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autopilot for outboard


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There is only one manufacturer of drive units left, that is Octopus Drives out of BC Canada. Fortunately Octopus Drives works with many different manufactures to provide affordable autopilot packages as well as universal compatibility to build your own autopilot. One limitation of the octopus drive is it requires a minimum 8.5in clearance behind the helm, if you do not have this your must either make accommodations to get it or switch to hydraulic steering.

One of the best value autopilots is offered by another Canadian company, Comnav. They have been in business since 1982 making commercial, government, and recreational systems for all sizes of vessels. These autopilots are known for being bare bones functional and reliable at an affordable price. The 1420 model offers everything you need in one box; Drive unit, Computer, Compass, and rudder sensor all included at a price of under $1800. This autopilot I would recommend to anyone looking for the best value for your dollar or as an affordable first autopilot. It is very easy to use and simple to install. Its controller does not have a display but it will network with a NMEA 0183 GPS and display on the GPS screen.


The next option is the Simrad AP-24R. This is the next generation of the popular AP-14R with some improvements, better controller and the virtual rudder sensor. They used to make the rudder sensor into the drive unit but now that they don't include a physical rudder sensor you must add one to get proper performance while trolling. This drive the cost up over $2000. This autopilot I would recommend as an upgrade over the Comnav, it has a digital display will pair well with a Lowrance or Simrad.


Both those autopilot use a simple Fluxgate Compass. You can achieve better autopilot performance by using an autopilot that has better sensors. To do this you will have to build your own. If you buy the octopus drive with their rudder sensor and pair it with an autopilot like the Garmin Reactor that has a 9 axis solid state altitude heading reference system. This system will run you closer to $2700 and if you fishing in a wide variety of conditions that would be more demanding on an autopilot may be worth the extra money.


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