Showing posts sorted by relevance for query autopilot. Sort by date Show all posts
Showing posts sorted by relevance for query autopilot. Sort by date Show all posts

Tuesday, January 4, 2022

Raymarine Auto Pilot - Upgrade review

Raymarine Auto Pilot - Upgrade review

I'm normally pretty easy on reviews of boat equipment, but I have to step it up with my review of the Raymarine EV100 Autopilot that we installed this year.

The installation - Here's a link to the install process, but here's a quick overview.
  • I planned the install in great detail as it was an expensive and complex install due to the existing wiring on the boat.
  • The old Autopilot was suffering, turns out it was probably due to bad wiring of the original install whenever that was done, before my time owning the boat.
  • The install was done in the summertime here in South Florida - yes - Sweaty work.
  • All of the existing navigation equipment was rewired.
After finishing the install a few months ago, we did a dockside test with the boat tied fast to the dock.
That basically consisted of calibrating the Wheel rotation. Once complete we set the wheel pilot to Auto and then adjusted the heading to see that the wheel turned in the correct direction, a simple test, but it sure gives a greater degree of confidence in the complete installation.

Ok, fast forward to the New Year's Eve Cruise on December 30th 2021. We left the dock at 6:15am dawn was just breaking, we navigated down the New River and passed all of the bridges, the last being the 3rd Avenue Bridge, from there is was simple motoring down the river then North on the Intracoastal Waterway, there were only two bridges we need to pass to get us from the River to Sunrise Bay.

I took the opportunity to turn on the Autopilot once we passed the last bridge on the New River. Initially the controller complained that there was no drive unit found, turned out that the Autopilot was not powered on, but the instrument was via the NEMA 2000 Network. Peggy turned on the Autopilot at the Electrical control panel by the Nav Table in the Cabin. 

Now the Autopilot started to obey the commands at the Helm Station. There are 4 heading control buttons:- -1º +1º, -10º, +10º. As soon as the Autopilot was put into Auto mode, the wheel drive motor took control of the Helm. Pressing any of the heading control buttons changed the heading very quickly, it was a quick as if I had manually tried to change the heading by rotating the Helm. I must admit, I was impressed! I was able to navigate all the way from 3rd Avenue bridge to the Las Olas Blvd Bridge - there I took the pilot out of Auto and manually steered through the bridge where the current was pretty heavy and there was other boat traffic the really required manual control.

Again, when we passed the Sunrise Blvd Bridge, I went back to manual operation. After the last bridge, Peggy took the helm with the Autopilot in Standby.

The old Autopilot would very slowly react to a heading change request and would often just stop steering, it was not reliable. We tried to steer via the Autopilot but had to keep a close eye because it deviated from the desired heading every few minutes. The Helm wheel would move with exaggerated turns and confidence in the Autopilot system was zero.

The new Autopilot is amazing so far! It responds immediately to a heading change request and does not make exaggerated wheel movements, in fact they are quite fine movements. We have had other people sail on Eximius, and they would not make such fine movements of the wheel despite instructions on how to hold the wheel and make small but early trims of the wheel to keep on course.

Beneath the digital heading display on the Control Instrument, there is a text bar that indicates when the system is detecting local magnetics, every now and then it would change color but it pretty much stayed visible on the first day of use.

After a great New Year's Eve cruise with the Hillsboro Inlet Sailing Club, we left Sunrise Bay at 7:15 Sunday Jan 2nd 2022. Once past the Sunrise Bridge, we put the Autopilot to work again and easily navigated to Las Olas Blvd Bridge, manually steered past the raised bridge and then back into Auto.

As we continued up the New River, we heard from the FEC Railroad bridge that it was going down in 6 minutes. I called the bridge tender asked how long he expected the bridge to be down. 14 minutes.
At the rate we were travelling though the flooding river, we would be at the FEC bridge before it opened. So I decided to do a few Doughnuts downstream of the 'Tunnel' to pass some time in order that we don't end up trying to hover back from the approaching bridges. I probably made 5 or 6 doughnuts, just turning to Stbd by adjusting the heading via the Control instrument. 

During this maneuver the Control Instrument display changed completely. It displayed a message stating that the system had completed the Magnetic evaluation. WooHoo.

After accepting that info (OK) the screen returned to the normal display and the Detecting Magnetics notice was no longer visible.

We have yet to complete the Commissioning process and that requires that we are in an area that is free of obstructions (like the sides of the New River!) as we have to let the Autopilot take charge.

The Autopilot has a learning curve (the pilot, not me!) and during one phase of the commissioning process the Autopilot follows a track similar to the one shown here. We'll have to be on the Ocean to do that, it's far too crowded on the New River and ICW and the lakes are not big enough as well as normally being occupied by many boats.

I'm good with this, another reason for getting the boat out.

So far, my impression of the EV-100 is Excellent! Easy to use, Very Responsive and very conservative in the way it manages the steering.  We have a lot to learn about the system after completing the Commissioning including being able to follow a track (not sure if it will do that, but it has the systems required, just have to make sure that the Raymarine part will listen to the Garmin GPS Chartplotter which provides the data for following a track.)

Right now, I give it a **********, 10 out of 10 stars. I am delighted with the upgrade. Well worth the effort and we both look forward to using it often.

Oh! One last thing! 
Prior to installing the new Autopilot (which includes a Rudder Position Sensor) we had to look down between our legs to see which way the Rudder cap was pointed in order to determine the Rudder Position. It was almost comical, Peggy would be at the helm, I would ask her to go Amidships and she would look down between her legs and turn the wheel till the rudder cap pointed directly forwards.

The New Autopilot has a Rudder Position Display, even if the Drive it not powered up.

The display shows a Red (port) or Green (starboard) block from 0º to current rudder position. 

No more looking between our legs to see the Rudder position. BTW this was only necessary because the wheel required more than 1 turn to move the rudder from fully to port to fully to starboard, so the whipping that we have on the wheel to indicate Amidships is only useful if the rudder it nearly Amidships already. 

Stay tuned for more updates as we complete the Commissioning process and get used to using this awesome upgrade to Eximius.

See you on the water. 

Sunday, August 15, 2021

Autopilot Upgrade - Mounting the p70s Control Head

 Mounting a Raymarine p70s Controller

The Autopilot Controller for the existing system is mounted on the Starboard side bulkhead adjacent to the Helm Wheel. To reach it we have to bend or sit down to operate the buttons, definitely not the best position for the controller.

This is the New 'p70s' Autopilot Controller. Size wise it is almost identical to the Garmin GMI 20 Instrument already mounted on the Helm Nav Shelf. So I'm making a similar mounting unit.

Sadly, the plumbing business has changed the design of their End Caps for their 3" PVC Pipe. Good news, is that the new end caps are even better. So the new mount is only two parts instead of three for the GMI 20 instrument mount.

The mount is made from 3/4" Starboard and is 6" along it's longest edge (lower left in this pic) and 5" Wide.

The back is made from a 3" PVC End Cap from lowes. $5.35

I drilled out the Starboard with a 3" hole cutter (the internal diameter of the End Cap) 

Secured the end cap to the starboard using 1" #4 philips flat head SS screws.

There's a hole in the lower side of the end cap for the connection to the SeaTalkng cable to the Backbone.

The lower edge of the Starboard is cut at an angle that matches that of the Garmin GMI 20 Instrument so they pretty well match now.

Getting the bezel off of the instrument is a little tricky when the instrument is mounted. I found using a very fine pin Pick it comes off pretty easy.

The finished product, total cost about $10 including screws, Starboard (purchased from Sailorman in Fort Lauderdale by the lb) and the End Cap.

It will be secured to the Helm Nav Shelf using a couple of screws from underneath the shelf into the bottom edge of the Starboard.

Very pleased with this part of the project.

Next part is to install this at the helm and run the cables through the cable glands near the bottom of the pedestal guard. Looks like we'll be doing that on Wednesday.

See you on the water ---- Soon! 

Update - Wednesday August 2021
Well that went well.
This morning I went down to the boat with a plan - reposition the instruments and mount the new p70s Autopilot Control head in it's new holder.

This is the Helm Nav Shelf before today's work.
The Garmin GMI-20 is on the starboard side of the shelf. The GPS mount is centered at the back of the shelf. The Garmin Echo instrument mount is on the port side of the Shelf.

That black line is a zip tie that we use to hold down notes that we keep at the helm like the bridge list for the ICW or the Dock map of the various marinas we visit.

Left side of that picture is forwards, Top is to Starboard and right is aft.

After the work, the GMI-20 is on the Port side and the Autopilot p70s is on the Starboard side.

Not shown in this picture, the Garmin Echo Depth instrument is now located to the Starboard side of the Pedestal guard.

The data and power cables are temporarily secured to the Pedestal guard but are not re-routed to their final position yet. That requires the opening of the cable gland at the foot of the Pedestal guard, pulling the wires up from the aft berth, repositioning them to the shortest side.

When completed the wires will be routed as follows:
Port Side Gland: GMI-20, GPS and Radar Cables
Stbd side Gland VHF remote, p70s, Echo Depth, Autopilot Wheel motor.

First step in that process is to clear out the Aft Berth (our Garage) so that we can get to the old Autopilot's ACU. Remove the old Fluxgate Compass, run new power cables etc. etc. Worth another post.

Again - See you on the Water.

Saturday, September 25, 2021

Autopilot Upgrade - Wiring the System

Upgrading the Autopilot Power supply

Our existing Autopilot was badly wired when installed before we purchased the boat Six years ago. Now that we're replacing the Autopilot with a new Raymarine EV-100 system, we're making sure that the power supply is up to spec, all of the other cables are new.

The Autopilot Control Unit (ACU-100), the Electronics and Wheel drive motor of the system, requires 7amps 12v DC power. Separately, the new Raymarine SeaTalkng network Backbone requires 3 to 5 amps. 

The Electrical Control panel on Eximius is planned to be rewired later this year but we'll take any opportunity to upgrade the electrical system before then.

The Electrical Control panel has a 15amp breaker for the Autopilot. With a total of a max of 7amps, I'll replace existing 15amp breaker with a 10amp breaker.

The existing wire from the breaker to the Autopilot is #16 and the round trip distance is about 30 to 40 feet. The Correct wire size for 7 amps along that length of wire is #10.

Of course, the probability is that the -ve cable to the old Autopilot is also a #16 so that will have to be changed out for a #10 also. I installed a -ve Bus Bar adjacent to the engine a couple of  years ago, however, the planned upgrade to the Electrical panel includes having new -ve bus bars inside of the electrical panel housing. There is a -ve bus bar in that area, but it's just not suitable - and has far to many wires terminated at the bus bar. I'll install a temporary -ve Bus Bar near the panel.

So, we're going to pull two Red #10 (+ve) and a Yellow #10 (-ve) wires from behind the Electrical panel, aft into the Bathroom, aft again into the area behind the aft berth stern bulkhead then to the ACU area along with all of the other wires from the Navigation system (GPS, NEMA2000, Radar, and VHF, Echo Depth Instrument). 

In an earlier post I covered the rewiring of the instruments at the Helm Nav Shelf, so all of the instrument cables now exit from the deck down into the aft berth.

The existing electronics requires 2 fused connections supplied via the Aux GPS Circuit Breaker. Another two fused connections to be supplied via the Autopilot Circuit Breaker.

I have just ordered a second fuse block (see below) in order to provide a neat install of all four of those connections.

These blocks have a transparent cover and have 4 individually fused connections, however, I expect that only two of each will be required.

There will be a seperate Terminal block for the -ve connections.

Those fuse blocks will be mounted on the Aft Bulkhead close to the ACU. 

RANT Time!
Ok, I understand that electronics manufacturers need to make the cables long enough to suite a wide variety of installations, so the cables can be quite a bit longer than required. HOWEVER - they should have a note on the installation instructions suggesting that the cables should be trimmed to a length suitable for the installation. I've seen so many installs of Boat Electronics where the installer has coiled up the wires and left them loafing about somewhere behind the various panels on the boat. Today I pulled out 6 cables each one at least 15' long that could have been as short as 5' Grrrrr! I spent over an hour figuring out which cables were no longer required and could be removed in their entirety. At least I got them all out.    But then I started on replacing the power wires for both the Garmin Echo depth finder and the Garmin GPS - I knew they were bad, but had no idea how bad! Tomorrow I'll work on replacing those cables.


During a conversation with the Raymaine Tech support, I learned that there should only be a single power connection to the SeaTalkng Network backbone. My plan was to add 12v DC to that backbone. However, as they also clarified that the SeaTalkng backbone is basically identical in function to the NEMA 2000 backbone and that if they are going to be connected it should be via a SeaTalkng to NEMA 2000 (which Raymarine refer to as 'Device net') via a backbone connection and not a spur connection. That means that the 12v DC that is already provided for the NMEA 2000 network will also power the SeaTalkng backbone. One less power supply to worry about. That means that the 2nd Fuse block noted above will only provide power to the ACU-100 and not to the SeaTalkng backbone.

Down at the boat yesterday, I was able to remove a few unwanted cables (because they went nowhere and had no power on them). It required that I remove the Aft Bulkhead in the Aft Cabin, not too difficult. The port side bulkhead of the Aft Cabin also came out just to allow more access.

It will take a bit of effort to sort out the remaining cables. The Data cable from the Radar Unit cannot be cut and has about 30' of excess cable. Probably because the Radar Dome has the option to be mounted up the mast.

The bare wire connections that have to be made to the ACU-100 are the type I try to avoid, but there's no getting around it on this device. However, I can terminate the bare wire ends with Ferrules.

The ends of the bare wires that extend beyond the ferrules will be cut off. That leaves a nice and strong termination to clamp down with the Screw in wire holders of the ACU-100

Those ferrules will be used on the bare wire ends of connections for the SeaTalkng Spur cable, the Wheel Motor Power, the Rudder Position Sensor and the Power cables.

Some of those wires are just 24awg, imagine how fragile they would be if the bare wire ends were simply inserted and screwed down into place.  The kit was cheap from Amazon, worth every penny.

The old power cable for the old Autopilot is a two wire sleeved cable at the Autopilot end, but the other end is not sleeved and is not the same cable. So that whole wire has to come out as mentioned above. Sadly, the cable passes from behind that aft panel in the Aft Cabin up to the side of the Port side Cockpit locker - that means the locker has to be emptied - it's crammed! Probability is that I'll find a join in the cable that is slavered in liquid tape - I really really detest that stuff.

Anyway, while getting this part of the project done, Peggy found another leak in the cockpit, she was scrubbing it down after all the groty work I did earlier this week. The to Aft Cabin port lights are leaking. Another project, but for now I have applied Butyl Tape to where the outside port light flange attaches to the side of the cockpit seating. Another post for that.

At this point we're ready to run the power cables, 30 mins to empty the port side cockpit locker, another 30 to pull the old cable out (and the other defunct cables), same again to the the cables all the way from the 12v Control panel. Replacement should be  quicker as there'll be room in the loom cable ties for the new cables after pulling out all of the old cables.

That's Monday's job.
This project does seem to be taking a whole lot longer than expected, what's unusual about that, but we are spending time getting rid of the failed equipment and wiring. If we were installing this from scratch it would take a fraction of this time.  Oh well! Boat projects tend to do that.

Update: Here's the schematic modified after talking with Raymarine Support

Had to take a break on this as we found a couple of leaky leaky bits around the cockpit to aft cabin windows, that lost us two days.

Back on task, I removed the wooden bulkhead between the aft berth and the fuel tank in addition to the bulkhead between the aft berth and the water tank, all in order to get access to the jumble of wires that are behind those panels. So far I have pulled out another 40' of poor quality wire, bad connections and wrong sized wires.  By Saturday we had the wires pulled all the way into the main salon, just a couple more feet to go in order to get them out from the tangle of wiring behind the electrical panel. See the pic at the top of this post.

It's Labor Day Weekend, so we're doing family stuff until Tuesday, plus I'll get a bit of Canvas work done to bring in some boat bucks. Plan is to head down to the boat on Tuesday morning with the hope of running the new wiring from the circuit breakers to the fuse blocks close to the ACU and the GPS/Echo instruments.

Just in case you're wondering! Yes, we're ready to get the boat out as soon as this work is done! Working on the boat is fun and fulfilling, but we need water under the keel time.

Update Thursday Sept. 9th.
Down at the boat yesterday. Peggy spent most of the morning scrubbing down the deck, it's a constant challenge. With the power cables ran from the Cabin thru to the After berth, I was able to sort out the mess of wiring above the aft water tank. While at it (yep, another bit of project creep) I pulled the wire for the Echo Depth finder's transponder from it's old route into a much shorter and neater route which allowed for the additional wire to be coiled up neatly. Here's a pic of the current state of the wiring behind the aft bulkhead.


Sadly I could not find the adapter cable I had purchased from Amazon that joins the NEMA 2000 backbone to the SeaTalkng backbone - we spent way too much time searching for it. A new cable should arrive Friday. Saturday we'll go down to the boat and should complete the wiring at the Aft bulkhead, connecting the ACU and the Backbones. That should leave just a few more steps.
  • Replace the Wheel Pilot with the new one.
  • Complete the cable management of the wiring from the aft berth all the way to the main cabin.
  • Connect the Positives (Red #10) to the two circuit breakers
  • Connect the two Negatives (Yellow #10) to the -ne Bus bar at the back of the electrical control panel.
  • Test everything before doing the sea trials.
Well, Saturday was a huge success. I completed the looming of the cables in the Port Side Cockpit locker, removing about 30 old zip ties that were really not doing anything. Then completed the wiring in the aft berth, that's the cables going to the ACU, the SeaTalkng backbone connection to the NEMA 2000 backbone. Installed the Negative terminal block and connected the -ve from the ACU power connection, the -ve from the Echo depth instrument and the -ve from the GPS power connection. Then the +ves to the two fuse blocks  - 1 for the ACU and the other for the GPS & Echo Depth. Ran the ground wire from the ACU to the fuel tank grounding tag (the fuel tank is grounded to the engine) Basically got all of the wiring in the aft berth complete.

So the plan on Tuesday is to go down to the boat and run the wires from their entrance into the cabin (that's inside the sliding door cabinet above the Nav Station) and connect +v's and -v's as mentioned above, at that point we should be able to test the electronics. WooHoo!

Of course, life gets in the way! On monday the roofing company is due to arrive at our home to start work on replacing the roof and Facia. We're in Florida, so that work needs a bit of personal supervision, the last company we used 20 years ago did a carp job and had to re-do some of it due to failing an inspection. Now I know what to look for - and I'll be looking!

We may get the boat out in a week or so, won't that be sweet!

See you on the water - soon.

Saturday, August 7, 2021

Upgrading our Autopilot - Planning

Planning the Upgrade to our Autopilot

As covered in the previous post (Click here to view), we're upgrading our Autopilot replacing the original unit that suffers from Alzheimer's.

I ordered the major parts as a kit from Defender, added the Rudder Position Sensor kit from West Marine and drew a schematic to ensure I have everything.

Autopilot Schematic
Waiting on the SeaTalkng to SeaTalkng Connector

I missed the cable between the SeaTalkng Spur T's It's on order from Amazon. Should arrive tomorrow (Friday 8/6) so the system will be ready to install starting Saturday.

1st step is to install the RPS Rudder Position Sensor - that will be located in the Aft Locker. It will require some fabrication as the Sensor has to be mounted within certain parameters. There's a great how to article on the Marine How To site. So I'm pretty sure that the first visit down into the Bowels of the Aft locker will be an exploratory run, just to figure out how to mount the sensor. The rest of the install is easy, just mounting the various parts and making the electrical connections.

Here's where I'm considering installing the EV-1 the Attitude Sensor. That bulkhead is about parallel with the Helm Pedestal, the old Autopilot ACU is below the Circled area. Would make for a easy location and out of the way if anyone ever slept in the Aft Berth.

Locating it there would also reduce the amount of cable required to connect the p70s and the ACR / SeaTalkng Backbone.

We were down at the boat today progressing the new Cabin Top Winches, the outside temp was 97ºF but with high humidity is was a lot more painful. So no time to check out the location of the Rudder Position Sensor.

At home this afternoon, I did register all of the Raymarine new parts: Wheel Pilot ST4000, ACU-100, Ev-1 and the Rudder Position Sensor. Their site is not that easy to navigate, it's asking to 'Upload Documents' WTF? So I uploaded a pic of each of the Bar Code strips from each of the units. Then asked Raymarine support if I got it right? The Warranty on all of the products is dependent upon getting the Registration right. Now that's a Get Out Of Jail Free card if ever I saw one. Should have an answer in 3 biz days, that will be August 11th. We'll see.

Saturday August 7th. 2021
Took some pics of the area by the Steering Radial Drive where the Rudder Position Sensor will be located.

This shows the distance from the outer edge of the Aft Locker Shelf support beam (2" x 4") to be about 10" from the center of the rudder post.

That 2" x 4" is not a C34 original, a past owner installed them in order to mount a shelf which covers the Steering Radial Drive and improves the storage of the Aft Locker.

I might touch up the finish of the woodwork and the shaft guide post. Probably use the Same epoxy paint that was used for the bilges last January.

This pic shows the distance of the Radius of the Steering Radial Drive to be approximately  8 1/2" inches

The optimum distance of the Rudder end of the Sensor arm is 5.5" 

Looks like I can drill out where marked in this photo. That will allow a plate to be position on the underside of the Steering Radial Drive.  A piece of Starboard screwed through those holes will make it easier to attach the Tiller Pin.

This shows the underside of the Steering Radial Drive where I hope to attach that piece of Starboard.

The underside of the 2" x 4" aft locker shelf support is not quite level with the underside of the Steering Radial Drive. So a couple of pieces of Starboard will allow the Sensor to be mounted (inverted) closer to the Tiller pin, it needs to be no more than 12" from the tiller pin. So that looks very doable.

Might take a couple of trips down to the boat to manufacture and fit those pieces of Starboard.

So the planning so far:-
  • Rudder Position Sensor can be mounted on the underside of the Aft Locker Shelf support - Stbd side. 
  • Tiller Pin can be mounted on a piece of starboard screwed to the underside of the Steering Radial Drive.
  • The ACU-100 can be mounted where the old ACU is currently installed on the Aft Bulkhead of the Aft Berth as shown in the pic above.
  • The EV-1 can be mounted just above the new ACU-100
  • The p70s Autopilot Control head can be mounted where the Garmin Echo Depth instrument is currently located, we'll have to figure out where to move the Echo instrument. The Echo Depth Instrument can be moved to the Port Side Pedestal wing, we'll just remove the temporary cup holder that is mounted there at present.
Next trip to the boat will be to start on the RPS install, it will have to be early in the day as it just gets too hot right now.

We're planning on taking the boat out on August 16th for a couple of nights, it would be nice to have the Autopilot installed ready for testing on that trip.

See you on the water, maybe not even holding onto the helm.

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)

Thursday, August 26, 2021

Autopilot upgrade - installing the EV-100 Sensor

Installing the Raymarine EV-1 Sensor Core

This is the new EV-1 Sensor Core, part of the Raymarine EV-100 Autopilot kit we're using to replace our existing Raymarine Autopilot - if you have read the previous posts, you know, the old unit is suffering from Alzheimer's - It doesn't know where it's going and keeps on forgetting things.

This is the old Autopilot's Compass unit. It's mounted on the bulkhead with the door to the Aft Berth, the new unit will not fit there.

The new unit has to be at least 1m (3'3") from the engine, other electronics or magnetic interferances.

Also, the top of the sensor puck has an LED that should be visible and is only visible from the top of the sensor puck, so the new sensor has to be about 12" from a deckhead (ceiling) and that really limits it's location on Eximius. We have a couple of meters long SeaTalkng cable to facilitate positioning the sensor from the ACU. In response from Raymarine, the EV-1 has to be a minimum of 1m from the ACU.  We're working on that location issue.

Finally figured out the location for the EV-1 sensor.

That is on the bulkhead between the Galley and the Aft Berth Starboard side.

The Raymarine Spur Cable is connected to a SeaTalkng Backbone via a 400mm spur cable. The backbone cable connects to a T-piece has a terminator on one end and a backbone cable on the other.

The backbone cable is secured to the existing wiring loom above the soffit under the deckhead (behind the teak piece)

I spoke with Raymarine support this morning and a really helpful guy confirmed that I should not connect the NEMA2000 to the SeaTalkng network via a spur cable, but via a backbone connection cable.

This change eliminates the 5 way backbone connector and replaces it with a single T-piece connector.
The result is a more simplistic schematic but it adds about $150 to the project. I should be able to return the unused SeaTalkng to Device net Spur cable and I'll have to sell the additional equipment on Craig's list or E-Bay. 

On yesterday's visit to the boat, I did get the cable for the Rudder Position Sensor secured to existing looms all the way to the ACU and a few of the other cables setup for install. Definitely making progress. The new connectors will not arrive until Friday next week, but I have plenty to get done before then. It does look as though the install will not be done in time for Labor Day weekend, we'll see how it goes. I could get everything else done before the last few bits arrive, so maybe we could sail that weekend. 

See you on the water - really! That's the plan.

Tuesday, March 5, 2024

Adding Aqua Maps to our Navigation System

Upgrading our Navigation System with AquaMaps

Our Navigation System is pretty good, but I wanted to add some redundancy. Yes we have Chart Books for our sailing areas, I just like to be prepared.

Here's our Current Nav Electronics Inventory.
  • Garmin 741XS Chart Plotter
  • Garmin DST 810 Depth, Speed, Water Temperature Transducer
  • Garmin GMR 18" Radar
  • Garmin GWind Wind Transducer
  • Garmin GMI Display 
  • Raymarine EVO 100 Autopilot 
  • EmTrak AIS Transceiver
On a recent trip from Lake Boca to Port Everglades, the Garmin 741xs Chartplotter had an episode, didn't want to play. So we rebooted it. That's when it failed, would not boot up. At the time we were just North of the Hillsboro Inlet which is notorious for shoaling. Our 5'8" draft means we have to avoid those shoals, so monitoring our Depth is a must. With the Chartplotter not functioning, we had to rely upon the GMI display to show our depth. It could do this because all of our Electronics are on our NEMA2000 Network. and the DST 810 is also a NEMA2000 device. Hence we were able to monitor our depth as we went out of the HI inlet, whew!

Once outside on the Ocean, we switched everything off for a minute and turned it all back on. The chartplotter woke up and we were back in business.

But what if our Chartplotter failed and would not reboot!  Well, we have a 10" tablet with Navionics and Aquamaps, so we could continue navigating. However, they do not display AIS data so we do not know what the other boats around us are doing. Our Radar only displays on the Chartplotter, so we would be out of both AIS and Radar.

Aquamaps has an interface to connect with a WiFi server but it is not compatible with our Garmin Products, only with NEMA 0183 and all of our gear is NEMA 2000.

I searched the net and thought I had found a solution. Digital Yachts make a lot of electonics products for interfacing boat systems. An email to them resulted in a solution.

Digital Yachts NAVLink2

This is a neat piece of electronics.
Basically it's a NEMA 2000 WiFi Server that translates all of the NEMA 2000 Data to NEMA 0183 and delivers it via a WiFi Server.

The best part is that it works for Aqua Maps. In fact, visiting the Digital Yachts website they have the instructions for interfacing with NAVLink2 to Aqua Maps and it's the first App on their list.1

So this should mean that I'll be able to connect Aqua Maps to my NEMA2000 network and receive the Wind, Depth and AIS data.
Thus it will all be available on my Tablet or Phone!

Now if my Chartplotter fails, we will still have the majority of the Navigation data displayed on the Tablet!

Installing the Digital Yachts NAVLink2 

This should be a breeze. The unit gets it's power from the NEMA2000 Backbone, so there is only one electrical connection to make. Simply add a new NEMA2000 'T' onto the backbone and then connect the NEMA2000 Drop cable from the NAVLink2 Server to that 'T'. 

The Instructions for the install are that simple, but if you want to customize the setup, then a Laptop could connect to the NAVLink2 Wifi and access the built in webserver to make any changes required.

Of course, Digital Yachts has all of the details on their website. They also have very clear instructions for connecting the Tablet with Aqua Maps to the NAVLink2 server and setting up which data to display.

I had several emails back and forth with the customer support at Digital Yachts ( I'm pretty sure they are in England ) and they were very polite, clear and obviously know what they are talking about.  I'll provide the links at the bottom of this post.

Mounting the our Samsung FE 7 Tablet ( 10" ) 

Ideally, our Samsung Tablet would be mounted at the Helm with the option to relocate it to the Cabin. I purchased some RAM mounts to accomplish this.

This is the Mount. It allows for the Tablet to be held across it's short side but can be rotated so that it is mounted vertically, that's ideal for the Aqua Maps App.
However, this mount on it's own would place the Tablet in front of our Chartplotter. I would rather it be higher than the top of the Chartplotter and not obscure our view when at the helm

The best solution seems to be to extend the RAM mount so that it can be mounted to the back of the Nav Shelf at the helm and positioned above the Autopilot control panel.

I'll bolt the lower part of the RAM mount to the shelf.

This is a RAM extension. It provides a wide choice of locations for the Tablet and will extend the Tablet above the Nav Shelf and the Autopilot control panel.

The Lower end of this extension will fit on the Ball that is getting bolted to the Nav Shelf.

To join the top of this unit with the RAM mount that is detached from the Bottom of the piece shown above to the piece that holds the Tablet, requires another Ball unit.

This is the missing link ! 

Now all three pieces can be joined together.

I was a bit concerned about the rigidity of the combined pieces, but they are fine.   I now have a spare of the missing link because the package from Amazon contained two pieces. 

Will probably purchase another base unit so that I can set the Tablet on a shelf in the cabin to have eyes on our Navigation from down below.

The end result:

Wow! I mounted my Samsung Tab 7 Tablet at the helm using the mount and RAM joints as planned. The display at the helm is fantastic,

The vertical position is not so clever so I moved it to be Horizontal and level with the top of the chart plotter. Much better.

The screen is bright enough that I can see it clearly even when wearing my prescription sunglasses.

The picture shows us at Anchor in Sunrise Bay Florida.

Peggy suggests that I get a smaller Tablet, it's a 10" display compared to the 7" Garmin 742xs. I tend to agree but wonder if an alternative Tablet will have the brightness of the Samsung Tab 7.

This was the first time that we have used Aqua Maps to follow a route. It provides the distance and the bearing to the next waypoint on the route, very clear.

We do have a couple of issues with the NavLink2 but they are minor and I'm hoping that Digital Yacht can resolve them.

This is a screenshot of the AIS List on Aqua Maps, there is spurious text data on either side of the vessel names. The rest of the information appear correct when we compared it with the AIS data on our chart plotter. 

The list is IMHO easier to figure out on Aqua Maps. 

I'll take more screen shots next time at the boat to display more of the AIS features.

In the Aqua Maps WiFi settings the list of connections shows which data items are connected.

Here you can see that GPS data is Off - that's as I set it because I wanted to see that everything else worked if our Main GPS Chartplotter was down. I turned it off.

The depth data is being supplied by our NEMA 2000 DST 810 Depth, Speed, Temperature transducer.

Heading is being provided by our Raymarine EVO 100 Auto Pilot compass header.

Wind Speed & Direction is provided by our Garmin GWind Wired Transducer on the Mast head.

The AIS data is being provided by the EmTrac AIS unit.

This screen shot of Aqua Maps while we are at Anchor in Sunrise bay.
On the left is the data provided by the NavLink2.

Several people asked me how the NavLink works and my simple reply is 'Magic' !!!  

However here's what it does.

The NavLink2 is connected to the NEMA2000 back bone via a drop cable which is attached to the NavLink2. All I had to do was remove the NEMA2000 Terminator on the end of the backbone, connect a new T connector to the backbone and reconnect the Terminator to the other end of the T. Then connect the NavLink2 NEMA cable to the T - All done.

Then I turned on our Nav Instruments circuit breaker which powered the NEMA 2000 network. I turned on the Garmin Chartplotter so that I could disable the AIS alarm then turned on the EmTrac AIS system.

With the Nav equipment all running, it was time to connect the Tablet to the NavLink2 WiFi Server.

On the Tablet I turned on WiFi and looked for the NavLink2, found it and provided the password. 

At this point I expected the NavLink2 'Status' lamp to change from Flashing Green to Steady Green but it did not happen.

After reading the advise on the Digital Yacht website I rebooted my tablet to make sure no other wifi apps were hogging the system.

Once rebooted and reconnected the WiFi to the NavLink2, I tried to connect Aqua Maps. There's a very clear set of instructions on the Digital Yacht website on how to make the connection. That worked.

Now the List of connections shows up on Aqua Maps.

So that brings us up to date. I'm waiting for a response from Digital Yachts about the flashing status light and the odd chars on either side of the vessel names.

In a nutshell: NavLink2 gets the NEMA2000 data and converts it to NEMA 9183 and transmits it on WiFi, Aqua Maps receives the data via the WiFi on the tablet and displays the selected data on the Aqua Maps App.

Or, as I said earlier - Magic!

See you on the water.


Response from Digital Yacht.
Seems I have a newer model and the Flashing Status lamp is normal. so cross that one off.

They have asked for details about the unit ( firmware version etc. ) So I have to go down to the boat in the next couple of days to get that info. But so far I'm impressed with their post sales support.

For now it's Back to work.


March 23rd 2024.

It has been a busy few weeks and I have not gotten down to the boat in order to respond to DY's questions.  But I did get down today to check on the boat after the rain storm yesterday.  Didn't get to check on the Firmware version. So it'll have to wait till next weekend. I have a bundle of work to do and finish by April 1st which was just moved forwards to being completed by March 29th. So no trips to the boat this week.

Monday, March 28, 2022

St. Patrick's Day Cruise 2022

Sailing on St. Patrick's day

We try to get the boat out to celebrate St. Patrick's Day each year, it's just another reason to get the boat out and it's always a fun weekend.

Tides demanded that we leave the dock around 10am on Friday, the weather was cooperating so it looked like we could actually 'Sail'. This would be the first chance we have had to put the sails up on the Ocean since we installed the new Auto Pilot (Link to that post).

Nothing special about our trip down the New River except for a note about the FEC Railroad bridge. We lined up with other boats Upstream of the Seventh Avenue Bridge. There was a Catamaran and another power boat in front of us. As soon as 7th opened, the power boat went through but the Catamaran dawdled, that's not the way to go through a busy road bridge. Road traffic is halted and the other boats in line are waiting. Worse was the fact that they didn't know how to use the radio and their communications with the bridge tenders was unintelligible, the only way we knew of their boat name was because we were directly astern of them, it was not clear on the radio. We all passed 7th bridge and the boats behind us were closing up to us due to the slow boat ahead of us.  Now we hear that the FEC Railroad bridge is going down in Six minutes and the rate of progress of the Catamaran would put us behind the Railroad Bridge and that could mean hanging around for as much as an hour! I called the Catamaran  on the radio but they did not respond. I called again, no reply. I could see someone on the flybridge of the Catamaran but could not tell if he was at the helm of if the boat was being helmed from the cabin. There was a woman moving between the Flybridge and the cabin. What radio transmissions we heard from the Catamaran were made by a female voice, but still no responses to my calls. Finally I pulled alongside their Port side and gave them a taste of my Navy 'AHOY! which, if you have heard me, it's not easy to ignore. The guy at the flybridge turned to look my way. At that time I was far enough forward to see a tow ahead by the Railbridge. I sped up and moved over to the south side of the river to let the tow pass on my port side. The Catamaran was still not responding to any calls from either myself or from the Tow boats. Grrrrrr!

We made it pass the FEC Railroad Bridge and Andrews Avenue as well as 3rd Avenue bridge opened and stayed open while we all passed. Guess what! Still no clear radio comms from the Catamaran.

As we headed down to Sand Bar park, the intersection of the ICW and the New River, we turned at Marker #5 towards the 17th Street Causeway Bridge, the Catamaran was well  astern of us with Fenders still hanging from his Port Side Rail, I guessed the he was headed to the Lauderdale Marina just upstream from the 17th Causeway bridge. The bridge was open but due to close, there were no other sailboats astern of us except the Catamaran so I called the bridge and advised that we did not need the bridge to be open ( our mast clears the bridge when it's down, even at spring high tides, we have at least two feet clearance at the center of the bridge spans.

The 17th St. Bridge had been open quite a while, we heard the bridge tender call the 'Catamaran North of the bridge' asking if they intended to pass under the bridge, no reply, the tender called several times, again no reply. Finally, as the Catamaran was getting close to the bridge they replied to a desperate call from the bridge tender, we could still not make out the clear intentions of the folks on the Catamaran  and they still did not communicate clearly despite speaking English.

Well enough of that fiasco. We turned around the corner of Port Everglades entrance and headed out to the Ocean. We saw the Catamaran turn on the wrong side of the channel marker. They were probably shallow draft and not restricted by the depths, however, being out of the channel meant they were in the exclusion zone, normally a vessel straying into the exclusion zone would get a visit from the port police, but they looked pretty busy. They turned out towards the Ocean, still hanging fenders. 

Ok, we passed the 2nd Green Buoy of the entrance from Port Everglades and turned South East into wind and raised the Main ( we need to wash our main sail!) then, turning towards the North, we unfurled the Jib. We're sailing! 

And now the good news! 

This (blurry) pic shows our Garmin Instrument displaying the wind data (at night) .
Note the big Black Dot in the center! It's Black, nothing there. We never thought about it being empty.

As mentioned, this was the first time we had taken the boat out on the Ocean since installing the new Auto Pilot.

We set the pilot to follow a track from Port Everglades up to Hillsboro Inlet.

After about 10 minutes, I just happened to notice this.

Look at the center of the display, it's showing Drift! 

Normally we would look at the Chart plotter and subtract the Water speed from the COG speed and calculate the Speed of the water.

Don't have to do that anymore, in fact, not only does the display now show the Drift rate but it also shows the drift direction.

l can only assume that the display was enabled when we added the Heading unit of the new Auto Pilot.

Sorry, it's a geeky thing, but this is very cool. I'm looking forward to seeing how it displays the data when we're in the Gulfstream.  WooHoo!

Ok, back to the sail. We sailed on Autopilot to within about a mile of the Hillsboro Inlet, turned into wind under power and lowered the sails. We motored into the inlet, the current was flowing hard and with the wind from the South East, it was wind over waves, that means - Bumpy! But we got into the inlet without any issues and then did a few doughnuts waiting for the bridge to open.

As we motored under the open Hillsboro Inlet Bridge, the Drift rate was 4.49knots on the nose (the triangular arrow in that center dot display shows the direction of the drift), that's a heavy flow and we were running the engine at just over 2,000 rpm. That was an exciting transit.

On the VHF Radio, we had heard Summer Wind call for the bridge before we were in range. Chris was taking the boat home from PlayBoy Marina where he had some bottom work done.  We motored easily up towards Hillsboro Blvd Bridge, as we neared it, there was a Tug pushing a barge and the bridges open on demand for commercial vessels (like tugs and tows). The Hillsboro Bridge tender called us and advised that we could follow the tug through if we wished. So we snuck behind the tug and followed it all the way up to Lake Boca. And Lake Boca was already crowded despite it being early Friday afternoon.

We anchored near the North West corner of the lake because it was too crowded on the North East corner. That put us closer to the ICW and a little to close to the other anchored vessels (they looked like permanent residents) so we dropped a 6-1 rode thinking that we would move in the evening when the power boats all headed home. 
They didn't. So we had to wait till the morning to move to the North East Corner, but when we did we had a prime anchoring position.

As the day wore on, Saturday turned into a great day to be on the Lake with a bunch of other club members and their boats.  Mike Megarity on Spruce Goose, Mike Miceli on Loony-Poons, Chris and Kelli Whitlock on Summer Wind, Barry Simmons & Jamie Remacle on Lady Grey, Tom Garvey and Norma Glanz on Ohana,  Mike & Brenda Duvall on Imagine, Jeff & Judy Keiser on Affection, Pierre & Osa Holstein on Sea View, Sea Dragon, Blythe Spirit, Bob & Joyce Tiger on Diversion, Eduardo & Eva Rabadan on Cookie Monster, Bill & Collen Stolberg on Duet, And of course, us on Eximius.

Of course, there were probably a couple of hundred other boats, large and small, it looked like there were a lot of people ready to enjoy the weekend.

One of our best stories was about a small power boat that tried to anchor about 20' off of our Stbd side. Sure it was too close, but we have learned to deal with that at Lake Boca. The number of boats in the lake at a weekend with good weather is crazy! So, this power boat dropped his anchor. Peggy & I were sat in our cockpit just enjoying the view, it was obvious that the power boat had not put out enough rode and he kept dragging and moving further North, basically along our stbd side. Then he pulled in some of the anchor line, it didn't help, so he threw out another anchor off his stbd side, now his boat swung at an angle to his first anchor and the boat was still drifting. I spoke to him (he was close enough to our boat to hold a conversation. ) and asked how much of his main anchor line he had out, he replied that he had 20' feet out at first but he was dragging so he pulled some in. Duh!  I tried to tell him that in 9 feet of water and a bow roller about 3' above the waterline, meant that he should have 5 x 12' or  60' of rode.
He explained that he had done a boaters safety course and that he should have 50' of anchor line for a 20' boat. I was about to give up and just watch him drift further to the North where there were other boats anchored (and not dragging). His female guest/wife on the Bow said something to him and the next thing we know is that he has pulled up both anchors and was heading out of  the lake and up towards Palmetto Park Bridge. Good plan!

At 6pm, Chris stopped by our boat to give us a ride over to the Hosts on Loony Poons, There were quite a few folks already aboard and soon that number increase enough to flow over to Summer Wind.

After a few drinks, the food was attacked, there were a couple of serious Shepherds Pies and plenty of other food, there always is at our club events.

Jokes, Limericks, Songs and a good time by all, by dark we headed back to our boats, the boat stories flowed along with our drinks, we even covered some club business. 

During the early morning we were awakened by the noise of an anchor chain being pulled up or lowered. Quickly out on deck, we could see the host boats raft up were moving South, deliberately. They were being quite well behaved which was surprising because it was dark, hand signals didn't work, and we could only hear 'Forward!' or 'Reverse' and 'Neutral' which we guessed were the commands to whoever was at the helms of the three boats. Come the morning the host boats dinghy'd over to our raft up and explained what had happened. You probably guessed, some of the boats were too close and when the current changed around, that turned into a gentle bump or more. Well done the skippers and crew of those three boats, and one being a catamaran. 

Sunday morning breakfast and it was then time to separate from the other two boats in our raftup and head homeward. For Cookie Monster, that was a move of about 150' for us it was a motor all the way down to Sunrise Bay, we reached every bridge on time, didn't have to wait for any of them, so it was a reasonably quick trip down the ditch.

Of course, Sunrise bay was packed with Party Boats, but we found a decent spot to anchor and guessed that most of the Party boats would leave the bay by 6pm. They did, and we had a quiet night at anchor.

Monday morning we left Sunrise Bay and headed down the ICW towards 17th Street Causeway Bridge and then a sharp turn Starboard down 15th Street for a Pump out, it's the second time we have used that facility, it's great, the Pump is not particularly strong, but it gets the job done.

Once pumped out, we headed out of the canal and turned to Port and back towards the New River turn off at Sand Bar Park. We had a minor incident as we held between 3rd Avenue Bridge and Andrews Avenue bridge. There was a Tow in front of us which meant there was not a lot of space between the two bridges. In retrospect, I should have turned the boat downstream which would have put us with the current on the boat and the wind on the bow. With strong forces dictating our movements, at one point we touched a fender of a boat on our Stbd side. No harm done except to my pride. We probably held station for about 10 to 15 minutes, that's stressful. If we had  a full keel it would have been virtually impossible unless we had a Bow Thurster - we don't. Once past Andrews Avenue Bridge, I turned the boat to face the current and wind and we easily held station while waiting for the FEC Railroad bridge to open.  Then it was turn again and head up river to the fork and the up the North Fork of the New River to our dock.

Back at the dock, Peggy made a snack for us as unloaded the boat and rinsed it down, especially the anchor chain, it had a lot of use this weekend.

See you on the water soon.

Thursday, August 12, 2021

Installing the Raymarine Rudder Position Sensor

Installing the Raymarine Autopilot Rudder Sensor (RPS)

This starts off techy, but read it to the end.

As mentioned in the previous post, the plan is to mount the RPS on the underside of the Aft Locker Shelf Support Beam. 

The RPS arm must be parallel to the Steering Radial Drive Radius when the rudder is amidships. There is a small amount of adjustment of the sensor (it has 3 extended slots in it's mounting base)

Schematic of RPS
Connection to the Steering Radial Drive

The vertical alignment of the RPS and the Tiller Pin has to be within +/- 5º Max. I'll make several Starboard Mounting plates of different thicknesses and use those that are needed to get the alignment within tolerance. I have several thicknesses of Starboard, so this should be easy. 

Well that first layout didn't work. The vertical alignment of the Tiller Pin would move everything down too low on the Steering Radial Drive - there would be huge chunk of starboard on the underside in order to clear the ridges.

Second design: Duh, looks a lot simpler.
This pic shows the underside of the Steering Radial Drive, that hole with the cable poking through is the problem for the 1st design.

Duh - Just make a bracket that can be held in place using the Thru bolt (center of the 5 in the pic) 

Basically an L shaped bracket made from 2" x 1/4" Aluminium Bar and mount the Tiller pin near the end of that bracket. There's a flat surface behind the head of that center bolt, so the bracket should be solid enough. I'll add a few brazed shims to the bracket if needed to ensure it's soli

Schematic of Tiller Pin and Support Bracket

Down at the boat again this morning with a makeshift Tiller Pin Support Bracket, just to figure out the size of the RPS mounting plate. We'll also check the max Rudder Angle, it has to be less than 60º from Center to Port and Starboard. The pic above shows the dimensions

To make the Bracket, I purchased a 24" piece of 2" x 1/8" Aluminium Bar Stock from Lowes. Marked the bar about 6" from the end. With the bar held in an Oven Gloved hand, and a plumbers Butane heat gun in the other, I heated the bend mark for 5 minutes. Then set the hot bar between a couple of garden stepping stones and bent the bar to shape. After cutting the bar to size, drilled the end hole and the Tiller mounting pin holes. Aluminium nuts and bolts hold the Tiller Pin in place, Loctite to keep them there. 

I added the two SS screws and lock nuts to add stability to where the plate is attached to the casting on the bottom of the steering radial drive. Plan is to attach the bracket using the center rudder post bolt, then tighten up on the two stabilizing screws and lock them in place with the lock nuts.

In addition to the Tiller Pin Bracket, I need to make a shim on which to mount the RPS and then mount it under the Port Side Shelf support beam.
1/4" thick Support shim 
I made 2, the other is 3/8" thick

The Install process will be:
  • Remove the Thru Bolt which prevents the Steering Radial Drive from rotating on the Ruder Post.
  • Install the new Tiller Pin Bracket on the bolt and reinsert the Bolt and secure in place.
  • Mount the RPS on the new Shim.
  • Align the shim so that the Pin on the RPS and the Tiller Pin are aligned and the RPS arm, Tiller Pin mount form a Parallelogram.
  • Run the Connector wire from the RPS forwards over the Aft Water tank and then join the loom of wires that reach the APU.

With everything prepped, I just need to get down to the boat early enough to be the heat or late enough for it to have started cooling down. Currently, the daily noonday temp is typically in the high 90ºF :(

Anticipating that I should be able to complete the RPS install in just one more trip to the boat, I'll hold off publishing this post until then.   Tuesday August 10th 2021

Update:  Thursday August 12 2021
Well, after getting all of that prep done, we took a break on Tuesday to get our Vaccinations - not Covid, we did that back in January, no, on Tuesday we got our Shingles Vaccine - shot #1 no biggy. Well, no biggy till Wednesday morning. Couldn't sleep all night and woke up unable to lift my left arm. Ibuprofen did not dull the pain! Wow, it gave me a little insight to what people suffer when they lose control of a limb. So Wednesday was a write off, I was able to steer my electric lawn mower, but very tenderly. So I mowed the lawn single handed.

Thursday almost 100% back in action. Lifting my elbow as high as my shoulder was slightly painful, but I felt I could make progress on this project.

We were down the boat by 10am and quickly got to work. 

Step 1 was to remove the center bolt. This pic shows the two shelf support braces on either side of the Steering Radial Drive. Removing the bolt took some doing, over 1/2 Hour to get it out, glad I'm a skinny guy.  That small USB powered rechargeable battery fan helped me keep my cool.

The bolt was a really tight fit through the rudder post, it needed a little persuasion but there's no room to swing a cat, barely room to tap the bolt with a hammer (of course I had a nut on the end so that the thread was not damaged.)

With the bolt out I took a break. The plan was to divide the job into steps. Step 1 done, got the bolt out.

Step 2  fit the Tiller Pin Bracket.  Step 3 install the Rudder Position Sensor with it's mounting plate. Step 4 fit the connecting stud between the Tiller Pin and the RPS pin.

After sweating for another hour, the Tiller Pin bracket is installed. There was no need for the stabilizing bolts, it's secured really well just using the Center Bolt.

This photo was taken after the install was completed, it shows the Connecting stud already installed.

Peggy had a good idea! Use a clamp to hold the RPS unit mounting plate to the underside of the shelf support braces.

I didn't have a suitable clamp on board, but I did have a velcro strap, it worked like a charm. That probably saved the day, I just don't see how I could have held that mount in place and screwed the plate to the underside of the shelf support brace.

Thanks Peggy.

This shows the completed install. the RPS is screwed to that Green plastic plate which is then screwed onto the underside of the Shelf support brace.

The biggest issue is getting the alignment correct and I'm not sure how accurate it is. This area is really difficult to work in.

The RPS has 3 slots around its circumference, that allows for some adjustments. The Connecting stud also has about 1/2" adjustment due to the two nuts on the connecting stud. 

Now that it's completed, I took this set of images.
But just to give it some context, this job involved quite a bit of Boat Yoga.

Getting into the aft locker / lazarette, takes some doing, but getting down into position in order to be able to reach the underside of the Steering Radial Drive requires a bit more flexibility.

I'm on my second shirt in this pic, the first was sodden by the time I finished installing the Tiller Pin Support Bracket.

Peggy took a couple of pics when I was not looking.

With the Rudder Position Sensor installed, we're ready for the next step. Run the wire from the RPS to the Autopilot Control Unit (ACU) and Install the EV-1 Sensor Core, both those jobs are easy by comparison to this part of the project.

Total time to install the RPS at the Boat -  3½ Hours. Plus the loss of a few pints of sweat equity.

See you on the Water.