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Autopilot abrupt U-turns
05-27-17, 10:58 AM
Post: #1
Autopilot abrupt U-turns
I have a fairly extensive Raymarine system on my 40' sailboat, including an X-30 autopilot, an ST70p controller, and a Type 2 Short electrical actuator, as well as a rudder position sensor and a fluxgate compass. I also have an e95 MFD at the wheel and an e127 (which just replaced an e125 that abruptly failed a few days ago) at the nav desk.

Twice yesterday, the autopilot suddenly made a hard left turn. In one case, the boat had turned 180° before I could get the ST70p to turn the autopilot to Standby; I suspect, but do not know, that the hard left would have continued longer. The second time, I managed to gain manual control (Standby) before the boat had turned 90°.

In both cases, when I looked at the ST70p display, it appeared to be re-booting. After it completed whatever it was doing, the autopilot resumed normal function (until the next time, of course).

What could possibly be happening to cause this? It could be fatal under certain circumstances (e.g., if it suddenly turned me in front of a high-speed power boat or ran me up onto rocks).

I am especially disturbed by the behavior when the ST70p appears to reboot. I would think that the safest behavior for an autopilot that suddenly loses its controller would be to continue in precise the direction it was already headed, not make an abrupt turn to port.

In the interests of full disclosure, I should mention that it's possible that I may be having an electrical power problem. I recently installed a Ray70 VHF with a Remote Mic and I sometimes get the message "Inadequate voltage" or something similar when powering the remote mic on. In addition, a few days ago, my e95 abruptly decided to reboot in a very dicey situation.

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05-30-17, 12:41 PM
Post: #2
RE: Autopilot abrupt U-turns
Welcome to the Raymarine Forum Jim,

It is quite possible that insufficient voltage may cause problems with the autopilot.
Accordingly, it is recommended that the vessel's batteries be load tested and replaced should a problem be identified. A low voltage condition will commonly drop an autopilot out of Auto or Track mode into Standby mode. Should this be observed, then the reported problem would likely be the result of insufficient power.

The reported symptom may also result from introduction of a magnetic field in the area of the autopilot's fluxgate compass, a failure of the autopilot's fluxgate compass, failure of the rudder reference transducer, or a failure of the autopilot course computer itself. It is recommended that troubleshooting the system begin within the same sequence of inspections and testing. Should the inspections and testing of the autopilot's fluxgate compass and rudder reference transducer not indicate any problems with these devices, then it would be recommended that the SPX-30 autopilot course computer be sent to Raymarine’s Product Repair Center to be bench checked / serviced.

Please click here to view a FAQ addressing the importance of maintaining separation of heading sensor from magnetics.

Please click here to view a FAQ addressing how to test a fluxgate compass.

Please click here to view a FAQ addressing how to test a rudder reference transducer.
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