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VeloceSailing

Pelagic tiller autopilot

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Time to replace my old Raymarine ST4000+.

Considering price/ruggedness/reviews I decided to settle for a Pelagic tiller.

My boat displaces about 4400kg with a LOA at 32ft. The ST4000+ is the SPX5 and EV100 predecessor, in fact the drive unit is exactly the same. The old fluxgate compass struggles to steer upwind in a chop and quartering seas are a real problem. Playing around with gain and response helps, but heading oscillates up to 40 deg... if I don't round up. Auto tack has also stopped working. 

I don't feel there is any problem with the thrust of the drive unit though (thrust is not expressed on the documentation, it is suggested to boat up to 6000kg displacement).. 

Pelagic sales a standard drive unit and a heavy one. I'd love the first one as it fits perfectly in the Ray pins. Any experience with the Pelagic "heavy"? Where is the limit where the standard becomes overpowered? Most of the video and reviews I find on Pelagic are related to the standard unit, but seldom on boats displacing like mine.

Any feedback is appreciated.

 

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Sounds good. My comment: You seem to be criticizing the fluxgate compass. They are just an inert coil of wire rattling around in a jar. If installed in a reasonable location, I would consider the fluxgate compass innocent in any course holding issues. Even if uncorrected.

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20 minutes ago, El Borracho said:

Sounds good. My comment: You seem to be criticizing the fluxgate compass. They are just an inert coil of wire rattling around in a jar. If installed in a reasonable location, I would consider the fluxgate compass innocent in any course holding issues. Even if uncorrected.

You are right. What I meant is that the fluxgate is not enough as it does not keep into account heel, pitch and yaw.

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It comes down to helm load more than anything else. 
How heavy does your tiller get in those kinds of conditions? 

Like most I've only experience of the standard unit. 
I'm around 3000kg, 27.5 foot overall, but my helm does really load up on a reach (not weather helm, it just gets heavy to move) and I've never found a condition in which it struggles, you can hear it working harder, but that's it. 

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It depends on the vintage and model of the Raymarine course computer. I've gone through 6 generations now, (ST5000, 100, 100Gyro, S3, SPX30, and Evolution) and each one is better at course holding than the last. The ST5000 vintage would not steer off the wind in a seaway, oscillations would start and shortly thereafter it would give up. The first generation with gyros (100 Gyro) was a bit better, the next (S3) quite a lot better. The next two a bit better in each case. The fluxgate compass can contribute as it has to be pretty heavily damped to remove all the motion inside the can. The last two generation course computers will hold a very accurate course, downwind in a seaway, with the boat unbalanced, in all conditions, and never give up. The last one has the EV100 solid state MEMs, and is easier to calibrate and perhaps slightly more accurate steering. Downwind, the helm will react to the rising stern quarter prior to any yaw, just as you would if you were at the helm. I've no experience with the Pelagic, but I will say with conviction that if you haven't tried Raymarine's latest, you haven't tried Raymarine. There is a night and day difference between the old and the new. 

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Something is wrong with your course computer. The first generation I used with a rate gyro was very good.

Are you sure you've not got something stowed near the flux gate compass that is reducing it's response? (but not enough to confuse it where North is?)

Maybe go back to the default settings and start over.

Your boat isn't big enough to be an issue unless you have a ton of weather helm. How does the helm feel to you before engaging autopilot?

Steering UPWIND most boats are pretty easy for an autopilot to steer.

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4 hours ago, DDW said:

It depends on the vintage and model of the Raymarine course computer... but I will say with conviction that if you haven't tried Raymarine's latest, you haven't tried Raymarine. There is a night and day difference between the old and the new. 

 

49 minutes ago, Zonker said:

Something is wrong with your course computer.

^^^This.

Even my 10-year-old Raymarine S1G with rate gyro and below-deck ram will steer my 20,000+lb IOR warhorse downwind under kite in 20 knots of breeze and 2m ocean swell!!!

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On 1/6/2021 at 4:55 AM, VeloceSailing said:

Time to replace my old Raymarine ST4000+.

... . The ST4000+ is the SPX5 and EV100 predecessor, in fact the drive unit is exactly the same. The old fluxgate compass struggles to steer upwind in a chop and quartering seas are a real problem

...What I meant is that the fluxgate is not enough as it does not keep into account heel, pitch and yaw.

I'm missing something here.  If I understand correctly, your existing "old" system includes the EV100.  This unit has sensors for pitch, yaw, heel etc.  Assuming it is working correctly, it sounds like you should already have those things in place in your old system. 

Of course, "assuming it is working correctly" might be at question.

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14 hours ago, SVArcturus said:

I'm missing something here.  If I understand correctly, your existing "old" system includes the EV100.  This unit has sensors for pitch, yaw, heel etc.  Assuming it is working correctly, it sounds like you should already have those things in place in your old system. 

Of course, "assuming it is working correctly" might be at question.

 

17 hours ago, Zonker said:

Something is wrong with your course computer. The first generation I used with a rate gyro was very good.



 

16 hours ago, gspot said:

 

^^^This.

Even my 10-year-old Raymarine S1G with rate gyro and below-deck ram will steer my 20,000+lb IOR warhorse downwind under kite in 20 knots of breeze and 2m ocean swell!!!

 

My current AP system is a Raymarine ST4000+. It consists of a controller + a fluxgate + an actuator. The vintage version, with no gyro rate at all.

Raymarine has not updated its tiller actuator in the later versions (spx5 and EV100). This means that my current actuator is the same that used to come with the SPX5 and EV100, the same thrust and hardover-time. The controller is not very "smart" though has a fluxgate compass but no other sensor at all. 

 

Pelagic solution includes a far smarter controller and sensors on 9 axis. I expect a huge jump in performance.

My question is weather their standard actuator is sufficient for a 32ft displacing 4.4 ton in terms of thrust and speed or whether I should go for their heavy duty version, if anyone has any experience, since it is a new product.

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4 hours ago, VeloceSailing said:

My current AP system is a Raymarine ST4000+. It consists of a controller + a fluxgate + an actuator. The vintage version, with no gyro rate at all.

Raymarine has not updated its tiller actuator in the later versions (spx5 and EV100). This means that my current actuator is the same that used to come with the SPX5 and EV100, the same thrust and hardover-time. The controller is not very "smart" though has a fluxgate compass but no other sensor at all. 

 

Pelagic solution includes a far smarter controller and sensors on 9 axis. I expect a huge jump in performance.

My question is weather their standard actuator is sufficient for a 32ft displacing 4.4 ton in terms of thrust and speed or whether I should go for their heavy duty version, if anyone has any experience, since it is a new product.

I think you definitely want a pitch and yaw gyro!

The Pelagic site says:

How large a boat can the standard Pelagic tiller pilot be installed on? As stated above, it's really about rudder load. That said, the standard tiller pilot is generally good to about 38'. For larger boats we recommend our soon to be released large actuator system. Early versions have been installed on the 60', 10,000 kg Bob Perry designed slender hull s/v Francis Lee, AKA Sliver, a Valiant 40 and an Andrews 43 among others. If in doubt, email or call to discuss your specific application.

Sounds like your boat is well within the size recommendation for the standard version, unless your boat has an unusually heavy helm.

I had a similar dilemma in choosing between the standard Raymarine Type 1 linear drive and the heavy-duty Type 2 linear drive, as my boat was essentially at the upper displacement limit of the standard model. I chose to start with the standard Type 1 drive because it draws about half the current, and if it turned out not to be powerful enough I could just upgrade the drive and keep the rest of the components. In the end the standard Type 1 drive turned out to be just fine. 

Presumably the Pelagic standard and heavy duty drives also use the same "brains"? If so could you just start with the standard version and upgrade the ram if required?

 

 

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1 hour ago, gspot said:

I think you definitely want a pitch and yaw gyro!

The Pelagic site says:

How large a boat can the standard Pelagic tiller pilot be installed on? As stated above, it's really about rudder load. That said, the standard tiller pilot is generally good to about 38'. For larger boats we recommend our soon to be released large actuator system. Early versions have been installed on the 60', 10,000 kg Bob Perry designed slender hull s/v Francis Lee, AKA Sliver, a Valiant 40 and an Andrews 43 among others. If in doubt, email or call to discuss your specific application.

Sounds like your boat is well within the size recommendation for the standard version, unless your boat has an unusually heavy helm.

I had a similar dilemma in choosing between the standard Raymarine Type 1 linear drive and the heavy-duty Type 2 linear drive, as my boat was essentially at the upper displacement limit of the standard model. I chose to start with the standard Type 1 drive because it draws about half the current, and if it turned out not to be powerful enough I could just upgrade the drive and keep the rest of the components. In the end the standard Type 1 drive turned out to be just fine. 

Presumably the Pelagic standard and heavy duty drives also use the same "brains"? If so could you just start with the standard version and upgrade the ram if required?

 

 

Thats right. In fact I am considering starting with the standard one and possibly keep it for redundancy next season in case it will not suffice. The same brain support below deck solutions as well.

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This is one of those “can you help me decide between a red and blue car?”

”Well I think you need a bike”. Threads. Always raises a smile.

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It sounds like we are on the same path. I am replacing a simrad T32 on my boat and I am seriously considering the Pelagic tiller pilot as well.  I looked seriously at their below deck solution which purely from a sailing standpoint I much prefer (has a clutch and can be easily disengaged and has more power).    The expense doesn't bother me as much as the installation. My boat (Ericson 33) has only one small cockpit l locker entrance to get below deck and there is only room to lie down below the cockpit.  Would be very unpleasant for someone who is 6'2" to install / glass in mounting plates rudder post quadrant etc.

My boat does have a lot of weather helm and I was considering the larger drive, but I am sure it consumes  a lot more power.   I think the trick is that if you are single-handing and relying on the AP, i   you will have to balance out your boat by making sail adjustments (reefing etc.) to reduce weather helm to a manageable degree. I am actually still learning how to do this on my (new to me) boat.

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On 1/13/2021 at 3:55 PM, VeloceSailing said:

My question is weather their standard actuator is sufficient for a 32ft displacing 4.4 ton in terms of thrust and speed or whether I should go for their heavy duty version, if anyone has any experience, since it is a new product.

I am using the standard actuator on a 34ft displacing yacht of 4.5 ton. The actuator has more than enough power.  I am using it with a NAC-2 AP, but that should not make any difference. Also, this actuator is really silent. To me this is an indication that the actuator is not operating at its upper limits.

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On 1/13/2021 at 6:55 AM, VeloceSailing said:

My question is weather their standard actuator is sufficient for a 32ft displacing 4.4 ton in terms of thrust and speed or whether I should go for their heavy duty version, if anyone has any experience, since it is a new product.

I'm using the standard actuator on a 38ft displacing 4.8 tons.  So far it's been great.  Mike at Scanmar has been extremely helpful in the setup and his recommendation was the standard actuator for me.  The boat is fairly responsive to the helm, but it will load up quite a bit on a code-0 reach. So far, the Pelagic hasn't had a problem keeping up.  It is certainly happier and uses less power if I back off a bit to balance the boat... but I cant help pushing it a bit when racing.  I haven't been out in heavy seas with the Pelagic yet.  Sloppy seas down wind with the chute up will be the test.  I expect it will take some playing around with the calibration and settings to get it dialed in.  I should have a few good opportunities over the next few months for that.

FWIW, I had a Simrad TP30 and TP32 on my SC27 (~3200 lbs) and I liked it.  The actuation on the TP32 is infinitely better than the TP22 or TP10 in power, smoothness and control (I had a TP22 as my 2nd backup).  With the gain cranked up (and working hard) she could hold a decent course deep downwind in a good breeze (~25 kts) with a big chute up.  It would get dicey though if the sea state was chaotic, and I'd only use it to leave the helm for short periods.  Until I purchased the Pelagic, I used my old TP30 on my current boat.  It worked fine, but I worked harder to balance the boat to keep the autohelm stresses down.  I still keep the TP30 and an old Raymarine ST2000 that came with the boat as backups.  In my experience, the Simrad TP30/32 is much better than the Raymarine ST2000... YMMV.

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1 hour ago, mvk512 said:

I'm using the standard actuator on a 38ft displacing 4.8 tons.  So far it's been great.  Mike at Scanmar has been extremely helpful in the setup and his recommendation was the standard actuator for me.  The boat is fairly responsive to the helm, but it will load up quite a bit on a code-0 reach. So far, the Pelagic hasn't had a problem keeping up.  It is certainly happier and uses less power if I back off a bit to balance the boat... but I cant help pushing it a bit when racing.  I haven't been out in heavy seas with the Pelagic yet.  Sloppy seas down wind with the chute up will be the test.  I expect it will take some playing around with the calibration and settings to get it dialed in.  I should have a few good opportunities over the next few months for that.

FWIW, I had a Simrad TP30 and TP32 on my SC27 (~3200 lbs) and I liked it.  The actuation on the TP32 is infinitely better than the TP22 or TP10 in power, smoothness and control (I had a TP22 as my 2nd backup).  With the gain cranked up (and working hard) she could hold a decent course deep downwind in a good breeze (~25 kts) with a big chute up.  It would get dicey though if the sea state was chaotic, and I'd only use it to leave the helm for short periods.  Until I purchased the Pelagic, I used my old TP30 on my current boat.  It worked fine, but I worked harder to balance the boat to keep the autohelm stresses down.  I still keep the TP30 and an old Raymarine ST2000 that came with the boat as backups.  In my experience, the Simrad TP30/32 is much better than the Raymarine ST2000... YMMV.

Interesting, I have the TP32 setup on my boat. One of the reasons why I want to change it is the linkage to the tiller is a ball joint.  Downright dangerous for me in a few circumstances when I couldn’t disengage the AP from the tiller quickly.  Maybe you have a different setup.   Also, I want to be able to locate the controls in a different place from where the arm is located and also use a remote. It seems the Pelagic has those solutions, even though I heard a Simrad remote is available that you can network to your system ( it was expensive as I recall.).

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4 minutes ago, 964racer said:

Interesting, I have the TP32 setup on my boat. One of the reasons why I want to change it is the linkage to the tiller is a ball joint.  Downright dangerous for me in a few circumstances when I couldn’t disengage the AP from the tiller quickly.  Maybe you have a different setup.   Also, I want to be able to locate the controls in a different place from where the arm is located and also use a remote. It seems the Pelagic has those solutions, even though I heard a Simrad remote is available that you can network to your system ( it was expensive as I recall.).

I use the same tiller pin with the Pelagic, Simrad and Raymarine units.  The Pelagic doesn't grab the ball on the end of the pin like the TP32, it just sets on it.  The Pelagic has never hopped off the pin, but occasionally I use a light bungee loop just in case. I haven't had a problem popping any of the tillerpilots off the pin quickly when needed (obviously as long as I'm nearby).  I guess I'm used to it after many years.  With any of the tiller driven actuators, it's going to be a pain in the ass if your overpowered and on your ear.  An under-deck drive with a clutch would solve that, but I'm not cutting my rudder shaft tube.  There are SA posts showing a cockpit floor mounted hydraulic drive with a clutch that could work too, but I'm not ready to take that step.

It is nice to have the controller mounted on the companionway bulkhead... but it's clunky when mounted.  It sticks out quite a bit (over 1.5") and I'm worried a line will get caught on it.  I may put a recess in the bulkhead to get it out of the way (like my instruments).  For now I remove the controller and put a cover over the holes when I race with crew.  Originally I mounted it to the stern pushpit (forward facing), but I was worried about it hanging out in the environment when offshore.  I have a fairly large cockpit with a wide open transom.  The original mounting was chosen because I was worried the companionway mount was too far from the helm & actuator, but the remote solved that problem.

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3 hours ago, mvk512 said:

I use the same tiller pin with the Pelagic, Simrad and Raymarine units.  The Pelagic doesn't grab the ball on the end of the pin like the TP32, it just sets on it.  The Pelagic has never hopped off the pin, but occasionally I use a light bungee loop just in case. I haven't had a problem popping any of the tillerpilots off the pin quickly when needed (obviously as long as I'm nearby).  I guess I'm used to it after many years.  With any of the tiller driven actuators, it's going to be a pain in the ass if your overpowered and on your ear.  An under-deck drive with a clutch would solve that, but I'm not cutting my rudder shaft tube.  There are SA posts showing a cockpit floor mounted hydraulic drive with a clutch that could work too, but I'm not ready to take that step.

It is nice to have the controller mounted on the companionway bulkhead... but it's clunky when mounted.  It sticks out quite a bit (over 1.5") and I'm worried a line will get caught on it.  I may put a recess in the bulkhead to get it out of the way (like my instruments).  For now I remove the controller and put a cover over the holes when I race with crew.  Originally I mounted it to the stern pushpit (forward facing), but I was worried about it hanging out in the environment when offshore.  I have a fairly large cockpit with a wide open transom.  The original mounting was chosen because I was worried the companionway mount was too far from the helm & actuator, but the remote solved that problem.

I’m in Sausalito near the golden gate so overpowered and on your ear is a common occurrence :-)....I have been getting more aggressive with my reefing and sail tuning skills when single handing and that has helped.  You mentioned you have the same tiller pin with all units. does that mean you were able to retrofit the TP32 with just a straight pin ?  (Or perhaps maybe mine was retrofitted with the ball link ).  From the docs, it appears that the pelagic and Raymarine both use the same style of pin which is straight pin that does into a hole drilled into the tiller (with a liner fitted inside).  My tiller pilot was installed with a bracket attached to the bottom of the tiller and the drive arm is connected to a ball joint on the bracket.   (My tiller is higher in the vertical direction, thus the bracket on bottom to enable horizontal installation of the tiller drive unit. 

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57 minutes ago, 964racer said:

I’m in Sausalito near the golden gate so overpowered and on your ear is a common occurrence :-)....I have been getting more aggressive with my reefing and sail tuning skills when single handing and that has helped.  You mentioned you have the same tiller pin with all units. does that mean you were able to retrofit the TP32 with just a straight pin ?  (Or perhaps maybe mine was retrofitted with the ball link ).  From the docs, it appears that the pelagic and Raymarine both use the same style of pin which is straight pin that does into a hole drilled into the tiller (with a liner fitted inside).  My tiller pilot was installed with a bracket attached to the bottom of the tiller and the drive arm is connected to a ball joint on the bracket.   (My tiller is higher in the vertical direction, thus the bracket on bottom to enable horizontal installation of the tiller drive unit. 

I don't know if they've changed the design in the past few years (or perhaps it was an option) but the TP32 unit I bought (over 10 years ago) came with a tiller pin identical to the Raymarine that works with the current Pelagic.  On the SC27 I had a bracket that allowed mounting the pin below the tiller (photos attached)... similar to yours but with a pin instead of a ball joint.  On the current boat the pin is just bonded right into the tiller (epoxied into a drilled hole).    I know overpowered well... Reef often and early!  I don't like flogging sails.

AH Installed 2.jpg

 

IMG_1644.JPG

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This might be a dumb question: does the pelagic tiller pilot not have a clutch? Do you need to physically disengage when not in use due to high backdrive resistance? I'm interested in installing one on a catamaran, so I would mount to one of the rudder tillers, but it would not be the most accessible.

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46 minutes ago, Future MOB said:

This might be a dumb question: does the pelagic tiller pilot not have a clutch? Do you need to physically disengage when not in use due to high backdrive resistance? I'm interested in installing one on a catamaran, so I would mount to one of the rudder tillers, but it would not be the most accessible.

Check this thread, near the end there’s a pic I posted of a slick setup on a cat that was sent to me by pelagic. I intend on using the idea just haven’t yet. 

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13 minutes ago, inneedofadvice said:

Check this thread, near the end there’s a pic I posted of a slick setup on a cat that was sent to me by pelagic. I intend on using the idea just haven’t yet. 

Thanks! Really clever.

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On 2/14/2021 at 7:38 PM, mvk512 said:

I don't know if they've changed the design in the past few years (or perhaps it was an option) but the TP32 unit I bought (over 10 years ago) came with a tiller pin identical to the Raymarine that works with the current Pelagic.  On the SC27 I had a bracket that allowed mounting the pin below the tiller (photos attached)... similar to yours but with a pin instead of a ball joint.  On the current boat the pin is just bonded right into the tiller (epoxied into a drilled hole).    I know overpowered well... Reef often and early!  I don't like flogging sails.

 

 

 

I have the same bracket.  What I meant was a "ball joint" was that the pin has a ball on the end of it (as in your photo) and end of the tiller pilot arm has to snap onto the ball.  (in rc applications,  this "ball" called a ball link or quick link).  At least for me, snapping the auto pilot arm on off the tiller requires some alignment and force to snap it onto the ball.  It is not something you can do in a second or with an additional line rigged. I tried to lubricate with some grease and that helps.

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On 2/19/2021 at 4:20 PM, 964racer said:

I have the same bracket.  What I meant was a "ball joint" was that the pin has a ball on the end of it (as in your photo) and end of the tiller pilot arm has to snap onto the ball.  (in rc applications,  this "ball" called a ball link or quick link).  At least for me, snapping the auto pilot arm on off the tiller requires some alignment and force to snap it onto the ball.  It is not something you can do in a second or with an additional line rigged. I tried to lubricate with some grease and that helps.

Yes, snapping the Simrad arm off the pin does take a bit of force.  Placing a thumb on the tiller stock and reaching down with fingers to pull the arm up always seemed to provide plenty of leverage to release it quickly and easily though.  That said, the uncontrolled upward force of the arm banging into to the under side of the tiller stock did result in some small dents over time, but that was easily remedied with a chafe pad.  The tiller arm pin socket did loosen up a bit over time too.  Perhaps your fit is tighter.  You could ream out the socket a bit.  I haven't had issues aligning the arm to snap it on.  My actuator arm doesn't spin freely and the socket is always aimed down.  I just press down and it snaps in.

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