Author Topic: AUTOHELM QUESTIONS  (Read 2247 times)

Offline Bob23

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Re: AUTOHELM QUESTIONS
« Reply #15 on: February 12, 2014, 07:23:47 PM »
Thanks, Jon...very helpful. I noticed that the Simrad has no navigation, sail to wind or remote capability. I'm not sure how that affects me but I'm still checking things out. I've never owned an autopilot before but sailed on a friends Norwalk Island Sharpie and his AH was very noisy. Kinda counter to the quiet we all enjoy while sailing.
Thanks again,
Bob23

Offline moonlight

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Re: AUTOHELM QUESTIONS
« Reply #16 on: February 12, 2014, 08:41:22 PM »
It's old school, but sail trim can balance almost any boat to sail to wind in a straight line, but usually only upwind.  Some user interface is of course required to go downwind. 

But for anything forward of the beam, sail trim is your autopilot.  Learn this, use no amp hours, ever.

Off the wind, I imagine the same could be done towing a warp or small drogue; will knock you for a knot or two, but if you're balanced and held to the wind angle, and consume no amp hours, why not?  Or should I say why knot?  Sure, it's not push-button easy; but I make a pretty good living repairing autopilots and related systems that people wear out by not understanding the basics of sail trim and balance, consuming gawd awful amounts of amp hours in the process ....

Offline brackish

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Re: AUTOHELM QUESTIONS
« Reply #17 on: February 14, 2014, 12:26:13 PM »
Thanks, Jon...very helpful. I noticed that the Simrad has no navigation, sail to wind or remote capability. I'm not sure how that affects me but I'm still checking things out. I've never owned an autopilot before but sailed on a friends Norwalk Island Sharpie and his AH was very noisy. Kinda counter to the quiet we all enjoy while sailing.
Thanks again,
Bob23

Bob, you need to think back to your single handling trips and figure how you plan to use it.  I never get it out if not single handling.  If I am I hook it up first thing and leave it on standby.  Essentially I use it to allow me to be the deck hand, taking off sail covers, raising sails, stowing ties and covers, clearing fouled lines, going below to get items, spelling me to eat lunch, and then doing the reverse when getting the boat ready to dock.  I like to have everything done before I attach the dock lines.

Consequently, the only features I use are the +- 1or10 buttons for course correction and the buttons that chooses standby or auto.  The GPS connected features I never use.  The one feature I wish I did have is the remote.  If I'm up on the foredeck or in the cabin it would be nice to be able to correct course without having to go back to the cockpit.  But in reality that is only important during fluky wind conditions.

You are a much better helmsman.  It cannot react to what you see on the water or feel on your face that lets you anticipate and correct before the fact.  Consequently, it will react after the fact to its internal compass with wider rudder movements and it can be a bit noisy and slightly irritating when it is doing that back and forth.  That said, it is still the best boat bucks I've spent for opening up mid week single handling trips done with ease.

Moonlight, I've always had trouble with my 23 using sailtrim to maintain the perfect balance and unattended tiller even locked or with shock cord.  I could do it with both of my Columbia's a 24 Challenger and an 8.7, but I've never been able to with my 23. 

I've never used the Simrad, but I believe the base model was about $80 less than the RM when I got mine.  If the thrust output was the same I think it would do fine for what I do with it.  However, I would pay extra for remote. 

Offline Shawn

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Re: AUTOHELM QUESTIONS
« Reply #18 on: February 14, 2014, 08:34:39 PM »
"It's old school, but sail trim can balance almost any boat to sail to wind in a straight line, but usually only upwind. "

To a point, but on a smaller boat if you move around the changes in weight will alter course. An autopilot will correct for that. That makes it very handy for changing a headsail, putting a cover on the main...etc...etc.

Shawn

Offline Bob23

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Re: AUTOHELM QUESTIONS
« Reply #19 on: February 15, 2014, 03:28:32 AM »
Moon:
   The 23 is so unbalancable in the manner you describe. As Shawn noted, even slight changes in weight distribution can change the course. Going below to use the head will actually bring the boat up into the wind (tiller lashed). And I have new sails and a foiled rudder. When going to windward on my 23 and everything is balanced, I can actually "surf" the boat by steering with changing where I'm standing. It's great fun! But they are that sensitive.
   My main intended use for an autohelm, if I go that route, is for extended periods of motoring in relatively open water, to free me up to do deck tasks as Brack has noted, and just to take a tiller break when needed. I'd much rather sail by hand and I agree with Brack- my reflexes at the tiller are faster than any autohelm.
   I have experimented with several self steering tiller lashing techniques, some of which I've learned here at the site and they do work to some degree.
   Thanks so much for all this imput from guys who obviously have more experience that I. You all are an invaluable asset...and great fun!
Bob23

Offline Shawn

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Re: AUTOHELM QUESTIONS
« Reply #20 on: February 15, 2014, 08:34:53 AM »
Bob,

What GPS do you have? Does it have NMEA output?

The GPS is nice for motoring and great for raising/lowering sails. I use it quite a bit while sailing too though. Lets me use the binoculars more, handle sail changes or trim...etc...etc.

"- my reflexes at the tiller are faster than any autohelm. "

True. Instead of correcting via the tiller you can do it with sail trim when you have the autopilot running. If you have a wind instrument connected to the tillerpilot it will keep you at the same angle to the wind if desired.

BTW, from what I read the ST2000 responds faster than the ST1000 due to the drive system. The 1000 uses a screw drive, the 2000 is a recirculating ball. I have heard that the 2000 is quieter because of this as well. It is  unobtrusive on my boat.

Shawn

Offline Bob23

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Re: AUTOHELM QUESTIONS
« Reply #21 on: February 15, 2014, 01:30:50 PM »
Shawn:
   I have a Garmin 541S which is new and just about installed. I haven't even turned it on yet. I think it will interface with the AH but I haven't explored that yet. And being a techno-challenged guy, that might be lightyears ahead of my capability.
   Interesting difference between the 1000 and 2000. I was leaning toward the 2000 just because I like to overkill just about everything. I take it you have the 2000?
Bob23

Offline Shawn

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Re: AUTOHELM QUESTIONS
« Reply #22 on: February 15, 2014, 05:55:51 PM »
Hi Bob,

The 541S does support NMEA but I haven't found what sentences it supports yet. The one you really want for the autopilot includes cross track error. What that does it allow the autopilot to correct for leeway (or tide) and to stay on the actual track you selected on the GPS. That can keep you from drifting over rocks/ground if you are just using a compass heading on the autopilot.

I do have the Raymarine ST2000+.

Shawn

Offline Bob23

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Re: AUTOHELM QUESTIONS
« Reply #23 on: February 15, 2014, 09:01:44 PM »
Thanks, Shawn. I really want to use the thing as I noted above. Because I'm not a techno-geek (not saying that you are) I realize I could do alot of damage dabbling in this occult of electro-auto-navigational voodoo. A tiller I can understand. A compass and charts I can understand. And I'll probably get the hang of this chartplotter.
On the flip side, I am a gadgeteer of sorts, too.
Bob23

Offline Shawn

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Re: AUTOHELM QUESTIONS
« Reply #24 on: February 15, 2014, 09:06:31 PM »
Bob,

S'Okay... I am totally a techno geek. The chartplotter/Tillerpilot is actually easy. It is just two wires to hook up.

On the chartplotter you just move the cursor to where you want to go (or pick a saved waypoint) and tell it to navigate there. On the tillerpilot you just put it into GPS mode and it will steer the boat to stay on your track and correct for tide/leeway.

If you have multiple waypoints on a course the tillerpilot will handle that too.

Shawn

Offline Bob23

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Re: AUTOHELM QUESTIONS
« Reply #25 on: February 16, 2014, 02:01:13 PM »
Well, Shawn:
   When I get everything hooked up, I may just pick your brains on this. I think it's cool that it works, even so magically. It's just that I'm a manual input sorta guy. Friction shifters on my old  1992 Bridgestone RB-2 road bike, oar-on-gunnel rowing on the guideboat. No GPS in either the car or truck- I prefer paper maps although I have used Google maps. Heck, I still use a framing square to lay out stairs and rafters.
   I guess I should take at least a baby step into the 21st century sometime. I will get in touch with you about talking me through this. I guess as with any 60 year old geezer like myself, half the battle is realizing it can be done. I'm such a non-technogeek that I still use only a watch with hands!
Bob23 aka Barney Rubble

Offline Jon898

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Re: AUTOHELM QUESTIONS
« Reply #26 on: February 16, 2014, 03:07:41 PM »
Remember that setting a fixed course, either to a compass heading or a GPS track will not be a completely hands-off exercise in a sailboat.  You'll still need to be trimming the sails to match the heading.  You could interface a wind-direction signal as well and use that to drive the autopilot (you then use the GPS to find out where on earth the wind ended up taking you).  The AH3000 I had was pre-NMEA/Seatalk but I did try it hooked up to a windvane...frankly more trouble than it was worth to me and I ended up doing the "set course + trim sails to suit" routine anyway.  Not too much trouble unless close hauled, when it was possible to end up in irons if you weren't paying attention and the wind headed you.  There is an advantage in GPS versus compass setting as Shawn points out, just be sure not to have a waypoint on a navigation mark...plenty of collisions have happened that way.

Offline MacGyver

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Re: AUTOHELM QUESTIONS
« Reply #27 on: February 18, 2014, 04:33:28 PM »
All this talk really made me want one of these, but also made me appreciate the thing I saw one time, where the guy had a line that attached to the tiller, and went to the boom somehow creating a self steering setup that was based off of the boats own control.

All these systems are really sharp, no matter the tech behind it, low or high.

Mac
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Offline Restharrow

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Re: AUTOHELM QUESTIONS
« Reply #28 on: February 18, 2014, 04:47:04 PM »
I have a ST 1000 on the CP 23 I just sold.  It worked great for MANY years.  Only one issue when I got busy and let it hit the end of its stroke for a rather long time.  Instead of putting it on standby I let it on auto and it continued to try to make a course correction when it was detached from the pin.
In any event,  I used it ALOT and loved it.
Still can't wait to pick up our new to us CP25!!! :)
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Offline Bob23

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Re: AUTOHELM QUESTIONS
« Reply #29 on: February 18, 2014, 04:49:52 PM »
Gents:
   Iv'e heard of guys crashing into markers. The GPS just did what it was told to do. I mainly want "Otto" to get an occasional break. Even with the tiller lashed and the helm balanced, when one goes below it a 23, it'll tend to round up.
   I've only played a bit with self steering systems via main sheet to tiller. A search here will reveal Newt's system which apparently works great on the 23 he used to own.
   I'd rather have as few electroninc gadgets on the boat as possible but a reliable VHF, compass, GPS and now Autohelm can make life a bit more enjoyable. Until they go on strike!
Bob23