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Author Topic: ST 4000 Steers like a drunk  (Read 4847 times)

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Brad Taylor

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ST 4000 Steers like a drunk
« on: October 14, 2001, 11:43:39 AM »

In anything but perfect sailing conditions - 12 to 15 Knots...wind on or forward on the beam....and less the 3 foot waves - I can't trust my autopilot. I ran into someone with the same boat and autopilot as mine. He convinced me that he had tried every combination of dealer settings and claimed to know more then Raytheon....and I believed him. My only problem is I forgot to write down the combination he suggested. He had a combination of settings that made a HUGE improvement in his opinion. Anyone know the secret? Hull #1464 Year 2000

Ken Juul

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« Reply #1 on: October 16, 2001, 06:11:29 AM » has a guest expert forum column.  This month it happens to be an tech rep from Raymarine.  I would recommend reading the responsed to questions all ready answered.  If that doens't help feel free to ask yours.
Ken & Vicki Juul
Luna Loca #1090
Chesapeake Bay
Past Commodore C34IA


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ST 4000 Steers like a drunk
« Reply #2 on: October 16, 2001, 06:15:52 AM »

Here's some settings that worked for me.  I had to play with the sea state but she's now working fine.  
 From: "Thomas Senator" <>
 To: <>; <>
 Subject: Re: [catalina-list] Inebriated Autopilot
 Date: Tuesday, March 20, 2001 9:08 PM
 Have you seen a marked improvement in useability in these settings?
 I have most of these but I am curious as to how/why you set a few of the settings.
 a) Drive type --- you have it set to "2" and the manual says that the default setting "1" (soft drive) should be retained for mechanically driven vessels..
 Does this refer to the helm (that's mechanical) or to the engine or to the else is the vessel driven?
 b) Response -- you have it set to "2" and the manual says that the default setting "1" (AutoSeastate) causes the autopilot to gradually ignore repetitive movements of the vessel and only react to true variations in goes on to say that it is the best compromise between power consumption and course accuracy.
 On the other hand a setting of "2"provides the tightest course keeping possible, but as a detrimental result it will increase power consumption and drive unit activity (motor constantly moving and seeking a perfectly straight course)
 c)personally I saw the best single improvement by setting the rudder gain to "2" from "5"
 Is a sailboat At 04:58 PM 3/18/2001, Edward Heyman wrote:
 >Try these settings and see if it solves your problem.
 >An important setting is drive type = 2.
 > Calibration Lock           OFF
 >     Pilot Type               4000whl
 >     Rudder Gain                 2
 >     Response                     2
 >     Turn Rate Limit            20
 >     Align Rudder               0
 >     Rudder Limit               20
 >     Off Course Alarm        20
 >     AutoTack                   100
 >     AutoTrim                    3
 >     Drive Type                  2
 >     Variation                     0
 >     AutoAdapt                  nth
 >     Latitude                      39
 >     Rudder Damp               4
 >     Cruise Speed                A
 >"Paul G. Wielaard" wrote:
 >>Hello Everyone: In 1999, I purchased my new C320, "ONYVA", with an ST4000 Plus Autopilot and ST50 Instruments (Speed, Wind & Depth).  The Autopilot performed ok until I added a Garmin-128 GPS and replaced the standard  VHF for Horizon's DSC-capable "Intrepid".  Shortly thereafter, however, a wet squall flooded the Garmin and the ST4000 Autopilot and both units were repaired by their manufacturers (with Raytheon telling my dealer they had "upgraded" the Autopilot's chip...?).  Although the entire instrument array seems to yield proper readings on power-up, my Autopilot won't hold a course  --on any point of sail (and in any sea state)!  I've played with all "Rudder Gains" and "Response Levels" until I was blue in the face (we're having an awful Spring here), but nothing seems to permanently tame the ST4000.  The symptoms are similar to a Rudder Gain that is set too high: the drive responds too late to any involuntary change in the boat's direction, over-corrects and begins to overshoot the intended heading by an ever-widening margin. Inasmuch as the unit has worked satisfactorily before the GPS and the Intrepid were added, I'm tempted to speculate that it is somehow being distracted by either of those other instruments.  The instruments that are reporting ONYVA's heading  --i.e. the Garmin GPS, the ST4000 Autopilot and Ritchie's Binnacle Compass--  seem to disagree by an average margin (it comes and goes) of almost 30D (I'm not surprised to see different compasses & the GPS showing different headings, but this average variance seems high). Has anyone struggled through the same problems?  Or does it sound like the ST4000 is simply defective and needs to be send off to Raytheon (again)? Paul WielaardC320 "ONYVA"

Stu Jackson

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More ST 4000 Fun & Games
« Reply #3 on: November 23, 2001, 04:21:49 PM »

The November 2001 Mainsheet had some input regarding these autopilots in the Catalina 28 Tech Notes.  I emailed the skipper who had the question, and suggested he check out our C34 website.
 Here's his reply:  THANKS, Kurt.
 Subj:  Re: Catalina 28 Autohelm Questions
 Date:  11/23/2001 7:18:11 AM Pacific Standard Time
 From: (Kurt Kuehn)
 Thanks for your response to a problem I was having.
 Perhaps you can disseminate the following information throughout your network of Catalina associations since I believe the problems I had with my autopilot, especially the inability to steer an accurate course in a following sea, are germane to many Catalina boats.
 After one year of trying to resolve the problem on my 1 year old Catalina 28, a factory representative finally visited my boat, solved
 the problem, and give me information on how he was able to come up with a solution.
 First of all, the default settings in the Owners Handbook (P38) are either wrong, misleading, or useless depending on the boat size.  The factory representative acknowledged this as well as the Service Manager of Raymarine in Portsmouth, England.  In addition, the Service Manager
 also acknowledged that the ST 4000+ was not working properly on a wide number of Catalina boats.  He reimbursed me for work done earlier by an authorized service center - who claimed there was nothing wrong with the unit - and furthermore said he would install a rudder reference unit at
 no charge to me in order to achieve satisfactory performance.
 Last month, a factory representative (Rich LaRosa) and an assistant visited me to install the rudder reference unit.  However, there was no
 room for one. Rich told me that he had contacted Rick Tutle (818 970 0517) of Catalina  Yachts who actually installs the ST4000+ on the C28. Tutle told him that there is no room to install a rudder reference unit on the C28. LaRosa came to the same conclusion after a half hour of work.
 LaRosa told me that Tutle claimed that the following settings on the ST4000+ will work.  Tutle had said to use the default settings with the following changes:  Rudder gain = 2; Response = 2; AutoTrim = 2; Drive Type = 2.
 We then took the boat out on a sea trial.  The boat tracked fine in a following sea.  And I've had no problems with the ST4000+ since then in
 following seas up to 4 feet.  I haven't  encountered larger ones.
 The only additional advice that LaRosa gave me was to 'swing ship' and also steady on a course before engaging the autopilot.  And do not change the 'align rudder' setting from its default zero setting.  Also, keep the rudder gain low.  The last instruction seems to be counter intuitive when encountering bigger following seas, but he's right.
 I understand that if you call the factory in Nashua, New Hampshire they also have the correct settings for each boat.  But my advice is to first
 call the factory and talk to the ST4000+  installer for a particular line of Catalina boats.
Stu Jackson, C34 IA Secretary, #224 1986, "Aquavite"  Cowichan Bay, BC  Maple Bay Marina  SR/FK, M25, Rocna 10 (22#) (NZ model)

"There is no problem so great that it can't be solved."


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ST4000+ Steers like a drunk (and sometimes a lunatic)
« Reply #4 on: December 01, 2001, 07:30:48 PM »

The person who originally installed the ST4000 on our 2001 C-34 made a poor choice in placement of the fluxgate compass. It took us quite a while to figure out what the problem was. We would be sailing merrily along and then suddenly the boat would deviate 60-70 degrees. Everytime the refrigerator would turn on, the current induced would cause massive compass deviation.
 I agree with the earlier posting on the settings. We played with a number of settings to change the responsiveness of the system. It improved things dramatically. Moving the compass to a quiet location on the boat made a big difference too.
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