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Autopilot Advice

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Autopilot Advice

Hello guys,  I am looking for a little advice to see if there is something that I have not found in hours of searching.   I didn't see anything on here either which I thought was odd but maybe I wasn't using the right search words or something.

I am interested in installing an autopilot this year as I am getting tired of chasing my boat all over and I always feel bad when yelling at my buddies or worse my daughters to keep the boat straight while I am setting or checking gear.    Here is my problem.  I have an older 24' Searay cuddy with an Alpha one I/O.   I love the reviews and idea behind the Raymarine Evolution autopilot, but I have cable controlled power steering assist.   Everything that I have read is that to go with this system, I will need to convert to hydraulic steering, dink around with the Octopus steering system and go with the more expensive EV-200 system.   I have read that hydraulic steering is not all it is cracked up to be on an I/O and the Octopus system tends to make for harder steering when autopilot is not being uses.   As much as I want Autopilot, This seems like a lot of work and even more money.   Not sure I want to spend that on a 30 year old boat.  (I am not buying another boat, I like not making payments while it is in storage or sitting next to my garage)    The only system that I can come up with is the Lowrance Outboard Autopilot system.   I would need to purchase a HDS finder/chartplotter to go along with it and I am not real exited about that as I am not a big fan of my Elite7.  (not simple enough, and have had issues with software).  

Does anybody know any other options out there or had any experience with the Lowrance system?  I have looked for Raymarines Sport Pilot system online for sometime now and have not been able to find a used one anywhere.    I am used to the way my boat handles and can keep it fairly straight without really thinking about it anymore but that is only when I am at the helm not one of my buddies, not to mention that going out with just me and one other person is interesting to say the least when a fish is on or we have a double like we did several times last year.  LOL

Thanks for any advice that you can give me.

 

 

 

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I think Garmin has a steer by wire autopilot you might want to check out, no experience with them but I'm installing the hydraulic version on mine in a couple weeks


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Thanks mrhookup. I just saw that one and it says steer actuators are available but I don't see where unless they are talking about the octopus system I keep reading about. I think I may contact them for clarification.


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I put a Raymarine EV-100 system in my 1977 Searay 240 SDB last year.  It has dual helms and hydraulic steering, so I was able to use the pump and the cheaper packaged system (think I only paid $1300 for it all brand new and there was an additional $200 rebate after that). I shopped around for quite a bit to find that deal.  Check this place out for good deals on Raymarine stuff:  https://www.thegpsstore.com

The nice thing about the Raymarine system is that it can be operated completely independent of any chart plotter and comes with a display (p70R for power boats).  I have mine interfaced with my Raymarine a78 display.

I have to say, I love this system. It holds course very very well even in rough conditions.  It also has built in patterns that you can run should you so choose. If you interface it with a plotter, you can just punch in coordinates and tell the autopilot to take you there.

I think if you are going to go the Raymarine route and you don't want to switch over to hydraulic steering, you might be able to use one of their Mechanical Rotary drives to interface with your existing helm. 

http://www.raymarine.com/view/?id=579

(You will have to click on the Mechanical Rotary tab to view the drive)

I'm not entirely sure, but the way it reads on their site, those drives are intended for interfacing with a cable steering system.   I believe they interface right at the helm, so you would not remove your existing power steering from the equation, and when the autopilot is not engaged, the steering system should act normally with no interference from the autopilot drive.

The downfall is that you will have to go with the more expensive EV200 system to interface with that drive type, and the drive itself is pretty spendy.  Your are looking at over $3k in parts at this point... 

$1699 for the EV200 (add it to the cart for that price) @ GPS Store:  https://www.thegpsstore.com/Raymarine-Evolution-EV200-Autopilot-P3814.aspx

Looks like there is a $400 rebate on that right now though through Raymarine though...

http://www.raymarine.com/uploadedFiles/Competitions/GearUp2016/Raymarine_SuperGearUp_2017.pdf

$1400 for the drive:  https://www.amazon.com/RAYMARINE-M81135-Rotary-Drive-Type/dp/B001CTXRTO

 

That all being said...  If you are even entertaining the thought of a Raymarine system, go to the Raymarine forum and create an account and make a new thread detailing your current boat setup as you have here and ask what your options are as far as a setup goes. 

http://forum.raymarine.com/index.php

The moderators on there are Raymarine employees and are very well oriented with the technical details of their systems.  They got me through quite a few questions on my install.  You can also call their technical support directly and speak with them over the phone if you prefer.

http://www.raymarine.com/display/?id=773

I understand your reasoning completely in regards to wanting to get an autopilot.  The way my boat is set up, it was pretty much impossible to fish without a three man crew.  Helm is down below requiring steps down or on the fly bridge requiring navigating a ladder, so, unless you had three people or more, one person would have to be at a helm to steer and whoever was reeling a fish in would have to net it themselves...  Not a good setup and more than likely a double hookup would end with a lost fish.  Also, if you do interface a Raymarine WiFi enabled MFD (like the a78), you can use an iPad or Android tablet to connect to the system and change the course of the autopilot from there...  No need to run back to the helm!

Hope this helps a bit!

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Thanks for taking the time with such a detailed reply scoffer !!! I did not see that rebate last weekend. I really do like the raymarine set up. Sound very simple and easy to use. I like that it can be used as a stand alone system also. All I want to do is point the boat in one direction and be able to not have to have my hand on the wheel at all times. Or turn around to watch the action behind me only to find that the boat had swung around 90 degrees because I had turned my body around 180 degrees. LOL.... not that that ever happens

 

 

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Ok I think that I have made my mind up unless someone points a problem out to me.

According raymarine I would have to install an octopus system onto my existing power assist cylinder to go along with an EV-200 system. I do not have enough room behind my helm for the type S octopus helm.

It looks like I can convert my boat to over to hydraulic steering using a seastar helm and seastar cylinder mated up to my existing power assist cylinder. This would save me about $300 on steering parts alone. I will be able to use the less expensive EV-100 system to control these. Looks like with the raymarine rebate I can do all of this for around $1800. Now I just have to make sure that it is worth it. Hahahah


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6 hours ago, Sidetracked said:

I have this system on a 1980 24ft Sea Ray Cable Steering.

I had to change the cable to a teleflex rack & pinion. 

Installed it myself on a weekend. Customer support is great with any questions or problems you may encounter.

https://www.si-tex.com/item/sp70handheldautopilotsystem

It looks like I would still have to have either convert to hydraulic steering or get the octopus electro-mechanical system to attach to my power assist steer cylinder correct?  Did you have to install that?  

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The octopus drive is contained in a complete unit that replaces your current steering system at the helm.

You would need to upgrade the steering cable to the power steering assist. To a newer style.

The cost for the cable upgrade was relatively inexpensive. 

Contact Dave at Advantage Marine in Zeeland, Mi. he is familiar with this system. and can help with tech. questions.

I have had this system on my boat for about 5 or 6 years know. Still working great with no issues.

 

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I have a 1988 Sea Ray 268 and installed the Simrad Ap24 with octopus drive.  The install was pretty easy with the hardest part getting the cables where I wanted them.  I have another buddy who just put the same system in his smaller Sea Ray.  I think I paid maybe $150 for new cables.  I called octopus drive to ensure I got the correct ones and they also informed me that adapters were not needed.  I thought it was pretty nice to contact octopus and get in touch with their staff immediately to have my questions answered.

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Thanks for all the advice fellas. I have priced everything out and I can install hydraulic steering for less money than installing an octopus system. The folks at seastar got back to me today with part numbers so I was able to verify that. I will let you guys know how the install goes in another 2 months when boat gets out of storage. Sure wish it wasn't. So far away yet.


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I think you will really be impressed with the Raymarine system, and I think you will find it well worth the cost.  And...  If you are looking at upgrading your MFD / Sonar anytime soon, check out the new Axiom MFD's with the RealVision 3D Sonar they just announced a few weeks ago.  It would definitely be a great integrated system. 

http://www.raymarine.com/multifunction-displays/axiom/

I just put my system together last year, and I'm really bummed the Axiom line wasn't available at that time.  I would have jumped on it in a heartbeat.

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