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Autopilot Opinions needed


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I just picked up a 1997 Thompson 240 Fishermen HT. It has a fresh (130 hours) 5.7 merc under the hood. I want to have autopilot installed. The boat does have hydraulic steering, which I am told is half the battle. A local dealership recommends the Raymarine ST70 Smartpilot. What are some opinions on that unit, as well as others. I know very little about the different units. I am looking at value. I don't need lots of bells and whistles, something simple, reliable, and generally affordable. Some estimates on what should be reasonable for total cost including installation?

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tony,i went with the garmin ghp-10 right around $3200 for my boat.i went with the garmin because of the shadow drive.congat on the new boat,those thompsons are built like a tank:thumb:

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Thanks guys. It was a really good find. As near as I can tell, it had to be one of the last ones to roll off the line. I can't even find another 97 240 for sale anywheres, and no owners replied back on several boards when asked about. The boat will first spend some time with Jeff at Traxstech. She will come home a fishing machine. Looking at a full set array of tracks, holders, rocket launcher, and trees, maybe a pair of the new vector riggers if budget holds on course. Possibly some upgrades to the planer board reels, will have to evaluate that further when I get her in the shop. If memory serves me, they are manuals (which is fine), but are located in an awkward spot on the hardtop. Autopilot is first and formost on the electronics upgrade list, then a new 900 series Hbird, then the rigging. It was a very good Christmas for Tony this year. It all sounds like a lot, but I got a very good deal on this gem.:thumb: I'll post some photos when I get her home. Then some before/after stuff later.

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Another vote for the Garmin, best pilot on the market.

It's not about bells and whistles which it has it's about performance and keeping you on coarse in adverse conditions which it does best.

Anywhere from $3100-$3400 depending on the quality of installation and the amount of supporting materials you need.

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I have had a RayMarine ST6001 on my 21' dual outboard SeaCat since 2001. Works great. I would check into the newer SmartPilot X-10 with the ST70 Controller. The autopilot is similar to what I have but adds programmable course patterns such as circles, spirals, cloverleaf, figure 8, lazy-S, zigzag, box, box pattern search, and 180 or 360 degree turns. There were rumors that RayMarine was going to bring this out when I got mine but I couldn't wait. Would love to upgrade! I often think that I catch more fish trolling without the autopilot since I don't wander like a human steering does.

Ryan

Boat: 21' SeaCat center console -- CATtitude Adjustment

[email protected]

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Thanks for all the information. I may need some recommendations on a place to install it, or if someone knows how and wants to earn some coin on the side? My local dealership doesn't think much of them, but says if it is something that I really want they will do it. That doesn't instill much confidence for me. They did give my buddy a great deal on a used one year old Simrad system for his 23' striper wa last year (1500 installed). So far it worked great all season long. They have another one that is used for one season, I believe it is a Furuno? Similar deal possible, but again, not really all that warm and fuzzy with their begrudging willingness to install one.

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For what its worth Furuno has always made excellent products... would need to lookup reviews on their autopilots to be sure. Installing them is pretty straight forward, calibrating can be a trick. Also need a good low, center spot for the fluxgate compass in order for it to work well.

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I run the Furuno Nav-Pilot on my boat. Expensive, but bulletproof...like the rest of Furuno's stuff. Worth checking out if you can swing it.

I wont get into bashing here....but 3 different friends this year gave up dealing with all the issues with their Garmins. 2 of them have since sold the units, taking a huge loss in money and time. They raved about how good the customer service was...on the other hand, the units spent more time with Garmin then they did on their boats. They look nice, and have lots of options...but they NEVER work right for very long.

I have had the Furuno Nav-Pilot for 4 years now and have never even had to call Furuno to ask a question.:thumb: :thumb:

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Thanks John, I'll look into that system. He said that it was installed by a boat owner on a boat way too large for the unit. And said that the boat was a twin screw boat without enough rudder to effectively steer the boat at slow RPM's??? Anyways, the system was in brand new condition last year when my buddy had the simrad system installed on his boat.

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I have had the Furuno Nav-Pilot for 4 years now and have never even had to call Furuno to ask a question.

They also have a crazy scary online question asking technical support. no need to even call if you have internet access. sometimes the internet freaks me out!

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Get an autopilot with out any rudder feed back or ref point . thats all the problems with any pilot in my book thats the reason i went with raymarine could not swing for a furuno .if i had the coin go furuno i have the 585 unit and 582 never a issue they make great stuff.....:thumb:

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