. By means of a hair-dryer I managed to have it back to live but initialising in 800 mode instead of 2000. The connector was full of water and had to be changed later as well as the fluxgate compass.
The main problem with the design of these A/P is the poor waterprofing.
Fluxgate compass.jpg
Look at the corroded connections. This fluxgate compass is located just under the jack rod . Water comes in during the jack operation which drip on the compass.
Fluxgate compass.jpg (180.57 KiB) Viewed 3788 times


However, in fair condition it's a good piece of equipment.
Simply do not expect it to keep the desired track in not so fair conditions specially when sailing downwind. By the way it is also a manufacturer's recommendation: " It is also advisable (whenever possible) to avoid sailing with the wind dead astern when there are very strong winds and large seas.
• Ideally, the wind should be at least 30° away from a dead run"
According to the specification a ST 2000+ is faster "lock to lock" than the ST1000+ (4.5s /8s)
To my opinion it is the more interesting point when deciding between the two A/P.
SIMRAD is another manufacturer on the A/P tiller market, and a SIMRAD TP32 could be an interesting alternative to the Raymarine ST2000+.
As advertised : "The TP32 is a reliable and robust autopilot, which has been optimised to draw as little power as possible and operate extremely quietly, making it ideal for sailboats up to 37ft."
Of course the new SPX5 from Raymarine would be an ideal choice.......... if Santa is on your side :mrgreen: .


General specifications ST1000+ / ST2000+
Power supply: 10 V to 15 V DC
Drive unit thrust torque: ST1000 Plus: 57 kg (125 lb)
ST2000 Plus: 77 kg (170 lb)
Maximum boat displace-
ment:
ST1000 Plus: 3 000 kg (6 600 lb)
ST2000 Plus: 4 500 kg (10 000 lb)
Drive mechanism: ST1000 Plus: lead-screw and nut drive
ST2000 Plus: re-circulating ball drive
Helm speed (lock to lock): ST1000 Plus: 8 seconds
ST2000 Plus: 4.5 seconds
Current consumption: • Standby: 40 mA (90 mA with full lighting)
• Auto: 0.5 A to 1.5 A depending on boat trim,
helm load and sailing conditions

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Re: Autopilot

Postby milsten » Sat Dec 28, 2013 7:43 pm

Hi guys

Thanks for the reply. As Chris puts it, a good balance/sailtrim will probably be the most important part of the job. If I should buy the ST2000+, I intend to open it and put some protective spray on the electronic board and maybe the back of the fluxgate compass. No matter if I loose the warranty. Then make a canvas protection or put some silicone between the two halfs and on the push buttons.
But maybe the Simrad TP32 is an alternatif. Has anyone any experience of how waterproof this one is ? Problem is I will probably have to change the whole setup

I will not use the autopilot when there is a risk of gybing nor for a force 5 or higher ( our coastal waters can sometimes be quite turbulent, depending on the wind direction). I think it must be a great help when sailing short- or single handed and entering a port to lower the sails, put out the fenders etc or when at sea to put in a reef( use for only a short time). But due to the malfunction of mine I haven't yet enough experience.

grtz
Werner

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Re: Autopilot

Postby Chris » Sun Dec 29, 2013 12:42 pm

My 1000+ came with the boat and the surveyor mentioned in his report it was making a noise when fully retracting. The PO had wrapped it in 'ClingFilm' for some reason and on closer inspection I found some of the screw lugs, were fractured and in some cases actually broken away so the screws were just spinning round. How this happened will remain a mystery but because the autopilot relies on its casing for structural force, I wondered if this was why it was making the noise. Fortunately it didn't appear to have suffered any water damage or corrosion, probably thanks to the cling film!

The casing, top and bottom are available spare parts via dealers and so I replaced the top which was the one with the screw lugs in it.

The buttons are all bonded in to the upper casing and sealed. There is also a seal running all round the edge of the casing and a both the ram and the 'thrust pin' are also sealed so I saw no reason for any further protection.

I used it all last season without any extra protection where it received several heavy drenchings. Bringing it home this autumn, I took it apart, inspected it and found no moisture inside what so ever.

So it might be worth checking closely the screws are tight and not spinning or broken as this could lead to water ingress.

The other reason for bringing it home was because it still made the noise after replacing the casing the previous season. I took out the drive mechanism and couldn't find anything worn, broken or loose so I put it back together which took out a little play in the main worm gear bearing and the noise has gone.

I would ideally like a second unit as a back up. Perhaps therefore the better value-for-money option would be to just buy another 1000+ and use it in the same way. If the intention is to rely on an autopilot in more demanding conditions, a more robust and powerful system needs to be considered.

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Re: Autopilot

Postby Elad » Thu Jan 09, 2014 8:48 pm

Hey Milsten,

I have an Autohelm 2000 and I had similar symptoms like yours, I might have found the problem of mine, it wasn't the autohelm unit rather massive corrosion on the terminals of the sockets to which the autopilot connects, after replacing the sockets terminal I didn't experience any problems-I haven't used it much though but I hope and believe it fixed the problem.

My tip- check very well the cable from the distribution panel up to the socket and also the terminals of the socket.

Electric motors, like the ones on Autopilots are very sensitive to voltage drop and the manual says you shouldn't connect any other appliance in series with it, it might impair the normal function of the AP!

I'm not quite sure what you meant when you wrote: "starts as a 800 so I have to reset it to a 2000"

Hope that will help you fix your problem.

Elad

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Re: Autopilot

Postby milsten » Sat Jan 11, 2014 4:21 pm

Elad thanks for the info. There was a autohelm 800, 1000 and a 2000. Apparently they use more or less the same software. So somethimes when I put the autopilot under power it says 800 instead of 2000 .Searching on the internet a found following

Your ST2000 thinks it is an Autohel 800. It has been reset for some reason. There is a way to change this through button pushing:
Hold in the +1 and -10 keys for ten seconds . Unit will display type setting, i.e. 800. Release the keys and hold them in again for another 10 seconds until the display begins flashing the type setting. Toggle this setting to the appropriate type with the plus and minus keys. Repeat holding in the +1 and -10 keys for another 10 seconds to exit this calibration mode and save the changes to the settings.

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