AUTOHELM ST5000+ Autopilot AUTOHELM ST5000+ Autopilot
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    AUTOHELM ST5000+ Autopilot
from yellofins (  
8/5/1999 8:41:00 AM


 Has anyone heard of or had experiences with failures of their Autohelm ST5000+. I've heard of 2 sitiations where the boat goes into hard turns on failure. Any info??

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   Yes from Kevin L (  8/5/1999 9:35:00 AM
 I just switched my order to outfit a new 24 Albemarle with a Robertson AP-11 instead of the ST5000+. Guy with a 97 27' Grady just told me that his ST5000+ failed and the boat did a hard turn 2 weeks ago. He's switching to the AP-11. My dealer told me that the same thing happened to a NEW 26' Albe a few weeks ago (at cruise and the boat tried to do a 180). I heard that the same thing happened to another Grady last year also with an ST5000+. The AP-11 is a little more $$(750), but is the autopilot of choice for many in my area. Of course, I do know some people with ST5000's that are going on 6 years old with no problems. I just don't feel like taking the chance. If you get an ST5000, just don't leave the throttles unattended. Just my $0.02. Kevin
   St5000+ from Yellofins (  8/5/1999 9:54:00 AM
 Kevin. You've heard of the same ones I have. Cmebane is my source for the info. I keep my boat at the same marina. I have a st5000 installed. No problems yet, but it is rather new.
   St5000 from Cummins Mebane (  8/5/1999 12:09:00 PM
 Hey Ron:

Didn't mean to spook ya. Just thought you should know. Some guys at a boat show alluded to some problems back in 97, but I felt that the new 5000+ would have solved them.

Billy DeVito gave me a detailed comparison and why he favored Simrad by a large margin. I also believe most commercial and charter boats use Simrad.

I hope yours never fails (especially with me on board) (-: But - if it starts acting up, be aware of what can happen. I have seen it first hand as have some others.

   autopilot from Dr. Don (  8/5/1999 8:48:00 PM
 I was having similar problems with my Autohelm sportpilot plus. All of a sudden the boat would do a 180. I moved the fluxgate compass out of my small center console, and have not had one problem since. It was influenced by the batteries, radio, or other compass. The problem may be on the installation and not the autopilot. Just a thought.
   St5000 from Cummins Mebane (  8/6/1999 10:08:00 AM
 Mine is not an installation problem as it worked fine for over a year and now the behavior is intermittant. Even if it was the adjustable turn rate limits are designed to keep an AP from making a sudden sharp turn. Mine is set at 8 degrees but it is a moot point if the computer ignores it.

I choose to switch brands due to design issues rather then because of needed repairs. It is my understanding that the Simrad has better algorithms for graceful failure and that is important to me since any device can malfunction. For example, upon loss of rudder reference or compass input, there should be NO further rudder movement or attempted correction.

Anybody want to guess what would happen if the autopilot on a 747 malfunctioned and turned the rudders hard one way?

   Simrad Autopilots from ffinaddict (  8/8/1999 2:45:00 PM
 Finally, haven't I been telling you guys. Simrad! Simrad! Simrad! I have been in the industry for almost 10 years now. I haven't seen a manufacture come close to the dependability of Simrad's product line. I carry every major electronic brand in my store. I haven't seen a company work as hard as Simrad in a while. Simrad has great customer support,great user friendly equipment, and great reliability. Priced somewhat costly on their autopilots,but competitive on the rest of their line. Simrad is a company not to overlook!

Simrad is no new kid on the block either. They are one of the largest commercial equipment manufacture's in the world. They have just recently made a move into the recreational market with a complete line of products that is so impressive. If your outfitting with new electronics I encourage you to compare the equipment you choose against Simrad's equivalent products.

   Autopilots from Leprechaun (  8/8/1999 11:24:00 PM
 ffinaddict is quite correct. Simrad does in fact make the finest autopilots in the world, with the possible exception of a little known company up in British Columbia known as Comnav, whose products are popular with the Alaska commercial crowd. But for day-in day-out dependability go with Simrad's AP11 or the newer AP20 Series. Whatever you do, don't touch Cetrek pilots with a 10 foot pole. That's what I have. I originally wanted a Simrad AP11 but was talked out of the Simrad and into the Cetrek by a slimey salesman at the NY boatshow 2 seasons ago. He basically threw in the Autopilot when I bought my Teleflex hydraulic steering and I got exactly what I paid for it, Nothing! It seems that it's feeble little electronic brain lacks a very important and basic feature called "Ghost Rudder" which, in the event of rudder feedback sensor or flux-gate compass failure will remember the last known course and maintain it while alerting you to the problem. Instead, the software searches for a good rudder refernce AND PUT THE RUDDER HARD OVER TO PORT regardless of the Speed or Seaconditions. This has happened twice during Rudder Feedback failures and the second time it nearly threw my fishing buddy off the rear deck and pitched him into a January ocean (In 6' seas) at close to 18kts. Had there been a tragedy his wife would now bethe sole owner of Cetrek, I assure you. So I've suffered thru 2 feedback failures, a third unit wired backwards from the factory (Imagine the consequences of this screw up!) A bad Fluxgate compass and numerous electronic connector problems. These are cute - seems the plug connectors are made of very soft metal - so soft that the boat's pounding open them up so they intermittantly make and break connection. This has the same net effect as Rudder feedback sensor failure and the same result - the rudder goes hard over and boat does a 36o regardless of speed or sea conditions. So I finally cornered the Cetrek rep at the NY Boatshow this past January and he prented attentiveness and asked me to call him down in Alabama in 2 weeks. Well guess what, all I get is his voice mail, never a return call. Well guess what, now I've made it my life's work to steer every potential customer away from Cetrek. That dude better pray I don't get a hold of him at THIS year's NY Boat Show cause the NYPD is gonna have to separate us. Anyway it seems that Cetrek is an English Company that Teleflex bought several years ago, probably much to their regret as the English never could turn out reliable electronics. Just ask anyone who restores old Jags or Austin-Healy about English electronics! Its a wonder that the English invented the Magnatron - the guts of all modern radar. Well didn't really mean to take a slap at the English. I apologize. To sum up, pick a Pilot that has that "Ghost Rudder" feature and try to stay awat from units that use a plastic housing for their Rudder feedback units - 2 failures of my Cetrek, 3 failures of my buddy's Navico and come to think of it, 1 failure of my other buddy's Raytheon-Autohelm. Try to find a Bronze-cased unit like Wagner used to make - 17 years in my friend's SeaRay 31' and still perfect! Just don't listen to any salesman's Bulls**t, I should know, I sell for a living! Good Luck! Leprechaun
   Autohelm from Gary (  8/9/1999 3:17:00 AM
 I have the Autohelm 5000 installed on my 27 Contender. Absolutely the biggest waste of money. Always problems.
   What!! from Allan (  11/7/1999 4:27:00 AM
 You say:-

probably much to their regret as the English never could turn out reliable electronics. Just ask anyone who restores old Jags or Austin-Healy about English electronics! Its a wonder that the English invented the Magnatron - the guts of all modern radar. Well didn't really mean to take a slap at the English. I apologize.

Printing that on the web page with "I apologize" tagged on means nothing

I have seen some pretty badly built gear from the USA in my time. I will have you know that the English lead the world in electronics for quite some time.

In the USA you like to do it first. we like to do it properly. Compare the NTSC system used for TV transmission with PAL and you will see what I mean.

   Ps from Allan (  11/7/1999 4:34:00 AM



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