Autohelm Problems/Options

Autohelm Problems/Options

Postby Swift » Mon Nov 13, 2017 3:49 am

My Raymarine ST 2000 has gone crazy. It appears to be a problem with the fluxgate compass. A quick look on Ebay shows a new compass is $177 delivered from UK. Maybe local dealers are cheaper? I’m not sure if I will try to repair it because after 10 years use some of the mechanical parts are showing wear. Maybe it would be better to buy another until and keep the old one for spares.The cheapest price for a new ST2000 delivered fro the USA is $630. Around this price I don’t think there are many other options but it's been a while since I investigated slef steeering so thought I would ask if anyone is using something different?
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Re: Autohelm Problems/Options

Postby lockie » Wed Nov 15, 2017 10:26 am

I currently have both a Simrad TP22 and Raymarine ST2000+ which I use on my Compass 28 (which weighs about 3.5 tons loaded).

The TP22 died on me a couple of years ago and I bought the ST2000+ to replace it. Recently I managed to revive the TP22 by using the fluxgate compass scrounged from a dead TP10. I had used the TP22 for about 2 years before it died, and have since used the ST2000+ for going on 3 years.

So I'm pretty well placed to compare, and here's my 2 bob's worth:

* Functionally I reckon there's not a lot between them in controlling the boat, although the ST2000+ stroke is noticeably quicker
* I have read lots of posts about failure of both types due to water entry, so some sort of cover is essential. I make a cover from clear plastic gaffer-taped on and replace it each year or so. I also use electrician's tape around the body joint. Looks like ****e but works.
* Both benefit from tuning the gain and deadband according to the boat and sea conditions, which can save an enormous amount of battery power due to reduced stroking and give much better operation.
* Tuning much easier on the TP22, as you can do it while it remains operating in "auto" mode, whereas the ST2000 is quite fiddly in this regard.
* Both accept NMEA 0183 and hence can steer to a waypoint, and/or in wind mode (if you have the wind instrument). Very simple 2-wire connection for both.
* The ST2000+ has a nasty habit of stalling at the end of its stroke with the motor still trying to grind away, so it's vital that you have good sail balance to avoid heavy weather helm causing hard-over tiller for extended periods. I found this out the hard way when it failed while I was soloing in the middle of Bass Strait (and has since done so again). The TP22 has drive gear rotation sensors which sense a stall and shut the motor off. A major design fail by Raymarine, which they happily fix under warranty because they know it's crap!
* The ST2000+ has a global 2 year warranty (even if you buy from USA) plus an additional year if you register it on Raymarine's website. The Simrad's is (or was) based on where you bought it hence no warranty if bought from USA.
* When I enquired 3 years ago about repairing my TP22, Simrad Oz told me they don't repair them, but offered a reco unit with a 3 month (!) warranty. The cost was about the same as the landed cost of a brand new ST2000+ from USA with 3 year warranty. No prizes for guessing which way I went!
* The ST2000+ has a bad habit of the shaft unscrewing and falling out. I returned it already for warranty repair for this and was told I was overstressing it, which was not true - once again this is due to the lack of stall protection.
* The LCD display on the ST2000+ is nice to have but not really much practical use unless you don't have the data already displayed on a plotter or GPS.

Summing up, the price advantage of buying from USA coupled with 3 year global warranty decided it for me, but overall the TP22's built-in protection against stalling makes it more likely to last if it is subjected to heavy use.

As a post-script I was appalled by the cost of a replacement motor for my ST2000+ (nearly 100 quid posted from the UK was the best I could do) and managed to get three near-clones made up as prototypes by a mob on AliBaba for about $60 all up!

As always, it all depends on what you will do with your boat. For serious long-range stuff you can't beat a wind-vane plus a tiller-pilot for back-up, motoring and light winds. For day sails or short cruises, a tiller-pilot is best bang for buck.

Hope that helps, Graeme.

Graeme
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Re: Autohelm Problems/Options

Postby Phillip » Wed Nov 15, 2017 4:30 pm

Graeme,

I use a ST1000 and find its all I need for my Top Hat.

All these small autohelms don't like extreme weather with big seas, which means you use the tiller or go to a safe anchorage.

USA price is almost same as Aus so better to get the local warranty.
Phillip.
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Re: Autohelm Problems/Options

Postby Shaun » Wed Nov 15, 2017 8:02 pm

Currently using a TP22 on a Top Hat delivery, and I'm quite impressed as compared to my st2000.
I haven't tested the tp22 in any heavy stuff though. But I know I'm on the tiller quite often with my top hat as the st2000 doesn't like quartering seas and swell.
Graeme, are the tp and st totally interchangeable(use the same pin socket and plugs)?
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Re: Autohelm Problems/Options

Postby lockie » Thu Nov 16, 2017 12:19 pm

Hi Shaun;

The plugs look very similar but have a different pin configurations so you can't just swap without fitting the corresponding socket. When I'm outside and have the spare, it is fitted with a cig lighter plug to connect in the cabin. The trailing cord is a slight nuisance but better than rewiring at 3am. The coaming socket and tiller pin fit both, so no mechanical issues.

You can get better performance in quartering seas if you play with the tuning. You need faster response than normal. This where the TP is much better than the ST, as you can change these while it remains in auto mode and adjust for best response in real time, whereas the ST requires you to go to standby mode which means you are trying to hand-steer and adjust the thing at the same time which is a real pain. I think playing with the tuning to optimise your tiller-pilot in different conditions is a really valuable thing to do.

I always find the TP or ST does a better job than me in quartering seas.

Cheers, Graeme
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Re: Autohelm Problems/Options

Postby benllben » Thu Nov 16, 2017 5:06 pm

I have been having a tough time deciding between the ST2000 or the TP22, and was leaning towards the ST2000 for some time.

I heard the ST2000 uses a different drive method to the TP22 which is more reliable, but in saying that it appears to also lack protection from self destruction when the tiller is hard over. However, with the ability to tune the TP on the fly, it seems more useful in more sea conditions. I am planning on sailing North of Sydney for 5-6 weeks starting December, any thoughts on which model would likely be best?
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Re: Autohelm Problems/Options

Postby saintpeter » Thu Nov 16, 2017 10:44 pm

I use an ST 2000, and have found that it just has no hope in a quartering sea. In a deep broad reach there is little help from sail adjustments (main & genoa) , but I suspect setting a spinnaker would help (I don't have one). Whereas, on last sail down South Channel PPB, 'Kittiwake' steered herself the whole way upwind with a lashed tiller! The downwind dilemma has severely dented my aspirations for longer solo trips in Bass Strait.
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Re: Autohelm Problems/Options

Postby lockie » Fri Nov 17, 2017 9:54 am

saintpeter wrote:I use an ST 2000, and have found that it just has no hope in a quartering sea. In a deep broad reach there is little help from sail adjustments (main & genoa) , but I suspect setting a spinnaker would help (I don't have one). Whereas, on last sail down South Channel PPB, 'Kittiwake' steered herself the whole way upwind with a lashed tiller! The downwind dilemma has severely dented my aspirations for longer solo trips in Bass Strait.


I'm surprised to hear it's so difficult. Have you tried adjusting the rudder gain and damping? As I said in my earlier post, it's annoyingly fiddly with the ST2000+, and you have to take it "offline" to do it, but increasing the gain for faster response would help a lot. Playing with the adjustment process until it becomes second nature is highly recommended.

Cheers, Graeme
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Re: Autohelm Problems/Options

Postby saintpeter » Mon Nov 20, 2017 4:37 pm

Thanks Graeme (lockie),
When in doubt, read the manual !! I'll give it a try .. .. Peter
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Re: Autohelm Problems/Options

Postby Swift » Tue Nov 21, 2017 9:03 pm

Thanks everyone for the comments, particularly the very detailed information from Graeme.

With regard to the ST1000-2000 stalling when it reaches its limit at the end of a stroke, there's a modification that can be done. I have posted this before some time ago. http://www.cruisingonstrider.us/ST1000mods.htm It looks a bit fiddly and of course it can't be done without voiding warranty. Its amazing that after all these years Raymarine have not fixed this bad design fault, a few diodes and a couple of micro switches would add maybe another $2 to the price but then again it would be admitting that all previous units sold were not really fit for purpose.

Anyway, it looks like things have not changed much, the problem of reliable electronic steering is still easily solved provided you are prepared to invest $3.5k for a below decks gyro unit.

Following the comments here I am now considering a Simrad unit.

cheers Keith
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