Your Boat Toilets Experts Keep You On Course With Autopilot Benefits
Raritan Engineering Company your boat toilets specialists would like to share with you these topics we thought would be of interest to you this month regarding autopilot effectiveness.
Your boat toilets analysts and initiatives-Coeur skipper Tanguy de Lamotte trims his sails while his B&G H3000 autopilot keeps him on course.
In IMOCA 60 racing, singlehanded sailors often rely on their autopilots to drive, and in the Vendée Globe, they can be the singlehander’s best friend or worst enemy.
“The pilot needs to drive the boat reliably through a full range of conditions,” says naval architect Jesse Naimark-Rowse, electronics engineer for Osprey Technical, which outfits Vendée Globe contenders such as Alex Thomson’s Hugo Boss.
Cutting-edge systems such as NKE’s Processor HR autopilot rely on wind sensors with fast sample rates and solid-state 3-D sensors, in addition to conventional inputs, such as rudder angle. “Our processor samples heel, pitch and roll at 25 hertz,” says Bob Congdon, NKE’s technical consultant.
However, autopilots can’t see or anticipate windshifts or off-kilter waves and react ahead of time like a human helmsman. “From my experience in waves, particularly upwind slamming, the pilot struggles to match a good helmsman,” says Naimark-Rowse.
Congdon agrees. “Any condition that’s difficult for a human is hard for a computer,” he says, noting that NKE incorporated two new modes — Gust mode and Surf mode — in the Processor HR to help the autopilot compensate.
Congdon says modern autopilots “use less power because their steering algorithms are so sophisticated, [they] don’t have to overcorrect.”
Any Vendée veteran will confirm the critical role the autopilot plays in the race. “Most Vendée skippers are hardly hand-steering these days,” says Naimark-Rowse. “The reliability of the pilots has come a long way in the past 10 years, and it only continues to improve.” ven with the best autopilot or the best helmsman driving.”
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Like a brain and its neurons, the nke marine autopilot functions through a series of connected parts.
What autopilots do best
Autopilots do a great job of holding a steady course in light to moderate conditions with minimal helm movements. They don’t get tired like their human counterparts and have an infinite attention span.
How they work
Autopilots all include three main components: a heading sensor that is usually a fluxgate compass, a central processing unit (aCourse Computer) that is the “brain” of the autopilot, and a drive unit, a motor or hydraulic pump that applies force to your boat’s rudder.
Operation is simple: you put the vessel on the desired heading, hold the course for a few seconds, press AUTO, and release the helm. The autopilot will lock the course in memory, and will respond with helm corrections to keep your boat on this course.
Lowrance Outboard Pilot for a boat with rotary mechanical steering. Shown are the course computer, GPS receiver and drive unit, which replaces the boat’s rotary helm.
When autopilots have trouble steering
Here’s a basic rule: If you have a hard time holding a course, your autopilot will too. Unlike a windvane (a stern-mounted mechanical self-steerer used on cruising sailboats), autopilots work harder as seas build and wind gets stronger. Eventually, the limits of the pilot’s power output are reached, and the device gets overwhelmed.
When cockpit autopilots fail
Over the years we’ve learned quite a bit about what works and why things fail. By sharing this information with you, we hope you can avoid the inconvenience of autopilot failure.
When their autopilots need repair, and they will need repair eventually, our customers find themselves in a location where it is difficult or impossible to get the unit serviced.
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