Tuesday, July 27, 2021

Upgrading our Autopilot

Upgrading our Raymarine Wheel Pilot to a Raymarine Evolution EV-100 Auto pilot.

Our Autopilot has Alzheimer's - keeps losing it's memory and not sure where it's going. Time to upgrade.

After lots of research, despite wanting to have a Garmin Autopilot to match the rest of our Garmin Electronics, they just don't have one that is suitable for our size boat that would fit within our electrical power budget. So the Raymarine Evolution EV-100 it is.

The model I selected is the EV-100 Sail Wheel Pilot. From everything I have read on the subject, it's best to have a RPS (Rudder Position Sensor) attached (link here). Also, the Evolution system should be able to use the data and some commands from our NEMA 2000 network and Garmin 741xs Chartplotter.

Here's our current Helm Electronics setup. The Garmin GMI instrument on the Starboard Side of the 'Navigation Electronics Shelf' is mounted in a DIY holder. It's made from a piece of PVC piping and a piece of Starboard material.

The new Raymarine kit includes a p70s Pilot Controller. I specifically chose the p70s rather than the p70. The format of the p70s is more closely aligned to the Garmin GMI instrument, so if I match the housing of the GMI and mount the p70s where the existing Garmin Echo Depth instrument display is (on the port side of the Navigation Electronics Shelf' ) it will add a degree of order to the shelf. 

We'll have to figure out where to mount the Garmin Echo, probably below the shelf.

The new Autopilot has similar modules to the old system just a more updated / improved feature set.

Just a quick note here. The manuals suck! They don't even clearly identify all of the components of the system because they include the components of several other systems. It takes a lot of reading to figure out which parts of the manual are applicable to the system I purchased.

The Evolution system has:

  • ACU 100 (The Brain)
  • p70s Controller
  • EV-100 Attitude Heading Reference Sensor
  • Evolution Wheel Drive
Optional equipment:
  • RPS - Rudder Position Sensor.
The Kit includes a SeaTalkng Backbone, 2 SeaTalkng T Connectors, 2 End terminators and cables for each of the devices.

Not included are the SeaTalkng to Device net Male connector (connects NEMA 2000 to SeaTalkng) Note: That cable has to connect to a NEMA 2000 T Connector which requires a NEMA 2000 Male Connector. The cable is available in both Male and Female versions.

 I did need to order a few things to go with the kit. The RPS as mentioned, the SeaTalkng to Device Net cable, a spare NEMA 2000 T connector and a 3m SeaTalkng to SeaTalkng cable to connect from the SeaTalkng backbone to the p70s instrument.  Those should all arrive by August 6th. But as Covid is having another surge, it may impede delivery so I'm expecting they will arrive mid August. Fingers are crossed.

Location of the system parts is the first step in Installation. The Raymarine manuals repeat that the p70s should not be adjacent to the Compass and other magnetic equipment. However, every installation that I've seen on YouTube has shown the instrument being installed almost as close to the compass as it could be. At least our location of that instrument should be slightly further from the Compass.

The old Autopilot ACU is located on the Aft bulkhead of the Aft Berth just to port of the Helm wheel cables. The new ACU could be there.

The SeaTalkng Backbone could be close to the ACU but I would prefer that it was not on display and subject to being accidently knocked.

The EV-1 Sensor location is a little more problematic. Away from the engine, magnetic devices or large chunks of metal (like the spare anchor in the Lazarette) or Electrical wiring runs. We've decided that the best option is to go down to the boat and determine where to place it. The existing 'Magnetic Fluxgate Compass' unit is mounted outside of the Aft Berth access door but the new EV-1 will not fit in that location. We'll figure it out.

Lastly, the Wheel Drive is a direct replacement for our existing Wheel Drive, we're only changing it for the new one because I'm sure that Raymarine has made some improvements in the design, mechanical as it is. The new Wheel Drive also has the new Drive Motor - and though I could change the motor out to the old wheel drive, might as well just go ahead and use the new one. I'll keep the old unit until it's considered 'Hording' and then give it to the sailing club's flea market.

The new system does seem to need two power supply points, one to the SeaTalkng backbone and the other to the ACU. I'm contacting Raymarine to confirm that, shouldn't be a problem as we already have a dedicated Auto Pilot Circuit Breaker on the main Electrical Control Panel.

Ok, that describes the system, components and the plan to locate them.

From my previous experience working on Autopilots, the wiring has been an issue, particularly when the wiring was not via a Plug and Socket, such as the Power Supply, motor connection and the SeaTalkng connection to the ACU. The wires are typically far to small to fit properly inside of a screwed connection. 

This Ferrule Crimping Kit should take care of that issue. 
Oh! it has 2000 Ferrules! that should suffice for, well, ForEver!

It was only $30 on Amazon.

There's quite a few projects lining up for Eximius, as the last few bits for this one don't arrive till mid August, it's dropping down the priority list (see the To Do List - Projects tab at the top of this page)

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