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Passport111

Alpha Spectra Autopilot AP steering

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I have an Alpha Spectra autopilot.  I consists of the linear drive unit, computer, and compass.  When the boat was new to me 5 years ago, it was glitchy but working through the company, I removed the faulty wind steering board (there was a windvane that mounted on the stern rail) and that fixed it.  Except for the fact that I have no wind steering.  

Overall it seems a very reliable unit and holds a course well.  I want to do more single handed racing and and feel the lack of wind steering or tack/gybe function is limiting.  

Does anyone know of a way to integrate N2K wind data to the Alpha Spectra.  Their customer service is ok but the guy is a little curt.  I asked and he just said Stan Honey like their autopilot and has a way to do this.  That was it.  I Googled the heck out of that but couldn't find anything.

Of course the new pilots with 8-9 axis MEMS compass, remote, and integrated wind sensing would be an upgrade but is it worth it.

I recently upgraded to the  B&G Triton sensors and displays.  Can I get away with just the new computer and remote?  Will my existing compass suffice or is it a false economy after the adapters to integrate it?  Is the NAC-2 ok for a 37' boat or would I have to go to the NAC-3?

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The Alpha Spectra is an amazing product that was well ahead of its time in terms of both steering algorithms and low power consumption. It's biggest downside is the owner and you must deal with him as they have no dealer or service network. To call him a cunt does a disservice to cunts everywhere.

It is possible to interface to the system, but not via anything remotely resembling NMEA2000. There is some PC software around and if you PM me, I can dig up some notes and other information.

If you decide to abandon the Alpha, I recommend you keep the linear drive (with internal rudder reference) and mechanical linkage and simply interface those a more flexible control head. I've had no problem using the Alpha drive with B&G controls although I found the Alpha controls would easily outdrive a B&G ACP1 on an IOR 2 Tonner with mast head spinnakers on both San Francisco Bay and across the Pacific.

 

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I'll second what Moonduster said, I know of people whom have abandoned the system and left just the drive unit and run other brands pilot computers/electronics. 

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Thank you both for the feedback.  

It seems the cheapest option at this time would be to somehow interface my existing wind instruments to the Alpha controller. 

With the Alpha's low power drive, would the NAC-2 be appropriate if I were to switch controllers?  I don't remember ever seeing more that 4-5 amps with the Alpha.  The NAC-3 spec say something like 30+ amps.

 

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