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Quadrant disconnect


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That is, I'm pretty sure, an "ALPHA" autopilot. They have decided to retire as of Jan this year. Their stuff was basic, but worked well. The drive arm featured a locking pivot in the middle which, when released, took all the drag of the motor off of the steering effort.

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5 minutes ago, jamhass said:

Yes, that is an Alpha autopilot setup.  The design is quite simple, and any competent machinist should be able to fab one up fairly easily.

The competent machinists in my area require vast sums of money to pique their interest. If I had better pics I think I could modify a quadrant myself to work.

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So the uppermost component shown is not a quadrant or something similar?

edit: in rereading your reply, I see what you're saying. I was just thinking that with a quadrant as a starting point I could make some sort of pivot and spring loaded set up that would be drop into a notch. Would certainly be easier with a set of drawings or even a picture of the mechanism.

DRIVE%201.gif

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3 minutes ago, El Boracho said:

That area of the boat is not accessible while underway? 

It is so it would be easier to monitor if I had it right. I'm just looking for an option to the cockpit aerobics required to line up the tiller and pin in fresh conditions. Could always drop a couple boat bucks on a linear drive or similar with little or no resistance when on standby.

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2 minutes ago, ryley said:

I hate to say it, but the idea of a latch seems like the weak point in this design.

They seemed to have had success with it while they made it so the designer must have found a way to overcome any issues.

I found an archived thread on it and the responses were pretty positive.

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The only issue I.ve ever heard is that you have to re-align the two parts to get the pin to work (re-lock the arm) So a bit of trouble, esp if you don't know what position drive arm was in when last disconnected. Usual practice is to make sure rudder was centered when you pull the dis-connect, so you can center helm & re-connect easily 

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10 minutes ago, longy said:

The only issue I.ve ever heard is that you have to re-align the two parts to get the pin to work (re-lock the arm) So a bit of trouble, esp if you don't know what position drive arm was in when last disconnected. Usual practice is to make sure rudder was centered when you pull the dis-connect, so you can center helm & re-connect easily 

From reading reviews, I believe when you release the cable it applies pressure to the 'key' until it finds the 'keyway' and locks in.

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Ran an older Alpha setup for many (10+) years.  No (zero, nada ...) issues with the mechanical disconnect.  Changed the Morse cable once.  

Yes, I easily see a day of machinist's time.  I guess what I intended to say is that any competent machinists (including many hobby machinists) would have no issues (complex setups, special tooling, etc).  I could make up a pretty accurate "working" prototype out of wood in a day or two.

Finally, re locking the dog in place:  You pull on the actuating cable while wiggling the helm at center position.  Its quick and easy.  Works best when you remember to disengage the dog with the helm centered.

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6 minutes ago, jamhass said:

Ran an older Alpha setup for many (10+) years.  No (zero, nada ...) issues with the mechanical disconnect.  Changed the Morse cable once.  

Yes, I easily see a day of machinist's time.  I guess what I intended to say is that any competent machinists (including many hobby machinists) would have no issues (complex setups, special tooling, etc).  I could make up a pretty accurate "working" prototype out of wood in a day or two.

Finally, re locking the dog in place:  You pull on the actuating cable while wiggling the helm at center position.  Its quick and easy.  Works best when you remember to disengage the dog with the helm centered.

Don't suppose you kept a pic or two?B)

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If they are using a non specialty motor sometimes you can get a c face clutch that goes on the end of the motor with the same c face and output shaft. It would be a easy retro if available. Not sure if it would eliminate the drag enough though as the gears would still be moving.

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Seems like a interesting project, after giving some thought I'm with jamhass, that it's not outside the realm of a DIYS.  I'm guessing your actuators are opposing.  The Alfa design is fairly basic.  I would probably go with a yolk instead of a single plate on one side. With decent drilling and composite bushings could probably build out of aluminum plate with no welding required.  You can get push pull cables from McMaster Carr as well as levers. Would probably do a pin for locking under spring tension.  You could easily over design it. The whole thing is pretty simple the only fiddling will be the locking portion.

All that said I would do a cost comparison to upgrading the ST unit to one that already removes the drag when disengaged. The Pelagic you can disconnect and treat as a spare.

 

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9 hours ago, longy said:

Raymarine linear drives have almost no drag on steering, don't need this 'breaking' arm.  Hyd drive rams do impart a lot of drag.

The one I have isn’t a linear drive. It’s basically locked when in standby. I was trying to avoid dropping 2k+ on something I already own. 

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21 hours ago, solosailor said:

I built it pre-digital cameras.   I might have a photo somewhere buried but nothing now, sorry.  It was an aluminum arm with the pivoting arm locked in place by a square pin actuatad by the cable.  Here is my 2 minute drawing !

Screen Shot 2020-11-21 at 2.49.28 PM.png

Thanks, if Fred from @jamhass link can’t find one I’ll make one. He thinks he has one but wasn’t able to locate it. 

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On 11/21/2020 at 5:40 PM, solosailor said:

I built it pre-digital cameras.   I might have a photo somewhere buried but nothing now, sorry.  It was an aluminum arm with the pivoting arm locked in place by a square pin actuatad by the cable.  Here is my 2 minute drawing !

Couple of questions related to your design:

1. You've put the pivot point near the end of the quadrant as opposed the the Alpha design that has it reversed (see original post). Any reason for this?

2. What did you use as a cable/spring pin mechanism? I assume there is an off the shelf component I can purchase? 

3. Were you able to drop the pin and have the movement of the tiller or AP 'search' for the alignment position until it auto locked?

4. After using, are there any tips you can offer that you would have done differently if you were doing it again?

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  • 2 weeks later...

I have a rig something along that line where my tiller pilot attaches to my belowdecks Cape Horn vane steering.  I don't use the pilot to drive the rudder or tiller directly but instead let the power of the windvane steering do the work.  The tiller pilot only corrects the orientation of the vane to steer where you want.  VERY low power and the tiller pilot is out of the weather.  It has worked well.

The negative is that I had to place a small deck plate above the attachment point to connect and disconnect it.  I just  reach down and drop the pilot shaft on the the same pin normally installed in the tiller, but instead installed in the vane steerer.  When I want to disconnect it, I just pick it up and have a piece of bungee and a hook located nearby that I hang the tiller pilot from.

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In some correspondence with Pelagic they sent me a pic of what they said is an F27 that has a system set up that looks like it uses a block on either side of the cockpit, creating a loop that runs through a tiller clutch and meets at the pin on the actuator. Engaging the clutch locks the tiller to the ram, disengaging it allows the tiller to move with no restriction. 

This is the only pic he sent although he said there is a video on their fb page and instagram but I couldn't find it. So some is left up to your imagination but it seems slick and simple. Would require recentering the actuator before engaging.

20200731_155345 (1).jpg

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17 hours ago, inneedofadvice said:

In some correspondence with Pelagic they sent me a pic of what they said is an F27 that has a system set up that looks like it uses a block on either side of the cockpit, creating a loop that runs through a tiller clutch and meets at the pin on the actuator. Engaging the clutch locks the tiller to the ram, disengaging it allows the tiller to move with no restriction. 

This is the only pic he sent although he said there is a video on their fb page and instagram but I couldn't find it. So some is left up to your imagination but it seems slick and simple. Would require recentering the actuator before engaging.

20200731_155345 (1).jpg

That looks like a slick combo.  I wonder how the tiller clutch holds with dyneema.  Id like to see more details on that install.  If you find the photos or site please link.

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Mike from Scanmar(Pelagic) shared a video with me that won't upload. I'll message him and see if he'll put up a link. The video shows it is exactly as I described. The only thing I hadn't thought of was that it works in reverse. When the actuator pushes to port, the tiller is pulled to starboard. Not sure how the AP deals with that.

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3 hours ago, solosailor said:

The AP can be setup for use on either side so no issue there.

It's not that it's on the wrong side, it's that due to the loop of the line when the ram pushes it pulls the tiller and vice versa. Pelagic said it can be corrected by reversing the wires. You can see it in the first link in my post above if it works. Here's a screen shot from that video that may show it clearer:

Screenshot (3).png

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Why is the endless line and clutch an improvement over just having the tiller pilot sit on top of the tiller and dropping it on as needed?  Don't quite see the advantage in this particular configuration.

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When in rough conditions aligning the actuator on the pin then taking it off standby is an advanced aerobic move. The ability clamp the tiller clutch on, thereby holding the tiller straight without having to nail the alignment of the ram onto the pin is a big step forward. Hit the button and you are off standby. All with a relatively simple and inexpensive setup. Seems like a win to me.

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18 minutes ago, inneedofadvice said:

When in rough conditions aligning the actuator on the pin then taking it off standby is an advanced aerobic move. The ability clamp the tiller clutch on, thereby holding the tiller straight without having to nail the alignment of the ram onto the pin is a big step forward. Hit the button and you are off standby. All with a relatively simple and inexpensive setup. Seems like a win to me.

I have to admit I never noticed it being a problem when I used to have a tiller pilot on the tiller of our previous, smaller, boat.  Had some fairly bumpy Gulf Stream crossings without it being an issue.

HOWEVER, for our present belowdecks setup where the tiller pilot is connected to the vane steering, I can see where a variant might well be worthwhile.  Not as easy to connect/disconnect as it was on deck.

Time for some thought.   Thanks!

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I find it most useful downwind at the upper end of my comfort zone with the chute up. To make an sail adjustment I need to deal with the distraction of looking down lining up the pin, aligning the actuator to make sure that the tiller will be held straight while I reach for the AP standby button. It's a recipe for a wipeout.

 With this setup, use the AP controls to extend or retract the ram to approximate centre, flick the tiller clutch and engage.

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