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Old 08-22-2013, 09:15 AM
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Default Best AutoPilot

Looking for an AP, Simrad, Raymarine, Garmin.. Which product is going to offer the best sea keeping ability to handle running in wind & waves? I've been hunting for some good reviews / reports but not coming up with much.
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Old 08-22-2013, 09:46 AM
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Not sure about what best means in your type of boating but I like Simrad and it is a AP24. They have a lot of capabilities that I like and serve my needs plus some. My bud gas a Garmin 20 that works well but it doesn't have some of the bells and whistles.

Check out the web sites for what each could do for you.
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Old 08-22-2013, 09:57 AM
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Boat is a 33' express with inboards. I'm mostly looking to use it on 75nm + runs to and from the canyons. I guess which company would have the best algorithms, sensors etc to equate for wind and waves that would be pushing the boat off course.
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Old 08-22-2013, 10:01 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Madhavok View Post
Boat is a 33' express with inboards. I'm mostly looking to use it on 75nm + runs to and from the canyons. I guess which company would have the best algorithms, sensors etc to equate for wind and waves that would be pushing the boat off course.
I had very good luck with Furuno AP units. Really liked them. Currently I have a AP28 and the only reason I switched was because I am not in an outboard boat and Furuno doesn't or didn't offer a virtual rudder feedback. I had all kinds of problems with the AP28 the first 2-3 years but after the last fix, it seems to be OK. Never had a problem with the Furuno units.

Highly recommend getting one with a knob instead of having to hit buttons to turn.
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Old 08-22-2013, 10:08 AM
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My Simrad AP2403VRF works great in my 100 mile runs and my 10 mile runs. Plug in a waypoint or a course and watch it go.

It also has a few trolling patterns and will follow a depth contour. For <2100 bucks for the whole kit, plus hoses and whatever you need for it to communicate with your existing electronics (mine is Furuno navnet1 nmea0183). The Navnet/Simnet data cable was 90 bucks and three hydraulic hoses I had made were 35. Hardware installation was pretty easy, I did it myself and had the wiring checked and AP set up and calibrated by my electronics guy. Cost about 4 hours total time including the on the water part.

It's the best thing ever that I have put on the boat.
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Old 08-22-2013, 10:18 AM
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Most of the big names are making good stuff these days. If it were my decision, I would go with the manufacturer that is the same as other equipment I am using specifically chart plotter and gps. this would make integration and networking seamless and hopefully avoid potential issues with everything communicating correctly. For example, I have an older TR-1 auto pilot that I am interfacing with my new Simrad NSE systems. While it does a great job staying on a preset course, it has communications issues back and forth from time to time and will lose a route or course. Having done everything possible to troubleshoot, I thinks its just because the data between the two is on a 0183 data stream rather than being able to plug directly into the Simnet then being translated back to the new network or language. While it is "supposed" to work and does for the most part, it does have some quirks. I didn't have this issue with the old chart plotter/GPS. Once it give out, it will be replaced with Simrad.

Just food for thought.
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Old 08-22-2013, 10:19 AM
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Depends on what kind of boat you have and how you use it. I currently have Garmin on a CC and Simrad on a Cnv. I had Furuno on a sailboat.

If you have a fast CC with a Garmin plotter, the Garmin is not a bad way to go. Works pretty well in this application. It's drawbacks are no rate gyro, goofy/expensive pump, and having to manually tune sea state. I am getting about 300 hours between failures.

If you have a downeast, inboard express, convertible, or CC with Furuno or Simrad gear you will be happier with either Furuno or Simrad. They have full RFB and rate gyro which just gives better steering performance. Furuno has a bulletproof motor drive rated to 50A (it also was the only piece of electronic gear on the boat to survive a lightning strike). My Simrad is 10 years old with no failures. Their only drawback is price, but IMO the difference is worth it.

I do not have any recent experience with Raymarine because my previous experience was bad enough for me to shun them for life, FLIR owned or not. They have a rate gyro unit and I suppose if you have the rest of their stuff you might be inclined to use them.

Sitex: No idea at all other than cheap and cheap looking.
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Old 08-22-2013, 10:46 AM
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I'm very happy with Simrad AP24. Excellent performance from slow trolling in 1.3 knot to 40 knots which the top speed of my boat.

I use the fishing patterns a lot, the contour tracking is also nice.

A Simrad pilot will work on any boat without risk of having to replace the pump to get correct rudder speed.

There is probably a reason why Simrad (Robertson) has won the NMEA Autopilot Awards 27 or 28 times. The most winning Simrad pilot is AP24/28.
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Old 08-22-2013, 10:51 AM
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I have a Furuno AP and it works great.
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Old 08-22-2013, 10:53 AM
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match the AP to whatever new plotter you have or WILL have
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Old 08-22-2013, 11:55 AM
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So garmin doesn't have a rate gyro?
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Old 08-23-2013, 09:33 AM
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No rate gyro and no auto adaptive (other than speed) behavior on Garmin.

I do not want to give the impression it is a bad pilot because it is not. I have used mine successfully everywhere I have needed it. It just does not perform as well as the others. Everyone talks about how badly Posts handle in a quartering sea, that Simrad steers ours effortlessly and I have never had to adjust anything. Upwind, downwind, quartering, trolling, running and the Simrad does not care. I had the same experience with the Furuno on the sailboat-just effortless.
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Old 08-23-2013, 06:12 PM
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Quote:
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I am getting about 300 hours between failures.
Holy shit!
If I installed a $4000 Garmin GHP10 Autopilot and had that many failures, I would not likely be as happy as you.
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Old 09-01-2013, 12:03 PM
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I've had 4 professional installers tell me they would only install a Simrad, and a fifth said either Simrad or Garmin. I've had a Simrad AP on my boat for 10 years and it works great. Will be putting a Simrad AP on the new boat. I think it's fair to say that the general consensus is that Simrad makes the best AP for the recreational boater.
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Old 09-01-2013, 05:08 PM
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I installed a Garmin GHP™ 12 on our trawler so I could use the existing hydraulic pump on the boat.
It is integrated with a Garmin chartplotter so that the autopilot can follow the auto guidance provided by the G2 Vision card. Been using for a year and happy so far.

Like other posters have mentioned; best to use the autopilot brand that matches your existing chartplotter (MFD) setup.
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Old 09-02-2013, 06:12 AM
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Just installed a Raymarine newest (one month in the market) Evolution EV-200, which includes the EV-1 course computer and ACU-200 actuator, P70 control head, rotary rudder reference unit to replace a 17 year old Cetrek A/P. Check it out; most advanced a/p in the business. 9 axis cc that requires no sea trial setup and doesn't even need a rudder reference if you don't have or want one.

Connected it to the Cetrek hydraulic linear ram with hydraulic pump. Used NMEA 2000 (Raymaine uses their flavor which isSeatalkng, but I have a Garmin DeviceNet backbone connected to a 740s C/P. Works great on a 15,500 sailboat in SF Bay...
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Old 09-02-2013, 07:49 AM
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I had the Simrad AP24 on my last boat and it worked well. Putting the new Raymarine Evolution on my new boat.
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Old 09-02-2013, 09:44 AM
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I've installed 3 of the new EVOLUTION Autopilots now..... Wonderful!!!
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Old 09-02-2013, 10:49 AM
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Quote:
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I've installed 3 of the new EVOLUTION Autopilots now..... Wonderful!!!

Great to hear.
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Old 09-02-2013, 05:32 PM
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I have a Ray Marine, around 2005-06 model. Would not buy another. Too complicated software, I've replaced the rudder feedback unit twice. But when it works, it works great!
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