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Old 02-13-2013, 09:29 AM   #1
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Join Date: May 2008
Posts: 332
Default Auto helm angst!!!!

Seems I spoke to soon about having everything finished on Australis II.

The new navigation pod is in place, new nav desk and facia varnished and all new electronics and rewiring done.

The Garmin chart-plotter/radar is talking to its little brother upstairs in the cockpit; the new Raymarine depth display is talking to the ancient Silva transducer that we can't remove until our haul out; the tactic wifi wind instrument is sending us lots of data to its display unit.

Unfortunately the new $5500 AU Raymarine SPX-10 course computer and /or the new fluxgate compass have decided they are not going to participate in our happy family and have chucked wobblies before we've even finished commissioning them.

Australis had an old Raymarine 600 Autohelm computer and hydraulic pump when we got her.

The computer and control head - although looking pretty ancient, still worked but the Raymarine hydraulic pump was doing its last death gurgles.

We could have replaced just the pump but instead opted to replace and upgrade the whole lot including:

New rudder reference unit
SPX-10 course computer
S100 wifi remote
P70 Pilot controller

We figured this was the last vessel we'd be buying and one we'd live aboard and we hate doing anything by half measures.

So with everything connected up and the hydraulic system running we did our dock trial and then went out into the harbour for the sea commissioning.

I swear we spent three hours going in ever widening circles and dropping down to less than 1kt and still getting the Raymarine display - 'turning too fast - start again'

We came back in frustration but now have discovered that the fluxgate compass is all over the place and the readings on the helm Raymarine display are a joke.

So taking a scientific approach we:

Removed the flux gate - in case of metallic interference - no change - you turn it and it goes all over the place. Even when extended and we are standing on the dock.

Shut off every bit of electronic equipment including the ship's module and shore power and just left the Autohelm powered. - still no difference.

We know the pump works and will turn the rudder when I reverse polarity.

The rudder indicator unit panel also gives an accurate reading.

So tonight I will isolate the new Raymarine course computer and instead - wire in the old course computer and control head to the new Hydraulic pump and rudder reference unit.

If that works then its either the flux gate compass or the new course computer or both.

Then first up tomorrow we'll call the Oz Raymarine rep and see what he says.

I'll get him to talk to Tony our electronics engineer here in Kota Kinabalu and hopefully we'll be told about some obscure solution or setup protocol we have missed.

If not - we'll either sail around Borneo over the next two weeks with no autohelm or the old one and I'll take the new unit back to Oz for a replacement (I hope)

Oh the joys the joys!

PS - that's not to say we are not open to any inspired suggestions from our valued fellow cruisers!

fair winds - Australis II
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