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Autopilot Choices...

Old 03-05-2015, 09:22 AM
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Hi, Folks.

One of my summer projects for the boat is going to be an autopilot.

It's a small boat (18'er I just built - http://www.buildaboatwithben.com) and I'm looking at the Garmin GHP10 and the Simrad AP24. I'm intrigued by the Garmin unit, largely because of the ShadowDrive feature, but I'm curious: the Simrad AP24 units are well tested and highly regarded, and my entire electronics suite on the boat is Simrad (NSE12, 3G radar, BSM-1 sounder, and RS35 VHF) wired with Simnet (easily bridged to NMEA2K, of course.)

The price looks to be close enough on both units not to make it an issue. Is the ShadowDrive really that great and if so, are there interoperability features that make it worth going with the AP24 anyway so I have a Simrad-Simrad system?

Thanks for your advice!

-Ben
Old 03-05-2015, 09:31 AM
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I'm looking at the si-tex sp110. No shadow drive but the price is 1/2 of Garmin setup.
Old 03-05-2015, 10:36 AM
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Interesting. I'll take a look at that one, too.

I'm also starting to wonder if I can make this cheaper still by sticking with simrad and piecing together a system that doesn't have the AP24 head. Looks like that's just a front for the AC12 computer, and the NSE12 has the ability to control the AC12 directly. Do I really need the AP24? Or can I just skip that and have the NSE as my only interface to the pilot?
Old 03-05-2015, 11:07 AM
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Originally Posted by benha View Post
I'm also starting to wonder if I can make this cheaper still by sticking with simrad and piecing together a system that doesn't have the AP24 head. Looks like that's just a front for the AC12 computer, and the NSE12 has the ability to control the AC12 directly. Do I really need the AP24? Or can I just skip that and have the NSE as my only interface to the pilot?
The NSE should be able to control the AP without the AP24 head. If you want control backup, you can add an OP10 so you're not completely dependent on the NSE.

Also, with the Simrad, you can use any suitably-sized reversing pump, and any suitable heading sensor. I'll be building a Simrad AP system this summer, and I'll be using a Seastar AP1219 pump with the AC12.

I'll be using an Airmar H2183 heading sensor, but some people have successfully used the very inexpensive Lowrance Point 1 as a heading source for the AC12, even though it's not officially approved for AP duty.

I decided to go with a Simrad AP even though I have Garmin plotters, because I like the flexibility that Simrad allows in selecting parts. I don't want to be locked into Garmin's finicky compass ball, or spend lots more money for the unproven (but promising) GHP20.

I'll lose shadow drive, but I'm OK with that. I'll eventually try to implement my own version of shadow drive, but that probably won't happen until next year.
Old 03-05-2015, 11:45 AM
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This is looking much better. Thanks for all the guidance! A little creativity here and the projected cost for adding a pilot has gone from $2500 to more like $1800. A HUGE improvement. Hard to justify either number for an 18' boat, but she needs it for fishing...

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