Wheel Pilot Control Head - Where to place? - SailNet Community

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Old 05-03-2013
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Wheel Pilot Control Head - Where to place?

I'm trying to decide where to install the control head for my wheel pilot; it's a Raymarine X-5 with p60 control head. Which is better to install the control unit at the helm located Navpod or install the control at the doghouse bulkhead so it can be adjusted while away from the helm? My cockpit is long and there is a track divider between the helm station and the main cockpit. Seems like it would be easier to tell the AP to tack while in the main cockpit and tending sheets than going to the helm first; but what about engaging/disengaging the AP?
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Old 05-03-2013
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Re: Wheel Pilot Control Head - Where to place?

Definitely would mount it near the helm. They do sell a remote control unit and I believe there is support for control from a phone or tablet if you have a newer Ray MFD. But for the main control unit it would be a pain to engage/disengage if it wasn't in reach of the helm. I find autopilots have an uncanny ability to steer you right into nav aids, crab pots, etc. and it's usually easier to disengage, steer around them manually, and then go back on coruse. Also I've never had any luck using the AP to steer a tack. Easier to disengage and hand steer through the tack. They just don't seem to "know" the nuances of slowly coming up to the wind, punching through the eye of the wind, and then slowly bearing off.
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Old 05-03-2013
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Re: Wheel Pilot Control Head - Where to place?

I agree with everything 4arch has said. Most of the settings you will engage in will be at the helm. In addition with the X-5 ( I have one) you will need to be at the wheel to lock the lever in place to engage the autopilot.

Another option I have seen is on the combing, but that usually in the spot close to the helmsman.

If you want to control from the cockpit/ foredeck get the remote.
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Old 05-03-2013
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Re: Wheel Pilot Control Head - Where to place?

My control head is on the bulkhead. Whichever you decide you will find times when you wish it were in the other place. I find that aside from engage/disengage time, all adjustments are made away from the helm. so for me it makes sense to have it on the bulkhead.

A remote is not an option for me, but that would certainly be the best of both worlds.
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Old 05-03-2013
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Re: Wheel Pilot Control Head - Where to place?

For switching to and from 'Auto' you're usually at the helm... for course changes you could be anywhere. So it's kinda 50/50. We have an old ST4000 wired seatalk remote (probably cheap on Ebay) that works fine with the ST6000 WP control head. This combo gives us the best of both worlds.

Flying the spinnaker with the remote on the bridgedeck (our control head is at the helm pod) I manage the pole while my wife punches in a 20 degree course change and manages the main for gybes.
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Old 05-03-2013
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Re: Wheel Pilot Control Head - Where to place?

My experience is that after I punch up a auto tack I still have time to get to a winch and handle the sails.

Put it where you'll be sitting.

Having said that - my new set up lets me do a wifi connection via my android phone, so I can control it anywhere on the boat (nothing like turning the boat while in the head, gets crew attention pretty fast).
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Old 05-03-2013
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Re: Wheel Pilot Control Head - Where to place?

Thanks for the replies everyone! It sounds like my best option is going to be to put the controller at the helm station; and maybe upgrade later to a remote. Am I correct in the assumption that you spend some time adjusting the AP when you first engage the drive? Chuck your setup with 'app for that' sounds sweet!! I assume you are using an E-series plotter with an NG adapter to connect to wi-fi? If it's as simple as connecting a wi-fi router to the NG cable I'd like to know for future upgrade (but I don't have an NG display)
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Old 05-03-2013
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Wheel Pilot Control Head - Where to place?

I'll advocate for putting it on the bulkhead, under the dodger. It sure is nice to steer from a sheltered position on the nasty days.
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Re: Wheel Pilot Control Head - Where to place?

Dodger? Now I need one of those too?

Actually, I sailed a sistership of mine and it had a dodger but the dodger only provided wind protection if you were the first person in the cockpit next to the bulkhead; and the helm station got no protection and a very obstructed view since the top of the dodger was right at eye level; and the windows were covered in spray. I can see it being useful for long distance sailing especially if you have a cockpit canopy to avoid long sun/wind exposure; and as you said for singlehanding when it's foul weather.
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Re: Wheel Pilot Control Head - Where to place?

Quote:
Originally Posted by KeelHaulin View Post
Am I correct in the assumption that you spend some time adjusting the AP when you first engage the drive?
I don't find that I do. Here's what I do:
  • Get the boat on course.
  • Engage the drive at the helm.
  • Walk over to the control head, and hit "Auto" to activate the AP.
  • Get a cup of coffee

After that I do all of the tweaking underway from the cockpit.

If left to my own devices I would have mounted the control head at the helm. But my boat came with it mounted on the bulkhead. It seemed odd to me at first, but now I wouldn't have it any other way.
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