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  #1  
Old 02-14-2008
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New RayMarine SPX Autopilots

Our mid-90s vintage Raymarine autopilot (wheelpilot) has been on the fritz. While inquiring with Raymarine tech support about service and/or replacement, the technician mentioned that a new line of autopilots is being released this spring, called the Smart Pilot X-Series ("SPX"). Apparently, they are on display at the Miami Boat Show beginning today (anyone see them?)

Our ST4000 series wheelpilot does not have a rudder position sensor. The S1 series that replaced the ST4000 has a rudder position sensor, which improved the performance of the earlier generation like ours. Now they are eliminating the rudder sensor completely, and incorporating the "G" feature ("G" for "rate gyro sensor") into all the new autopilots, including the tiller and wheel pilots.

I mention this because there has been a fair amount of discussion concerning autopilots in general, and about RayMarine Wheelpilots specifically, in recent months. I have no connection to RM, I'm just potentially in the market for a replacement and thought I'd share this info.

A press release can be found at the link below, but I have also excerpted relevant portions:

Quote:
Each SmartPilot X-Series course computer is equipped with a built in rate gyro sensor, which enables SmartPilot Advanced Steering Technology (AST™) software to intelligently monitor vessel yaw and anticipate course changes. SmartPilot AST software then produces razor sharp course keeping without overshoot or instability. The SmartPilot X Series course computers offer additional capabilities that make it Raymarine’s smartest autopilot to date...

The SmartPilot X Series Autopilots come in a range of sizes and configurations to fit every type of boat - from fishing boats to world class racing yachts, as well as sub-30-foot lightweight sports boats and tiller-steered craft:

· The SmartPilot X-5 Tiller and the high-performance SmartPilot X-5 Tiller GP feature a remotely mounted course computer, fluxgate compass and Raymarine ST6002 control head. The GP Tiller drive is used by the world’s top single handed race skippers.
· The SmartPilot X-5 Wheel Pilot is the successor to the popular ST4000 and S1 Wheel drive systems and features an advanced wheel mounted cockpit autopilot system for sailing vessels....
http://www.raymarine.com/Article.asp...10531#CBM10531

Last edited by JohnRPollard; 02-14-2008 at 02:05 PM.
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Old 02-14-2008
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Thanks John for the info.

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Old 02-14-2008
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Also,

There is a PDF brochure for the new series. At pages 4 and 5 of the brochure you can read about the new Tiller and WheelPilots, respectively:

http://www.raymarine.com/submittedfi...s_brochure.pdf
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What in the heck is going on with this company? The S-1 tillerpilot and S-1 wheelpilot are less than ONE year out on the market! Now they've got a better idea?

The rate "gyro" or accelerometer is a good idea. BF and I saw an outfit offering one, which they were erroneously calling a gyro-pilot, at StrictlySail-Chicago. Neither are gyro compasses.

I'd take the "learning" or "adaptability" capabilities with a large grain of salt. I've been listening to such claims for almost 20 years, on units of much larger size and capability, designed for ships, and inevitably the manually entered settings for rudder rate and gain have proven far and awy superior to the "automatic" or adaptive mode. Most, in that mode, end up over-steering significantly or, in a blow, get blown right off course before they can "adapt". Even in conditions where the sea conditions become progressively worse, the adaptability aspect was questionable. And normal usage does not usually allow for that build up of data anyway. You normally change course and then put her on the "iron mike". Each time the adaptive system has to reconfigure.
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What in the heck is going on with this company? The S-1 tillerpilot and S-1 wheelpilot are less than ONE year out on the market! Now they've got a better idea?


Sailaway, how does this not surprise?
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Rick,
This is the kind of S*** that just flat out pisses me off! I mean, I'm about spittin' mad! I WAITED to buy the S1 tillerpilot last year. It was supposed to be available in January but wasn't until March, IIRC. If I'd been at a car dealership and been interested in the largest motor available, and bought the 5.0 liter, only to find out that they were coming out with a 7.0 liter the following year, and the salesman knew it-I'd have gone it and punched him in the nose!

Unless I hear something really good, really soon, that's the last Raymarine product I buy. Period.
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sailaway21 View Post
Unless I hear something really good, really soon, that's the last Raymarine product I buy. Period.
Gents, this post was intended to inform, not irritate!! Sorry about that.

All I can offer by way of hope, Sailaway, is that the RM tech rep hinted to the effect some older systems could be upgraded to the newer X-5 corepacks, at a reasonable charge. He said this would be easier to fanagle after the new X-5 had been available for half a year or so, when they would begin getting some returns that they could "re-manufacture" and exchange for older units at a modest price.

Quote:
Originally Posted by sailaway21 View Post
I'd take the "learning" or "adaptability" capabilities with a large grain of salt. I've been listening to such claims for almost 20 years, on units of much larger size and capability, designed for ships, and inevitably the manually entered settings for rudder rate and gain have proven far and awy superior to the "automatic" or adaptive mode. Most, in that mode, end up over-steering significantly or, in a blow, get blown right off course before they can "adapt". Even in conditions where the sea conditions become progressively worse, the adaptability aspect was questionable. And normal usage does not usually allow for that build up of data anyway. You normally change course and then put her on the "iron mike". Each time the adaptive system has to reconfigure.

That is likely because their algorithms are somewhat unsophisticated -- probably no exponential least forgetting, etc.


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And people ask why I want to buy 10-year-old ComNav and W-H autopilot designs.

I would rather have something that wandered five degrees with a track record on fishing boats in the ocean than the latest piece of yacht bling on the market.

Raymarine makes some good stuff, but they are way too interested in being the Microsoft of the recreational marine electronics world, and consequently seem to treat their customers with the same lack of respect. For the record, I have an eight year old Raymarine plotter (no map cartridges for it, just a super GPS, really) and it works fine...but it came with the boat.
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I'm not attempting to shoot the messenger, John. But, I'm sure that if my daughter came through the door to "inform" me that she was pregnant she wouldn't expect me to be thrilled by the notion that my "cost" at adapting to the idea would be managable to me.

"some older systems" I've still got the freakin' box it came in!!!

Oh well. Keep us posted on anything further. My above comments on Raymarine stand, absent any further exculpatory evidence.
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Unfortunately, marine electronics are much like computers in that they're surpassed by newer models rather quickly. It is much the same as buying a new computer... you can wait... or you can bite the bullet and buy a machine and start using it. Is the amount of time you've used the autopilot before the next new version comes out worth not having waited for the new features that the new version has... that is a very subjective call.
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