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Autopilot Advice

Discussion in 'Electronics' started by Berean, Nov 20, 2013.

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  1. Berean

    Berean Senior Member

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    Sarasota FL
    Good Morning,

    I have a 42 Grand Banks Classic, mechanical steering, 42,000 lbs laden.

    This season finds us busy with many upgrades for the Miss Ginger. Our kids are now in college, out of the house, we are empty nesters. With them went our "autopilot" as we have never had any such device except for helm tethered children . They required very little care. Give them a heading, an occasional sandwhich and soda and you're good to go! But, alas, they now journey to waypoints afar.

    Of course, we have mechanical steering. My priorities for an autopilot are affordability (remember TUITION), simplicity and reliability. Assume I know next to nothing about autopilots.

    Although a GPS compatible device would be nice it is not a priority. We currently have a Garmin 3210 (which is NMEA 0183 I believe.).

    I have also heard conflicting info regarding autopilots for mechanical steering. Some say it must be rotary sprocket type while others contend linear drives can work as well. As far as I can tell, either would work. I think I would prefer the linear drive as it could stand in if steering otherwise failed. Also, there is limited space within the console of my lower helm that would render sprocket instillation difficult.

    I am going bonkers trying to find a unit online. Probably a function of my unfamiliarity with non-human autopilots. It is difficult to determine what is included when looking at certain packages. I don't want to order something thinking it has everything only to learn I need to buy this or that.

    For instance, With the linear drives, do they all require a pump? Do I need a Type I, II, or III drive? And on and on...

    Thanks in advance for your assistance!

    John

    Thanks!
  2. ranger42c

    ranger42c Senior member

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    The first easiest step might be to call your local Garmin (or other brand, if you like) installer guru, and ask him what units (if any) are compatible with your current GPS and your boat. It might turn out to be very easily solved...

    Often, their equipment prices are competitive enough with on-line sources to make the additional knowledge and advice well worth your investment. And if it turns out they quote a decent installation cost, you may also find you don't hurt so much (physically) afterwards, from the bending/contorting/etc. that may be necessary to snake the wiring through and make connections...

    -Chris
  3. Capt Ralph

    Capt Ralph Senior Member

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    Hi Berean

    Time for a lot of leg work on your part (fun part). Walk the docks. Talk to folks with a similar ship (GB, Albin, Trader, DF). Word of mouth on something like this is very powerful. On the docks (if invited on-board) you can see how some components are installed and get an idea of ergonomics.
    Maybe keep in mind features more than mfg's.

    In talking to these folks, you automatically understand what sales/tech shop to avoid and goto.

    Folks here on the thread will offer lots of ideas also so don't walk far on a short dock.


    I have used a few pilots in my boats. I still love my Simrad AP25 over them all.
    The Garmin equipment base is growing quickly around here and I have observed myself, it is very good stuff. I will seriously consider Garmin when shopping for gear in the future.
    ,rc
  4. sunchaserv

    sunchaserv Member

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    Also , try the GB owners' site, it should be a good source of information on this subject.
  5. Berean

    Berean Senior Member

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    Interesting when I look for local Garmin reps they are either West Marine, Target or RadioShack! Although West Marine might be a quasi-appropriate choice I don't really see getting the best service or advise. I have also reached out to Raymarine, Si-Tex and Simrad...we'll see what they have to say. I did contact a few local marine electronics places (google) but ive received no call backs yet. Well, I suppose that's good because business must be booming then...

    Thanks
  6. Berean

    Berean Senior Member

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    Yes I agree and I have spoken with other folks. I did get a recommendation for an individual marine electronics guy who will come by and give my situation a look over. Otherwise, everybody has equipment that is no longer "new", or at least new enough to be found in the major Chandlaries.

    I like Garmin too. Not much luck from their website...they refer me to a local West Marine (and Target and Radio Shack). I will call their rep. (1-800 number)
  7. Berean

    Berean Senior Member

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    I'm on it, thanks
  8. RER

    RER Senior Member

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    In terms of units in service Simrad is the industry leader in mid size pleasure boat autopilots. In budget minded applications I do see a fair amount of the ComNav brand.
  9. Capt Ralph

    Capt Ralph Senior Member

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    I have looked at the ComNav stuff and thought it was pretty good stuff. The locals around here have nothing good (& lower) to say about ComNav equipment. Although some of the complaints seemed to be poor self installations, there have been a few warranty/support and I/O complaints. Just choose wisely to fit the boat and task. As anything electrical/electronic/machinal/hydraulic/linear/gear-driven/ yada yada, quality and ease of use to your needs to fit your ship may not fit the purse as wished (bargains usually don't work as advertised).
    Yes, west marine can sell you about anything. Your local store may point you to some kid to install it. This is where you may have to find a local dealer with sales AND service.

    Are you prepared to install your own equipment?
  10. Berean

    Berean Senior Member

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    No.
    I have never installed an autopilot. I am all about trying new things and learning but I understand that this particular appliance needs to be done correctly. From what I have read so far improper installation is a leading reason for autopilot failure; perhaps second only to installing the completely wrong type of autopilot for a given boat.

    So I'm willing to hire someone who actually knows what he is doing.
  11. Capt Ralph

    Capt Ralph Senior Member

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    So, Lets find you a few good shops to tap on around Sarasota FL.
  12. Berean

    Berean Senior Member

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    Yeah, and if you get any info in this regard I'd be grateful. Hopefully I'll get some call backs today....
  13. PacBlue

    PacBlue Senior Member

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    Visit their corporate sight and ask to talk to the marine people, cut out the middle man and deal (at least technically) with the source.....

    Garmin | United States | Home
  14. ranger42c

    ranger42c Senior member

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    Ah. I actually meant marine electronics installation specialists; must be some in your area. Not retails stores.

    Most (or at least many) handle all major brands of hardware... and will be familiar with connections, networking, etc.

    -Chris
  15. Capt J

    Capt J Senior Member

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    There is about 10% markup on electronics total. What's the purpose of cutting out the middle man, who will generally give you free advice as well as help with facilitating warranty work and so forth. As for a Garmin autopilot, I run about 150 different boats a year, for over a decade. To the best of my memory I have never even seen a Garmin autopilot on a boat, even on boats that had everything else Garmin. Simrad is by far the leader in autopilots. Furuno makes a good one as well.

    I haven't gotten involved in this discussion because although I am familiar with Grand Banks and their bicycle chain and sprocket steering system (which was a good design), and I am familiar with Autopilots, but not familiar with installing on on Grand Banks mechanical steering system.
  16. PacBlue

    PacBlue Senior Member

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    The "middle man" context was not intended to be related to sales, I was informing the OP to get factory technical advice for his installation, I am assuming that Garmin only sells through their established distribution channels, but as his experience with the major marine big box retailers shows, you do not necessarily get the best advice from theses stores.

    I know Garmin has their own Marine Group and they can best inform the OP or direct him to the nearest qualified distributor who can handle his project.
  17. Colin johnson

    Colin johnson New Member

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    Hi,
    I have a GB 42 classic as well an I am just wondering what the out come of this was? I just installed all new Raymarine equipment(2 C95 chart plotters, new colour Radar and wind speed and direction) my Aout pilot never worked and with 2 young children, I feel a working auto pilot would be essential.