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LMSCPAC 06-09-2010 06:16 PM

6-2010 Raymarine Or Simrad Autopilot ?
Looking for feedback on Simrad versus Raymarine autopilots. We own a 42 foot Valiant sailboat @ 26,500 lbs. Alpha 3000 autopilot came with boat, but doesn't talk to chartplotter. I have new Simrad equipment ready to install, which includes an AP24 control head, RC42 Compass, RF300 Rudder Feedback, and AC42 autopilot unit still pending (either DD15 or HLD2000L ?)......... I've been told that the new Raymarine autopilot is just as good (SmartPilot X-30 Corepack, ST70+ control head, Type 2 Linear Drive - Long, ST70 Sail Keypad). Equipment will be interfacing with new Raymarine E120W series chartplotter.
I've been told that the Raymarine autopilot "hunts" for the course when initially engaged; but the Simrad locks right on. I've also heard horror stories as to dependability issues with Raymarine & service issues with both.

Any feedback on which system is better, and why?

arisatx 06-10-2010 02:03 PM


We're spec'ing a Simrad based AP for our V42 as well.

Simrad AC42 Computer (N2K)
Simrad AP28 / AP24 Control Heads (N2K)
Simrad HLD2000 Mk2L
Simrad RF25 RFU (this one is N2K)
Airmar H2183 Heading sensor (see YouTube here)
Maretron GPS200

The Simrad / Robertson drive unit seems to have a very good reputation, even identified by Evans and Beth on their list of top rated equipment you can find here.

We did not consider Raymarine at the time, so can't help you there. If you already have most of the Simrad equipment, why not complete the rest?

LMSCPAC 06-10-2010 02:34 PM

Thanks for the feedback fellow V42 owner/sailor. Interesting that you are using an RF25 RFU...I can't find that RFU anywhere on Simrad's website.... I am wondering why our "installer" didn't mention the Airmar H2183 Heading Sensor as part of our system.... the Maretron GPS 200 is a 32 channel GPS, versus the Raystar 125 being a 12 channel GPS...... I would have to surmise that the Maretron is considerably more accurate...... does the Maretron connect via NMEA 1083 or SeaTalk, or just NMEA 2000 ? Finally, I see that the HLD drives are all hydraulic drives.... not sure why our installer is leaning towards the Raymarine Type 2 electric Linear Drive .....

Do you anticipate any issues interfacing with your chartplotter?

Where do you sail out of ?

talbot 06-10-2010 04:23 PM

I can chime in on a few of your general questions:
  • The Simrad pilots are known to be more reliable and robust.
  • Raymarine are going through an ownership switch so parts and service may be spotty until they get acclimated in there new digs.
  • Raymarine have very strong dealer loyalty, particularly with dealers who work on sailboats. Plus they are simple to spec and install. Hence the disproportionate number of dealer endorsements over Simrad.
  • A mechanical drive is a little more efficient, and has less resistance when disengaged and being backdriven by the wheel. It also has lots of moving parts. Where as a hydraulic linear drive takes a little more power, is more reliable, and last; much better suited to a high torque installation (I think you Valiant qualifies in this department) that will really wear down a mechanical drive.
  • Raymarine steering algorithms are excellent and makes them very efficient (less corrections). But I think they also use cheaper sensors (gps/compass) to save cost. I would not consider the Simrad to be too far off of that as long as the drive lock to lock time is considered in terms of which drive to put on and on how long a tiller arm. Your installer would understand the requirements best. But a quick call and chat with a factory autopilot expert never hurts when making the final's good free advice.
  • The Maretron GPS, as well as many other brands are good. Remember a better GPS requires less dampening and is therefore more responsive to course and speed adjustments. They are all pretty accurate. Maretron does not speak Seatalk.
  • It's hard to find parts on the Simrad site. Since there merger with Navico many part numbers have been changed and duplicate parts discontinued. Again call them directly and if you don't mind waiting you will come out of it with good info.
  • Connection to your Raymarine plotter can be via SeaTalk, NMEA2000, or NMEA0183. The interface works fine with any one of these and just depends on the pilot chosen.
Hope this is helpful.

arisatx 06-10-2010 08:28 PM


As Talbot mentions, Simrad AP's have a reputation for reliability and robustness. I am going N2K for the boat, hence my preference for the RF25.
The Maretron GPS is 5Hz and is updated for the latest magnetic variation per the Panbo entry here.
Also some good dialogue on H2183 by Dan Corcoran on Panbo here.
I don't anticipate problems interfacing with my Furuno NN3D MFD8, but as they say "in theory". We are currently on Lake Michigan but have not decided where to commission our V42.

LMSCPAC 06-11-2010 01:11 PM

Simrad AP
Thank you Talbot. I had a real nice telephone conversation with Simrad tech support this morning -- turns out, I grew up in Nashua, NH where the Simrad USA listed supoort/dealer is based -- small, small world. The Simrad AP can interface via NMEA0183 directly to Raymarine E120W series chartplotter, using an AT10 interface cable -- however, since both are also NMEA2000 compliant, would have to use a SimNet to Micro C cable for Simrad AP to talk to Raymarine E120W via NMEA2000..... not a big deal in the overall scheme of things.

If I go with the Maretron GPS200 unit, would that simply go in place of the Raystar 125 GPS unit ?

The Airmar H2183 seems like a wonderful upgrade -- I'm just not clear as to how it integrates with the Raymarine E120W....and does it take the place of anything ?

arisatx 06-11-2010 02:00 PM

I believe the H2183 would replace the Simrad RC42.

svHyLyte 06-11-2010 03:51 PM

We have an older Simrad/Robertson AP-11 with the hydraulic drive on our boat. (The current version would be the AP-24). Our unit has proven to be extremely reliable and function under even extreme conditions of wind and seas. Several of our friends have Raymarine units and have remarked on the difficulties they've had and frustrations with Raymarine Customer service, or the absence of. I would suggest the Simrad.


talbot 06-11-2010 03:55 PM

Yes, simply replace the 125 with the GPS200.

Ted answered your question on the H2183. It's very well rated and actually the same unit Garmin private label and sell for more money. Anything Airmar (Maretron too) makes is usually very good. This unit has NMEA2000 & 0183 so pretty flexible in terms of what it can hook into. Having a compass added to your GPS will allow you to use radar overlay and I think also keep the boat pointing in the right direction on the plotter when it can't derived direction from the GPS COG feed. Most overlay software require 10hz output from the compass, which this has.

Kind of see that you are thinking NMEA2000 on all your interfacing. That is a good investment. Once the backbone is in place you just keep adding components and it all sorts it self theory.


Careka 06-18-2010 03:27 PM

Hay Talbot,
what will be your set up. i am getting a new boat,
tell me, i need it all. and i want the best.

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