Raymarine SPX autopilots, a big refresh, N2K included


So they’d run out of press kits, and there’s nothing on the Web about them (yet), but there they are—a half dozen or so new Raymarine autopilot models that will be known as the SPX range, and look like replacements for the current range. New features? “Every SPX system comes with rate gyro” included; “Quicker install—no rudder reference required”; “over 10 dedicated fishing patterns” (note some at bottom of photo); and “Access to SeaTalkNG (aka, NMEA 2000) information via the ST70 color autopilot head.” So, given this week’s Garmin announcements and the new Simrad systems, I think we just went from zero to three brands of N2K-talking autopilots!

The new Garmin GHP 10–-which, by the way, is based on the innovative Gladiator TR-1–-won’t be shipping until “third quarter 2008”, and I know Garmin is working on its “keep it simple” control head interface. Which may be an issue. I note, for instance, that the ST70 AP head has 1 and 10 degree dodge buttons. How is Garmin going to get that functionality with so few buttons?Garmin_GHC_10

Ben Ellison

Ben Ellison

Panbo editor, publisher & chief bottlewasher from 4/2005 until 8/2018, and now pleased to have Ben Stein as a very able publisher, webmaster, and editing colleague. Please don't regard him as an "expert"; he's getting quite old and thinks that "fadiddling fumble-putz" is a more accurate description.

6 Responses

  1. Patrick Harman says:

    I am a fan of the potential for NMEA 2000. I have an older trawler. My autopilot does have whiskers, but is follows a route or a compass course. The drive motor is electric,and when the time comes to replace it I will buy the unit that can deal with the current requirements of my Bendix drive motor.
    Good reporting Ben, I love this Blog.

  2. George says:

    Good question on the Garmin, Ben. With only three buttons to choose from I’d bet that a quick press becomes a 1 degree move and a longer press becomes a 10 degree dodge.
    There are plusses and minuses to both approaches. My Raymarine remote had +1 and +10 buttons. To do small turns, I got into the habit of pushing the +1 button several times (six times for a six degree turn.) Sometimes I goofed and hit the +10 button six times. Needless to say that did not make the other people on the boat very happy. Fortunately the on/off button was well placed.

  3. Steve says:

    Garmin will not need all of those buttons, since it is based on the TR-1 Gladiator electronics and will use “shadow drive.” To dodge, you just have to grab the wheel and steer (much safer and more intuitive than dodge buttons). The autopilot is smart enough to yield control when you take the wheel. When you stop steering the pilot will again take over. Basically the only controls needed are those to turn the pilot on and off and use nav input or not.

  4. George says:

    True, but you do need a way to make small course changes. Often deflecting a few degrees will mean that I pass behind the distant ship. If I remember the Nautamatic correctly, it will revert to the original course when you leave the wheel. (In either case you want both behaviors; quick dodge and permanent course change.)
    Perhaps they will have a “hold present course” button. That would work. Hmm, especially if they had a way to wire a button for that function to the ship’s wheel. That would be cool. (Right next to the cruise control and the volume for the speakers, just underneath the turn signal…)

  5. Ben Ellison Ben Ellison says:

    I’ve tried it and Shadow Drive is great. But it’s not quite the same as dodge buttons; it returns you to the course you settle on, not the one you were on. Some drivers will want the precision of dodge; some will also want a knob control. I don’t know how many.

  6. Dan (b393capt) says:

    Problem with the knob … is if your reaching blind over the helm of a sailboat, you can’t see how far you have turned it … to know how far to turn it back after the dodge.

Join the conversation

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *