Autopilot install - st2000 below deck!

mike.floutier's picture

Here I will post pics as I take them. They're not going to be in any order at first as there's a lot of problem solving to do. Anyway this is a start.


mike.floutier's picture

Hard wired remote control

Looks like it will work, just need to add the buttons to the binnacle side cover.

Then I can get to work on installing the AP unit itself, just waiting for cutting disc for the Dremel and masks for protection when cutting the engine well liner.

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Good afternoon working on the AP install

Tiller extension now bolted onto the starboard tiller.

The £1 a piece Chinese momentary buttons are now butyl taped into the binnacle side cover, wired up and working; might as well add the other two, was concerned about space and crosstalk so only did the important 4.

Also fed another Cat 5e cable up the binnacle. This one takes the NMEA 0183 Track output from my Garmin GPSMAP to the AP. And it works too!

Flushed with all this cable success I fed up yet another pair of twisted pairs; this time from the Garmin GPSMAP to the ICOM VHF to feed the DSC "Mayday" function with the boat's GPS position for transmission.

Just need to fit the hardwood shelf to the engine well liner as the AP unit anchorage point and rig the line that's going to effect the connect/disconnect.


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Wireless remote with two fobs

Neat little unit, smaller than a cigarette packet. I just piggy-backed my existing wiring and it worked fine.

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Initial test

I finally got the shelf upright slim enough to fit in the slot between deck and liner (will add epoxy as well as screwing plus aluminum plate for strength to resist twisting forces). In fact it was so snug that I was able to test the setup in it's roughly final state prior to fixing it securely.

It was a lot of fun to stand in the cockpit press my £1 binnacle buttons and watching the rudders, engine and wheel turn to the commands.

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Calibration and Sea Test

Great day today! Having completed the physical install, the final item being the rope used to connect and disconnect the ram from the steering mechanism, I took Sky's the Limit out into the Carrick Roads for the calibration and sea trial of the autopilot.

Well I felt like a cross between the cat that got the cream and a dog with two tails. It all went well. The connect/disconnect mechanism worked fine. The best bit however was to be able to leave the wheel alone and the crowning glory was sitting at the bow directing affairs with my £11 wireless fob, I was tickled.

That's fantastic Mike.  You

That's fantastic Mike. You've really done well with this.m Amazing. Thanks so much for sharing all the process. I guess you have put in a lot of hours labour but since my autopilot has been declared un repairable I but be copying your design.


Mike, I am amazed, stunned,

Mike, I am amazed, stunned, impressed and flabbergasted. I thought Macs were so willful that they needed constant sail trimming to keep a course. Well done and I am glad to have been proved wrong. Must be my sailing ability that needs trimming.

Simon Armitage

Sowenna (26M)

mike.floutier's picture

Hands-free picnic under full sail at 4.5kts - pure

Full sail in Falmouth Bay, 15deg heel, 4.5kts SOG, balanced helm, enjoying picnic hands-free - Joy!

We were sailing for around 6 hours but so relaxed, easy to choose when to helm and when to hand over to Otto.

The course is kept by the AP, either:

1. Compass course - it has its own compass, calibrated for latitude, current variation plus the boat's deviation card,

2. Chartplotter track (linked by NMEA 0183) - the advantage here is that leeway and drift are included in the course calculations, and

3. To the wind - a wind transducer (again linked by NMEA 0183) provides wind shift data and the AP keeps your course adjusted to a set angle (your choice) to the wind. This saves constant sail trimming and you get an alarm if wind changes too much. Needs to be used intelligently. I'm not incorporating this yet as the expense involved is fairly disproportionate.