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Garmin autopilot review and request for help!

Discussion in 'Technical Discussion' started by praetorian47, Jun 18, 2017.

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  1. praetorian47

    praetorian47 Member

    Joined:
    Aug 22, 2011
    Messages:
    142
    Location:
    Bayport, Midland, Ontario
    over the winter I upgraded the garmin plotters to newer models. I got a great deal on a pair of 8212 units and it was much more economical that Furuno or ray marine where I would have to replace everything.

    I decided it would be nice to have a complete garmin setup and replaced the ray marine 8002 autopilot with the garmin reactor. I kept the ray marine pump.

    I've had to call garmin almost a dozen times with issues to get it to even do the auto tuning, but that finally worked. I've moved the compass 4 times to help improve performance, all for nought. It performs the same way in each case.

    I've played with adjusting the settings in the dealer mode as the auto tune setting are horrible.

    After a few hours yesterday, I've pretty much decided to pull it off the boat and put a ray marine evolution pilot on. It won't have the integration but at this point, just working would make me happy.

    Here's what I'm experiencing and have been unable to resolve: the pilot overreacts to roll , which causes a roll the other way, which it then reacts even worse to and the boat starts to roll worse and worse in dead flat seas. Disengage the pilot and it stops. I can see the pilot moving the rudder and causing the problem.
    I was able to dampen this behaviour to almost an acceptable level and thought I was winning.

    Next I tried having it turn the boat 30 degrees. It overshoots the target heading by another 30 degrees and just keeps swinging back and forth 6 or 8 times before getting on the line. At this point, the boat is rocking a bit and the first problem reappears!

    I've had autopilot problems in the past that took years to resolve. I'm not willing to wait years this time.

    I'm going to call garmin one more time but hold little hope. While they can be good support, I've received conflicting advice from each tech in the phone.

    I'm shocked that this new technology can't understand roll and can't learn how to hit a heading. I'm completely willing to believe it's a confit problem on my end but I'm at a total loss here and so is my installer.

    Lastly, I had to install the rudder feedback and the autopilot keeps alarming saying it's lost rudder feedback rate. Not sure what's broken there either. I did get the garmin rudder feedback adaptor so I could use the ray marine that was still installed and that helped with this error.

    So, as a last ditch effort to get this working, I'm posting here to see if anybody knows anything that may help. I'll call garmin tomorrow too, but will have a ray marine pilot by Friday if I can't get this working.

    I installed an evolution on my last boat and it's one time the reality actually lives up to the marketing. It installed in minutes. I had an older rm pilot and already had nmea 2k so I just plugged the sensor in and replaced the core pack and was done in 30 minutes.

    I just like the idea of being able to activate the pilot from the plotter and have it follow the auto routing. Now the auto routing isn't great where I am and even when I try to correct, it doesn't like it. Still it's a cool idea.
  2. d_meister

    d_meister Member

    Joined:
    Mar 4, 2010
    Messages:
    121
    Location:
    San Diego, CA.
    We'll have to know a few things before we can provide meaningful help.
    1 What kind of boat?
    2 What speeds are the hunting taking place at?
    3 How is the Ray pump interfaced; direct power for reversing motor or solenoid operation with a constant running pump?
    4 Is the rudder feedback installation truly parallel and is the feedback tiller long or short? Maybe a picture?
    At first blush, I wouldn't even think about using mismatched rudder feedback devices. Best performance will be with a matched factory part, although the pump will be less of an issue. If it says that it lost rudder feedback rate, it did.
    A quick look at the product overview and manual leads me to think that your problems are all due to CCU placement. Is the boat made of steel? Did you try placement with a hand held compass as the manual suggests? Are there motors or speakers in the area that aren't always on?
    Your description of "Roll" suggests the AP turns too dramatically for a small boat traveling fast. Although it can be seen from your description that you're actually referring to rudder action, the term "Roll" detracts from the situation as there is no roll sensor in the system.
    Finally, a 30 degree AP turn is a lot to ask an AP to do smoothly at high speed.
  3. praetorian47

    praetorian47 Member

    Joined:
    Aug 22, 2011
    Messages:
    142
    Location:
    Bayport, Midland, Ontario
    Thanks for the reply.

    It's an Ocean 55Ss. The hunting is anywhere over 15 knots and worse the faster you get.

    The pump is direct power.

    The rudder indicators are in parallel. On is on the port side, the other on the stbd.

    Garmin replaced the Ccu this week and the rudder indicator error is gone. The auto tune is improved. The ability to alter a heading is good now. The roll is still pretty bad.

    As the boat rolls, the ap thinks it's turning and tries hard to compensate, worsening the roll.
  4. Bill106

    Bill106 Senior Member

    Joined:
    Jan 9, 2010
    Messages:
    317
    Location:
    Beaufort NC
    The Reactor was designed for their Smart Pump and performs best with it but you should still be able to get acceptable performance with the Ray pump. The roll you describe sounds like the counter rudder settings are still way off. One way I've been able to help this is to do the auto tune at a high cruising speed, have you tried that? The acceleration limits may also be set too high and you can try gradually lowering them which results in a slower rate of rudder movement, that can also reduce roll. You don't want to lower the limit too much though or it will be too slow to react in rougher sea conditions.

    Another suggestion is to locate the heading sensor lower in the boat. Garmin now uses a 9-axis sensor that should detect the difference between roll and heading change but if it's mounted low it will perform better.
    Last edited: Jun 23, 2017
  5. Norseman

    Norseman Senior Member

    Joined:
    Feb 24, 2005
    Messages:
    1,760
    Location:
    Ft. Lauderdale
    Got a Garmin autopilot with the Smart pump.
    Very happy with it, flawless performance from 3 to 33 knots.
    Crossed the Gulfstream in lumpy weather and wave-induced rolls up to 30 degrees, the AP did the right thing all the time, but occasionally I disconnected just in case the AP should have a brain fart and turn the wrong way, which would have capsized us. (It never did)
    No complaints or problems with the Garmin AP.
    27' Glacier Bay Catamaran , twin Outboards.
    Last edited: Jun 25, 2017
  6. praetorian47

    praetorian47 Member

    Joined:
    Aug 22, 2011
    Messages:
    142
    Location:
    Bayport, Midland, Ontario
    Got things working, I think.
    Gsrmin suggested I run the seatrial a second time, at cruising speed. The seatrial will always populate low speed settings, so I manually changed them to the correct location after the 2 trials.

    That got me closer, but not all the way. Another hour of tweaking, and turning the economy mode on (and playing with that too) and the pilot responds how I expect.

    It was a bit rough out there during this, but I'm reasonably confident it's good now.

    I did find the rudder error appeared again, so I replaced the rudder indicator. Haven't seen the error yet.
  7. rcrapps

    rcrapps Senior Member

    Joined:
    Sep 8, 2004
    Messages:
    4,660
    Location:
    Jax FL
    Our electronic associate swears by the Garmin Smart Pump.
    I have witnessed a single engine trawler where a older (original) RayMarine and a new, not so smart Garmin could not drive a line on a dead calm day.
    I was sure it was to much live-a-board stuff forward (bow heavy & down) and no lil pilot was going to fix it.
    Then the Smart Pump was installed; FM, now she can draw a perfect line, near any conditions.
  8. praetorian47

    praetorian47 Member

    Joined:
    Aug 22, 2011
    Messages:
    142
    Location:
    Bayport, Midland, Ontario
    What would the Garmin pump be able to do that another, properly sized pump, could not? I don't want to just throw money away on something, but I'd be open if there was an actual performance benefit. The shadow drive doesn't warrant the cost to me - I'm used to hitting standby before the wheel will work, and even with Shadow Drive, I'd probably still do it that way out of habit.

    While this pilot seems to be working, my confidence in it is shaken. I'm still debating changing it out to a RM Evolution pilot. I installed one on my last boat, and it really lived up to all the claims - super easy install (did it with my 15 year old daughter). No spinning or seatrial needed and it worked. I admit the first turn it did was a bit harsh, but the second was better and the third was perfect.

    I'm going out this weekend for a decent trip. The weather isn't going to be flat, not horrible, but about what I expect to use it in most often. If it performs, I'll keep it and save the money on the RM. If anything goes wrong, it's gone.

    As a technical person, and user of both these products, the RM software appears much more advanced and customizable. Most AP's I've installed default to a power-saving or less strict course keeping mode, Garmin does not. That's a mistake in my opinion because over correcting is more disturbing than a bit of wandering. I never minded increasing course keeping settings, but the Garmin's overreactions had me thinking all kinds of things (bad compass, hardware, placement, poor product). Even now, I'm not really confident with the "economy" mode settings that I'm in to make it work. It's at 30%, which seems low to make it work, so in the back of my head I wonder if it's "too low." I'd prefer a setting that allowed me to set how tight a course I could set. I'd also love a setting to limit the max roll it would allow in a turn (like my OLD Simrad AP28).
    While I'm complaining, I really miss the Simrad "no drift" mode. It basically plots a fictional waypoint and holds the line as long as you have GPS input. Great feature for where I am and it's pure software. Nobody else has it. On my last boat, I relied on the RM "power steer" function to turn my rudders hard and then center them at the push of a button. I needed that in the marina and it was way easier than the wheel. I'm not sure Garmin has that function, but they have something that may be similar. I'll play with it after this weekend, if I'm keeping the unit.

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