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post #1 of 21 Old 02-23-2014 Thread Starter
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Autopilot Install

Installing a SPX-5 autopilot in my Catalina 27. The big debate is where to put the control head. Two options:

1. Mount it on the steering pedestal. Requires an enclosure and attachment on the pedestal ($200+ dollars). Also look like routing the wire(s) will be difficult and the large connector will require drilling a large hole in the stainless pedestal.

2. Mount it next to the engine control panel on the port side. Requires one to reach over to engage/adjust. May get in the way of a popular seating spot. Have to cut a hole in the boat (ugh).


Any advice/thoughts?

Josh
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post #2 of 21 Old 02-24-2014
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Re: Autopilot Install

I just installed an old ST4000, I ended up putting the headunit on an access plate in the transom. Easy to reach and didn't involve putting any new holes in the boat. I can always move it later and all I have to do to make it all neat is pop a new cover in. I did the same thing with the RAM for the VHF. I don't like drilling holes.
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post #3 of 21 Old 02-24-2014
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Re: Autopilot Install

This sounds like a Spx5 wheel drive installation in which case you are going to need to run a cable to your pedestal anyway to power the drive unit from the control head. The convenience of having everything together and the fact that you need to run a cable anyway make this option far more attractive in my opinion and probably accounts for this being almost the only way it's done.
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post #4 of 21 Old 02-24-2014
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Re: Autopilot Install

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post #5 of 21 Old 02-24-2014
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Re: Autopilot Install

I really like PaulinVictoria's access plate installation.....that is brilliant!

On my boat I made a box out of some scrap teak and a small piece of lexan to mount the control head in and the chartplotter on. I cut the fittings off one end of the cables and ran all the wires through the pedestal tubes, then reconnected the fittings using a micro terminal block in the pedestal box.



Good luck whichever way you go!

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post #6 of 21 Old 02-24-2014
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Re: Autopilot Install

Bigdogandy's installation also reminded me that interfacing with a chart plotter mounted at the helm is much easier and a very nice option if you are doing any cruising.
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post #7 of 21 Old 02-24-2014 Thread Starter
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Re: Autopilot Install

Weine

How do the wires reach the control head housing? Are the threaded through the grab handle or through the steering column?

Thanks for the advice everyone. All very useful.

Josh
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post #8 of 21 Old 02-24-2014
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Re: Autopilot Install

I would go for ease of access and maximum visibility like at the pedestal. Leaning down to see and adjust the autopilot will be no fun.

What about the wireless remote as a nice accessory? Then you could even mount the control head on the bulkhead or over the companionway....
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post #9 of 21 Old 02-24-2014
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Re: Autopilot Install

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Originally Posted by engineer_sailor View Post
Weine

How do the wires reach the control head housing? Are the threaded through the grab handle or through the steering column?

Thanks for the advice everyone. All very useful.

Josh
Josh,

The wires run under the cockpit and up the chrome pedestal guard(grab handle?). You may find that you have to loosen the pedestal guard mounts to feed the wires. It's a bitch to work in the lazarette upside down, but it can be done. I also had my compass, knotmeter and depth gauge wires in there too which made it tight. A small hole drilled in back of the pedestal guard will let the wires exit the pedestal guard into the edson nav pod. Put a rubber grommet around the hole so that it won't chafe the wire.


The pod is mounted with an overpriced edson mount to match the overpriced nav pod. I used rigging tape on the pedestal guard where it is under the mount to keep it from slipping in the mount.

You definitely want to mount the AP near the wheel if you single hand a lot. It would be a real pain in the ass if you were sitting on the high side of a tack and needed to press a button on the AP while it was on the low side of the boat,. Also, when you are jibing, you will be forward of the wheel when you are bringing the boom to center. Then you can reach behind you, feel for the buttons, and have the AP turn to jibe the boat while you proceed to let out the mainsheet.

I have the computer unit located just forward of the engine access in the quarter berth and the compass on compression post in the head.

Last edited by weinie; 02-24-2014 at 10:20 AM.
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post #10 of 21 Old 02-24-2014
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Re: Autopilot Install

One more reason not to put the AP on the side...

The 27 is a light boat. As you move from one side of the boat to the other to tweak the AP's heading, you will affect the balance of the boat and hence you might have to RE-tweak the heading once you move back to the other side!
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