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Auto Pilot installation

Old 10-09-2008, 10:56 AM
  #1  
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Default Auto Pilot installation

Considering installing auto pilot in the offseason. Wanted to know if it's a difficult install if I do it myself. I have twin outboards fair amount of room in my helm for the pump etc..

I think I have decided on Simrad ap24

thanks for the input
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Old 10-09-2008, 12:30 PM
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Default Re: Auto Pilot installation

If your mechanically inclined at all, it's easy, but does take some work. Keep in mind there is wireing to be done (power to pump, power to computer, NMEA connections), then there is plumbing to do (hydrolic hoses to/from helm and pump...), and mechanical work (installing the display, instaling the pump, installing the rudder ref. unit).

I did my last boat myself, couple days of work, 1/2 of that was just me trying to figure out how to do something I have never done before..... The nice thing afterward was, I knew exactly how and where everything was, and I knew it was done correctly (no corners cut....).
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Old 10-09-2008, 01:01 PM
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Default Re: Auto Pilot installation

thanks birdman, pretty mechanically inclined and have all the tools that we would need to do the job. I have a fuse block alread behind my helm suppose I could tap into that for power.

thanks again
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Old 10-09-2008, 01:15 PM
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Default Re: Auto Pilot installation

A pilot is dificult, especially the first time, but not by any means impossible. Pay attention when bleeding the system, you might have to do it multiple times to get all the air out of the lines. I would give the pilot a dedicated feed for power, as I doubt your fuse block can handle the load the pilot would draw without being re-wirred anyway, especially in a lock to lock hard over.
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Old 10-09-2008, 04:20 PM
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Default Re: Auto Pilot installation

I will warn you that Simrads past product support and technician help has gone to a big fat zero. They laid off all of the autopilot technicians and the people that answer the phone now have no clue about autopilot trouble shooting or installation. If you get a Simrad have it installed by a reputable outfit and maybe they can provide support. I talked to a very reputable electronics sales, installation and service company today about helping me with my AP and they said that they are having a tough time getting help out of simrad also.If they have problems I stand no chance. If you are like me you like to fix most everything yourself but you will not get any help from simrad anytime soon. If I cannot get my AP working in the next few months I will be buying and installing a different brand this winter.
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Old 10-09-2008, 04:56 PM
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Default Re: Auto Pilot installation

markm - 10/9/2008 7:20 PM

I will warn you that Simrads past product support and technician help has gone to a big fat zero. They laid off all of the autopilot technicians and the people that answer the phone now have no clue about autopilot trouble shooting or installation. If you get a Simrad have it installed by a reputable outfit and maybe they can provide support. I talked to a very reputable electronics sales, installation and service company today about helping me with my AP and they said that they are having a tough time getting help out of simrad also.If they have problems I stand no chance. If you are like me you like to fix most everything yourself but you will not get any help from simrad anytime soon. If I cannot get my AP working in the next few months I will be buying and installing a different brand this winter.
Just last week I called Simrad tech support on a discontinued AP11 interfacing problem. I got a tech on the line within 2 minutes. He was polite, knowledgeable, and verified correct connections to the LXC-111 HD, and J300 Simrad junction box. Ran a quick loopback test that proved the J300 was working, then had me change sentence programming.

10 minutes; maybe 15, and the AP/CP interface was working. Couldn't have had better tech support from anyone.
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Old 10-09-2008, 06:15 PM
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Default Re: Auto Pilot installation

Perhaps calling on the phone is the trick with Simrad - they have never responded to a tech support email from me, whether it was to a contact address or via webform, even when the questions have been very specific. I have an AP24/AC42 system with RF25 rudder angle sensor, WR20 wireless remote, Maretron N2K rate gyro compass, and an Accu-Steer pumpset. An installer did the hydraulics; I did the rest. The system is very nice when it works, but sometimes takes an hour or more to agree to respond to commands from the remote. Once it does, it's excellent, and wandering the deck with a remote in my pocket is liberating.

By the way, if you already have standard NMEA2000 cabling, it's easy to hack the SimNet cables by just lopping off the yellow connector on one end and adding a Maretron field-attachable male.

The electronics and other packaging of the autopilot is trivial, but I agree with an earlier poster that the hydraulics require some care. Unfortunately, my installer didn't understand the nature of my existing steering pump, and topped off the fluid so completely at the pedestal that I dealt with stuff streaming down the cabin walls for a few weeks.

Steve (who is constantly reminded that DIY is the best approach, whenever possible!)
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Old 10-10-2008, 06:02 AM
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Default Re: Auto Pilot installation

You no doubt talked to Tom there last remaining simrad trained technician. I have talked to there tech support guys 3 times in the last month. The first phone call was somewhat helpfull when I talked to Tom. The second phone call resulted in them agreeing to send me a new chip for the junction unit almost a month ago. The 3rd phone (this week) call resulted in talking to people that had no knowledge of autopilots period and no knowledge of the new chip supposedly being sent.. If you call now see how helpfull these guys are. The information that they laid off all of the simrad trained technicians is a fact.There last week was last week. This is confirmed by a reputable electronics outfit and by phone to Navico.They called it consolidation and cross training. Last week they still had a well trained tech if you could get him on the phone which you obviosly did. If you are considering a simrad autopilot call them and ask a few questions about installation and see what kind of help you get. Also check my past posts I am not a negative poster but this could be a big problem for someone less than experienced installing an AP.
MM
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Old 10-10-2008, 06:42 AM
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Default Re: Auto Pilot installation

Yes, in fact he said his name was Tom. Sad that the good techs are all gone. Simrad was the leader of the pack at one time. Looks like it might be Garmin's time, now.
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Old 10-11-2008, 04:28 PM
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Default RE: Auto Pilot installation

I installed an AP-12H when the boat was new, and upgraded to an AP-16VF last year. Have done all the work myself.

Will recommend that you find a location for the pump that is not too far from the helm, so the three hydraulic lines can be run, but not at the helm as the pumps can be pretty noisey.

As for Simrad tech support, it was always excellent when I called, but I haven't done so since last year.

Brian
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