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  #1  
Old 03-26-2008
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Member reviews: Raymarine's X series Autopilots

I have been very pleased with Simrad products for autopilots. However, since I am looking into 38 footers (and placed an offer on one), I am considering going all Raymarine since all the hardware I purchased for the C-27 will be going onboard. The S1 system has had from I can tell - a mixed bag of reviews. But there is the new X-series out. I am wondering if anyone has installed and used the X-5 Wheel Autopilot as of yet?
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Old 03-26-2008
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Consider ComNav, W-H and B&G also. Raymarine quality can be "variable", or so I hear, and there is some question in my mind if it's really up to more than light-duty piloting.

I also don't like that they seem to obsolete their own gear on a regular basis.
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Old 03-26-2008
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Originally Posted by Valiente View Post
Consider ComNav, W-H and B&G also. Raymarine quality can be "variable", or so I hear, and there is some question in my mind if it's really up to more than light-duty piloting.

I also don't like that they seem to obsolete their own gear on a regular basis.
Yeah that kinda thing worries me as I have been researching other peoples issues on the forums. Seems there is no follow-on support once they roll out a model and then introduce another...Hence why I want to stay away from the S1 series as I forecast they obsolete it in another 8-14 months...

My only experience has been with Simrad (very positive) and even with the model I have(WP-30) being discontinued they have parts and provide free technical support (voice at least and they are local here in Seattle (I dated a girl that worked there at one time (I got a hat at least - swag at breakup - endearing) ...

I'll do some research on the brands you listed as well as I was unaware they make autopilots... My hope is to consolidate and not have a bunch of mismatched gear for the sake of saving a buck...but common sense always prevails in the end.. thanks for the input !...
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Old 03-27-2008
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That's what NMEA-0183 (and latterly, NMEA-2000) is supposed to cover: these devices can talk to each other.

Although why an autopilot needs to "talk" to more than a fluxgate compass is beyond me, as I believe linking a pilot to a chartplotter and a bunch of GPS waypoints is risky business indeed (see my post in the "Obsolete Sextant" thread.

GPS can be disrupted, and while I suppose you could sail over a giant dump of lodestone, generally, magnetic forces of the Earth are relatively stable and predictable. That may change, but I doubt you and I will be sailing still!
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Old 03-27-2008
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Well sadly one can never interface a sextant into a autopilot either (although wouldn't that be nifty the first ever interface able NMEA 2000 Sextant....)

The problem with all three NMEA standards is that they are standards but implemented slightly differently. While the communication protocol is the same its the hardwiring that is either in the end a DIY hodge-podge of connectors splices and what nots or the $$$ of buying tons of interconnecting cables so you can plug and play.... The industry is getting around to it but not quite so uniformly yet (reminds me of Web Standards and how you can have a SOAP protocol - to implement them on Java and .Net requires significant amount of work to in coding to make it actually work)....

Thanks again
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Old 03-27-2008
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Well sadly one can never interface a sextant into a autopilot either (although wouldn't that be nifty the first ever interface able NMEA 2000 Sextant....)
Jody, there's no technical reason why it can't be done: A little bolt-on electronics module to read the index setting when you press a button, some smarts to look up the tables for the date/time at your location and do the calcs and then bluetooth the position back to your laptop...

There is a small problem though - no-one would buy it!
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Jody, there's no technical reason why it can't be done: A little bolt-on electronics module to read the index setting when you press a button, some smarts to look up the tables for the date/time at your location and do the calcs and then bluetooth the position back to your laptop...

There is a small problem though - no-one would buy it!
That's the funniest thing I have read in awhile! Thanks!
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That's the funniest thing I have read in awhile! Thanks!
You're quite welcome.
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Old 03-27-2008
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Valiente View Post
That's what NMEA-0183 (and latterly, NMEA-2000) is supposed to cover: these devices can talk to each other.

Although why an autopilot needs to "talk" to more than a fluxgate compass is beyond me, as I believe linking a pilot to a chartplotter and a bunch of GPS waypoints is risky business indeed (see my post in the "Obsolete Sextant" thread.
Actually, there is a good reason to do that aside from waypoints. My Raymarine S1G will use both heading and speed information from GPS to control the boat. Headings from GPS take precedence over those from the compass, when available - which may or may not be good I suppose, but certainly was always good in my case (fluxgate can fluctuate quite a bit in rought conditions and it's readings need a lot of dampening, GPS is a lot more stable).
Speed is very important, because when autopilot knows what speed the boat has, it can react differently to various conditions based on that (though on sailboats speed range is fairly narrow).

In addition, connecting autopilot to GPS makes it easier to set GPS's own fluxgate compass - just stay on a course, and press "sync" button. There are a few more good uses where autopilot - GPS linkage comes in handy.

Incidentally, I am quite pleased with S1G autopilot so far, which I can't say about the Garmin chartplotter, that died for no reason less than 6 months from purchase (and only after a few weeks of use).
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Old 03-28-2008
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I'm not condemning the interfacing of GPS with autopilot, but I can see it leading to sloppy habits and an overreliance on one technology that I've seen with my own eyes being "skittish". Consider that a fluxgate compass might provide a "yawing" reading, telling the pilot to steer in broad S tracks, but if the GPS hiccups and adds half a degree to latitude right at the point you are feeding info to the pilot, your boat could take a hard turn to left or right with all sails up.

I have seen GPSes do this if they lose their satellite lock or if there's some sort of solar flare or "test outage". By contrast, a fluxgate might swing 20 degrees, but hardly ever 90.

Now, one answer might be this device:

ComNav Vector G2 GPS Satellite Compass w/NMEA - 11210001 - Compasses - Electronics - NavStore - Your Pro Marine Source - Detail

but for that price I could buy a tiller and a lifetime supply of shock cord.

Of course, the belt and suspenders route is to use a wind vane when sailing, and to save the autopilot for motoring or motor sailing.
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