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MobjackB32 04-06-2010 02:37 PM

Auto Pilot Help...Pls!!
I ahve a AutoHelm 4200 that came on the boat I just bought. It appears to be a late 90's model but cant tell for sure. When we went to Use the autopilot it would only turn to port. No matter what we did the system would not operate to starboard. Does anyone with this system know what could be going on? Any help is appreciated. Does it sound like a control head issue or a drive motor issue?



sailingdog 04-06-2010 02:55 PM

photos of the unit would help, as would saying whether it is a wheel pilot or an under deck quadrant mounted one. If it is a below-deck model, is the ram hydraulic or mechanical? More information is generally useful than less... read the post in my signature to help you get more out of your time on Sailnet.

capnbillchx 04-06-2010 03:37 PM

similar problem?
Not completely sure what you mean by "can't turn" but if you mean that the system only responds to the buttons pushed for one direction and not the buttons for the other direction.......
I had a similar problem last year.

First we tested to see if it was a problem with the buttons (control head). You can "test" them by checking if they respond to commands in other modes - for example can they be used to reset parameters in the calibration and options modes or to control the lighting functions? If so, then it is unlikely they are only malfunctioning in the steering mode eg it is not the control head acting up.
You can test the drive moter next. Mine was a simple dc motor - turned one way or the other based on the polarity of the control signal voltage. Rig 12v test leads and (after removing the control cables) try to see if the motor works in both directions by applying current to the motor and then reversing the polarity.
If the motor works, check the voltage output at the control leads. Activate the buttons to initiate a turn and measure the voltage at the motor connections. The SeaTalk course computer modifies the voltage to control the speed of the motor. (I didn't even know I had a ST Course Computer! It was hidden completely in the port stern storage compartment way up out of sight. It took 2 hours of tearing apart everything on the boat to find it!)

In my situation, the buttons and the motor tested out fine but the voltage was too low to activate the drive motor - even worse in one direction than the other (2.5 volts). The technician performed a hard reset on the SeaTalk course computer and VOILA -- everything worked again. Of course all was restored to factory presets and had to be reprogramed and calibrated. Not sure what caused the original problem other than it is a computer -- what more is there to say? Good reason not to rely completely on electronics I guess.

MobjackB32 04-06-2010 04:00 PM

Is there a hard reset button somewhere on the sea talk computer? I don't know if mine has a Sea Talk computer but could very well have one.

Can you still buy parts for this system if needed? Looks like you can buy a new SmartPilort system for about $1250

Faster 04-06-2010 04:51 PM

I don't think the 4200 vintage uses a separate computer controller - everything is in the 'control head'. There probably is a master reset function somewhere, do you still have the manuals?

MobjackB32 04-06-2010 04:56 PM

No manual. I have the Service location manual but not the operating manual. Any idea where I could download one?


sailingdog 04-06-2010 05:02 PM

CaptainDan99 04-15-2010 11:58 AM


Did you mean an Autohelm 4000, not 4200? A little more info on the type is needed. Is it a ST version or the older non sea talk? Post a picture of the control head if you have one.


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