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PABuckChaser

Autopilot Advice

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I want have an autopilot installed on my boat, but I have virtually no knowledge of autopilots, so thought I'd come here for some expert advice.  I have a 2019 Starcraft Fishmaster 196 with a 150HP Yamaha and 9.9 Yamaha Hi-Thrust Kicker.   The motors are connected with a tie-bar, seastar hydraulic steering for the big motor.  Any advice as to what brand/type of autopilot that would work for this setup would be greatly appreciated.   Some questions that come to mind:

Would the autopilot be installed on the big motor or the kicker?  If on the big motor, would that motor need to be running to steer the Kicker Motor?

 

Thanks 

 

Mike 

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Hey Buck, I would do a search on this as there has been a tremendous amount of talk with exactly what your looking for.  There are several opinions as to models and types, some for the big motor since you already have hydraulic and it being tied to the kicker with a bar, some like the trolling motor with the AP on that, some like having the electric motor on the front with an ipilot and just run your kicker.  As far as brands there again are all types and you will get all sorts of responses.  You really will have to determine what you have and how much you are willing to invest,  Putting one on is the best thing I did for my rig.  As far as install, if you ever installed a depth finder and can do basic plumbing work or are mechanically inclined id say you can install an AP, at least from what I learned with installing a Raymarine AP. Once you figure out how the fittings / lines run for the steering, you mount and wire up everything else and it ends being a nice little project that you would be glad you did.  I understand though if its better from a time standpoint to get some one to install.  Hank  ( L&M) on here is a great resource as well for install needs.Good luck on your project.  

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Ditto everything that Frogger said. Especially  "Hank  ( L&M) on here is a great resource as well for install needs."

  

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You might be best served matching your AP with your electronics on your boat so you can control your AP without adding another head unit just for the AP. Most manufacturers make AP systems that work well and can be controlled by their multi function displays. I would recommend having your AP connected to your main motor and it will turn your kicker without running your main.

 

I went with the Lowrance outboard pilot and I'm very happy with it's features and performance. The system came with the tees and adapters to connect to just about any baystar or seastar helm, which made it fairly easy to intall myself, you just have to check the capacity of the hydraulic ram on your steering system (connected to your outboard) to make sure it is compatible. My guess is yours is compatible. 

 

Good luck! I wish I would have gotten mine much sooner, and would hate to be without it now that I have it.

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sounds just like my setup with the tie bar, a 225 yamaha ox66 & 9.9 kicker connected with a diy tie bar. I went with Lowrance Outboard AP hydraulic and went with the new HDS live unit + bluetooth remote steer. Its a slick setup!. Installation was Easy done in the driveway. Tyee's advice above is spot on about matching your existing electronics if you can.

 

The AP works with both motors as my setup is always connected. The motors don't need to be running for the AP to work. 

Edited by CatskillBob

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You have a lot of options with your setup being newer. You have to make some decisions first, do you want AP on your main or kicker? If you go with AP on the main the kicker would be steered via the EZ steer bar just like it does when you turn your steering wheel. It would make things easier and slightly cheaper if the AP you choose matches your current electronics. This would remove the need for a separate AP control screen. Pros/Cons for AP on kicker vs main have been discussed here if you do a search.

For AP on the main outboard you can go with just about any big brand (Lowrance, Garmin, Raymarine, Simrad) your least expensive option for the main will likely be Lowrance. 
https://www.lowrance.com/lowrance/type/autopilots/outboard-pilot-hydraulic-pack/

For AP on the kicker you only have one option and that is Garmin, the nice part about the new Garmin kicker AP it is NOT a hydraulic unit. This means no pumps/hyd lines/oil to deal with, which simplifies the DIY install.
https://buy.garmin.com/en-US/US/p/635407

 

 

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I’m not sure Lowrance would be the cheaper option unless he already has the MFD to drive it. I’m still thinking it needs to be a HDS unit. Your looking at about 2-3k depending on what unit HDS model it is plus the AP. Raymarine was about 1200.00. Don’t need a MFD to operate it.


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All good advice. Many options to think about. My ONE cents is to hook the autopilot to the main and connect kicker with a ( Panther quick disconnect) connecting rod. The autopilot can be used for both trolling and cruising. If your electronics are compatible with your autopilot then you also have the ability to chart courses and navigate (cruising or trolling) with your GPS chart plotter waypoints. Connecting to your main is the best of both worlds. I installed a Raymarine unit this summer and it cost me about $2K by the time I was done and that included all the fittings and lines which included upgrading the main lines from the helm to the main engine.

 

Connecting rod link:  https://www.discountmarinesupplies.com/Auxiliary_Motor_Steering-Panther_Auxiliary_Motor_Steering_Kit_.html?gclid=Cj0KCQiAmsrxBRDaARIsANyiD1pdjBBbufGAocPwbDRf_jnzknL0zvDTNtOcJi3jsf5niSqZX0sT784aArBDEALw_wcB

 

Edit: I failed to mention that I installed a EV-150. Got it for $1,692.86 delivered to my door. I changed the main hydraulic lines on recommendation by Raymarine Tech because I have a BayStar helm. 

Edited by stinger
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I’m a TR1 user and am in the middle of converting from a kicker autopilot to an autopilot on the main tied to a kicker as my winter project. The TR1 system is a great ‘kicker only’ autopilot which has unfortunately been discontinued by Garmin. For some reason used units are selling in the $900 range on eBay, so I’m going to replace mine and sell it now while there’s still a market. I have exhaustively researched autopilot systems recently and feel I totally understand how they work. I’m assuming you have a permanent tie bar where your kicker moves in unison with the main motor. If so, I think a ‘kicker only’ autopilot would require you to disconnect from the main whenever you want to run on autopilot. A kicker autopilot would not be capable of moving both the main motor and the kicker, but an autopilot on the main can control both easily. For that reason, I’d recommend an autopilot on the main. I’ll answer your question about whether the main must be running. Since you have seastar steering, it is run by a pump driven by your steering wheel. When you turn your wheel, a little pump behind the dash pumps hydraulic fluid to the cylinder attached to your main motor. Whether the motor is running has no effect. Your hands turning the wheel provides the ‘power’ to the system. An autopilot simply provides power to an electric pump tied in to your existing hydraulic lines to steer your boat with a computer instead of you doing it by hand. You have so many options. The first option is you don’t necessarily need an autopilot at all if you have no desire to cruise under autopilot control. A 36v bow mounted trolling motor is capable of keeping your boat on course. Many people have this setup. You’d just set your kicker and main motors straight, apply the amount of power for your desired speed on the kicker then set the bow mounted trolling motor at 30-40% and engage the trolling motor’s autopilot. If you have Humminbird electronics you’d go with minnkota terrova or ulterra and if you have lowrance, you’d go with motorguide xi5. All of these trolling motors have ‘spot lock’ capabilities that are ‘must have’ features if you fish inland in my opinion. I prefer to not use a trolling motor to steer on the Great Lakes and leave the trolling motor at home, but if I had to choose between having an autopilot on the main or a trolling motor, I’d choose the trolling motor because it does work. I basically use TR1 on big water and bow mount inland.
Your other option is an autopilot on the main. There are a lot of choices out there. You have a 8.3 cubic inch cylinder and it’s within the minimum specs of most autopilot systems on the market. I’ll just say say a few words about the ones I researched then conclude with my choice. Sorry for writing a book, but I really have spent a lot of time in this and feel like I have something to share.
Garmin Compact Reactor - this is very inexpensive. Garmin states it’s suitable for cruising only. I actually think it’d work, but I cannot find a single user saying it works for them in a trolling application. I’m a huge Garmin fan. My electronics are Garmin, love the livescope, would not fish without livescope, but if it doesn’t work, it can’t be upsized. I’d be stuck with it if it turned out to be inadequate and I ruled it out.
Garmin reactor with smart pump - if you’re willing to drop 3k and have room for that smart pump, this would probably be the best. It has an excellent remote and even can be controlled with a wristwatch. It uses a brushless DC motor that’s variable speed. This is the choice if cost is not a consideration. Garmin is a major player in aviation and a marine autopilot is ‘child’s play’ compared to their aviation products.
Lowrance outboard pilot - very low cost and many people have good things to say about it. It’s based off simrad technology and they have been making autopilots for some time. I’d buy this if my head unit was a lowrance HDs gen2+ Catskillbob just endorsed it here.
Raymarine Evolution - EV100 or EV150. The current specs on the EV100 say up to 6cu inch cylinder, but it used to be more. They lowered the specs on the EV100 when they introduced the EV150 from what I gather. I cannot find anyone saying anything negative about these units. At $1200, frogger is probably running the EV100. I found so many online posts saying they slow troll with either EV100 or EV150. There’s a YouTuber who put an EV100 on a Parker 23 pilot house and he runs from Florida to Bahamas with it. The parent company of Raymarine is FLIR. This is a serious tech company. When you see military footage of something in crosshairs then it blows up because a laser guided bomb hits it, this is FLIR technology. I’m going with the Raymarine EV150 for these reasons. They have a remote available, but it’s unclear to me whether it’s compatible. It supports an optional ‘rudder sensor’ which can be added to help with slow speed trolling. I chose this AP because my research leads me to believe it has the best chance of working well for trolling at a $2000 price point.




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I want have an autopilot installed on my boat, but I have virtually no knowledge of autopilots, so thought I'd come here for some expert advice.  I have a 2019 Starcraft Fishmaster 196 with a 150HP Yamaha and 9.9 Yamaha Hi-Thrust Kicker.   The motors are connected with a tie-bar, seastar hydraulic steering for the big motor.  Any advice as to what brand/type of autopilot that would work for this setup would be greatly appreciated.   Some questions that come to mind:
Would the autopilot be installed on the big motor or the kicker?  If on the big motor, would that motor need to be running to steer the Kicker Motor?
 
Thanks 
 
Mike 

ray marine has great one


Sent from my iPhone using Lake Ontario United mobile app

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